Watermelon in rosewater sauce with peanut ice-cream

• SERVES 6-8 •

Although the Chinese don't usually end a meal with a pudding as such, we've gone the laowai (foreigner) route and fashioned some of our sweet favourites from the street and the Chinese snacking repertoire into recipes that we call 'dessert'.

230 g (8 oz/1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
2½ tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
2 tbsp rosewater, or to taste
red food colouring (optional)
2 kg (4 lb 6 oz) seedless watermelon, peeled
peanut ice-cream, to serve (optional)

Combine 580 ml (19 fl oz/2⅓ cups) water and the sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Combine the cornflour with 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) water in a small bowl. Whisking constantly, add the cornflour mixture to the simmering syrup, whisking until the mixture simmers and thickens. Remove from the heat, then add the rosewater and enough red food colouring, if using, to tint the mixture pink. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, cut the watermelon into neat 1 cm cubes and divide among small bowls. Spoon the rosewater sauce over the watermelon and serve with a scoop of peanut ice-cream, if desired.

Peanut ice-cream

500 ml (17 fl oz/ 2 cups) cream (35% fat)
375 ml (12 ½ fl oz/ 1½ cups) full-cream (whole) milk
6 large egg yolks
230 g (8 oz/1 cup firmly packed) soft brown sugar
90 g (3 oz/ ⅓ cup) smooth peanut butter
80 g (2¾ oz/ ½ cup) raw, skinned peanuts, roasted and crushed

Combine the cream and milk in a saucepan and slowly bring just to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, pour the cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture and stir to combine well. Place the mixture in a clean saucepan, then, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook over a medium–low heat for about 8 minutes, or until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. Do not let the mixture get too hot or it will curdle. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

Put the peanut butter in a heatproof bowl, pour about 250 ml (8 fl oz/1 cup) of the hot custard into the bowl and stir to combine well. Add this to the remaining custard mixture in the pan, then stir well. Strain, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until well chilled. Stir in the crushed peanuts, then freeze in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Place in an airtight container and transfer to the freezer. The ice-cream will keep, frozen and covered, for up to 1 week. Serve with watermelon in rosewater syrup, if desired.

The Real Food of China
By Leanne Kitchen, Antony Suvalko