When Richard Nixon visited Beijing in 1972, he ate shaved ice, locally know as bao bing, with Mao Zedong during a state dinner.
Bao bing (pronounced bow-BING) has been a ubiquitous part of Asian cuisine for hundreds of years, and it’s been traced back to China as early as the seventh century A.D.
There is nothing more cooling in the heat of summer than enjoying into an ice-based dessert.
Made with thin sheets of ice covered in sweet, Southeast Asian toppings, bao bing is as visually stunning to first-time tasters.
Chinese diners enjoyed this icy sweet more than 1,000 years ago, and have since brought bao bing appreciation to Taiwan, while Americans began eating it only decades ago, with one New York Times article discusses the frozen novelty’s “Americanization,” circa 1989.
Since then, the dessert has gained fans around the globe, with vendors and chefs often adapting their versions with local toppings.
Usually diners are meant to share the treat, which is often served in heaping portions.
Traditional bao bing makers often add sweet red beans and condensed milk on top, and they garnish the outer ring of the dish with fruits such as mango, lychee, and coconut, sometimes fresh, sometimes preserved in syrup.
Other popular additions include sugary, chilled peanut or sesame soup, glutinous rice cakes (mochi), and grass jelly, depending on the country of origin.
In recent years, customizable bao bing shops have sprung up in dozens of countries, allowing eaters to choose from an infinite variety of toppings.
Options range from classic Asian ingredients to chocolate syrup and candy.
For istance, Its Filipino version is called halo-halo, meaning “mix-mix” in Tagalog. It usually includes sweetened kidney and garbanzo beans, palm fruit preserves, nata de coco or coconut juice chews, and purple yam or mango ice cream. The assortment can be mixed together, as the name implies, or layered.
In Chinese and Taiwanese version of shaved ice, known as bao-bing or tsua-bing, the ice, piled high into a conical shape and topped with condensed milk, is ringed with gelatin squares, taro and red azuki beans, and you can find it also at the night markets next to other local specialities, including stinky tofu and oily pancakes.
Similar to bao bing, Thailand’s version or Nam kang sai It’s sold by street vendors across the nation, who typically use hand-crank machines to shave their ice. Customers can choose to concoct their own combos with ingredients like jackfruit, taro, sweet corn, water chestnuts, and cubes of bread. The mixture is frequently topped with sala syrup, an artificially flavored sweet red syrup that’s also used to make a popular drink called pinky milk, and/or coconut milk.
Images from web – Google Research