AndyTalk: Sushi for Dessert
Whether it's a feint by a quarterback, an improvised musical riff, or a magic trick, everyone appreciates a good fake-out -- especially when the end result is a success. The first time I served sushi for dessert I had a goal. Actually, I had two goals: First, make a great dessert and, second, make my guests think that I was serving them raw fish and rice at the end of a long meal.
Dessert is a perfect place for food to meet fantasy. For me, making desert sushi is a great opportunity to play with food -- it never comes out the same twice, because the ingredients available are always a little different.
I make the rice base with Arborio rice. Short grain sushi rice works, but I like the way Arborio rice coalesces into something creamy and sweet. Technically sushi is rice, not fish -- so my dessert is a form of sushi. Raw fish is sashimi, but people commonly refer the rice-fish combo as sushi.
My dessert sushi recipe uses coconut milk, sugar, and sweet shredded coconut to turn the rice into something that's a cross between rice pudding and the bottom part of an Almond Joy. You can use a little more or less sugar than the recipe calls for -- to suit your taste.
The fun part is making the final product look like real sushi. Papaya, when sliced paper thin, looks a lot like raw salmon or tuna. Sprinkled with a few flakes of red pepper it passes for fish.
Minced figs and a little almond butter resemble sea urchin roe. Topped with a goji berry they're deceptive and tasty.
Minced plums have the look of tobiko (flying fish roe), squares of kiwi look like fruit not fish, but look so cool I don't mind one un-fishlike item on the plate. Mangos and plums pair well with the rice, and can be more or less deceiving, depending on how you slice them. Thin slices of banana drizzled with balsamic vinegar look like eel. Slivers of candied ginger are a sushi-appropriate garnish.
Serve dessert sushi on a square or rectangular plate to enhance the effect. Serve with chilled sweet sake or a muscat dessert wine and your meal will finish with flourish. Be sure to take a bow.