Top Suffolk chef Lilian Hiw looks at the drinks to cool us down on those long, hot summer days we all love
We have had some really hot days this side of summer, haven’t we? On one particularly hot day while on the sandy beach at Wells-next-the-Sea, I was diving for shade and enjoying a little respite from the occasional sea breeze when I had a vision of deck chairs, beach umbrellas and sipping coconut water from a young coconut topped with plenty of crushed icethrough a straw… It was an epiphany moment! What a brilliant idea, the next time we head out to the beach, we shall bring an ice box full of young coconuts packed in ice! Hmmm, having said that, a few other drinks popped into mind … like Indian lassi … Thai ice tea … Taiwanese bubble tea … Singapore sling … or perhaps an icy pitcher of lemongrass mojitos?
Temperatures in India could climb to 42°C (108°F) in summer, very few people have air conditioning, so it is hot and sweaty everywhere you go. One can try to keep cool by wearing light cotton clothing, maximizing shade and enjoying cold beverages. The nation’s favourite beverage has got to be Lassi, a blended drink of yogurt, water and spices, you can enjoy sweet or salty lassi; adding fruits and sugar to sweeten and salt for the savoury. Lassi cools the body, hydrates, provides energy, refreshes and helps in digestion.
Locals still look forward to their summer, not for the heat and discomfort, but for their mango season. The blended combination of sweet ripe mango, yoghurt and ice with a sprinkling of crushed cardamom hits a sweet spot. Sounds fabulous doesn’t it? Whisk up a batch at home or head to any good Indian establishments, and you will find mango lassi.
Taiwanese Bubble Tea
The creation of serving chilled tea combined with a local tapioca dessert came from Taiwan in the 1980s.
Bubble tea, also known as boba tea, is an interactive drink and snack combined into one pleasing treat. The base is tea, you choose black, green or jasmine etc; then you get to choose the second layer of flavour – for a creamy finish go for the classic milk, or for something lighter and more refreshing choose fruit juice to add to the tea base. Next you get to decide if you are in the mood for chewing, in which case opt for the tapioca balls, or if you like flavour explosions in your mouth, then order the popping bubbles. (The popping bubbles are made through a spherification process where juice is sealed in a thin gel-like skin which bursts when bitten into).
Whatever your choices, all the ingredients go into a plastic cup, get heat sealedwith a plastic film and shaken vigorously together. A chunky straw with a tapered sharp tip is used to stab through the plastic top to enjoy the contents. I have a group of friends who love bubble tea and we make a contest of who can stab and produce the sharpest piercing noise, great fun! I personally love slurping up the tapioca balls from the bottom of the cup through the chunky straw, trying to fish out as many of the chewy balls as possible to devour.
I go to Cookie Barista down St John’s Street in Bury St Edmunds when I get a craving. I like both their taro classic milk and matcha classic milk teas served with brown sugar syrup and chewy tapioca pearls. On fruity days their mango and passion fruit exploding popping boba is a firm favourite.
Following the turn of the century in colonial Singapore, Raffles hotel was the gathering place for the community, and Long Bar was the watering hole. It was common to see gentlemen nursing glasses of gin or whisky, but etiquette dictated that the ladies were not allowed to consume alcohol in public!
Ngiam Tong Boon, who was working as a bartender at the Long Bar, created a drink to keep his lady guests happy. An innocent looking fruit juice with a pink hue (a socially acceptable drink for women then), but he secretly packed it full of clear alcohol… ta da…presenting the birth of the Singapore Sling; by clever bartender Ngiam, in1915!
I loved my time working as Catering Manager at Raffles Singapore and at Raffles we say: “If you haven’t been to Raffles for a Singapore Sling, you haven’t been to Singapore!”
There are many versions of this cocktail, I am always proud to serve only the original recipe at my Private Dining events for my clients. Here I share the recipe with you and hope you will whisk out your cocktail shaker, or jam jar, and enjoy a Singapore Sling with me!
Mojitos are traditionally made with white rum, cane sugar, lime, mint and a splash of soda. At Lilian’s Kitchen, our motto is to ‘Bring a Taste of Asia to You’, so I keep true to my word; using ingredients from Asia, plus the bonus of added ‘health benefits’.
Lemongrass is added as it is widely grown in Asia and known for having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. This fusion cocktail is topped up with ginger ale instead of soda. For centuries, ginger is used to aid digestion, reduce nausea, and help fight the flu and common cold.White rum was replaced with dark as they are matured in oak barrels and have a deeper, richer and more complex flavour and overtones. Brown sugar is used instead of cane sugar, for its lovely caramel and vanilla flavours. The citrus kick of lime and refreshing fragrance of mint remains.Try this concoction out, it is truly a delicious combination!
I would love to hear of your inspirations and creations from my column this week, email me through my website!
There are two more themed cookery classes coming up to complete this year, check out details on www.lilianskitchen.co.uk
Japanese and Korean: October 14;
Thai and Vietnamese: November 16 and 17.
Till the next time, take care!
Private chef Lilian Hiw