This dessert is inspired by the English summer pudding I have enjoyed many times. It works to perfection only when berries are at their peak of flavour. It is a refreshing and simple dessert to make and is delicious served warm as well as cold. The touch of basil adds a piquant accent which balances the slight acidity of the berries. Any combination of berries in season will work well, and the more variety the better. I love it with cream or vanilla ice-cream. Again, if you use a wok, make sure it is a non-stick one so that the acid of the berries does not react with the carbon steel.
Using a non-stick or coated wok, bring the sugar and water to a boil, add the vanilla pod and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla pod and save for future use.
Add the berries and butter and simmer for 2 minutes, just enough to warm and not to cook them. Remove from the heat, add the basil, stir gently, transfer to a warm bowl and serve at once.
© 1996 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.