Whether you’re in Japan during the height of the summer or in the lush Malaysian tropics, you can’t go wrong with a chilled dessert to beat the heat. Let these popular shaved ice treats from around Asia to keep you from feeling hot and sweaty. These chilled treats can do wonders for improving your mood, too.
1. Kakigori (Japan)
Japanese cuisine is famous around the world. Sushi, sashimi, ramen, tempura, shabu-shabu, and yakitori are some of the most popular Japanese offerings to the culinary world. But not a lot of people do not speak often about Japanese desserts, especially chilled ones like kakigori.
Kakigori is a shaved ice dessert flavored with sweet syrup or any other sweetener. Some of the most popular kakigori flavorings include cherry, lemon, matcha, strawberry, melon, and sweet plum. It is usually bought at street stalls, convenience stores, coffee shops, restaurants, and specialized kakigori “cafés.” Another dessert similar to kakigori is called shirokuma, which consists of shaved ice flavored with condensed milk, fruits, colorful mochi (sweet glutinous balls), and sweet Azuki bean paste.
2. Bingsu or patbingsu (South Korea)
Anyone obsessed with K-pop culture may be already familiar with this dessert. Bingsu is a popular summer treat in South Korea consisting of milk, chopped fruit, fruit syrup, and red beans, topped over shaved ice. Sometimes, other ingredients such as injeolmi (rice cake dusted with powdered soybeans) are used. Try to go easy with your samgyeopsal and leave some room for bingsu!
3) Baobing (Taiwan)
Baobing is a Taiwanese chilled delight consisting of a large mound of finely shaved ice topped with fresh seasonal fruits (such as strawberry, rambutan, and mango), beans, and tapioca balls. Usual sweeteners include sugar water and condensed milk. This refreshment is also popular in China and Vietnam during summer.
4) Namkhaeng sai (Thailand)
Now, let’s go to Southeast Asia, where the tropical climate is a sure reason to crave for something cold! Namkhaeng sai is a popular shaved ice dessert in Thailand, similar to a snow cone. The dessert is easy to make as it just requires shaved coconut, cubed bread, milk, grass jelly in syrup, and coconut milk.
5) Ais kacang (Malaysia and Singapore)
Ais kacang (literally, “bean ice”) is a popular Malaysian shaved ice dessert consisting of sweet corn, roasted peanuts, agar agar cubes, grass jelly, and red beans, and then drizzled with evaporated milk, condensed milk, or coconut milk. This colorful dessert is sometimes topped with ice cream and other novelty ingredients such as durian or chocolate syrup. Ais kacang is also a familiar sight in Singaporean hawker centers.
6) Es campur (Indonesia)
Es campur (literally, “mixed ice”) is a popular refreshment in Indonesia consisting of fruit cocktails, tapioca pearls, coconut, and grass jelly, and usually drizzled with condensed milk. Other ingredients may include seaweed and jackfruit. For the predominantly Muslim country, es campur is a popular treat in Indonesia during the iftar, an evening meal to break the daily Ramadan fast at sunset.
7) Halo-halo (Philippines)
Halo-halo (literally, “mix-mix”) is a Philippine chilled dessert consisting of crushed or shaved ice, evaporated milk or condensed milk, sweetened plantain or sweet potato, tapioca pearls, kaong (sugar palm fruit), nata de coco, sweet corn, macapuno (coconut sport), gulaman (agar agar jelly), pinipig (rice crispies), sweetened red beans, ube, and jackfruit. Sometimes it is topped with ice cream, usually ube ice cream. While it is a popular summer treat in the Philippines, it can be enjoyed all year round.
8) Barad (Israel)
Not much is known about chilled desserts in West Asia and in the Middle East. And it’s a shame, considering the hot Mediterranean summers and desert climates that may make anyone clamor for something to cool them down. Israelis beat the heat with a chilled treat called barad, which literally means “hail” in Hebrew. It is similar to the Spanish granizado as it is more of a slush drink than a shaved or crushed ice dessert like the snow cone. Barad is usually sold at stalls on the streets and beaches.
9) Bici bici (Turkey)
Bici bici is a summer dessert particularly popular in southern Turkey and in the Mediterranean region in general. It starts with water and starch (usually cornstarch) to make a pudding. Once the water and starch are combined in a saucepan, it is left to cool and cut into small squares. Then the chopped pudding is flavored with syrup, usually a rose-flavored syrup, and topped with ice and drizzled with the remaining rose-flavored syrup. It is usually garnished with bananas and red fruits.