Wednesday, June 17, 2009
During our trip to Vancouver last month, Kris and I visited the Richmond Summer Night Market, where we gorged ourselves on Asian street food (stay tuned, that's a whole 'nother post!) And that's also where I found the 'regal' dragon's beard candy, originally made for the emperors of China. The dragon is a Chinese imperial symbol and the long white strands of spun sugar resemble a beard, hence the name 'dragon's beard'.
The ancient art of making dragon's beard candy has been passed down from master to apprentice, and only a few hundred people in the world today know how to properly make it. Sugar, corn syrup/maltose, and water are boiled down to the soft-crack candy stage, left to cool and then pulled to form thousands of silky strands. Glutinous rice flour is used to keep the strands separated during the pulling process (watch detailed video of this secret art on youtube, Part 1 and Part 2). The strands are sectioned into manageable sized pieces and wrapped around chopped roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, and shredded coconut:
After all this work, $3 for 6 pieces seemed like a bargain!
They're also fun to eat -the outside melts away in your mouth like cotton candy, leaving you with the crunch from the yummy nuts and seeds. Not earth-shattering, but I'm glad I got to try it.
Dragon's beard candy is difficult to find, not only because there are few 'masters' left who know how to make it, but also due to its non-existent shelf life. Freshly made candy are best enjoyed immediately (like cotton candy), or else they will shrivel up into mummified goobers (trying to save some for later will undoubtedly turn into a sticky science experiment).
But for all you weird food fanatics out there, Bamboo Garden has found a way to keep their "Icy-Crispy Dragon Beard Candy" fresh for up to six months from the date of manufacture. But be prepared to pay $2 per piece plus shipping!
Or you might have some luck finding dragon's beard candy in your local Chinatown or Asian supermarkets. I'll post an update if I ever come across it again.
Have you ever tried dragon's beard candy? Or know where to get it? Please leave me a comment!