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Chinese Sweet Treats

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Fruits, Desserts, and Other Sweet Foods

Spring Volume: 2012 Issue: 19(1) page(s): 36 and 37

Yes, there are no desserts as westerners know them served at a Chinese meal's end. However, at a banquet, Eight Precious Rice is often found served near or at the end of that meal and at other special meal occasions. In Taiwan and at many Taiwanese and Taiwanese-owned restaurants in many countries, pieces of a naval orange appear on a plate when or just before the check comes. Chinese in and around Shanghai are known to have a sweet tooth; many of their dishes have a touch of sugar in them, more so than in other places in China. That does not mean there are no Chinese dishes that are sweets.

Sweet dishes do appear in many a place and in many a main meal. Here are a few examples of ones served for dim sum, soup, main dish, even as tea. Enjoy these snacks and other sweet dish delights, and look for other recipes in the index listing of recipes found on Flavor and Fortune's website at www.flavorandfortune.com However, do not expect to find them listed as desserts, because as you can see, these sweets can be anywhere in a Chinese meal. Hope this answers the many queries this magazine receives on the topic of sweets. Do serve them and others anywhere in a Chinese meal you may be making.
Dry Fig Soup
4 dried figs, cut into small pieces
6 dried longan, cut into small pieces
1 piece tangerine peels, cut into tiny pieces
1 Tablespoon lotus seeds
1 cup peeled and quartered burdock root
1 lily bulb, each piece of the bulb cut into six pieces
3 Tablespoons goji berries
1 Tablespoon rock sugar
1. Soak figs, longan, and tangerine peel in their own one-half cup of boiling water for five minutes, then drain reserving the water from each of them.
2. Strain the individual soaking waters, and put the fruits in a three- or four-quart pot. Add six cups water, the lotus seeds and the lily bulb pieces and bring to just below the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for one hour.
3. Add goji berries and simmer another ten minutes, then add the rock sugar, and after the sugar dissolves completely, serve the soup in individual soup bowls.
Pear Pancakes
1 Asian pear, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup water chestnut flour
1 egg
1/2 cup red bean paste
5 cherries, pitted and cut in half
1 cup vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon sugar
1. Mix chopped pear, water chestnut flour, one cup of water, and the egg making it into a thick dough. Divide it into ten parts.
2. Divide bean paste into ten parts and wrap each of them with the prepared dough fully enclosing the bean paste. Gently flatten these into the shape of pancakes.
3. Put half cherry on top of each pancake and gently push it partway into each of them.
4. Eat oil and deep fry half the pancakes two minutes on a side, then drain on paper towels and fry the other half of them.
5. Put pancakes on a heat-proof serving plate and steam over boiling water for five minutes. Remove and bring to the table.
6. In a small pot, mix the sugar with three tablespoons water. Bring to the boil and pour this over the pancakes.
Mango Fish Rolls
1/8 pound boneless and skinless fish filets
1 egg white
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 almost ripe mangos, peeled and sliced thin
3 Tablespoons water chestnut powder
1 cup vegetable oil
1. Cut fish into finger-length strips and toss them with egg white, sugar, and salt. Let rest for fifteen minutes, then poach them in boiling water for one minute. Drain on a rack.
2. Roll fish in cornstarch then put one fish strip on the end of a mango slice and roll, holding each one together with a toothpick, then coat generously with the water chestnut powder and set on a rack and continue until all are rolled and coated.
3. Heat oil, and deep-fry the mango rolls for one minute until crisp. Drain, remove the tooth picks, and serve hot or warm.
Squid in Orange Sauce
1/2 pound dried squid, soaked overnight
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 pound shrimp, peeled and veins removed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
dash of ground white pepper
1 egg white
1 Tablespoon flour
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 Tablespoon water chestnut flour
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1. Remove any cartilage in the squid, cut into rectangles two-inches long and one-inch wide. Then cross cut the squid on its underside and dust with the cornstarch on the uncut side.
2. Mince the shrimp into a paste and mix in the salt, sugar, and the ground pepper. Spread this on the uncut side of the squid.
3. Beat egg white and the flour making a batter, and coat the squid-shrimp sell.
4. Heat the vegetable oil and deep fry the squid for four minutes, remove and drain on paper towels.
5. Put the orange juice, water chestnut flour, and the sesame oil in a small pot and bring to the boil. Add the squid rolls, stir, and simmer for one minute, then serve.
Coriander Cakes
1/2 packed cup coriander leaves
3 Tablespoons crushed brown slab sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup lotus seed paste
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1. In a medium-size pot, bring two cups water to the boil and add the coriander leaves. Reduce the heat to an active simmer and cook for half an hour before adding the crushed brown sugar.
2. Remove from the heat, add the cornstarch and flour and stir making a firm dough. If necessary, add another tablespoon or two of cornstarch.
3. Knead, then divide the dough into ten parts and partially mix it with the lotus seed paste.
4. Brush sesame oil in ten of the cupcake sections and press one batch into each of them.
5. Use the remaining sesame oil, brush a heat-proof platter, and then using a spatula turn them out one by one onto it. Steam over boiling water for five minutes. Serve.
Walnut Maltose Cakes
1/2 cup shelled walnuts
1 and 1/2 cups Chinese black dates, pitted
1/4 cup maltose
1/4 cup brown rock sugar
2 teaspoons powdered sugar
1. Soak walnuts in two cups of boiling water for fifteen minutes, then bake them in 300 F oven for twenty minutes. Toss in a paper bag to remove any loose peel.
2. Soak dates in three cups boiling water for five minutes, drain and remove their skins, then bake in 300 F oven for fifteen minutes.
3. In a two-quart pot, dissolve rock sugar in three tablespoons cold water, then add the maltose. When the sugar is dissolved add the dates and simmer on low heat for ten minutes, then add the walnuts and continue simmering until it thickens, about five minutes.
4. In an eight- or nine-inch square baking pan, press the walnut-date mixture firmly, then allow to cool before cutting into one-inch squares. Using a strainer, dust the squares with powdered sugar and serve.
Sweet Almond Tea
2 Tablespoons lotus seeds
3 Tablespoons peeled regular almonds
1 Tablespoon peeled bitter almonds
2 Tablespoons rice
1 Tablespoon white cloud ear fungi, soaked until soft
5 Tablespoons crushed white rock sugar
1. Soak the lotus seeds for three hours, then break each one in half and remove its kernels.
2. Soak both sets of almonds and the rice for one hour, then drain and put them and two cups water into a blender with the rice, and run on high for two minutes. Then strain through a very fine stainer or a cloth bag.
3. Put almond mixture, the lotus seeds, sugar, and four cups of water into a medium-size pot and stir letting it boil for three minutes. Add the white cloud ear fungi and simmer for two minutes, then serve warm or cold.
Stuffed Lichees and Loquats
1/2 cup red bean paste
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 twenty-ounce can loquats, drained well
1 twenty-ounce can lichees, drained well
3 Tablespoons pine nuts
1. Mix bean paste, sugar, and cornstarch; and if very thick, add in one tablespoon water.
2. Stuff each of the fruits with a scant teaspoon of the bean paste mixture, then top each one with a pine nut slightly pushing it into the bean paste mixture.
3. Put the fruits on a flat plate and steam them over rapidly simmering water for ten minutes. Then carefully move them to a platter and serve.

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