Diana Chan’s Indonesian ice cream.
I CAME ACROSS ‘ es putar’ on a recent trip to Surabaya in Indonesia, at a restaurant called Madame Chang, and absolutely loved the flavours. When the icy ice cream hit my mouth, my mind raced trying to figure out what I was tasting. It was served in a glass with white bread shaped like croutons at the base, topped with slippery sago seeds and coconut ice cream, then drizzled with palm sugar. The ice cream was salty, not sweet, and I loved the contrast with the sweet palm sugar syrup. And the texture wasn’t creamy, but rather more icy and sorbet-like.
Traditionally, this ice cream is made by placing coconut milk in a large bowl set in an ice bath, then twisting the bowl in circular motions until the coconut milk turns icy along the sides of the bowl. Hence its name: ‘ Es’ meaning ice and ‘ putar’ meaning ‘spin’ in Bahasa Indonesia.
Now who has the time or patience to spend the day spinning a bowl around? Not me! I’ve simplified the recipe by whipping the coconut milk and some icing sugar together to thicken and then freeze. The flavour is very similar, but the texture is slightly different. And I found that by adding a little bit of acidity and freshness to the dish, it made it much more balanced. What’s not to love – coconut, pineapple and lime with palm sugar. Reminds me of a pina colada without the rum. But hey, feel free to add a dash!
‘ES PUTAR’ ICE CREAM WITH PINEAPPLE, SAGO AND LIME SERVES 4 Begin this recipe at least 4 hours ahead.
400ml coconut milk 1/ 2 cup (60g) pure icing sugar, sifted 250g palm sugar, grated 50g unsalted butter 400g pineapple, cut into 5mm-thick slices 1/4 cup (60g) firmly packed brown sugar 1 cup (200g) sago (tapioca – from supermarkets and Asian food shops) 1 tbs caster sugar Finely grated lime zest, to serve
To make the ice cream, whisk coconut milk, icing sugar and 1/2 tsp salt flakes in a bowl. Transfer to an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions until thick but soft enough to spoon into a container. Transfer to a 4-cup (1L) container and freeze for 4 hours or until firm. Alternatively, freeze mixture in ice cube trays, then whiz in a blender until smooth. Serve immediately or freeze for 3-4 hours for a firmer texture.
To make syrup, place palm sugar and 1 cup (250ml) water in saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and cook for 6 minutes or until reduced by half.
To cook the pineapple, melt butter in a frypan over medium-high heat. Add pineapple and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7- 8 minutes or until beginning to caramelise. Add brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until caramelised.
To cook the sago, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add sago and caster sugar, and cook for 12 minutes or until sago is just tender (there should still be a speck of white in the centre of each grain). Rinse and drain well.
Divide sago and pineapple among four 350ml serving glasses. Top with a scoop of coconut ice cream, drizzle with syrup and scatter with lime zest to serve.