At one point, we were on a snow ice/shaved ice dessert phase. We’re not talking about normal regular shaved ice like a snow cone or the Korean patbingsu. We were on a 雪花冰/Xue Hua Bing phase. Xue Hua Bing is translated as snow ice—flavored melt-in-the mouth smooth and thin ribbons of snow ice topped with fruits, glutinous rice ball, red beans, jelly and many other sweet and interesting toppings. This is what the Taiwanese snow ice is.
We’ve never tasted this dessert. We’ve only seen and read about it online. As we kept watching and reading, we got more interested. We wondered if we could make something like what we were seeing. We wanted to see if we could get shaved ice to come out like the ribbon of snow ice that people were talking about.
This got us to window shop shaved ice machines on Aliexpress.com. We came across the commercial shaved ice machines—the ones we saw professionals using to make these ribbons of snow ice. These were in the hundreds of dollars, close to one thousand dollars (US$)! It looked so good. We really wanted to buy one. The professional used it, so this machine will definitely make thin ribbons of snow ice. But it was just crazy want. It wasn’t worth paying custom fees for the commercial shaved ice machine when we didn’t even have a working recipe—which we’ve read is one of the important factors in making melt-in-the-mouth ribbons of snow ice.
We got this shaved ice machine. Only US$30. It was perfect for testing recipes out in small quantities. We thought that if we manage to make some good shaved ice and became obsessed enough, we could get that commercial snow ice machine later!
This machine is made out of plastic, is about h: 23.5 cm x w: 20 cm x d: 14.5 cm and manual operation. It comes with one container to make the block of ice.
How it works is that you place the block of ice into the machine, screw the cap on, start winding the handle and the ice shavings come through below to a bowl/plate that you place to catch the shaved ice.
The four screws on a plastic disk connected to the cap is what holds the ice in place and the spring in the space between the cap and disk helps keep the block of ice continue to stay pressed down onto the blade below and shave the ice. We’re not too sure what type of materials of the spring and the screws are made of; but, they look like they could rust. So, we always take extra care in thoroughly drying the entire machine and storing it in a dry place.
This machine comes with a container for you to make blocks of ice. With only one, we have to wait until one freezes before we can take it out and make another one. Otherwise, we’d have to find a container that could make blocks of ice of similar size.
The space available to catch the shaved ice doesn’t allow for a bowl big enough to catch all the ice shavings. The bowl in the image is not included with the shaved ice machine, so you’ll have to find one that fits—a bowl that is with a diameter 12.5 cm / 5 inches is the one shown in the picture. To catch all the ice shavings, two bowls had to be used for the one block of ice.
Making shaved ice with the machine, we didn’t dare to turn the handle for the ice that came straight from the freezer, fearful that it might snap the plastic handle. Melting the block of ice makes it a bit easier and you’re able to operate with just holding the knob. You will have to hold down the entire machine on a slippery surface. Otherwise, the entire machine will slip around as you shave the ice. A nonslip mat might help with this.
When shaving the ice, we find that we have to stop and move the bowl holding the shaved ice a lot. This is because the shaved ice falls at only one side of the bowl—the side directly under the blade. Otherwise, we’d have to shake the bowl a bit so the shaved ice gets shifted to empty spots of the bowl to allow more to fall through.
We bought this machine hoping it could make ribbons of shaved ice. We didn’t manage to make long flowing ribbons of shaved ice, but managed to make broken strips of ribbons. We think that if we can get the recipe right, this machine could possibly make ribbons of shaved ice, but just not continuous and not as thin. The pictures above show the difference between recipes: the first one is simply water and the second one is made of coconut milk, milk and sugar. The one with simply water makes shaved ice that look like the ice is ground up; and the coconut milk-milk-sugar one makes strips that are about 0.3mm thick.
This shaved ice machine isn’t one that churns out thin ribbons of snow ice like the Taiwanese-style shaved ice; however, there is some use to this cute machine. With the relatively smaller quantity of shaved ice you can make with this machine, we think it’s great for testing flavours! And it’s actually quite fun to look at the shaved ice pile up and look so cooling!