I’m doing something that most editors tell you not to do, start this with a negative. But honestly, it really isn’t as much of a negative as it is a challenge to view things in a different light. Not all fruit must be cooked or baked or exposed to high temperatures. Within a type of fruit you will probably come across a few varieties that lose their uniqueness when heated, take for instance these Skylar Rae cherries, their high sugar content makes them better suited to be eaten raw because they breakdown pretty fast on heating. This particular type of cherry is not only sweet but has a pleasant tartness too so I don’t add any lemon or lime but again you can add that if you want, just a teaspoon of fresh juice should suffice.
Naming this dish was not as easy, I considered calling this a cherry “salad” or a yogurt “topping” but neither seemed to do something some simple yet explosive in flavor justice and it felt only appropriate to give a shoutout to the spices and maple syrup that gives the cherry and yogurt it’s kick. You can find shichimi togarashi as a seasoning in the spice section of most stores these days but you can also find it in Asian and Japanese markets (if you have some close to where you are), and you could also make your own (Genius Kitchen – full disclaimer – I’ve never tried this recipe and I get mine at Oaktown Spice in Oakland). There’s a hint of heat mixed with a bit of nuttiness from the sesame seeds which when toasted lightly infuses deep into the maple syrup.
If you want a little bit of an extra oomph and I do admit that I don’t always do this, sprinkle a little flaky salt over the cherries, just before you serve.
cherries with togarashi and maple syrup
makes one serving
1/2 cup[140 g] fresh sweet cherries, pitted and halved
2 to 3 Tbsp good quality maple syrup
1 tsp shichimi togarashi
4 to 6 fresh spearmint leaves
1 cup [120g] plain unsweetened Greek yogurt, lightly whipped*
Place the cherries in a medium bowl with the maple syrup.
Heat a small stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, toast the shichimi togarashi seasoning for about 30 to 40 seconds with constant rotating until the spices turn fragrant. Quickly transfer the spices to the bowl with the cherries and fold to combine. Add the fresh spearmint leaves and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes (you can also refrigerate the bowl covered for 1 hour).
To serve, place the yogurt in a serving bowl and top with the cherry mixture. Serve immediately.
*Note: I usually prefer my yogurt without salt but you can add a tiny pinch of salt to your liking.