Blue Ginger Lychee Cranberry Salsa

Sigh. So I had to go back the the drawing boards after trying out one of my dessert ideas with some family relatives. It turns out one of them has a ‘texture’ thing and didn’t like the Matsuhisa/Nobu Banana Chocolate Harumaki.  “The cooked banana was too soft for my tastes”.  So after doing more research, I came across Chef Ming Tsai’s Lychee Cranberry Shortcake (The Boston Chef’s Table, p. 181).  Basically it’s a lychee/cranberry filled shortcake biscuit (think The French Laundry Cookbook‘s Strawberry Sorbet Shortcakes With Sweetened Creme Fraiche Sauce [p. 274]).  So the online recipe for the

The cast of characters for the salsa

The cast of characters for the salsa

Lychee Cranberry Shortcake can be found here:

https://books.google.com/books?id=JMHCJU7kTb0C&lpg=PA181&ots=iC5n11516J&dq=lychee%20cranberry%20shortcake&pg=PA181#v=onepage&q=lychee%20cranberry%20shortcake&f=false

'weighed out' drained lychees

‘weighed out’ drained lychees

So for the moment – I wanted to focus on doing the Lychee Cranberry Salsa.  I could get heavy cream to whip and shortcake

'weighed out' frozen cranberries

‘weighed out’ frozen cranberries

biscuits from Whole Foods, Newtonville, so I could leave the shortcake process for another weekend project.  So the salsa

a navel orange weighed out

a navel orange weighed out

microbatch recipe for two people would be:

Half and orange zested above the loaded food processor

Half an orange zested above the loaded food processor

20 oz of canned lychee (drained) – the lychees themselves came to about 8 oz
6 oz of cranberries (these were frozen, since there weren’t any fresh ones at the store)
1/4 c sugar
zest of 1/2 orange
3T + 1t orange juice (thank you to a Nobu cooking project I did long ago)
1 t vanilla extract

All the added fruit, ready to go

All the added fruit, ready to go

…and all that would be blended in a food processor to a medium coarse texture (5 or 6 pulses on my food processor).

...after 6 pulses

…after 6 pulses

The salsa needed to be chunky for that textural bite, but not so chunky as to make it unwieldy when spooning it onto the biscuits.

1/4 cup of measured out sugar

1/4 cup of measured out sugar

I must say I *was* a little skeptical about the ‘fresh’ cranberries because of its tartness, and the addition of sugar as specified in the recipe only heightened my skepticism.  A quarter cup of sugar is quite a bit of sugar in addition to the fresh orange juice.  So I presumed it was there to temper the cranberries.

Adding in the sugar

Adding in the sugar

As I prepared the half orange – I was pleasantly surprised to note that my estimation from a prior Nobu project matched up to the physical result of juicing the half-orange – it was 3 tablespoons as opposed to the 3 tablespoons+1 teaspoon estimate.

half an orange juiced with pulp; once strained, it came out to 3 tablespoons

half an orange juiced with pulp; once strained, it came out to 3 tablespoons

I must say I was a little surprised seeing the addition of vanilla to this recipe – normally, I associate vanilla with ice creams, chocolates and baked goods.  Its addition certainly gave the fruit salsa a very floral aroma.

sugar and orange juice mixed in, ready to add in the vanilla...

sugar and orange juice mixed in, ready to add in the vanilla…

I did make a call to Blue Ginger to ask about the the amount of liquid that resulted from making the salsa recipe. I was told that that much liquid was normal and that you’d only want to use a little bit in flavoring the cut side of the biscuit onto which salsa would be sitting.

Getting a whole foods shortcake ready

Getting a whole foods shortcake ready

So I got out two shortcake biscuits (that I got from Whole Foods) and carefully sliced them horizontally with a serrated bread knife.  I drizzled a a few teaspoons of the salsa liquid on the bottom slice and loaded about 2 or 3 tablespoons of the salsa.

Assembling the dessert

Assembling the dessert

I then capped the dessert with the top biscuit half, put another tablespoon on top and then finished it with a tablespoon dollop of slightly sweetened whipped cream.

The completed dessert

The completed dessert

Upon tasting the dessert, both of my wife and I were pleasantly surprised.  I was initially skeptical because of how tart the dessert might be from the cranberries.  We both loved the balance of the flavors and the floral note from the vanilla.  My wife’s only comment was about possibly using only half of the sugar.  I think this would be a great finisher for the Thanksgiving meal.  Thank you Chef Tsai for sharing this idea and this recipe.

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