Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Zelly is the phonetic vernacular of the international super star, jelly, in Japanese. (Of course no one spells it zelly, silly, but what the heck, I will.) I am a huge fan of anything remotely gelatinous, be it not too sweet (sorry, Jello-O) but better yet, slightly savory. Think: chilled consomme gelée over salad greens, or onsen tamago: fresh eggs simmered long and slow (and perhaps even relaxing in) a hot spring, or a simmering pot of hot water.

Ya, you heard me: the hot spring. Don't believe me? Check this out:

(Onsen tamago is my favorite and can be deliciously prepared at home and served on and in various dishes. I promise to talk about this in a future post soon.)

Yes, peeps, if it wiggles, Miss Ai giggles. I don't think I am being overly zealous in declaring my love for the buoyant and the chilled, a splash of flavor swirling in after the bounce of texture. And so, perhaps this is why Japanese zellies are high on my list of good things. Refreshing, satisfying, not terribly sweet and so often completely not what you expected. Take for example my morning cup of coffee...

..or is it actually my 4pm pick-me-up coffee zelly...

... made approximately six hours earlier with cold-brewed iced coffee mixed with gelatin?? Pour some coffee cream over the jiggly substance, and you've got yourself an afternoon delight. (And if you don't think zellies are the best thing ever, I will fightchu. No lie.)

The popular Kyoto tea house and dessert company Tsujiri often turns traditional Japanese teas like hojicha and matcha into delicious zelly (see the first photo of this post for hojicha zelly). (What this requires of us, readers, at home, is to brew that perfect cup and include a dallop--just one--of honey. Mix with gelatin, and chill.) What's more, Tsujiri features seasonal specials every month, like the sakura parfait (cherry blossom parfait) which was available in April this year. The sweet and slightly salty sakura zelly (salty because the cherry blossoms are often treated with a saline solution to help preserve it) and the bittersweet matcha zelly make this parfait what parfaits were born to be--a very special treat, of course--at ¥1,400 (about $10-12 USD).

sakura parfait

(Click on the parfait photo for details.)

It's easy to make zelly at home--if you drink black tea, try mixing in gelatin with a fresh pot of Earl Grey tea; milky, if you prefer. If you like coffee, definitely try the cold-brewed iced coffee zelly. Have Japanese, chai or herbal teas lying around? Experiment to find your favorite consistency of gelatin--the hojicha zelly at the top of this post and the coffee zelly toward the bottom have completely different consistencies due to the difference in ratio of liquid to gelatin. Keep in mind that you must immerse the gelatin--powder or sheet gelatin--in water first, for about five minutes, to insure that it will melt in evenly with the liquid you are trying to gel, otherwise the outcome can get clumpy. If it tastes good as a cold liquid, it probably tastes good as zelly. (Don't quote me on that.) Experiment!

ゼリー jelly
温泉卵 onsen tamago
コーヒーゼリー coffee jelly
都路里 Tsujiri
ほうじ茶 hojicha
抹茶 matcha

Tsujiri (都路里)
Caretta Shiodome B206, 1-8-2 Higashi-Shinbashi, Minato-ku
T 03-5537-2217

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