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Mouth-Watering Words

While Hawaiiʻs crack seed tradition is often something talked about in the realm of "small kid time," we all know that adults enjoy crack seed as much as kids. And the King of all crack seeds is the Li Hing Mui - that ʻono salty-sour, sweet preserved plum.

Li Hing Mui was made popular in Hawaii by Yee Sheong, who in early 1900, had began importing Li Hing Mui and various other preserved fruits from China to Hawaii. It flourished with the company he founded, Yick Lung. Through the year, itʻs gone through a few evolutions and we now find it used in many ways - on sour gummy bears and on the rim of cocktails. Our September Makana subscribers received an all-natural Li Hing Mui powder made by Honoluluʻs own OnoPops. Hereʻs OnoPops owner Joe Welchʻs story of how and why they developed their own Li Hing Mui powder.

"The Li Hing was developed because we knew we needed flavors in our ice pop take on Hawaiian Regional Cuisine that reflected the rich Crackseed tradition here in Hawaii, but we also were committed to making an all natural product, and none of the Li Hing on the market fit that criterion. So we had blend our own. Working with Michelle Galimba, who, in addition to being the Big Islandʻs most awesome Paniola, was one of my best friends in High School, and has a PhD in Chinese Studies from UC Berkeley. We investigated all we could find in English and Chinese on the Cantonese candy and preserved fruit tradition that led to Hawaiian Crackseed.

What we came up with was a recipe that reflects what Li Hing powder would have tasted like 100 years ago. Aspartame was introduced in the early 1980s; FD&C red #5 was invented in 1925; a century ago there was Li Hing powder, and it did not have that junk in it. We make the Li Hing, but we leave the cancer out, because you donʻt want it.

Use it for all your favorite applications of the sweet-sour-salty crave: sprinkled on pineapples or granny smiths; for the rims of your margarita glasses; in Alan Wongʻs salad dressing recipe; or, my favorite, as a dry rub for pork ribs."

Look for OnoPops at every Whole Foods and Foodland on Oahu, and coming soon to Oahu Safeway stores as well!

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