The desserts of Chef Elmer Azuma of the Sakana Club in West Los Angeles are full of surprises, and the strudel found on the restaurant's Franco-Japanese menu is no exception.
Azuma uses filo dough in a lot of his desserts. Maybe he picked up the habit in France, where he prepared more than his share of strudel dough. (Azuma began his cooking career at the age of 14 and worked at several of France's top restaurants, including Trois Marche and Le Petite Bedon. In Los Angeles he's cooked at Le Petit Chaya, Cafe Katsu, Truffles and his own Chabuya.)
Azuma's strudel is airy light. He uses \o7 panko\f7 --crumbs made by toasting Japanese white bread--as a filler, and a light sprinkling of raisins. Apples, cinnamon and cardamom go into the filling, but they are used sparingly. Calvados cream, a version of \o7 creme Anglaise \f7 with Calvados for fragrance, naps the dish.
2/3 cup currants or raisins
3 to 4 (11x9-inch) filo dough sheets
1/4 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 to 2 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Soak currants in rum to cover. Brush one side of each filo sheet with melted butter.
Stack filo sheets and sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar, bread crumbs, cinnamon, cardamom and 1/3 cup of drained currants over filo, reserving remaining 1/3 cup currants for sauce. Spread sliced apples across 3-inches from bottom of filo sheet. Sprinkle some of rum from currants and lemon juice over apples.
Fold filo dough over to make 3-inch hem. Brush exposed filo dough with some of remaining butter and sugar. Continue folding over and brushing newly exposed surface with more butter and sugar until strudel is completely rolled. Place on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees 20 to 25 minutes or until strudel is brown and crisp. Slice and serve slices over Calvados Cream and top with Raisin Mousse. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup Calvados or to taste
Beat egg yolks and sugar in top of double boiler over hot water with wire whisk. Heat milk with vanilla bean but do not boil. Discard vanilla bean and gradually add half heated milk to egg mixture, whisking constantly.
Stir remaining milk into egg mixture. Cook and stir over low-simmering water until milk mixture is thickened to light custard. Cool, then add Calvados. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
1/3 cup rum-soaked currants
1/2 cup whipping cream
Place currants in blender and blend until pureed. Beat whipping cream until peaks form. Fold into raisin puree. Makes 1 cup.