CHINESE New Year is long over, so why is it still so crazy hot – as in still air;sticky, muggy, sweaty, suffocating heat; sweat running down the face; thirsty all the time; five cold showers in an afternoon HOT!
This heat feels like the blast of oven-heat you get when you step out of the airport after two weeks of holidays somewhere cold….
I’ve drank more soft drinks in the past month than I had in the past year, and I fill up the ice trays religiously. There is ice-cream, and juice and boxed drinks in the fridge, and Coca Cola. I have stopped by the roadside for sugar cane juice, and cendol. But I am still thirsty all the time.
Then, quite suddenly, I remembered ais krim Malaysia – home-made ice lolly in long narrow plastic bags (11 inches X 0.75 inches). I don’t know if people still make them these days; the plastic bags (labelled “for ais krim”) are still available in the shops selling plastic bags, so that must mean people are still making these ice lollies.
These ice lollies are easy to make; just fill up the plastic bags with juice, kopi o, milo, blackcurrant juice, whatever….and knot it, and throw into the freezer. In my time, kids make them all the time. It’s all about using lots of sugar, so you have to make the juice a little sweeter than you’d usually drink it. Otherwise, your ice lolly will be flat.
Then again, kids these days have slurpees from 7-11s (with all their glorious artificial flavouring and colouring). So, maybe that’s why they don’t have to their own ice lollies.
We didn’t have 7-11, but there was a makcik who sold ais krim Malaysia from her house. And all the schoolchildren in our neighbourhood would stop by at her kitchen window on the way to the bus stop to get their fix.
She made the best ais krim Malaysia; the kind that we didn’t make at home – bubur kacang hijau (green mung beans cooked in coconut milk and sugar), bubur kacang merah (red beans boiled with sugar) and sweetcorn (from the can). They were sweet and rich (lemak), and we love chewing on the beans and sweetcorns in between slurping on the icy sweetness.
But my favourite ais krim Malaysia is made with asamboi, salted sour plums. That’s partly because I was an asamboi addict – couldn’t study without sucking on asamboi with icy-cold water. In ice lolly, the saltiness and sourness of asamboi are the highlights, layered with the sweetness of the syrup – and the cold ice intensifies all these flavours.
When you first suck on an asamboi ice lolly, the sourness will hit you first. That intense sourness, combined with the icy-coldness, will shoot straight up to the head and give you a one-second high. Then, the sweetness and saltiness will take over. And finally, after you’ve sucked out all the flavours from the ice, and bit on the white ice, you’ll still have a sour plum to chew on.
I also make some adult happy ice lollies – my current favourite is made with rum and orange/pineapple juice. The ratio is 1:4 for rum:juice. It’s not potent, but you can pretend it is.
ASAMBOI ICE LOLLY
2 litres of water
2 cups of sugar, or to taste
100g of asamboi (I like red ones)
Bring water to a boil, and add the sugar and asamboi. Boil over low heat, or until the sugar has dissolved. Let it cool.
Fill the ice cream bag three quarter full, add a sour plum or two, and then knot the bag securely.