An Icy Treat to Beat the Summer Heat

No shaved ice machine? No problem! You can make granita.

Summer: the season that I have a love-hate relationship with.

Love the sunshine, hate the heat. Love the free time, hate the extra packed weekend traffic. Nonetheless, it is the one season that I can say I happily look forward to, despite having to deal with living in in a household where the air-conditioning is not considered a necessity to beat the heat. Instead of long-boarding along the beachside, you’ll find me standing with my head in the freezer, staring at a package of frozen ravioli and wishing someone would flash freeze me.

Despite my complaining, summer in Los Angeles always delivers those iconic feels of vibrancy and sunshine. The weather is never gloomy, and maybe it's the glamour and idealization of the season, but people just seem happier in the summer.

To me, summer is a season that brings out the yukata and happi coats that have been stored away in the closet. It's the season of “bro tanks,” basketball shorts, and socks with Adidas sandals. It's the time for red lipstick, crowns, matching glitzy gowns, and princess sashes, and where the faint don don don of the taiko is playing, encouraging you to join the dance circle with your friends and family. The atmosphere fills with laughter, joy, and vendors selling various food, with the scents of marinated teriyaki chicken being flamed grilled, and the distinct sounds of ice being grated on the shaved ice machine. In this environment I find myself closing my eyes and saying “ah, yes, this. This. Is. Summer.”

As an avid obon hopper, I am a little sad to see my summer tradition of dancing in the circle take a different turn, but this is what the time calls for. And as the temperature rises, I find myself craving shaved ice. My dearest friend and chef, Rose Lawrence (owner of RedBread), introduced me to granita.

Finished plated dessert I made for a pop-up dinner. Yuzu lemon granita with condensed milk whipped cream, mochi, and a green tea tuile. Decorated with Japanese maple leaves in honor of my bachan, who commonly used the leaves as decoration.

Granita is an Italian semi-frozen dessert, which is as simple and easy alternative to shaved ice if you are like me and do not own a shaved ice machine.

I originally created this dish for my friend Hideki’s pop-up dinner, and it was inspired by my cravings for a Japanese-styled shaved ice with all the fixings. To simplify this dessert, you can eat the granita plain or top it with whipped cream. It tastes just as good without mochi, condensed milk flavored cream, and green tea tuile!

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YUZU LEMON GRANITA WITH CONDENSED MILK WHIPPED CREAM, MOCHI & GREEN TEA TUILE

Yuzu Lemon Granita

  • 3 lemons juiced
  • 1/2 lemon zested
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp yuzu juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

Condensed Milk Whipped Cream

  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 3 tbsp condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Mochi

  • 1 cup gluttnous rice flour
  • Splash of water

Yuzu Lemon Granita

  • In a sauce pan, bring water and sugar to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add lemon and yuzu juice.
  • Transfer into a 13 x 9 pan, freeze for 1 hour and occasionally stir with fork. Freeze for 2 -3 hours and scrape every 30 minutes.
  • Stir and scrape until fluffy before serving.

Condensed Milk Whipped Cream

  • Whip whipped cream until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, pinch of salt, and condensed milk into cream. Whip until fluffy.

Mochi

  • In a bowl, mix gluttonous rice flour and water until dough forms. Roll dough balls into size of marbles.
  • Freeze dough balls for 15-30 minutes until hard.
  • In a small sauce pan, boil water and toss the dough balls into the water. Once soft (about 2-3 minutes) strain and toss into cold ice water to stop the cooking.

Tips:

  • For gluttonous rice flour, I purchase the one linked here.
  • For yuzu juice, I purchase the one linked here.
  • For those interested in making a green tea tuile, I used this recipe found here and added 3/4 teaspoon of matcha powder into the melted butter.

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June 2020

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