Serving Cilantro Ice Cream: Believe It.

by Jen Wanous

A dear friend of mine from California, Ms. Kati Bissonette, celebrated her 30th birthday in the Big Apple. I love bringing people together in celebration and what better way to do that than with food! With a guest list of 10 for this dinner, I knew that I had to get a bigger table. I have the rare New York City luxury of having a large living/dining room.  I hopped on Craig’s List and found a folding table that would fit 10. A car trip and a tour inside a Brooklyn artist’s apartment later, I was the proud owner of a flea market-worthy six-foot long folding table.

Now, on to the dinner. I have started a tradition of creatively crafting a menu based on the guest of honor’s five favorite ingredients. I asked Kati what her fave five  were and this is what she said:

1. truffle oil

2. seared beef

3. pumpkin

4. cucumber

5. cilantro

Good ones, Kati! This gave me a lot to work with. I set out to my local co-op grocery store and picked up ingredients for the menu:

  • Drink: Lemongrass, lime and rum cocktail
  • Appetizer: Ginger butternut squash soup with truffle oil crutons
  • Dinner: Beef laarb, cucumber som tom and sticky rice
  • Dessert: Chocolate, coconut cake with cilantro ice cream
I know, cilantro ice cream is a bit out there. The guest of honor was skeptical too. Much to her amazement, the flavor won her over, and she gushed about how good it was. The combo of chocolate, coconut and cilantro paired nicely. It was sweet, decadent, creamy and refreshing in its herbal complexity. Happy 30th birthday Kati!

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Cucumber Som Tom
Many years ago I lived in Bangkok and I loved this salad. This is a modified version of a Thai favorite from when I lived there.
Serves 4-6
1 clove garlic
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
hearty handful green beans, cut on a diagonal
1/4 cup peanuts, roasted
1 tablespoon fish sauce
juice of one lime
thai chili pepper to taste
2 large cucumbers, cut into long matchsticks
1. Using a mortal and pestle or bowl and wooden spoon, smash the garlic with the salt and sugar. Add the tomatoes and green beans, pound a few times, bruising them.
2. Add all the other ingredients and mix well.
Cilantro Ice Cream
Yields 1 Quart
2 big bunches cilantro
2 cans coconut milk (28 oz, don’t use “light”)
1 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
Equipment you’ll need: blender, fine mesh strainer and ice cream machine.
1. Blanch and shock the cilantro: Clean cilantro, dip in simmering water for a about 15 seconds, move to an ice bath, drain.
2. Add cilantro and coconut milk in a blender. Blend on high speed for a minute or two. With a fine mesh strainer, strain out all the solid pieces of cilantro.
3. To the liquid, add sugar and salt until dissolved. Freeze according to your ice cream machine guideline.  (about 20 mins)

One Comment to “Serving Cilantro Ice Cream: Believe It.”

  1. The cilantro ice cream sounds fabulous. I can’t wait to try it out!

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