I was chatting with a friend on Facebook recently (actually, Belinda from Why Yes, I Do Eat Constantly) about the green curry recipe that I wrote about, and the topic of an Italian-Thai fusion dish came up. At first I jokingly suggested a shrimp paste risotto, which is a dish that I hope nobody ever tries to create. Belinda then suggested, in a more serious tone, a green curry pizza. Over the past couple of days I have been thinking about how I could actually create a fusion of these two fine, yet vastly different, cuisines. The result: A classic Italian custard infused with a classic Thai flavour.
Zabaglione (sometimes zabaione, zabajone, or sabayon) is basically a custard of pouring consistency, and sometimes can even double as a sweet creamy drink. It is traditionally made by vigorously whipping egg yolks with sugar over a double boiler, often with the addition of a sweet wine such as Marsala. It is actually incredibly simple to make, and a perfect dessert for when you have last-minute guests coming over. By whisking continuously and vigorously while the mixture is cooking, the custard ends up with an incredibly light and airy consistency.
In this recipe, the traditional flavour imparted by Marsala is set aside, and replaced with essences that will be recognisable to anybody familiar with Thai cooking. Kaffir lime leaves, palm sugar and galangal are three ingredients found in many Thai curries, desserts, soups and condiments, and will be used to give this Italian classic a Thai twist. The kaffir lime leaves have a distinct but subtle flavour, and the galangal gives the tuiles a great spiced note, almost like gingerbread.
Just about every supermarket stocks palm sugar (usually in the Asian section), and increasingly also galangal and kaffir lime leaves. If your local supermarket does not stock these, then they can easily be sourced from most good Asian groceries. I used about eight leaves in this recipe, however the amount should be varied according to taste.
Ingredients (Serves 5)
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 4 egg yolks
- 30g palm sugar
- 5-10 Kaffir lime leaves
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup plain flour
- 3 tablespoons grated galangal
- Start by preparing the mixture for the galangal tuile. Whip the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer. Add the egg whites and incorporate thoroughly.
- Continue mixing and slowly add all of the flour, being sure not to over mix. Add the galangal and stir it evenly through the mixture.
- Refrigerate the mixture for at least one hour.
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. The tuile can be made into any shape by using an appropriate stencil. To make a spiral, cut a thin strip out of a piece of baking paper.
- Using the stencil and a silicon spatula, spread thin layers of the tuile mixture onto a sheet of baking paper resting on a baking tray. The layers should be thin, approximately 0.5mm.
- Place the tray into the oven for 5-10 minutes, or until the edges of the tuile start to brown. If they become too brown they will be too brittle to shape into the spirals.
- While still hot the biscuits will be very flexible and can be shaped in any way. To make spirals, the strips should be wound around a thin cylindrical object, such as the handle of a wooden spoon or cannoli tubes. This must be done very quickly because the biscuits will become brittle almost as soon as they begin cooling.
- The tuiles should become brittle very rapidly and hold their shape. They can then be removed from the spoon handle or cannoli cylinders.
- To prepare the zabaglione, start by roughly crushing and tearing the kaffir lime leaves. Add the leaves and the cream to a saucepan and bring to the boil. Once boiling, remove the saucepan from the heat and and set aside to cool slightly.
- In the meantime, vigorously whip the egg yolks and palm sugar in a glass bowl until it forms a uniform and airy mixture. Note that palm sugar in a block form should be finely chopped or grated with a microplane prior to use.
- When cool, remove the kaffir lime leaves from the cream. Slowly pour the cream, while whisking, into the egg mixture.
- Set the egg and cream mixture atop a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the bottom of the glass bowl does not touch the water’s surface. Whisk continuously for 10-15 minutes, or until the custard is cooked and has a thick pouring consistency. If required, periodically remove the bowl from the heat to ensure that the eggs do not overcook and scramble.
- Serve the zabaglione by pouring into serving glasses and garnishing with the tuile.