Almond “tofu” reminds me of our visits to Japan and China where dessert was often canned fruit and glace cherries drenched in a light syrup with exotic cubes of almond-flavoured jelly. At the time I could never figure out what the cubes were, imagining they might be a fruit I’d never heard of? Turns out they were made from seaweed* after all and are quite simple to make. The little white diamonds certainly add a little extra flair to an otherwise plain fruit salad.
10 g plain agar-agar powder
150 ml (⅔ cup) cold water
150 ml (⅔ cup) almond, soy or cows milk
1 tablespoon sugar
A few drops of almond extract
1 ripe mango
12-16 lychees, fresh or canned
- In a small saucepan, whisk the agar-agar powder with the water. Place over a low flame and stir until it dissolves.
- When it’s dissolved, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 8-10 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent sticking and lumps forming.
- Whisk in the sugar, milk, and almond extract. Remove from the flame, pour through a fine mesh sieve into a shallow glass 15 cm x 15 cm (6 inch x 6 inch) serving dish. Discard any small hard bits caught in the sieve.
- Chill in the coldest part of the fridge until it sets, about 30 minutes, or in the freezer if you’re short on time.
- First wash the mango. There are several methods how to cut them. The first I learned a long time ago from the late master chef Bill Hufferd, and the second more recently when online tutorials became popular!
- Method 1: cut a thin slice from the bottom and top of the mango to it can easily stand on the cutting board, then peel. Identify the broad side of the mango stone before cutting. Using your knife to follow the flat curve of the stone, cut away the “cheek”. Repeat on the other side. Trim off any fruit left behind. Dice the cheeks of mango along with the trimmings.
- Method 2: cut the mango into half along the widest part. Without piercing the skin, score the flesh of the cheek into cubes. Turn the peel inside out to pop open the cubes and trim away the fruit from the peel.
- If using fresh lychees peel and de-stone. Pull off the stem then push the fruit out by gently squeezing the lychee from the bottom using your fingertips. The fruit should easily pop out from the skin. Remove the stone. Cut the lychees into halves.
- When the almond tofu has set, cut into squares or diamonds with a small sharp knife and gently lift out. Scatter through the fruit salad.
*Agar-Agar is a seaweed derived gelatin easily found in health food stores or Asian markets.