If you've ever wanted to relive your childhood memories of churning out cool homemade snow cones, granitas are just the way to do it. With a subtle savory twist from a very unexpected pantry ingredient, you can think of this lime version as an upgraded, more grown-up version of that favorite frozen dessert.
What makes this flaky frozen treat sing isn't the sweetness of the sugar, or the tangy lime juice, or even the fragrant citrus zest. Those ingredients are certainly wonderful, and they're the foundation of this dessert, but what makes this lime granita stand out in a crowd is the surprise addition of fish sauce.
Yes, fish sauce; the same one you use in many of your favorite Thai and Vietnamese recipes. I know it doesn't sound like an ingredient that belongs in a sweet dessert, and it certainly might not smell like one, but a spoonful of the frozen granita is all the convincing you'll need.
Fear not — you won't get even a hint of fishy flavor. Instead, when blended with sweet and acidic ingredients, the fish sauce adds a subtle savory twist and deep depth of flavor you don't normally find with granitas.
Know Your Fish Sauce: What's the Difference Between Thai and Vietnamese Fish Sauce?
Sweet and Savory Lime Granita
2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest from 2 limes, divided
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 to 4 medium limes)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and half of the zest. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and cool completely. Stir the sugar water, lime juice, remaining zest, and fish sauce together, and then pour into an 8x8-inch baking pan (or similar-sized dish). Place in the freezer.
Scrape the mixture with a fork to break it up into smaller crystals. Return to the freezer, and repeat this process every hour or so, until you have a frozen but grainy mixture, about 3 hours total. If you forget to stir the mixture and it freezes solid, break it into large chunks and pulse in the food processor to bring it back to a granular, flaky texture.
To serve, spoon the granita into chilled glasses.