Sunday, November 9, 2008

(Almost) Susanna Foo's Lychee and Lemon Thyme Sorbet

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Well, pretty much. I can explain.

The basic elements of this recipe are shamelessly cribbed from the doyenne of Philadelphia's New Chinese cuisine, Susanna Foo. This delicious sorbet (or something very like it) is a standard at Ms. Foo's eponymous restaurant, where's it's appeared on the menu for over twenty-five years. I've taken her recipe and barely modified it, creating a version that's less sweet and includes the bracing element of fleur de sel.

So, in a word, is this the exact recipe? No, but it's close enough that I feel credit must be paid where credit is due.

The main difference is that Ms. Foo's includes sugar syrup (either simple syrup, or from the can of lychees), whereas mine suggests the use of Sauternes, the etheareal, honeyed, French dessert wine. Sauternes can be hard to find, and you don't want to use an expensive bottle for this -- furthermore, White Port can be a fine substitute if you're on a budget. Because the wine gets simmered, the alcohol will cook off, so it won't interfere with the freezing process or intoxicate your guests.

I've also increased the amount of lemon thyme and lemon juice -- the citrusy, herbal elements that these bring help provide balance to the final product.

Finally, the Fleur de Sel both amplifies the natural flavor of the sorbet and adds a lovely, briny top note, as if you're eating your sorbet on the beach. It's completely optional, but you may like to experiment with it yourself. Note that it shouldn't be added until you're ready to serve the sorbet, as the salt will begin to melt it (Think rock salt on a sidewalk in January).

Below, the absurdly simple recipe:


(Almost) Susanna Foo's Lychee and Lemon Thyme Sorbet

2 Cups fresh, pitted lychees
(or one Fifteen-Ounce can of the same, drained of syrup)

2 Teaspoons honey (orange blossom preferred)

5 springs lemon thyme (or regular thyme, alternatively)

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup Sauternes (or other sweet dessert wine)

1 pinch Fleur de Sel (optional, but suggested)

Puree the lychees in a food processor with the Sauternes until smooth.

Pour the wine/lychee mixture into a pot together and add the honey, lemon thyme, and lemon juice.

Bring all ingredients to a full boil, and continue to boil it for one minute longer after that point.

Remove from heat, let cool at room temperature, and refrigerate everything overnight.

Strain the mixture through a sieve or a very fine strainer, and toss out the solid bits that are left behind.

Put the strained syrup into an ice-cream maker, and chill according to manufacturer's directions.


That's it! When you're ready to serve the sorbet, sprinkle the pinch of little Fleur de Sel over the final product, and add a small splash of extra Sauternes, if you're feeling frisky!

That's all for now -- it's occured to me that I haven't posted an entree up to Burning Pasta in a while, so look for something a bit more substantial to grace these pages soon. Now, where did the Pasta Burner go with that spinach?

Music: The Zombies -- "Time Of The Season"

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