Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Japanese Plum Extravaganza

I have never been to Japan. This shames me, because I am fascinated by the culture and I really want to, but I haven’t (yet). So I do not claim any authenticity for this plum concoction, which is mainly inspired by a scene in Memories of a Geisha where the little girl gets offered caramelised fruit on top of some ground ice. So I don’t mean to offend any authentic Japanese people when I say this is delicious and, because of the plum-cherry-sake combination it reminds me of a mythic Japanese land where the cherry trees are in blossom and all the ladies are dressed in fabulously silky kimonos.   

1 kg small red plums
200g red cherries
300g granulated sugar
4 cups of pomegranate juice
1l sake

Quarter the plums and get rid of the stones, wash the cherries and take the stems off.
Cover the sugar in water and melt it on low heat in a large saucepan. Add the fruit and bring to a medium boil for about 10 minutes until all the fruit is caramelised in the syrup.
Pour the pomegranate juice into the jars and add the syrup from the cooked fruit. Stir in the jars until you achieve a homogenous mixture and then add the fruit. Fill up the jar with the sake and shake vigorously. You can substitute sake with vodka if you don’t like the flavour.

Leave for at least a couple of weeks before scooping out on ice cream of crepes. In my pathetic attempt to give my dinner parties an exotic spin, I make crepes with rice flour and serve them with whipped cream or mint ice cream (I originally used vanilla, but mint is just divine) and a scoop of these plums. They flambé easily and they make fantastic presents. You can make a small basket with other Japanese specialities, or team them up with other boozy fruit for a festive feel.

Once again, the spirit that you use will become absolutely heavenly after a month or so of shaking and macerating in the fruit, caramel and juices. You can give it away as a present in small bottles, or just drink it all up yourself. If you use vodka, you can try my Plum Martini, which is not a martini at all.

Put a quartered plum (a fresh one, not one of the caramelised ones) at the bottom of a martini glass. Cover with the vodka, add a shot of vermouth and one of cranberry juice. I serve it with little pink umbrellas and it is fabulous.

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