When plums are abundant, juicy, and ripe in the summer, this light dessert brings out the best in their tart sweetness. Easy to prepare but complex in flavor, it’s ideal after simple grilled dishes, particularly those with Asian accents. Because it is not too sweet, it can even serve as a sauce or garnish for gamy meats, like duck. For show, I flambe the plums, but that can be a risky experiment unless you’ve tried it before. It tastes just as good quickly sauteed in a pan, as in this recipe.
Yield: Makes 8 servings
½ pounds (680 grams) plums, preferably Black Mission, quartered and pitted
1 1/3 cups (7 ounces/200 grams) packed light brown sugar
One ½-inch piece fresh ginger, cut into ¼-inch slices
3 whole star anise
2/3 cup (5.3 ounces/150 grams) sake
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Two 4-inch-long strips lemon zest (removed with a vegetable peeler)
1. Put all of the ingredients, except for the optional ice cream, into a large mixing bowl and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours; do not let the mixture sit overnight.
2. Set a large deep skillet over high heat and heat for 3 minutes. Add the plum mixture all at once and cook, stirring, until the alcohol burns off and the plums are just softened, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove the ginger slices, star anise, and lemon zest. You can also reserve the star anise and lemon zest for garnish, if desired.
3. Divide the plums among serving bowls, top with the ice cream, if desired, and serve.