Cold Coconut Pudding with Strawberries, Ginger and Basil

Strawberries are in season, although there aren't too many farmers growing them here in NM.  I was daydreaming yesterday afternoon about a cool, refreshing dessert, and I came up with this. The candied ginger adds a perfect spicy kick to the tangy strawberries.

This quick coconut pudding is just a soft form of haupia, a dessert served everywhere in Hawaii, usually in little solid squares. I like the recipe from a wonderful cookbook called The Food of Paradise, which I picked up when I lived there. The great thing about this book is its fascinating description of the historical contexts in which Native, Asian, and Caucasian culinary traditions came together to form "local" food in the islands. If you've only been to Hawaii on a beach-lounging vacation, you may be surprised by the rich local culture that results from this diversity - much more than just luaus and shave ice.

1 can of coconut milk
3 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs cornstarch (3 if you want it solid)

Mix the cornstarch and sugar together in a small saucepan. Whisk in the coconut milk so there are no lumps. Heat on medium-low, stirring constantly, until the mixture is just simmering and thickens to a glossy, silky, creamy texture. Pour into small ramekins and chill thoroughly.

Chop 2 big pieces of candied ginger. Mix with a few spoonfuls of sugar, about 1/2 pound sliced strawberries, and a few thinly sliced leaves of basil (or pineapple sage!) Spoon over the cold pudding and enjoy.


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