Yang Gwei-fei’s Favorite
A Nondairy Version
“Eunuchs gallop up in continuous succession,
“Bearing delicacies for the Imperial kitchen.” — Tu Fu
Here is a simple nondairy ice cream featuring Litchi fruit, the favorite of the Honorable Concubine, Yang Gwei-fei, favorite of the Tang Dynasty emperor.
Of course they didn’t have ice cream in the eighth century. Or did they? According to some accounts, the ancient Chinese enjoyed frozen desserts, and also invented Baked Alaska.
In any case, Litchi may have been the first food shipped by refrigerated transport, as ice was used to keep the highly perishable fruit fresh on its way to the Court at Chang’An.
You can make this dessert using canned Litchi fruit available at Asian markets and don’t have to rely on the mounted couriers who were needed to deliver the fruit in the old days. The season for Litchi is very short and the fruit is fragile, but the canned fruit is available year-long
Litchi can also be used to make ice cream. Most people like this version. It’s a recipe for Litchi Ice Cream which contains no dairy. You will not find it in any cookbook.
Litchi Ice Cream, Nondairy
1 large can Litchi Fruit, with syrup
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 cup Sugar
2 cups Almond Milk
1 cup Rice Milk
First, process the Litchi fruit with their juice fairly smoothly in a food processor, but leave some small chunks of fruit, that is, do not purée completely, but leave some fruit tesxture. Add the Lemon juice and Sugar and mix together.and process
Add the Almond Milk and Rice Milk and process according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
This produces a very nice, smooth, granita type ice with no dairy and no preservatives. The fragrance and perfume of the Litchi fruit is very pleasant.
Use within about a week for best results. After 1 or 2 weeks, the structure of the ice cream deteriorates and some of the flavor may be lost.