If you’ve ever been puzzled about how something like Japanese fried ice cream can even exist, then just wait for the day you actually try it. You must have so many questions, like, how does ice cream stay cold even when deep-fried? Well, read on to find out!
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Tempura fried ice cream is truly a morsel to behold. Think about that golden, buttery batter coating not a piece of shrimp, but a cold ball of vanilla or green tea-flavored ice cream. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
My family is a bunch of huge fans of ice cream in general, and our freezer is pretty much always stocked with it. However, when my wife was pregnant with our second child, she had become so obsessed with ice cream that I had to restrict it.
A few weeks into the ice cream ban season, I noticed how unhappy and grumpy my wife had become. I had to suspend the ban, but I also wanted to do it in style, and what better way to this than by making the one and only tempura fried ice cream.
That’s right, I made tempura fried ice cream, and I don’t even have a heavy-duty deep fryer. You should have seen the joy on her face when I served it to her! If you’re wondering how I made tempura ice cream at home, that’s the subject of today’s article, so just keep on reading!
What is tempura ice cream?
For better understanding, I would like us to take a brief look at what the word tempura means before explaining what tempura ice means.
Tempura is a Japanese dish made up of fish or any other form of seafood and vegetables that have been battered and deep-fried. The dish was actually devised by Portuguese living in Nagasaki in the sixteenth century. It is said that the name “tempura” originates from the Latin expression quatuor anni tempora, which alludes to the Ember Days, during which no meat is eaten.
Tempura ice cream, therefore, is a type of fried ice cream that uses the Japanese tempura technique or Asian-style batter called tempura. It is a dessert produced from coating a scoop of regular fried ice cream with bread, then rapidly deep-frying to create a warm, crunchy shell on the outside that surrounds the ice cream on the inside.
Tempura ice cream–Origin story
There are clashing tales as to the origin of this tempura dessert. There have been claims that the ice cream was first served during the well-known 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, which also happens to be the birthplace of the ice cream sundae.
However, in 1894 an unknown organization in Philadelphia was cited as the inventor, when it was described as a small cake of dessert wrapped in a meager sheet of pie covering, plunged into bubbling fat or margarine to cook the outside to a crisp. A third case sprung up during the 1960s claiming that the ice cream was created by Japanese tempura restaurants.
Fried ice cream has long been related to Asian food in the United States, showing up in surveys of Japanese and Chinese cafés in some sections of the New York Times around the year 1970. It likewise became related with Mexican food, in huge part because of mainstream store Chi-Chi’s embracing a fried ice cream made with tortillas and cinnamon as its “signature dessert” when it opened in the mid-1980s.
The difference between the Asian recipe and the Mexicans was that the Asian recipe uses tempura batter, hence the name tempura ice cream, while the Mexican recipe makes use of corn flakes, nuts, cookie crumbs, etc. for coating. Popular flavors in the Asian cafés are green tea, vanilla and red bean.
The association with Asian cooking is also reflected in Australia where tempura is referred to as Australian-Chinese cuisine.
How is tempura ice cream made?
I can remember how confused I was the first time I heard the word fried ice cream. How on earth can you possibly fry ice cream? Having tried it myself, though, I now perfectly understand what it is and how it is made.
Tempura ice cream or fried ice cream is made by simply deep-frying balls of ice cream coated with flour. Tempura ice cream is actually something you can make at home quite easily. It is also found in many Japanese restaurants. Vanilla is a flavor that is very common with this ice cream, though any other flavor will do just fine.
It is very important for the ice cream to be extremely cold at all times so it is strong enough to maintain its shape after it has been dipped in batter and fried. To achieve this, ensure the scooped ball of ice cream is returned to the freezer for a couple of hours after taking the first steps to prepare it for frying.
In some cases, you can choose to place the ice cream in between two slices of cake so that they form a sandwich-like shape, after which they are wrapped in a saran wrap and immediately returned to the freezer for a few hours to become rock solid.
