Sunday, April 25, 2010

Can hay-like stalks of grass make for a good ice cream flavor? Only if you follow the directions detailed below.

The recipes for Vietnamese ice cream, or kem (pronounced like “cam” in “camera”), vary as widely as spots on a Dalmation. In this recipe, instead of eggs and cream, we’ll use cornstarch. The result will be a thick, creamy consistency that is denser than a Blue Bell country day.

4 cups of whole milk
4 to 5 stalks of lemongrass, coarsely chopped
¾ cup of sugar
3 tablespoons of cornstarch

1. In a 1-quart saucepan, simmer 3 cups of the milk with the lemongrass over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. When the milk begins to bubble, remove from heat, cover and seep for at least 30 minutes to infuse the milk with flavors from the lemongrass.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the rest of the milk, sugar and cornstarch. Whisk until sugar and cornstarch are dissolved.

3. Add the warm lemongrass mixture by slowly pouring through a sieve. Using a spatula, press down on the filtered pieces of lemongrass to extract as much of the milk out. Discard the lemongrass.

4. Whisk the milk mixture until even. Wash the saucepan to clean of all milk buildup accumulated during the initial simmering. Pour the milk mixture back into the clean saucepan. Simmer over medium low heat, stirring constantly. Once the milk thickens to the consistency of a custard (dip a spoon in and the back of the spoon should come out with a thick even coat of milk), remove from the heat.

5. Immediately pour into a glass bowl. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

6. Once the mixture has thoroughly chilled, prepare it with an ice-cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions.

7. Serve with fresh mint leaves or chopped peanuts or both.

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