It was a hot summer day in New Jersey — felt like the hottest. A friend and I decided we had to have authentic Japanese ramen that day. The shortest distance between us and authentic ramen was a mere 60 miles, just across the Hudson from Manhattan on the New Jersey side, at the Mitsuwa Marketplace. Off we went like hounds on a distant scent.
The ramen was so delicious — entirely worth the trip — but to our surprise, it was a simple dessert that was revelatory: black sesame ice cream. Nutty, complex, sweet and savory, not to mention elegantly grayscale, this hitherto unknown treat totally tickled our palates.
BLACK SESAME ICE CREAM
recipe from Honest Cooking:
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup black sesame seeds, raw
a pinch of fine grain salt
2 cups excellent heavy cream
5 egg yolks
Toast the sesame seeds in a nonstick skillet for 5-7 minutes and grind them in a coffee grinder or spice mill. Whisk together the milk, sugar, and black sesame powder in a pot over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together with a teaspoon of the warm milk mixture. Add a few more teaspoons of the warm milk mixture. Pour the tempered egg/milk mixture into the pot and mix well. Add the cream and return to medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Transfer to a container or Ziploc bag and chill in the refrigerator, preferably overnight. Freeze the ice cream mixture in an ice cream maker and store in an airtight container in the freezer. To serve, top with toasted black sesame seeds and/or sliced fresh strawberries.