Homemade shaved ice on demand!! Do it yourself whenever you want!! That is exactly what I wanted after I went to a festival last summer in Northern California.
At the festival, the day time highs were in the 90s and one of the vendors there was selling shaved ice. (smart vendor!) After having my first taste in that 90 degree heat, I made sure to revisit each day thereafter. It was soo refreshing. Sure it wasn’t of the same fluffy kind you might find in Hawaii and Japan, but it was a welcome relief from that summer heat.
Once I got home, I thought there has to be a machine that I can buy to do this at home! When I was growing up, my mom had a machine which you can hand shave the ice blocks. But that’s a lot of work. I was looking for something more electric. And luckily after a bit of research I found one on Amazon !! I’ve had it for just a little over a year now and have definitely gotten my moneys worth out of it.
At the same time I ordered the machine. I also ordered the syrups. All of which I had brought over from Japan (Captain is the brand to be specific). They all tasted extremely good and authentic. I would highly recommend the Captain brand if you can find it. I did notice that Amazon does have a couple for sale – one matcha flavor and one mango flavor. I like this brand because the syrups are not too sweet or too chemically/artificial. Even though they have all that sugar and food coloring! Since the predominant ingredient in these syrups is sugar, I thought I should try making some myself. As such, I’ve been doing some reading and plan to make my own in the next few months. I will let you guys know how it turns out!
Japanese style vs Hawaiian style shaved ice
In my mind, I have two categories of shaved ice- Hawaiian and Japanese. In Japanese, this dessert is called kakigori (かき氷). Some of the things that differentiate Japanese shaved ice vs Hawaiian style shaved ice include the syrups, toppings, and how the shaved ice is served.
First the syrups, I think the syrup selection that you have in Hawaii is far more extensive than what you can selectr from in Japan. I would say there were at least 15 flavors at Ululani’s (the popular place in Maui). A lot of those flavors are tropical fruits. In Japan you don’t have as wide a selection and that’s probably because all the tropical fruit flavors are missing! As I recall the most common shaved ice flavors include matcha, hojicha, strawberry, melon, and grape for example. I think matcha is probably the most common though.
In terms of toppings for Hawaiian style, I don’t think you can get much, if at all, aside from ice cream. For Japanese style, you usually have the choice to order just straight shaved ice or include toppins like azuki beans (sweet red beans), shiratama (chewy white rice balls similar to mochi) etc. The deluxe shaved ice would included both of those at the very least.
Lastly, in terms of serving the shaved ice. In Japan, usually you get it in a bowl at sit down cafes. Often times you will also get a nice hot cup of hojicha (tea made with roasted green tea leaves) to accompany the shaved ice. The tea pairs very well with the sweet shaved ice. Hawaiian style on the other hand is eaten from a cone in your hand and just seems to be a little less formal. But that could very well just be the different environments that I have eaten shaved ice at.
Anyways, I hope that background was interesting and informative to you. Aside from the above, there are a bunch of other things you can add to your shaved ice.
Other toppings include fresh fruit, e.g. mango, ice cream, and condensed milk. The first two will definitely add some contrasting flavor and texture. But condensed milk is my favorite. It’s not too bold and really partners well with different flavors. Providing support as opposed to overpowering. Condensed milk adds notes of cream and milk to balance out any tart or acidic flavors from the fruit syrups. Condensed milk really takes the shaved ice to the next level. I hope you give shaved ice a try and get to enjoy this easy to make dessert at home !
If you love shaved ice like I do, please share this post or leave a comment. Thanks for reading!
Note – If you are interested, I did find a recipe at Justonecookbook which explains how to make the shiratama, as that may by difficult to source for some.
Here is a video I recorded of the machine spitting out the shaved ice in slow motion. Hope it makes your mouth water! ha!