Ice kachang (also known as "hong dou bing" in Mandarin or "ais kacang" in Malay) is one of the most popular cold desserts in Singapore and Malaysia. In Malaysia, it is now mostly known as 'ABC', which is an acronym for Air Batu Campur (mixed ice) .The name literally means red bean ice. Given the hot and humid climate of Southeast Asia, many locals and tourists find this dessert a refreshing refuge and delicious treat.
The dessert first started off in the 1950s and 1960s in the form of ice balls, commonly found at roadside stalls and street corner shops. Finely grated ice bits firmly packed into a ball shape, the vendor would coat it with a sweet syrup. Back then, one could find many children and even adults surrounding the pushcart vendor, waiting for him to concoct one ice ball at a time. Notwithstanding hygiene considerations back then, the ice balls were simply eaten with one's bare hands.
In a sense, the ice kachang can be considered a more updated version of the ice ball dessert. The general principles behind the dessert remain the same - a mound of shaved ice (shaped like a little mountain), coated with various coloured syrups (green, yellow and red) or condensed milk or gula malaka (palm sugar). Underneath this ice mound are different ingredients like grass jelly, multi-coloured jelly cubes, red beans, sweet corn and palm seeds (or known locally as attap chee). Unlike in the past, the dessert is now served in either a bowl or a tall glass. The usual way of eating the dessert is to jumble up the ice and the ingredients such that it becomes a sweet mushy mixture.
Depending on the stall's specialty, the customer could also ask for additional novelty toppings like chocolate syrup and durian paste.
According to ice kachang connoisseurs (if they can be called that), a good ice kachang would have its ice bits cleanly shaven, so that they should just melt in your mouth together with the syrup. The taste and texture of the dessert will also be enhanced with the varied ingredients found in the ice.
Today, this popular dessert can be easily found in the coffee shops, hawker centres, food courts in shopping malls and hole-in-the-wall dessert shops. It usually costs S$1.50 - $2.50.
In popular media
As a testimony of the local popularity of the dessert, a romantic comedy film called Ice Kacang Puppy Love was even made in 2010, about a young man's love for his long-time crush. In addition, it is also found in several local dramas and films.
To make your own ice kachang, you will require the following ingredients.
- 1 bowl of shaved ice
- Attap chee (palm seeds) (usually available in cans found in supermarkets)
- 50g of sweet corn
- 50g of red beans (cooked till soft)
- 50g of grass jelly
- 2 tea spoons of sweet condensed milk,
- 2 tea spoons of gula malaka (palm sugar),
- 4 tea spoons of pandan syrup
- 4 tea spoons of rose syrup
- Optional toppings: chocolate syrup, chocolate rice, durian paste
Step 1: Mix the attap chee, red beans, sweet corn and grass jelly in a bowl.
Step 2: Top up the mixture with the shaved ice until it is like a little mountain.
Step 3: Add the pandan syrup and rose syrup first, before adding the gula malaka and condensed milk around the ice mound. After that, you can also add your own favourite toppings too.
Then sit back and enjoy your own ice kachang!
This dessert originates from the Peranakans, who are descendants from the inter-marriages between Chinese immigrants and the Malay natives Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia since the 16th century. A popular dessert which can be found in roadside stalls, coffee shops, desert stores and shopping malls' food courts, the chendol comprises of thin green pandan flavored jelly strips and gula malaka (palm sugar), served in iced coconut milk. Red beans, grass jelly and creamed corn are used as toppings to enhance the flavour. Some vendors also give this dessert an unique taste by adding a scoop of durian or vanilla ice-cream.
Like ice kachang, the chendol is a much sought-after dessert in the sweltering tropical climate in Southeast Asia. Depending on the vendor, the dessert can be served in a bowl or a glass.
To make your own ice chendol, you will require the following ingredients.
- 350g of gula malaka (palm sugar)
- 100g of sugar
- 250 ml of water
- 3 pandan leaves
- 65g of green bean flour
- 500 ml of water
- a few drops of green food colouring
- 5 pandan leaves
- 1 litre of coconut milk
- (optional) cooked red beans, creamed corn, grass jelly, your favourite ice-cream flavour