By Melissa Lee
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate.”
I love summertime in New England. Summer is berry season. My children and I enjoy going to local farms and harvesting berries. We use the berries we harvest to make pies, jams, turnovers, and ice cream. We love making homemade ice cream. The wonderful thing about making your own ice cream is you can be creative and adventurous. I like to challenge the boundary between sweet and savory.
Miso (みそ or 味噌) is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji (the fungus Aspergillus oryzae) and sometimes rice, barley, or other ingredients. If you’ve ever tasted miso before, chances are that you’ve experienced this flavor in savory dishes. Miso cod, miso soup, miso butter noodle… But how about Miso ice cream?
If you’ve never had miso ice cream and are concerned that this salty ingredient will not work for a dessert dish, think again. Have you had salty caramel ice cream? Have you had crispy bacon on your donut? Sometimes salty ingredients will make the dessert taste even sweeter, and the flavor profile will become so much more intriguing!
In the USA, shiro miso, “white miso,” and aka miso, “red miso,” are the most common options that you can find in any Japanese or Asian supermarkets. Aka miso (赤味噌) is aged, sometimes for more than one year. Due to the Maillard reaction, the color changes gradually from white to red or black, thus giving it the name red miso. Characteristics of the flavor are saltiness and some astringency with umami. Try Justin’s Red Miso Steak and Red Miso Glazed Carrot if you’re interested in the red miso.
Compared with red miso, white miso has a very short fermentation time. The taste is sweet, and the flavor profile is soft or light (compared to red miso). White miso is great for desserts, such as Robin’s Miso Peanut Butter and Jelly and this ice cream. My ice cream base was fruity, salty, sweet, and packed with umami.
To add more depth to the flavor of this ice cream, I smoke the ice cream base with apple chips, which creates a smokey and savory profile. One of my favorite treats during the Chinese New Year back home in Taiwan was dried longan pulp tea (dragon eye pulp). Longan pulp tastes similar to raisin, but it has smokiness to it. I love it!
This is a fun science project for home cooks—even better than a normal science experiment in a lab since you can enjoy a spoonful of summer.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Churning/Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Time management tip
Start ice cream base the day before churning
Yield: 1 quart
Serves: 8~10 people
List of the tools and special equipment
- Cutting board
- Paring knife
- Liquid and dry measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- One medium bowl
- One large bowl
- Rubber spatula
- Infrared thermometer
- Fine-mesh strainer
- Citrus juicer
- Ice cream maker
- Immersion blender or Vitamix
- Breville Smoking Gun
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
1 3/4 cups (430ml) heavy cream
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoon white miso (such as Saikyo, Shiro, or Shinshu)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups strawberries, hulled
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of applewood chips
- Set up and pre-chill the ice cream maker. Prepare the ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl. .
- Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and miso.
- To make the ice cream custard, heat the milk and heavy cream in a saucepan. Gradually pour some of the warm milk and heavy cream mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. This technique is called “temper.” It prevents you from making scrambled eggs in your ice cream custard. Scrape the warmed yolks with miso and milk back into the saucepan.
- Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula. It should be 170 F to 175F on an instant-read thermometer. Do not allow the custard to boil. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into the smaller bowl and stir over the ice until cool.
- Using an immersion blender, puree the strawberries with the lemon juice and stir into the ice cream base. Add the vanilla extract.
- Cover the ice cream base with plastic wrap. Add applewood chips to the burn chamber of the Breville Smoking Gun. Place the hose under plastic wrap with the opening sitting above the custard. Seal the plastic wrap.
- Turn the smoking gun on to HIGH SPEED and ignite woodchips. Switch to LOW SPEED and smoke for a few seconds until the bowl is filled with a dense smoke. Remove the hose and reseal the plastic wrap. Let it infuse in the refrigerator for 5~10 minutes. Taste the ice cream base. If it’s not smoky enough, repeat the smoking process one more time, stirring custard between each smoking session.
- Refrigerate the ice cream base to chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.
- Churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Enjoy right away or transfer to a freezer-safe container to chill until firm.
Nagano Prefecture, in the center of Japan’s Honshu island, is known for its mountains, hot springs, and architecture. They have a great reputation for producing high-quality miso. I used the white miso from Nagano (長野, aka 信州) to make this ice cream.
The key to making a smooth ice cream base is to have a high-quality blender. I have a Vitamix, and it allows me to make a very fine puree of my strawberries.
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Here are the Amazon affiliate links for you to order the ingredients and tools to create this delicious dish.