Inspiration is everywhere in Toronto. The dish that inspired these mango spheres with coconut foam and toasted rice powder is a dessert Rachel and I have eaten countless times, Salad King's mango sticky rice.
Salad King is one of Toronto's most popular Thai restaurants. Nestled just off Yonge Street, it's a popular hangout for student and office worker alike, who fill every last seat around Salad King's gleaming stainless steel cafeteria tables to devour some of the best cheap eats in town. I'm partial to the panang curry and Thai basil noodles; Rachel reserves a special spot in her heart and stomach for green curry.
For years, we've finished our Salad King meals with our favourite dessert, mango sticky rice. It's a charmingly simple, almost rustic dish: just some savoury steamed rice, sweetened coconut cream, and ripe mango, a perfect send-off before the brisk trip home on a cool night.
After eating this dish for the umpteenth time, I began to toy with the idea of deconstructing it. It's not as easy as it sounds. There are only so many ways to reconfigure rice, coconut milk, and mango. As my interest in molecular gastronomy blossomed, my exposure to ever more ingenious ways to deconstruct flavours and dishes made reinterpreting the coconut and mango elements a less daunting task. For the coconut I turned to my trusty iSi cream whipper, having already made a decadent coconut espuma for el Bulli's piña colada, although I adapted a different foam, which includes heavy cream, from El Bulli: 1998-2002 for this dish.