Monday, June 24, 2013

Strawberry Bing Tanghulu (冰糖葫芦)

I mentioned in my 626 night market post that I had tried a street sweet from China that I was dying to share with you all, bing tanghulu (冰糖葫芦). When I first saw this sweet-on-a-stick, I was mesmerized by it. It looked like a person took fruit and made them into jewels, the way they glistened!

I've seen it spelled various different ways in English, from bing tanghulu, bingtang hulu to just tanghulu, or sometimes even bing tang hu lu (apparently just insert spaces according to your fancy). Any which way, fruit on a skewer that has been coating in a thin layer of hard candy is deliciously craveable. The conflicting textures of the hard candy and ripe fruit, crunchy/soft, and the opposing flavors, sweet/tangy, make it a delicious treat!

My twist on Bing Tanghulu, not dipped whole but drizzled!
It's also a nice change from the smokey savory treats at the night markets, but it is actually more traditionally made in winter, I was surprised to find out. To me, I associate it with summer night markets and strawberry season. Originally, it was made with the Chinese Hawthorn, which is tart and chewy, so the candy coating was even more of a textural and flavor contrast and perhaps they ripen in winter, which explains this discrepancy. It also makes sense, since the vibrant red color is definitely a celebration color, especially for New Year's.

I didn't have any Chinese hawberries, but strawberries are in their prime right now so I couldn't resist trying this recipe out. Watch out, you will be seeing a lot of strawberry recipes right now, I bought a big flat of them!

This recipe will make at least 8 skewers of 4 berries each, but you have to work fairly quickly before the candy cools and hardens. I made the mistake of thinking it would be best to let the molten candy cool a bit ("I wouldn't want to cook the berries with this super hot liquid candy!") and I had to redo the batch because the candy was too thick and wouldn't stick to the berries!

 A fun twist I came up with, rather than coating the entire berry, was drizzling the berries in the candy for a lacy-looking alternative. I thought it was prettier, and it is a good alternative if your candy cools down too much to coat the berries. Either way, they are a delicious treat for strawberry season!

Strawberry Bing Tanghulu (冰糖葫芦)

1/4 cup corn syrup
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 water
Strawberries
Skewers

Remove the calyx (green part) from each of the strawberries by using a strawberry huller, paring knife, or whatever your preferred method.

Combine the corn syrup, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan and stir until there are no more lumps of sugar. Place over medium-heat and do not stir the mixture, or else you risk crystal formation that can make the end product grainy. To prevent crystals from forming along the sides of pan, use a brush to wash down the crystals from the sides of the pan. Boil for about 15-20 minutes, or until it reaches the hard-crack stage, or 290 degrees Fahrenheit. If you do not have a thermometer, you can test for the hard-crack stage by placing a tiny dollop of the mixture in a glass of cool water. If it turns very hard (think like a jolly rancher or other hard candy) and cracks, it's ready!

While the candy boils, start preparing your skewers by threading the skewers through the strawberries. It is best to use strawberries that are ripe, but not too soft, at the bottom of the skewer, because if they are too soft the weight of the candy will cause them to slide off.

Once the candy is ready, turn off the heat and quickly spoon the candy over the strawberries, twirling the skewer to coat evenly, spooning all the while. The goal is a thin layer of candy covering the entire berries, but don't worry if it's not perfect. I used a piece of styrofoam and put each end of the skewers deep in the styrofoam so they would dry upright. Alternatively, just let the skewers cool on waxed paper.

Optional: you can roll or sprinkle them with candy sprinkles, sesame seeds, or even shelled peanuts.

Too lazy to make your own? I hope I run into you at the next night market! (I'll be the fattie with a skewer of squid and a bing tanghulu in hand!)

See also:
Caprese Skewers
Strawberry Romanoff Butter Mochi
Ichigo Daifuku 

8 comments:

  1. Yum. I've never seen this before. Sounds delicious.

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  2. I used to eat something similar "mizuame" during the summer festival growing up in Japan. Haven't had that for ages! Looks so yum...kids will be all over this. ;)

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    1. Oooh the mizuame that I am familiar with is gooey like honey, and you can take two chopsticks and mash it around until it becomes almost fluffy! I wonder if it is the same thing as the one you refer to?

      This candy coating turns hard like a lollipop or sucker, but both of these are definitely kid friendly! :D

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  3. Do these need to be eaten immediately? would they be okay for 1-2 days? refrigerated or no?

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    1. I don't think that they would last very long. If refrigerated, I think they would get sticky. Left unrefrigerated, the strawberry would get mushy and start to leak.

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  4. Can you not use the corn syrup? Will it tast different?

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    1. It is used to keep the hard candy coating from becoming granular as it hardens. You could look up a substitute for hard candy without using corn syrup. It won't taste different.

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