Gran­nies go gaga for these nos­tal­gic snacks, some from dy­nas­tic times, oth­ers in­vented af­ter the sec­ond world war.

Crave - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - Words Jo­hannes Pong Pho­tos Sa­man­tha Sin Spe­cial thanks Suppa

Take a stroll down mem­ory lane with old-school Hong Kong street snacks

1. Mal­tose Crack­ers 麥芽糖夾餅

A pop­u­lar snack since the ’50s, sweet, sticky mal­tose is sand­wiched be­tween two crunchy soda crack­ers. Tex­tu­rally fun, min­i­mal­ist, sim­ple and easy to make at home, even by busy moth­ers… enough said.

2. Pearl Bar­ley Pas­try 薏米餅

Made from pearl bar­ley, yi mai beng is a cream-coloured flaky pas­try that may taste rather bland at first but slowly dis­si­pates in the mouth and is best en­joyed with a hot cup of tea. Be­lieved to be a highly-nu­tri­tious snack with skin-whiten­ing prop­er­ties, it makes for a great gift and is pop­u­lar among women.

3. Tea Dumpling 茶果

This Hakka snack has a 1,000-year recorded his­tory, and its ori­gins are cer­tainly much older. Gluti­nous rice is pounded and steamed, and dyed dark green by pow­dered tea leaves, mug­wort or the pun­gent stink or skunk vine (the Can­tonese is even more de­scrip­tive – chicken poo vine). A savoury form can be made with dried shrimp, pork floss or black-eyed peas.

4. Su­gar Scal­lion Cake 糖蔥餅

This Teochew sweet came to Hong Kong in the ’30s and, de­spite the name, con­tains no scal­lions. In­stead, mal­tose is ma­nip­u­lated into a slen­der white cylin­der, like a scal­lion, and coated in co­conut or sesame. Par­ents gladly bought these sweet snacks for their chil­dren, be­cause “scal­lion” rhymes with “clever” in Can­tonese, thus en­sur­ing good grades.

5. Dragon Beard Candy 龍鬚糖

Con­sid­ered a del­i­cacy, this Chi­nese cot­ton candy is achieved by re­peat­edly fold­ing, pulling and twist­ing a dough of su­gar and mal­tose syrup into hair-thin strands. Dusted with toasted gluti­nous rice flour to pre­vent the strands stick­ing to­gether, the silk co­coon is folded around sesame seeds, peanuts, des­ic­cated co­conut, or crushed choco­late.

6. Liquorice Lemon 甘草檸檬

Dried lemons are dusted in liquorice pow­der for a sweet and tangy snack, without the as­trin­gent bit­ter­ness of the rinds. Tra­di­tion­ally, preg­nant women love to snack on these anise-flavoured cured citrus.

7. Peanut Candy 花生糖

Tra­di­tion­ally, roasted peanuts are melted and caramelised with just su­gar, but it’s com­mon to find sesame seeds and other sea­son­ings as well. The brit­tle, ir­reg­u­lar candy is sweet and fra­grant with a glassy ap­pear­ance from the su­gar.

8. Sachima 沙琪瑪

When the Manchus took China and founded the Qing, this tra­di­tional Manchurian sweet­meat be­came pop­u­lar all over Bei­jing and soon the rest of the coun­try. Fluffy bits of fried dough are bound to­gether with su­gar syrup. The orig­i­nal ver­sion con­tained goji berries, and we think mod­ern ma zai (the short­ened Can­tonese nick­name) should in­cor­po­rate the healthy su­per­food as well.

9. Air­plane Olives 飛機欖

These Chi­nese white olives pick­led with salt and Chi­nese licorice are ar­guably one of the most pop­u­lar snacks in Hong Kong be­tween the ‘50s and ‘70s. As the ped­lar cried his wares, peo­ple would throw money wrapped in news­pa­per from their apart­ment, and the hawker, af­ter catch­ing the money with his hat, would throw the olives onto the bal­cony into the cus­tomer’s hands, giv­ing the air­plane olive its name.

10. Su­gar­cane Pud­ding 蔗汁糕

A cool­ing snack for the sum­mer, this char­treuse green jelly is flavoured with re­fresh­ing su­gar cane juice and of­ten served straight in a ce­ramic bowl.

11. Chisel Candy 叮叮糖

The Can­tonese name is ono­matopeic for the sound of the hard candy be­ing bro­ken up by hawk­ers with chis­els. Melted mal­tose is pulled and coiled re­peat­edly be­fore fully so­lid­i­fy­ing to a crisp tex­ture. Gin­ger is the tra­di­tional flavour, but today there’s also mint, mango and co­conut.

12. Sliced Cloud Cake 雲片糕

The in­gre­di­ents in this Guangxi de­light are noth­ing fancy, but the beauty lies in the in­tri­cate tech­niques that go into mak­ing them. Af­ter steam­ing cooked gluti­nous flour with dif­fer­ent types of su­gar, the cloud white cake is then finely cut into thin slices, that is, 140 slices for ev­ery 22cm. It has a fra­grant rice flavour with hints of honey and os­man­thus and a melt-in-your-mouth tex­ture.

13. White Su­gar Cake 白糖糕

This tra­di­tional pud­ding — made by steam­ing a dough of rice flour, white su­gar, wa­ter and yeast — orig­i­nated from Shunde in Guang­dong province. This sponge, al­ways served in tri­an­gu­lar chunks, has a soft, chewy, airy tex­ture and is sweet with a hint of tart­ness.

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