Lemongrass Ice Cream (Kem Xa)

  • Preparation: 25 mins
  • Cooking: 30 mins
  • Skill level: Easy
  • Servings: 5

Description Lemongrass Ice Cream (Kem Xả)

Made with milk, rather than cream and eggs, Lemongrass Ice Cream (Kem Xa) is thickened with cornstarch, which Vietnamese cooks use to yield a smooth texture. The result is a lighter-than-usual ice cream that allows the lemongrass to shine.
When preparing the lemongrass, you need to remove only the dry outer leaves and trim any dry edges at the very top. You can then use as much of the stalk as you like, as it is discarded after the milk is infused. In fact, sometimes when I trim lemongrass for other Vietnamese Desserts Recipe, I freeze the tough top sections for making this ice cream.


  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups coarsely chopped lemongrass (3 to 4 stalks)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch

Method Lemongrass Ice Cream (Kem Xả)

1, In a saucepan, combine 2 cups of the milk and the lemongrass and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep for 30 minutes.
2, In a bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup milk, the sugar, and the cornstarch until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Position a fine-mesh sieve over the bowl and pour in the lemongrass-infused milk, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids.
3, Rinse and dry the saucepan, pour in the milk mixture, and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. To test, run your finger along the back of the spoon; it should leave a trail that does not fill in.
4, Strain the base one last time through the sieve to remove any bits, and then set aside to cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours to chill well and develop the flavor.
5, Freeze the mixture in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Chef's Note

- Prepare the base a day or two in advance of churning and let it chill and develop flavor in the refrigerator.
- Churn the sorbet or ice cream at least 2 hours before serving, pack tightly into a container to prevent crystallization, and place in the freezer to firm up and smooth.
- Let the sorbet or ice cream stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes to soften before serving.
- The flavor of a sorbet or ice cream fades after 3 or 4 days. To revive it, thaw it until it is once again a liquid, make any flavor adjustments, and refreeze in an ice-cream maker.

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