My 媽媽's been in town and we've been doing the Hong Kong tourist thing with her. At the ever vibrant Temple Market the other night we discovered a sweet old lady hawker selling her Traditional Chinese Fruit Snacks. Most of which, I believe, she makes herself. (Which is a big deal these days when most things seem to be made either by machines or by someone halfway around the world.) This was so cool that I had to tell everyone about it. It's so, so hard to find these kind of hong kong hawkers anymore. Old fashioned, homemade hong kong candy!! Wow, what a treat!
These traditional fruit candies are mostly based on the sweet and sour principle and are very different in taste from modern candies which are based mostly on sweetness and artificial flavors. Let's see, there were dried tangerine peel (川貝陳皮), dried kumquat candy, preserved dried plums (話梅), preserved plum candy (陳皮梅) and pickled garlic even! Oh, and one of my favorites, candied olives, which were introduced to my by my dad when I was a little girl. To my daddy's surprise I took an immediate liking to these football shaped olive candies and always asked for them when my parents made a Chinatown trip. Warning, though, many of these fruit candies still have the seed inside so beware when you bite into it and spit out the hard pit when you get to it!
This is what we bought that day: The Dried Tangerine Peel fruit candy , or 川貝陳皮. It has a tangy, bittersweet, citrusy taste and is either slightly crunchy or chewy (depends how it's made). I like the chewy moist ones most. It is very soothing to chew on when you have a cough or are feeling a bit phlegmy. You will notice after a while that a lot of traditional chinese food have health benefits of one sort or the other. Some of them, such as these Dried Tangerine Peels, really do give results. I had a couple packs of these in my bag all the time when I was pregnant because it helped when I felt nauseous.
Another Traditional fruit candy we bought that day was the Dried persimmon. I like persimmons and hadn't ever had the candied version so we decided to try it. It was basically sun dried persimmons with a light coating of sugar. We had to cut it up with a knife as it was hard. The inside was dense, fruity with an almost nutty sweetness. Good but a bit too hard to be a house favorite.
I can't wait to go back and try some more of these hong kong traditional candies. There are so many kinds... If you every swing by Temple Street and happen to see this sweet old lady street hawker, try some these Traditional Chinese Fruit Candies! Then drop me a line and let me know your favorite recommendations!
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