by Alicia Lieu
Be sure to check out the recipes at the end of this post and check back every month as Alicia shares her adventures of How I Met My Dinner!
Asian desserts are generally less sweet and rich than their American and European counterparts. That means they contain less guilt as well! The recipes call for less sugar, little to no butter, and are often flavored with naturally sweet starches like red and green beans. Summertime treats are also lighter than the average popsicle and ice cream bar.I can’t say that my childhood was lacking in anything, but one thing I always wanted but never got was a Snoopy Sno-cone machine. When I got to college, I bought myself a pretty standard ice shaver but I’ve never lost my desire to have my ice dispensed from Snoopy’s doghouse. Somehow, I still think it would taste better if it came from Snoopy. Crushed childhood dreams aside, Taiwanese style shaved ice does something other than add artificial flavoring to ice. Simple syrups, herbal jellies, and fruits are used to sweeten the ice. Koreans also have their dish called Pat Bing Su, which is shaved ice topped with condensed milk, fruit, beans, mochi (best described as glutinous rice pillows), and ice cream. One of my favorite places for Pat Bing Su is at Koryodong on 32nd Street in Manhattan’s Korea-town. The Green Tea Bing Su is what I get cravings for. Ten Ren Tea is a Taiwanese tea company that has six locations in New York City and 14 locations in California. I am never disappointed by their teas and many of their shops sell Bubble Tea in addition to tea leaves and tea sets. With various flavors of tea, with or without milk and a slushy option as well, the tapioca bubbles–also called pearls–add a different texture to the drink experience. These pearls are bigger than those in a typical pearl necklace and require triple width straws for consumption. Often described as “strange” or “weird” by people who try them for the first time, the pearls are fun to chew. There is a newcomer to the shaved ice market in Flushing, New York called Snopo. I can only describe the experience as how I would imagine eating a cloud, since I’ve never actually eaten snow or clouds. It has the texture of cotton candy, but it’s made with flavored ice. The menu appeals to one’s imagination with names like Princess Strawberry, Romantic Snowy and Asian Queen Romantic Snowy. Snopo flavors include lychee, green tea, mango, coffee and honeydew, among others and toppings include various fruits, beans, jellies, syrups, and cereals.
Could there be anything better than ice cream? Yes. Deep fried ice cream! Often found in Japanese, Thai and Mexican restaurants, fried ice cream has to be one of the greatest desserts ever invented! I first had deep fried ice cream at El Torito, a California based Mexican restaurant. Thailand’s Center Point in Woodside, New York uses a dough instead of corn flakes for its fried green tea ice cream which creates a lighter texture but still amazingly delicious. It never disappoints.
You can get a watermelon drink in Chinatown that is really refreshing. It is simple to make it at home if you have a blender, and if you are watching your sugar intake, you can omit the simple syrup. Deep fried ice cream is also something you can make at home, although there are a few steps involved. However, it is easy to be creative with it–changing out the coating ingredients, adding spices, or using different flavors of ice cream. There is a recipe for Pat Bing Soo here on the Food Network website.
Here are some recipes for you to try at home:
Chinese Icy Watermelon Drink
2 cups of watermelon, cubed, with seeds removed
2 cups of ice
1/4 cup simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water brought to a boil and cooled)
Place ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.
Deep Fried Ice Cream
1 quart ice cream (any flavor)
1 cup cornflakes (crushed)
1 cup Nilla Wafer crumbs
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
Vegetable oil, for frying
Whipped cream, optional
1. Divide ice cream and shape into four balls. Place them on a cookie sheet and cover in plastic wrap. Freeze for two hours.
2. Mix together the corn flakes and Nilla Wafer crumbs and place in a shallow pan. Coat each ball of ice cream with crumb mixture and place back into the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
3. Beat together the eggs and sugar in a bowl, then dip the ice cream into the egg mixture followed by the crumb mixture. Be sure that the ice cream is completely covered by the crumb mixture. Repeat the coating process if necessary. Freeze for another hour
4. Individually fry the ice cream for 30 seconds to 1 minute in vegetable oil (between 375-400 degrees), until golden brown. Serve immediately with, whipped cream topping optional.