"The fruit, granita and sorbet combo makes for a really refreshing dessert this time of year. In Asia, there are lots of iced desserts made with shaved ice, coconut milk, sugar syrup and textural bits of jelly, tinned fruit and nuts. I still remember ordering the dish as a kid in my mum’s restaurant in Cabramatta – usually I’d choose tinned lychee, rambutan and grass jelly. In this recipe, I’ve swapped normal ice with lychee-flavoured granita." Dan Hong, Mr. Wong, Ms. G's.
- 220 ml water
- 200 g water chestnuts, thinly sliced
- ½ lemongrass, white part only, thinly sliced
- 250 g caster sugar
- 250 g each watermelon, honeydew and rock melon
- 300 g grass jelly, thinly sliced (see Note)
- freeze-dried strawberry powder or pieces, for dusting (see Note)
- 1 kg strawberry puree, (see Note)
- 325 ml mineral water
- 65 ml lemon juice
- 180 g caster sugar
- 110 g powdered glucose (see Note)
- 3 g (1½ tsp) xanthan gum (see Note)
- 800 g lychees in syrup
- 30 g ginger, finely chopped
- 1½ tbsp lime juice
- 65 ml water
- 85 g caster sugar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Freezing time overnight
For the lychee granita, blend ingredients in a bowl and with a stick blender or a blender until smooth. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to let the flavours develop and infuse. Strain to discard solids and transfer into about a 25 cm square shallow tray and freeze.
For strawberry sorbet, blend all ingredients in except xanthan gum until smooth. Add xanthan gum and blend to combine for 1 minute. Transfer to an air-tight container, cover and refrigerate to chill overnight. Next, churn in an ice-cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions and freeze until firm. (Makes 1.2 litres.)
For the water chestnuts, combine sugar and water and lemongrass, together in medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, stir to dissolve sugar. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened for 5-7 minutes. Transfer mixture to a small bowl or container and set side to cool. Once cool, add the water chestnuts and refrigerate to infuse for 3 hours.
Place watermelon, rockmelon and honeydew in a vacuum packaged bag (see Note). Follow the manufacturer's instructions to seal, then refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove fruit from the bag, finely dice and refrigerate until required.
To serve, divide grass jelly slices between bowls, top with six chestnut pieces, then a scoop of sorbet. Scrape granita with a fork to fluff and form ice crystals. Top the sorbet with granita, then scatter over the melon and freeze-dried strawberry, and serve.
• Strawberry puree is available from select delicatessens and Essential Ingredient. If you can’t find it, partially defrost 1.1 kg frozen strawberries (or you could use fresh). Blend in a blender or food processor in batches until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve pushing with a spatula or large spoon to remove seeds.
• Grass jelly is available from Asian grocers.
• Freeze-dried strawberry powder and pieces are available from select delicatessens, grocers and online here.
• At the restaurant, the chefs compress the melon with a vaccuum packaging, or "vac-pac", machine for texture. Home-based vac-pac machines are available from appliance stores. Alternatively you can dice melon and serve.
• Xanthan gum is a stabilising agent. It's available from health food stores.
Photography by Benito Martin. Food styling by Alice Storey. Prop styling by Lynsey Fryers.
Finch lunch plate from Citta Design.