Photo by ArtsySF and used with her permission.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lemongrass Ice Cream

I guess I have been on a bit of an Asian theme lately. This will be my second recipe in a row using Far East ingredients. I still have a few more in store for you eventually. Reader Lauren asked for an Olympic themed ice cream. So I have been bouncing around ideas. I am also strangely attracted to another David Lebovitz recipe for orange and Szechwan pepper corn ice cream. Lastly, I found this great blog dedicated to Japanese ice cream flavors. There aren’t very many recipes, but if you look through the posts, there are some opportunities for interesting flavor profiles. The wasabi ice cream has caught my attention.

Lemongrass is a great ingredient. It tastes like lemons, but more subtle and without the tartness. The outer layers are very tough. I suggest peeling off just a few layers to get past the really dirty stuff. You have to trim it to lengths of less than 8 inches for use. Be sure to remove enough of the bottom that you see all the layers and not just one or two. Be sure your knife is sharp. This stuff can be tough to cut and dull knives can easily lead to injuries.

This recipe is based on the one in Frozen Desserts by Caroline Liddell and Robin Weir, but I borrowed some of the technique from Pichet Ong’s book, The Sweet Spot. He has a recipe for Lemongrass Frozen Yogurt that looks really good. I found it as I was looking for a dessert for our Asian dinner on Friday night.

Why use the technique from Chef Ong? The finer the mince on the lemongrass, the more it will impart its flavor into the milk. This happens for two reasons. First, during processing, the oils are released into the milk during the mincing process. Second, the remaining flavor is picked up during steeping. The smaller the pieces, the more surface area of the lemon grass is exposed to the milk.

I like the blueberries in the ice cream. Lemongrass flavor by itself gets a bit dull after a few bites. The blueberries work well and keep my tongue from getting bored. Of course, that is just me. You may be different. Also, I like the dried wild blueberries from Trader Joe's. They are always sweet and have more flavor than any other dried blueberry I have ever tasted. They are very small, but their flavor can easily overwhelm. I suggest using them judiciously.

Here is the worksheet:

Lemongrass Ice Cream:

1 cup whole milk
1 cup cream
½ cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 cup of chopped fresh lemongrass (100 grams by weight)
Dried blueberries (optional)

1. Peel the outer two or three leaves of the lemongrass. Chop off and discard the ends so the remaining stalks are around 8 inches in length. Bruise the stalks by crushing them with the flat side of a meat tenderizer. You can also use the flat side of a chef’s knife and your hand to do this (just as if you were crushing a garlic clove).
2. Place the milk and the lemongrass in a blender and blend to finely chop the lemongrass.
3. Place the milk, lemongrass, and cream into a saucepan. Bring to a bare simmer. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to steep for 30 minutes so the lemongrass can infuse its flavor with the dairy products.
4. Return the saucepan to the heat after 30 minutes steeping time and as it reheats, quickly mix the eggs and sugar.
5. You know the drill from here. Once the dairy is warm again, slowly add some of it to the eggs. Once the eggs are tempered, add them to the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly until the thermometer reads 175 degrees F.
6. Remove the custard from the heat, strain it into a bowl. Be sure to press the excess dairy out of the lemongrass in the strainer. Cool the mix to room temperature then chill it overnight. The next day, freeze it in your ice cream machine. If you are adding the blueberries, do so in the last minute of the freezing process.


Ken G. said...

I will expect your concoctions to become a staple of our team meetings!

Japanese Ice Cream said...

Great blog and thank you for mentioning my Japanese Ice Cream blog - I will try to post more recipes. the Green Tea and Soy Sauce is pretty nice , even if it does sound awful.