- Food & Drink
I am a herd beast and when all other food bloggers go mad for Szechuan food, I go mad for Szechuan food too. I order the crispy pig’s intestines and shovel the crunchy-soft offal into my gullet, savouring the chilli heat and the peppercorn numbness. And then I tell everyone about it so no one can be in any doubt about how up to date and on trend I am with the latest food fashions (have I mentioned I also like burgers?).
My Szechuan natterings have not gone unnoticed and when Housemate Number 1 was in New York, she stopped off at Dean & Delucca and bought me a rather snazzy tin of Szechuan peppercorns. Most people would have reached for their Fuschia Dunlop, some chopped up pig and got stir frying. But I have a full set of sweet teeth, so I thought ice cream.
A range around the internet turned up this recipe, and I used it as the basis for my version. I cut out the flour and salt and anglicised the ingredients and measurements. It makes a fresh, aromatic, herby ice cream – grown up and grassy tasting. I baked some toasted sesame biscuits to go with it and will put up the recipe for those tomorrow. It’s a scrumptious combination.
Szechuan peppercorn ice cream
Makes 1 litre
3 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
300ml double cream
250ml whole milk
6 medium egg yolks (you’ll need 1 egg white for the toasted sesame biscuits, the rest can be frozen for meringues)
100g caster sugar
1 Place 1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns in a pan with the cream and milk and gently bring to a simmer, until it’s steaming hot, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and leave for 30 minutes to infuse. Grind the remaining Szechuan peppercorns with a pestle and mortar until finely crushed. Shake through a sieve to separate the powder from any papery husks. Discard the husks.
2 Strain the cream and milk mixture through a sieve to remove the peppercorns and return the mixture to the pan.
3 Beat the eggs, sugar and Szechuan peppercorn powder together in a heatproof bowl until pale and thick. Place a handful of ice and some water in a larger bowl to make an ice bath and place the egg and sugar bowl inside it.
4 Heat the cream and milk again until steaming, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and slowly pour into the eggs and sugar, a little at a time, beating constantly, until combined. Don’t add it all at once because the heat could scramble the eggs. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the ice bath until cold.
5 If you have an ice cream maker, follow the instructions to churn the ice cream and then freeze. If you don’t, you’ll need to pour it into a freezeproof container, freeze for an hour, beat with a fork with to break up any ice crystals and then repeat this for 7 or 8 hours to until you have a smooth ice cream. Serve with toasted sesame biscuits.