My blood is Chinese, but growing up in Canada my entire life, I am Canadian through and through. My almond eyes say Asian, but my attitude says caucasian.
“Banana”, because I’m yellow on the outside and white on the inside. And it’s totally true. My first and only language was/is English. Pasta is my favourite type of noodle dish. The beaver is my idea of a regal animal.
But occasionally, I’ll run into something that reminds me that I’m only the first North American born generation of my family. Random things, often food related, that I never realized might be “odd” or “different” until I was much older.
Animal heads still attached to my food does not weird me out. Small thin packages of dried seaweed sheets is a delicious snack to give a child. Sweetened tea is one of the best dessert flavours out there.
Pictured below is a thai iced tea. Bright orange, spiced, sweet and whimsically clouded with dairy, it’s not something I consumed much as a child, and yet, as I recently discovered, it can bring forth waves of nostalgia.
When I was little, there was this quirky video shop my parents used to frequent to rent laser discs of Mandarin karaoke. Next door was a tiny Chinese grocery store my mom would take me to afterwards. The last aisle was well stocked with exciting Asian treats I would beg my mom for, such as Pocky, Koala Yummies and Yan Yan. The common thread among these was the cookie/chocolate combo. If it wasn’t chocolate, it wasn’t worth it.
With one exception.
There were these little coffee and tea candies in pretty caramel coloured matte packages. They looked much too classy for a little girl to care about, but I had a thing for coffee flavoured sweets and was intrigued by both. The tea candies became my favourite. The were small like any other hard candy but the were beautifully opaque like a cube of cloudy tea. They reminded me of the best fresh brewed sweet iced tea I had ever had, in a small convenient package.
Unfortunately, they stopped selling the tea flavour after some time. It was a traumatizing period of my childhood.
Fast forward to a couple weeks ago when Trevor and I wandered into Molly Moon’s in Seattle. I was all ready to order my stand by, one scoop of Vivace Coffee in a waffle cone, but was thrown off my game when I noticed it had been revised to “Stumptown Coffee”. In hindsight, I love Stumptown almost as much as I love Vivace, and that ice cream was probably just as fabulous with this coffee bean switch, but it was enough of a hiccup for me to peruse the rest of the ice cream menu.
“Thai Tea Ice Cream”.
It drew me in. After a taste test confirming it wasn’t weirdly sweet or made from fakey powdered tea, I couldn’t not order it. After the first lick, Trevor asked how it was. “It tastes like my childhood.”
It transported me to the backseat of my parents’ Chevy Lumina, carefully peeling back the wrapper of a little gem of tea candy as we headed home. I’m not even 100% sure why or how as the candies weren’t based on thai tea. But it did. Trevor pulled me out of my reverie with a gentle reminder. “Enjoy it now, it’s only a seasonal flavour.”
I had to find my own recipe.
I had to have this ice cream all year round.
As usual, the internet came to my rescue.
I’ve eaten half the tub since I churned the ice cream 2 days ago.
I’m going to have to start making ice cream more often.
(Side note: This is my 100th post on the blog! OMG! What the whaaaa? Thanks everyone for sticking around. Perhaps I will have to celebrate in the near future with a special post. :D)
Thai Tea Ice Cream
Adapted from Serious Eats
The original recipe suggests serving it with a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk, but I thought it was plenty sweet without it, even though I LOVE condensed milk. I prefer it simply in a waffle cone, but do what sounds delicious to you!
- 3 cups half and half
- 1/2 cup Thai tea (I buy mine from Amazon.com but it’s pretty easy to find in Asian grocery stores as well)
- 6 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- pinch kosher salt
- In a large saucepan, bring half and half to a simmer. Stir in Thai tea, turn off heat, and steep for five minutes.
- In a bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar together until yolks pale in color and thicken. Slowly ladle about one cup dairy mixture into yolks, whisking constantly, then transfer yolks to saucepan, whisking well to combine.
- Turn heat on medium low and whisk frequently until a thin, syrupy custard forms. Add salt to taste. Custard should lightly coat back of a spoon and a swiped finger should leave a clean line. Do not cook custard until thick.
- Pour through a fine mesh strainer (if you don’t want tiny tea leaves in your ice cream, use a cheese cloth. Personally, I like the way they look and I find the tiny ones don’t affect the texture too much) and chill overnight before churning according to manufacturer’s instructions. Chill ice cream in freezer for at least three hours before serving. Ice cream is best eaten the day it is made.
Makes approx. 3 cups.