Portland, Oregon is known for its foodie culture. When Jonathan and I were there this summer for the International Food Blogger Conference, we had our pick of fabulous restaurants to choose from. So, guess what we had for lunch? Ice cream! The tasting menu at Salt & Straw was irresistible! Just look at their menu and you’ll see what I mean. My favorite of all of the flavors that I tried was a collaboration between Salt & Straw and Boke Bowl – a fish sauce caramel ice cream with lemongrass and kaffir lime.
Fish sauce caramel is a flavor combination that I had never envisioned (although I wasn’t too far off with my miso caramel). The salt and umami of the fish sauce creates an elevated version of salted caramel that blew my mind – big time. It is now March and I’m still thinking about that ice cream.
As part of my chocolatier for a day at Kakao Chocolate, I was encouraged to bring some ingredients and create my own product. Guess what I brought! You got it: fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves, and lemongrass.
Together with Jenny from Kakao, we developed these fish sauce kaffir lime caramels half dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with lemongrass. They taste like basic/always-enjoyable caramels at first, but as they sit in your mouth, the Thai flavor of the fish sauce kicks in. The kaffir lime and lemongrass flavors come last to complete the Thai ensemble. The caramels weren’t quite as good as the ice cream (I’ll be striving for that perfection for years), but they were pretty special and would be a fitting conclusion to a modern Thai dinner.
About the Key Ingredients
If you haven’t done much Thai cooking, you probably have never purchased fish sauce, lemongrass, or kaffir lime leaves. You may be able to find fish sauce and lemongrass at your regular grocery store, but you’ll likely have to head to an Asian market to find kaffir lime leaves. Once you have them, don’t let the extra ingredients go to waste – try your hand at Thai cooking.
Although I don’t usually give recipes in grams, that’s how it’s done at Kakao (and by pretty much all professionals), so that’s how I’ve written this post. If you don’t already own a kitchen scale, I highly recommend you buy one. They’re inexpensive, and once you own a kitchen scale, you’ll never know how you lived without one. You’ll also need a candy thermometer. I’ve been telling you for ages how much I love my Maverick thermometer (it beeps when it reaches the temperature you set so you don’t need to hover over it watching the temperature rise). I was excited to see that they use the same thermometer at Kakao!
If you like these, check out my intensely Thai cupcakes!