The trick to making the Taiwanese snack of deep-fried ice cream is to work fast before the ice cream melts
If you miss Taiwanese street food, here is a popular snack you can whip up at home.
Fried ice cream is not a new thing, but the Taiwanese version of it - called zha bing qi lin in Mandarin, essentially a deep-fried ice cream sandwich - seems the easiest to replicate. Or at least that is what several recipe videos I checked out online will have me believe.
It is an attractive dish considering how short the ingredient list is. But I do not have an air-conditioned kitchen and our tropical weather makes the dish quite a challenge to pull off.
But having a spring-handle ice cream scoop of the right size helps a lot. It takes me two attempts to figure out a suitable size - the scoop should be 4.6cm in diameter. If too big a scoop of ice cream is placed on the standard white bread slices, it will leak.
I try using spoons of varying sizes, but it is difficult to get a perfect half-scoop of ice cream needed for this recipe.
Do not attempt to weigh your ice cream, because it will melt before you can shape your sandwich. Instead, fill the ice cream scoop to the brim, which works out to half a scoop of ice cream.If you do not mind spending a tad more, get an Italian-made spring-handle scoop. The spring handle for the one I bought works smoothly.
For the white bread, I recommend Gardenia Enriched White Bread (also low in sugar) or FairPrice White Bread - Enriched, because I find that the slices have fewer holes and can better hold in the ice cream filling.
Remove the bread crust so you can flatten the bread evenly with a rolling pin. (Tip: Keep the crust to make bread crust fries or turn them into crumbs for coating other food for frying).
Using a flour mixture to brush the filling side of the bread helps the ice cream stick and seal the edges of the resulting disc-shaped ice cream sandwich.
Use a drinking glass with a 7cm diameter as a mould for forming the disc shape. While you can also use a bowl or cup, a glass allows you to see if the bread can hold in the filling as you are shaping it.
Use a knife to remove the excess bread. Do not try to shake out the sandwich from the glass. Carefully pick at the edge and gently ease it out.
Place the sandwich on a baking tray and freeze it immediately while you prepare the rest of the sandwiches. It is important that you work quickly as the ice cream melts rapidly in our hot weather. If the ice cream cannot hold its shape, it is best to put it back in the freezer and let it get solid enough.
While some online recipes call for the sandwiches to be frozen for 30 minutes to an hour before deep-frying, I think it is best to do so for at least four hours or overnight.
Each sandwich should go straight from the freezer into the hot oil. Do not thaw or the ice cream filling might lose its shape during the flash-frying.
You also want to avoid condensation as water droplets on the sandwich will cause the oil to splatter.
This is not a dish to dawdle over and it is best eaten stove-side.
DEEP-FRIED ICE CREAM
- 12 slices of white bread
- 1 tsp plain flour
- 2½ Tbs water
- Six scoops of ice cream
- 400ml cooking oil
- A stainless steel spring-handle ice cream scoop with a 4.6cm diameter for the scoop
- A drinking glass with a 7cm diameter
- A knife
- An oil strainer
1. Stack two slices of bread and slice off the crust from all sides. Do the same with the remaining slices.
2. Use a rolling pin to flatten each slice of bread on both sides to a thickness of 3mm or 4mm.
3. Place two slices of bread side by side.
4. Add the flour to the water and mix well until the flour is dissolved.
5. Using a brush, lightly spread the flour mixture onto one side of each slice of bread.
6. Place a scoop of ice cream in the centre of one slice of bread. Place the other slice - with the side brushed with flour mixture facing downwards - over the slice with the ice cream, to form a sandwich.
7. Make sure the edges of both slices of bread are aligned.
8. Place a glass over the centre of the sandwich. Press the glass down firmly to form a disc-shaped sandwich.
9. Use a knife to cut around the edges of the glass and remove the excess bread.
10. Place the sandwich in a baking tray and in the freezer while you prepare the remaining ice cream sandwiches.
11. Freeze the sandwiches for at least four hours or preferably overnight until they are frozen solid.
12. In a saucepan or pot, heat 400ml of cooking oil to 180 to 200 deg C.
13. Remove the frozen ice cream sandwiches from the freezer only when you are ready to place them in the heated oil.
14. Deep-fry one sandwich at a time.
15. Place the sandwich in the oil using an oil strainer and deep-fry for 10 seconds.
16. Remove the sandwich from the oil and serve immediately.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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