One of my most memorable restaurant experiences was in February 2004 at Oud Sluis. I remember my friend and I were a bit disappointed when reading the tasting-menu, it didn’t look that exciting. But wow, were we wrong! Every single bite was as exciting and thrilling and mindblowing as the other. Cooking at this level truely is art. Not just “an art”, but really art! It was unbelievable, I had never experienced anything like it before. Of course we didn’t have that much experience at eating in michelin star restaurants then, but now we do, my memory of this dinner is still my dearest. And it all began with a Kir Royal made with a homemade lemongrass & ginger liqueur. Simply brilliant.
I’ve searched the shops and internet for a similar liqueur, but never found it. The restaurant didn’t (want to) tell me how they made it and the liqueur-hobby-club I wrote to ask if they would make it on commision never showed any interest. But then one day I was joining some friends on the internet in a project of making your own coffee liqueur. You take ½ liter of brandewijn/vodka. Add 60 coffeebeans, 250 grams of brown rocksugar and a vanillapod. Shake it daily for 6 weeks and then enjoy your Tiam Aria. This simple recipe inspired me to try and make my own lemongrass & ginger liqueur. But after 2 weeks, the lemongrass looked a bit “off”. I was totally disappointed, gave up on it, but was too lazy to clean out the bottle. So the bottle kept standing there and then, after 2,5 months when somebody asked me about it, we decided to taste it anyway and it was just lovely. I even enjoyed drinking it pure, on the rocks. But of course, the best way is still to pour about 1 or 2 tablespoons in a champagne glass and top it up with prosecco, cava or any other dry, bubbling wine. Brilliant way to start an asian oriented dinner for which it’s difficult to find accompagnying wines anyway. And in summer it’s a brilliant apéritif for any meal.
1 ltr vodka or brandewijn
150 gr fresh ginger (the youngest you can find)
4 stalks of lemongrass
500 gr light rock sugar
Peel and cut the ginger. Try to use perfect bits only. Peel the outer layer of the lemongrass and bruise or cut it to release the flavours. Combine everything together in a jar or bottle that’s big enough to keep it all. (1.5-2 ltr) Be patient for at least 2 months, but taste it now and then to see if it’s sweet enough. It is a liqueur, so it’s supposed to be quite sweet. I forgot how much I’ve put into mine, so you need to find out for yourself.
NB. Dit recept is ook beschikbaar in het Nederlands op: Aziatische-ingrediënten.nl