The first time I experienced this amazing creamy rich flavoured ice cream with its’ pungent ginger topping I thought I was in taste-heaven. To bring out the flavour of the candied ginger, it is very important to “brutalize” it a bit like a tough piece of water buffalo.
The process for making this truly amazing treat was told to me originally in the mid 1990’s on a trip to Isan when we had the pleasure of spending time with the late Colonel in Korat. (Colonel Ian F. Khuntilanont-Philpott)
I accomplish this tenderizing using a 40 blade meat tenderizer. In Thailand they often use a heavy roller with sharp teeth that is normally used to tenderize squid. The slices of ginger should be of uniform thickness. You can slice the ginger with a food processor blade or mandolin or a very sharp knife with a steady strong hand.
Preparation of the candied ginger:
1 cup sliced ginger
2 cup water
1 ˝ cup date palm sugar
baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
If you are using tender young ginger you may leave the skin on. Older ginger should be peeled. To peel ginger with ease, take a teaspoon (bowl side upwards) and drag it quickly over the rhizome removing the brown skin.
Slice the ginger into uniform roundels about an eighth of an inch thick, and then roll them until they are half the original thickness.
Dust the ginger lightly with the baking soda, and leave to stand for about 10 minutes.
Remove the baking soda by vigorously brushing with a stiff bristled brush to produce a slightly matte texture to the surface, and then immerse in lime juice for an hour.
This has the effect of heightening the flavor, and also giving the ginger a delicate pink color. Bring the water to a boil, and stirring continuously, add the sugar a little at a time until all is dissolved and forms a sticky, syrupy consistency.
If necessary add a touch more water to ensure all the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to very low and add the ginger slices and simmer, very gently, for 10 minutes, then turn off the stove and allow the ginger to cool naturally.
Remove the ginger from the liquid and drain it (you don't have to be overly enthusiastic about this, but it shouldn't be too wet either), and put it in a sterile preserving jar, and keep in the refrigerator for at least a week before use. Reserve the ginger syrup in another sterilized jar, to pour over the ice cream.
Ice cream is clearly not "authentically Thai" in the sense that it has been served for hundreds of years (Thailand is a tropical country and without modern refrigerators it is very difficult to make ice cream), but it is now widely available and very popular.
However two things are uniquely Thai: firstly it isn't made with animal milk, but with coconut milk, and secondly it is not usually flavored with fruit, but rather with savories such as corn, sweet potato, or herbs.
2 cups coconut milk
1 cup water
1 cup corn kernels, pureed
1 tsp vanilla or rosewater (optional)
2 tbl shredded coconut (see below)
˝ to 1 cup sugar.
pinch of salt
In a dry wok or skillet, over medium heat, toast the coconut 'meat' until golden brown, and set aside to cool. Split the pineapple in half lengthwise, and scoop out the woody heart of the fruit and then place the two halves in the refrigerator to cool.
Combine the coconut milk and water, and warm it, then stir in the sugar, and continue to stir until dissolved. In a blender, puree the corn kernels (or use a can of creamed corn), and then stir it into the coconut milk, combining thoroughly.
Add the rosewater if you are using it, and a dash of salt and taste for flavor balance.
Transfer to a mixing bowl and, with a hand mixer, whisk thoroughly to incorporate air.
Pour the mixture into the two hollows in the pineapples and transfer to the freezer; chill until set.
Any extra ice cream can be frozen in ramekin dishes. Slice the pineapple into horizontal slices, and serve to the diners with any excess ice-cream also shared out, decorating each slice with pieces of candied ginger. Fold the fried coconut into the reserved ginger syrup, and pour over the slices of ice cream, decorate with mint and lime leaves (bai magroot/kaffier lime).