9.28.10 Mermaid's Delight
I have to admit, after the success of my tomato aspic, I got a little cocky. And so it was with a definite air of smugness that I used my last precious drops of green grape juice to concoct the perfect end-of-summer dessert. This time, though, as promised, I experimented with agar agar instead of gelatin as the thickening agent. It's derived from seaweed, and comes in brittle, translucent flakes or a powder. I've often seen it touted as being equally effective in recipes for panna cotta, custard, etc. and, though I'm a firm believer in the beneficial nutrition from animal gelatin, I was excited to give it a whirl. Perhaps this enthusiasm was what allowed me to turn a blind nostril, if you will, to the decidedly marine overtones emanating from the package. I assumed (prayed?) it would vanish in the mix.
The lightly sweetened grape juice gelled beautifully and unmolded like a charm, firm with just the right amount of jiggle, like a chorus girl's bum. Sadly, it continued to give off a slight whiff of brine. Well, what did you expect? you ask. It's made from seaweed! And you're so right. I can see that it might work well if you're making a jellied fish consomme, for instance, but it's not coming near any more desserts in my house. It's true, I have a very sensitive palate, but one bite and I knew that only a mermaid could love that tiniest hint of...fish. At least now I know what to use when making that seafood en gelée.