I use Longevity Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk, the one with the picture of a white bearded old man. You can easily find it in Asian stores.
Superfine sugar is very convenient for desserts. It's also called caster sugar or baker's sugar. It dissolves more quickly than regular granulated sugar. I usually use it for liquids.
Agar agar powder is a good gelatin substitute for vegans and vegetarians. It is derived from seaweedd and is cooked the same way you would gelatin powder. It is widely used in Asia.I also use it to make fruit mousses such as my egg-free banana mousse or chestnut mousse. I buy the Thai Telephone Brand, it's sold in 25-gram packages. (FIY 0.88 oz = 25 g)
Black sesame is the perfect ingredient to pair with matcha green tea. It has a nice, nutty flavor. It can be blended into ice cream, pudding, cake and has a variety of other uses. You can find it in most Asian stores.
Matcha is Japanese green tea powder. I buy mine at Teavana in the Stanford Shopping Center, in Palo Alto, California. You can also find it online. It's quite pricey and has a very delicate flavor. As soon as your matcha tea box is unsealed, store it in the refrigerator or in the freezer. To check for quality, matcha should have a beautiful jade green color. You can use it often in baking like macarons, cake, cookies or custards or you can turn many pastries into a nice green color. Be creative on St. Patrick's day and Halloween!
Agave nectar, sometimes called agave syrup, is a natural sweetener. In France, it's called Agave honey. Unlike honey, agave nectar has a long shelf life and does not crystallize over time. Agave nectar is made from the purified sap of cactus-like desert plants. It's very popular in Mexico. It is not heated during production and is considered raw, which make it very healthy, like raw honey. Unlike raw honey though, agave nectar is easy to spread and drizzle because of its consistency.
I use potato starch as a thickening agent. If you don't have any, you can substitute with corn starch or tapioca starch.
I added a little half and half for more bold flavors. If you choose not to use half and half, just add double the amount of coconut milk.
I often use different sized circle cutters. I shaped my smoked salmon on wonton puffs with them. You can find circle cutters in any restaurant supply store or kitchen store like Smart and Final or Cook's Juntion at 261 Main St. Los Altos CA 94022. As Anthony Bourdain would say, your food will look so much more elegant using these little tools (read Kitchen Confidential).
I use the AROY-D coconut milk brand. It has no preservatives and it is very convenient; they sell it in 8.5 oz little packages (which equals about 1 cup).
The end product should have a slightly firmer consistency than panna cotta.