Popular in Malaysia and Singapore, ais kecang, which literally translates as ‘iced beans’, has evolved from a simple dish of shaved ice and red beans into a flamboyant dessert with jellies, nuts, syrups and fruits. This thirst-quenching dessert is also called ‘ABC’, an abbreviation of air batu campur, meaning ‘mixed ice’.
- 100 g (½ cup) sago (tapioca pearls)
- 400 g can adzuki beans (see Note)
- 410 g can creamed corn
- 540 g can black grass jelly (see Note), cut into cubes
- 565g can attap chee (palm fruit) (see Note)
- 8 cups shaved ice
- 125 ml (½ cup) coconut milk
- 125 ml (½ cup) sweetened condensed milk
Rose sugar syrup
- 220 g (1 cup) caster sugar
- 1 tbsp rosewater
- red food colouring
- 220 g (1 cup) caster sugar
- 2 pandanus leaves (see Note), tied in a knot
- green food colouring
Palm sugar syrup
- 220 g (1 cup) grated palm sugar
- 1 pandanus leaf, tied in a knot
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Bring 1 litre water to the boil. Add sago, and cook, stirring, for 12 minutes or until translucent. Remove from heat, cover and rest for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse with warm water, then drain again. Leave to cool. Makes 1 cup.
To make rose sugar syrup, place sugar and 80ml water in a saucepan over high heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Stir in rosewater and a few drops of red food colouring. Remove from heat and cool. Makes 1 cup.
To make pandanus syrup, place sugar, 80ml water and pandanus leaves in a saucepan over high heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Add green food colouring. Remove from heat and cool. Remove and discard pandanus leaves. Makes 1 cup.
To make palm sugar syrup, place sugar, 80ml water and pandanus leaf in a pan over high heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Cool syrup and discard pandanus leaf. Makes 1 cup.
Spoon some adzuki beans, creamed corn, black grass jelly, attap chee and sago into each bowl, adding as much as you like. Top each with 2 cups shaved ice, moulding the ice into a cone shape. Drizzle over coconut milk, condensed milk and the syrups, as desired. Serve immediately.
• Adzuki beans, available from Asian food shops, are dark red with a sweet and nutty flavour.
• Black grass jelly, available from Asian food shops, is slightly bitter and is said to have cooling properties (known commonly in Malaysia as yin) and is therefore eaten in hot weather.
• Attap chee (palm fruit) is the immature, sweet fruit from the Nipah palm and features in many Asian desserts. It is available from Asian food shops.
• Pandanus leaves are available from selected greengrocers and Asian food shops.
Photography by John Laurie.
As seen in Feast magazine, Jan 2012, Issue 5.