Lemongrass and ginger sorbet

Distinctive lemongrass and sweet, warm ginger make this simple sorbet an elegantly refreshing dessert.

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Developing the recipe for this sorbet became an obsession of mine last summer, one that stretched well into autumn. I wanted to make a sorbet that was built around the delicate, distinctive taste of lemongrass. Getting the flavour profile properly balanced was one thing; getting it to work as a sorbet was a whole project of its own.

I made many, many batches in full mad-scientist mode, trialling and erroring, tweaking and tuning, and they were tested and judged by everyone who walked through my front door. We reached a consensus on the best batch and here it is for you, fully formed and functional, ready to rock 'n' roll. You're welcome.

But please don't let my brand of obsessive madness deter you: armed with the finished recipe, it's shockingly simple to make. If you have an ice cream machine it's a breeze. If you don't, I wasn't willing to abandon you with an instruction to go out and buy a piece of equipment in order to make it, so I've included the way to make it without a machine as well. It's the way I've made it when I was away from home. (My insanity does not extend to travelling with an ice cream machine. Yet.)

I specify liquid glucose below only because it's easier for me to find in Australia. For my US readers, especially, light corn syrup (unflavoured, not the vanilla kind) may be more readily available and will do exactly the same job.


LEMONGRASS AND GINGER SORBET

Serves 4.

3 stalks of fresh lemongrass
25g (1 oz) fresh ginger
juice of 1 lemon
60ml (¼ cup) liquid glucose
75g (⅓ cup) sugar
500ml (2 cups) water

Bruise the lemongrass under the blade of a knife, then slice it lengthways and chop it into 5cm (2 inch) pieces. Don't bother peeling the ginger; just cut it into fine slices.

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let it sit, infusing, for 30 minutes.

Strain through a sieve and chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge before pouring into an ice cream machine, following the manufacturer's instructions before freezing.

Move to the fridge to soften just a little – 10 minutes is enough – before serving.

Machine-free method

The key to making sorbet without a machine is to chill the mixture down in steps, which stops it going grainy.

A metal container such as loaf tin, with a sheet of foil as a lid, is ideal because it will help create more ice crystals around the edges as it freezes, which you beat in.

After straining, let the mixture come to room temperature. Then move it to the fridge for at least 2 hours, before moving it to the freezer for an hour.

Take it out and beat it well with a fork or small whisk. Do this every hour, two or three times, until no liquid remains and it is thickly slushy and icy throughout, then leave to freeze until required.

Move to the fridge to soften just a little – 10 minutes is enough – before serving.