Lemon verbena ice-cream with Szechuan pepper

Frank Camorra
Lemon verbena ice cream with strawberries and Szechuan pepper.
Lemon verbena ice cream with strawberries and Szechuan pepper. Photo: Marina Oliphant

The distinctive taste of Szechuan pepper adds a buzz to this dessert.


300ml thick cream

300ml milk

1 vanilla bean, split

handful lemon verbena leaves

6 egg yolks

175g castor sugar

600g strawberries, washed and sliced

1 tbsp Szechuan pepper, toasted and ground


Place cream and milk in a saucepan. Scrape in the vanilla seeds and add the bean. Bring to the boil, then add lemon verbena leaves, turn off the heat and set aside for 10 minutes to infuse.

Place the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until pale. Carefully pour the milk mixture in, then return to a clean saucepan.

Cook over low heat, stirring, for about 5 minutes until it is slightly thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon (this simple custard forms the basis of a classic ice-cream recipe).

Pass the liquid through a sieve to remove the leaves and vanilla pod, set aside to cool, then refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Churn in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer's directions.

Place 2 scoops of ice-cream in a bowl, add some strawberries, then sprinkle a pinch of pepper over the top and serve.