As for the tempura batter, flour, eggs and water are the principal ingredients for making it, although other ingredients like baking soda may be added to the flour and vanilla extract for additional flavoring. To make the tempura, first beat the eggs lightly, then mix with water and finally add the flour.
When the batter is made and the ice cream is firm enough, evenly coat the balls in the batter and fry in either hot vegetable oil or olive oil (I prefer vegetable oil). Ensure that the oil is extremely hot so each ball of ice cream fries quickly. Fry for at least thirty seconds before removing the balls from the hot oil to prevent the ice cream from melting.
Fried ice cream usually turns out golden and crispy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. The now prepared ice cream should be allowed to drain on a paper towel for at least a minute or two to remove excess oil.
It is advised that tempura ice cream be served immediately after battering and deep-frying. This not only helps the dessert to maintain the contrast of its warm outer shell vs. its cold insides, but also prevents the inside from melting.
Tempura fried ice cream recipe
Most people would probably assume that this dessert is going to be difficult to prepare, but I can assure you it’s easier than you think. Besides, homemade fried ice cream is always the best. Just follow the instructions and you are good to go. For this tempura fried ice cream recipe, the following tempura ice cream ingredients will be needed.
- 1 pound of prepared cake
- 1 container of vanilla ice cream
- 3 cups of vegetable oil or olive oil
- 1 cup of sparkling water
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon of chocolate syrup
- Ice cream scoop
- Frying pan
- Food processor if you are going to grind anything (like cookies)
- First things first, carefully cut the pound of cake into small-medium slices with a sharp knife. Then scoop a ball of the vanilla ice cream and wrap it carefully with the slices of cake, ensuring all parts of the ice cream are well covered.
- Once this is done, wrap the cake balls with a plastic wrap tightly so that it forms a round shape and keep then in the freezer to freeze for at least 5-6 hours, or overnight.
- When you’re ready to fry, heat the vegetable oil in a deep fryer or a large pan over high heat. Pour chilled water into a bowl with the flour in it; whisk in the egg to create a good amount of batter.
- Remove the now firm ice cream balls from the freezer and dust with flour. Then dip into the batter, thoroughly coating all sides. Without wasting time, gently place the coated ice cream balls into the oil and deep fry ice cream until golden for about 30 seconds (not more than 30 seconds).
- Remove with a deep spoon and drain with a paper towel to remove excess oil. Serve with some quantity of chocolate sauce before the ice cream begins to melt.
Other ways to enjoy tempura ice cream
Mint chocolate truffles – One amazingly tasty way to enjoy the tempura fried ice cream is to add mint chocolate truffles. Making the truffle is quite easy as all you need to do is simply add the mint chocolate cookies to a large bowl of a food processor.
Allow the processor to run until the cookie is finely ground. Then add hot fudge and mix thoroughly. Roll it into balls and put it on a plate then refrigerate until it is rock solid. Add it to the middle of the scoop of ice cream before returning it to the freezer.
Crush cornflakes and coconut – Coating the scooped ice cream with crushed cornflakes, coconut and cinnamon is another way to enjoy tempura ice cream. To do this, crush the cornflakes, coconut and cinnamon in a shallow bowl, then use the mixture to coat the ice cream. Once done, return the coated ice cream to the freezer and freeze for at least 40 minutes.
Toppings to enjoy the tempura ice cream
Toppings play an essential role in determining how delicious the tempura fried ice cream turns out. Below are a few toppings that blend perfectly well with deep-fried ice cream.
- Hot fudge: The chocolatey nature of hot fudge blends very well with fried ice cream and it is my go-to topping for the tempura ice cream.
- Honey: Drizzling the fried ice cream with honey is another way to top the ice cream.
- Whipped cream: Quite an amazing tempura ice cream topping.
Quite a lot has been written here about the tempura ice cream, leaving me to wonder why you’re still reading. You’re more than ready to make this yourself, so what are you waiting for? Enjoy with the family and give your taste buds a treat.