“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.
Smoked Strawberry Miso Ice Cream
- Cutting board
- Paring knife
- Medium pot
- 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.
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Chief Entertainment Officer
Melissa is 100% MIT (Made in Taiwan), where she worked as a food writer. She’s also worked alongside renowned chefs like Ming Tsai and Joanne Chang, honing her craft and gathering stories along the way. Part story-teller, part educator, and part food lover, Melissa brings a special blend of experience, skill, and enthusiasm to her work. She blends her Asian background, her new home of New England, and love of food and culture to bring joy, optimism, and inspiration to food lovers and fun-seekers everywhere.
What sparked your passion for the industry?
The desire to make things by hand. The joy of sharing delicious, hearty food with students. The opportunity for people to get connected via cooking and baking. When a child smiled broadly and told me it’s the best scone he has ever made and eaten, it really made my day!
In your opinion, what’s the most important course?
Well, I usually take a peek at the wine list first. I like tapas style, so the course doesn’t really matter. Cheese and charcuterie are always a good place to start. And since I’m a pastry chef, there is always room for dessert!
Bill Gates is picking up your tab, where would you go?