I recently hosted a Gastronauts Supper Club dinner with a South American theme and decided to offer a palate cleanser in between courses, using an ingredient from the Americas. Not long ago I read a post by Rhubarb Whine about how to make a home smoker using your wok when the idea of a Smoked Tomato Sorbet popped into my head. This is unusual to say the least, as, just like Lola, I am not a big fan of tomatoes. I like Lola a lot. She doesn’t eat peas or carrots either.
After a bit of research, I decided upon a simple recipe adapted from Frank Camorra of MoVida. Simple as it was, it was not without its perils. If you decide to make this recipe, make sure you read my notes at the bottom.
It was a 35c day when I served this sorbet so it revived jaded palates and spirits and was certainly enjoyed by all. The splash of lemon gave a refreshing piquancy to the smoky flavours. I gave my mum a taste of this a few days later and she asked me if there was bacon in it. There isn’t. It just goes to show how your mind can play tricks on you. The smoky taste on her palate was close enough to smoky bacon to send a different message to her brain.
- 1kg Roma tomatoes
- up to 350ml liquid glucose (see note in ‘make’)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 600g salt (for curing)
- 100g sugar (for curing)
- wood chips or tea (for smoking)
- Cut a cross in the bottom of each tomato and blanch in boiling water. Remove and plunge tomatoes into iced (or cold) water. The skins should start to lift from tomatoes, allowing you to fully remove skins.
- Slice tomatoes in half and place face down in a baking dish. Mix sugar and salt together and sprinkle evenly over tomatoes. Cover loosely and allow to cure in fridge for 4 – 6 hours*.
- Rinse tomatoes thoroughly in fresh water to remove excess curing mix. Re-rinse if necessary.**
- Place tomatoes in a steamer basket/s (bamboo or metal is fine). Set aside to prepare the smoker.
- Line the wok with sufficient foil for a large overhang. Place a cup full of soaked wood chips or tea in a small mound and cover with a square of foil.***
- Place steamer in foil lined wok, over the mound of wood chips. Place lid on steamer if you have one and cover steamer with a large piece/s of foil, tucking it in loosely around the bottom. Take the foil that is overhanging the edges of the wok and fold it in, crimping onto the foil that covers the steamer to create a near airtight environment.
- Turn on heat to high and place wok on heat for one minute to warm the wood chips then turn down to low. This is important if you don’t want your wood chips, steamer and foods to end up as ash.
- Leave heat on low and smoke tomatoes for approximately 10 – 15 minutes. This will depend on your wok, the wood chips and heat.
- Allow to cool before carefully peeling away foil. If the tomatoes aren’t smoky enough, crimp foil back together and repeat process.
- If you are in a hurry or curious and want to open the smoker straight away – take it outside! so you do not fill your house with smoke….
Make Smoked Tomato Sorbet
- Puree smoked tomatoes in blender until smooth, strain to remove seeds and any solids and return to the blender jug
- Add the lemon juice and exactly half the amount of liquid glucose (ie: if it’s 600g of puree = 300g glucose) and blend
- Churn and freeze according to directions on your ice cream maker or
- Place in metal cake tray in freezer. As mixture starts to freeze, remove from freezer and mix well with a fork to break up ice crystals to ensure a smooth consistency. Continue to follow this process, checking on the smoked tomato sorbet at least every hour.
- I made small quenelles or scoops of smoked tomato sorbet as this was a palate cleanser. I found it best to scrape some sorbet out of the container and smoosh it a bit as it made forming the quenelle easier. I made one quenelle at a time, placed it on the dish and popped it back into the freezer, to make sure it didn’t melt.
- Also enjoyable as an accompaniment to a prawn cocktail!
It’s rare that I am wrong footed by a recipe but I certainly took a wrong turn with this one! The tomatoes were so salty after curing and smoking I was worried about what I could do, given the tight time frame. In the end, I blanched and pureed three extra tomatoes (no curing or smoking) to add to the mix as well as a little juice from some tinned tomatoes. This cut down the saltiness and restored the balance. So, here’s some more information to help.
- * I followed the recipe and cured overnight however, when I looked at them before I went to bed, most of the liquid had been drawn off already. Leaving them to cure for a long time probably added to the overall problems with excess saltiness. Don’t cure for more than 6 hours.
- ** I only gave a basic rinse as I was concerned about washing away the tomato flavour. Trust me – these can stand a good rinse! You want to remove excess saltiness but do not let them soak as you don’t want excess water.
- This makes approx 650g of Smoked Tomato Sorbet sorbet which is quite a lot for a savoury sorbet however, you can easily halve the recipe. The left over sorbet can be added to soups, sauces and stews for a boost of smoky, tomatoey flavour.
It appears there are others that feel the same way about tomatoes as I do. Click on the link to find out why Tomatoes are Evil