Creamy and complex, this nigori sake-infused panna cotta pairs perfectly with the sweet yet tart blueberry reduction. Truly a “greater than the sum of its parts” experience.
Panna cotta, a sweetened cream thickened with gelatin, is a dessert of Italian origin. The result is a silky custard-like dessert that pairs well with fruit compotes. The cream will often have other flavours added to it. To give this panna cotta a character all of its own, we reached around to the other side of the world for some Japanese magic – nigori sake.
Nigori sake is unfiltered. It contains the rice solids that have not been fermented. Nigori sake is milky white, nigori literally meaning “cloudy”. These creamy rice solids, together with sake’s astringent and savoury/umami flavour, are what makes nigori sake such a perfect ingredient for a panna cotta.
The final ingredient that gives this panna cotta a particularly unique flavour is the creme fraiche (or sour cream). While adding to the creaminess, the creme fraiche also imparts a tanginess to balance the richness of the cream.
Blueberry reductions are something very special. They work wonderfully in a dessert, like this gin and tonic ice cream with blueberry reduction. Also, they are just as good as a sweet/tart component to complement a savoury dish, like this pork belly with blueberry reduction. Blueberries are a favourite on delectabilia.
Sake panna cotta with a blueberry reduction
- 500 ml whipping cream heavy cream
- 200 ml nigori sake or any good sake if you cannot get a nigori style sake
- 200 mg creme fraiche or sour cream
- 4 gelatin leaves or 7 g powdered gelatin
- 1/2 cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 250 g blueberries
- 3 Tbsp sake or soju
- 1 Tbsp liquid honey or maple syrup, or sugar
- To a medium saucepan, add the sake and gelatin sheets or powder. Allow to sit for 10 minutes as the gelatin rehydrates.
- Add the sugar to the sake and place over a low heat. Stir until the sugar and gelatin have dissolved.
- Increase the heat to medium to bring the sake to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes to evaporate off most of the alcohol. Do not boil.
- Add the cream and pinch of salt and bring back to a simmer. Simmer for another couple of minutes. Again, do not boil.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- Add the cream fraiche and the cream mixture to a large bowl and whisk until the creme fraiche is integrated.
- Divide the mixture into appropriate glasses or ramekins. Fill them about half full. Top with some plastic wrap to avoid fridge smells.
- Once cool enough, place them in the refrigerator and refrigerate until set, 4-6 hours. Best do the day before and refrigerate overnight.
- Wash the blueberries.
- In a pan over a low heat, reduce the blueberries together with the sake/soju and honey/sugar until they are just starting to break down. About 15 minutes.
- Allow to cool. They will thicken a little as they cool.
- Top each glass or ramekin of panna cotta with a couple of Tbsp of blueberry reduction and serve.