Vietnamese Iced Coffee Fruit Salad

   Coffee.

   Everyone’s an expert nowadays. This roast is better because some special creature pooped its beans in this pristine jungle environment so it imparted special flavours. Sounds like the greatest trolling ever, but this and many other stories give an artificial value to a coffee product that goes largely unpaid to the people who actually grow coffee.

   Like any other ingredient that I use, I want to ensure the people who grow it have a healthy environment in which to live. Whether it’s Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance or a number of other programs, the health and well-being of the producer matters. And when I brew my coffee, I want to do that the best way I can, respecting the work involved and maintaining as much of the flavour as possible.

   So when I want to make an iced coffee, I want to use the best method for that, so I look to Vietnam. Their method of a strong “pour over”-style coffee stirred with condensed milk makes the best flavour of coffee while iced. The fats in the condensed milk capture all of the natural flavour compounds because they dissolve in a fatty medium better than a liquid one. So if you simply chill brewed coffee, many of the compounds are muted by the ice.

   As much as I like the “pour over” method, I also like an espresso. It extracts the coffee’s flavour compounds through compressed steam, that way, the compounds are “tricked” into solution and before they realize what happened, you have a tasty brew.

   Since I don’t have a $2000 espresso machine in my home, I use a stovetop espresso maker. Also referred to as a Moka pot.

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   This works by having water in the bottom component. When it boils, it forces steam up through the finely ground coffee that sits in a tight-fitting basket above it and presses up a spigot component above into the receptacle at the top, making roughly 3/4 cup of perfectly brewed espresso. And that’s exactly how much I’ll need to make today’s salad.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee Fruit Salad

For the Vietnamese Iced Coffee:

3/4 cup freshly brewed espresso (or a strongly brewed pour over coffee)

1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

   In a tall glass, add the sweetened condensed milk. Pour the hot espresso over the top and stir to combine completely. Fill another tall glass with ice cubes and pour the milky coffee over the top. Stir with a long spoon to chill. Set aside to chill for a further 5 minutes.

For the salad:

1 apple, cored, cut into 2 cm/1″ chunks

2 red plums, pit removed, cut into 2 cm/1″ chunks

1-1/4 cups mixed berries (blackberries, raspberries, Saskatoon berries)

   In a 24cm x 30cm (8″ x 12″) glass dish (like a lasagna pan) add the fruit in one layer. Pour over the prepared milky iced coffee and allow to marinate for at least one hour.

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To serve:

   Remove the fruit with a slotted spoon and divide between two bowls. Ladle 1/4 cup of marinade into each bowl and drizzle with yogurt if you like. Otherwise, the coffee-infused liquid will be flavourful enough with the fruit. Serves 2.

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