There's a gelatinous, slightly chewy, delicious-when-served-chilled dessert in Japan called warabi mochi. It is made from starch, water, and sugar. Simple. The usual way it's served is generously covered in soybean flour and then squirted with some brown sugar syrup.
It's interesting to note that the original starch used for making warabi mochi was derived from the bracken plant (a fern-looking thing). However, that method proves a bit time consuming in these days of immediate gratification as it takes 10 kilos (22 lbs) of bracken root to extract a mere 70 grams (2.4 ounces) of starch. These days, other similarly textured starches are being used instead. Think sweet potato starch and tapioca.
Now, warabi mochi is often considered a summer treat because it's light and served cold, perfect for hot days when you don't have much of an appetite. You know something else that has become a summer treat in Japan? Chocolate mint everything. It's like you can't find anything chocolate mint flavored until August first and then the chocomint floodgates are opened. I guess it was inevitable that East should meet West and some genius at 7-11 would dream up a chocolate mint warabi mochi dessert. This sounds like a bad idea, but I bought one anyway. I found tucked inside the jelly-like warabi mochi exterior mint whipped cream and loads of chocolate chips. It turns out chocolate mint warabi mochi is amazingly good and it might be only reason I'm sad to see this typhoon-riddled, flood-plagued, heatwave-infested summer end.
Photo: Thersa Matsuura