Quick Bites: Beat the Heat

By Kerry-Ann Augustin

Quick Bites: Beat the Heat

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These summer treats will help you keep your cool in the scorching heat.

The correct way to enjoy ‘kao chae’ is to place a bit of one condiment in the mouth using one’s fingers, and then follow this with a spoonful of rice and water.

For centuries, Asians have used spices and herbs to craft foods that cool the body when temperatures soar. Here are some of our favourite cooling dishes.

Nagashi Somen

Made with the highest quality of flour, ultra-thin somen noodles from Japan are stretched by hand and coated with vegetable oil, resulting in silky smooth, super fine strands. In summer, somen is served up in the coolest way, literally. Nagashi somen, meaning flowing somen, is a dish where these noodles slide down a long bamboo flume, carried by the flow of ice-cold water. Diners gather on either side of the flume and use their chopsticks to catch the noodles, dip them in a bowl of tsuyu (Japanese dipping sauce), and slurp them up!

Kao Chae

A special Thai dish of rice soaked in cold jasmine-scented water and served with an assortment of sweet and savoury toppings, kao chae is said to originate from Myanmar, and was introduced to Thailand during the reign of Rama II. Offering a respite from Bangkok’s heat, kao chae was originally considered royal cuisine due to its laborious preparation and the special ingredients that featured in its recipe, which were refined by palace chefs. This summertime specialty is traditionally accompanied by stuffed shallots, shrimp paste balls, sweet peppers, shredded beef or pork, stir-fried pickled Chinese turnips and an array of fresh fruits and vegetables.


South Koreans enjoy sizzling bowls of hot soup called samgyetang on the country’s three hottest summer days (referred to as chobok, jungbok and malbok). Samgyetang is a dish where a young, tender chicken stuffed with ginseng, garlic, rice and red dates is boiled for over an hour. The medicinal properties of the mix are believed to replace nutrients lost through perspiration, while the heat of the soup is supposed to balance the body’s inner heat. The wait for this dish is worthwhile; the flesh of the chicken falls apart at the lightest touch, while the rice soaks up the flavours of the bird and the herbs. That’s a match made in summer food heaven!


Chill out with these decadent iced desserts.


The Filipino halo-halo (meaning ‘mix-mix’) is a sinful combination of all kinds of everything, including red beans, jackfruit, candied fruit, macapuno or coconut sport (soft endosperm of a coconut), crème caramel, evaporated milk and yam ice-cream, all on a bed of shaved ice.

Cool Coconuts

You’re likely to find roadside coconut stalls across Asia selling fresh coconut water – and there’s good reason why: the juice of a young coconut contains electrolytes that help replenish ions lost when one perspires.

Jal Jeera

This thirst quencher is a great way to survive a scorching Indian summer. Meaning cumin water in Hindi, jal jeera consists of garam masala, black salt, coriander, mint, chilli powder, roasted cumin power, water and lemon juice.

Mango Pudding

Sublime, especially during Hong Kong’s humid summers, this refreshing dessert consists of fresh mango, creamy mango puree, sago pearls, and soy, evaporated or coconut milk.


Mango season has officially started in Myanmar! Mangoes grow in abundance in this Southeast Asian nation, with a majority of fruits coming from the central Mandalay region and the southern Shan State. Myanmar is also blessed with over 100 species of mangoes, including the Sein Ta Lone mango. Popularly known as the Diamond Solitaire mango, it holds the distinction of being one of the best mangoes in the world because of its heavenly fragrance, natural sweetness and unrivalled juiciness. Making the most of the seasonal produce, restaurants and hotels all over the country serve up some of their most creative mango creations including the classic thayet chin thoke (Burmese mango salad) during this time.


The New Zealand Chocolate Festival is back in Wellington for the seventh year running. From July 13 to 21, chocoholics across the country can indulge in the creations of New Zealand’s best chocolatiers. The festival, held annually since 2011, brings together chocolatiers, retailers and chefs who showcase their products and share insights into everything chocolate. Highlights of the week-long festival include a series of pop-ups and workshops, chocolate exhibition, chocolate truffle-making class, a chocolate walking tour in Wellington’s CBD, chocolate pairing and tasting, and even the screening of the 2000 film Chocolat, accompanied by chocolate cocktails and treats.

Did You Know?

For kids who grow up in New Zealand, the reward for doing well, comes in the form of its most popular confectionery item – Chocolate Fish – a pink or white marshmallow coated in a delicious layer of milk chocolate.

Mango-Pineapple Payasam Ice Lollies

Here’s a refreshing twist on payasam (South Indian sweet pudding traditionally made with vermicelli and milk).


150g diced fresh mango, 150g pineapple cubes, 150g Baba’s Payasam Mix (which contains sago pearls), 500ml milk, 100ml water


1. Add Baba’s Payasam Mix, milk, and water into a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring till liquid thickens and sago pearls soften.

2. Set aside to cool.

3. Add the fruit into the mixture and pour into ice lolly moulds. Freeze for a couple of hours.

4. Defrost and enjoy!

Brought to you by Baba’s. For more recipes, visit


Japanese Sweet Potato Swiss Roll 

Satisfy your sweet cravings on board with this light sweet potato-infused sponge cake roll layered with a red bean cream filling. Made with Japanese purple sweet potato, Santan’s delicious new offering is sure to hit your sweet spot! Available on board AirAsia Malaysia flights.


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About the Author

Kerry-Ann Augustin

Kerry-Ann Augustin is a writer and journalist who has dabbled in all forms writing in industries across the board, from print and digital media to broadcasting. When she is not working, she can be found at home making prank calls, watching re-runs of FRIENDS or gallivanting across the country in search of great food and heritage gems.

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