Jewish and Chinese holidays, despite some obvious differences, actually have many important features in common. Nothing puts a Jew at ease like a holiday characterized by ancient traditions, delicious foods that represent those traditions, and the widespread exchange of cash. As good Jews, Max and I decided this week to honor Chinese New Years with an ice cream recipe that pays homage to the tradition of using gold-colored ingredients for a rich year. Golden persimmons, golden honey, golden yolks, a touch of golden ginger; you get the picture.
The resulting ice cream is smooth and lush, with a hint of honey-and-ginger spice. Chinese desserts are often unfairly maligned for their lack of sweetness, but I appreciate a Cantonese chef's light touch with the sugar. After a complex, multi-course Chinese New Years meal (don't all Jewish families have those?), a subtle, mild dessert is exactly what the (Jewish) doctor ordered. It's even more delicious topped with a ladleful of warm, sweet red bean soup, cooked with orange peel.
The more of this ice cream I eat, the more strongly I support further integration of Chinese and Jewish holiday traditions. Lion dancers at the Seder, anyone?
Ethan Frisch is the chef and co-mastermind behind Guerrilla Ice Cream. He's traveled around the world (30 countries, 5 continents) and worked as a pastry chef and line cook in some of NYC's great (and not so great) restaurants. He currently lives in London, where he really misses New York City tap water.
Max Falkowitz writes Serious Eats' weekly Spice Hunting column. He's a proud native of Queens, New York, will do just about anything for a good cup of tea, and enjoys long walks down the aisles of Chinese groceries.
- Yield:1 quart
- Active time: 40 minutes
- Total time:8 hours
- 4 to 6 ripe persimmons, depending on size
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon grated or minced ginger
Peel and roughly chop persimmons. In heavy pot over low heat, mix persimmons, ginger, milk and cream, and cook until persimmon pieces are soft, about 20 minutes.
Blend mixture until smooth, either in pot using immersion blender, or by pouring into counter-top blender or food processor. Return to heat. Whisk egg yolks with sugar, and temper them into pot.
Add honey slowly, tasting as you go. Different types of honey will have different flavors and intensities of sweetness, so you may want to add more or less than 1/4 cup. Add lemon juice a few drops at a time, until persimmon's tartness is brought out without distinct lemon flavor.
Chill in refrigerator overnight and spin in ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions. Return to freezer for at least 1 hour before serving.