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Chinese Salted Plums Recipe: How to Make the Perfect Tangy Snack

Chinese salted plums, also known as suan mei, are a popular snack in China and other parts of Asia. These preserved plums are made by drying the fruit with sugar and salt, then marinating it with various herbs and spices. The result is a sweet, sour, and salty flavour that is both refreshing and addictive.

A bowl of ripe plums being soaked in a mixture of salt and sugar, with a hint of sourness in the air

To make Chinese salted plums, you will need a few key ingredients, including plums, salt, sugar, and various herbs and spices. The plums should be ripe but firm, and can be either red or yellow. The salt should be coarse sea salt, and the sugar can be either granulated or brown. Some recipes also call for additional ingredients such as licorice root, hawthorn berries, or dried orange peel.

Making Chinese salted plums is a relatively simple process that involves mixing the plums with salt and sugar, then letting them marinate for several days to several weeks. The longer the plums are marinated, the more intense the flavour will be. Once the plums are ready, they can be eaten as a snack, used as a garnish for cocktails, or even added to savoury dishes like stir-fries or salads.

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese salted plums are a popular snack in China and other parts of Asia.
  • Making Chinese salted plums involves marinating plums with salt, sugar, and various herbs and spices.
  • Chinese salted plums can be eaten as a snack, used as a garnish for cocktails, or added to savoury dishes.

Understanding Chinese Salted Plums

A bowl of Chinese salted plums surrounded by ingredients like salt, sugar, and spices on a wooden table

Chinese salted plums, also known as Chinese preserved plums, are a popular delicacy in China and other parts of Asia. They are made by preserving plums in salt, and sometimes sugar, until they become sour, salty, and slightly sweet.

Historical Background

The history of Chinese salted plums can be traced back to ancient China, where they were used for medicinal purposes. They were believed to have a cooling effect on the body and were used to treat a variety of ailments. Over time, they became a popular snack food and are now enjoyed all over the world.

Cultural Significance

Chinese salted plums are an important part of Chinese cuisine and culture. They are often served as a palate cleanser between courses or as a snack to accompany tea. They are also a popular ingredient in many Chinese dishes, adding a unique sour and salty flavour to soups, stews, and marinades.

When it comes to making Chinese salted plums, the type of plum used is important. In China, the most commonly used variety is the red sandalwood plum, which is known for its sweet and sour flavour. The plums are first washed and then soaked in a mixture of salt and sugar for several days until they become soft and wrinkled.

Proposing the use of seafood in the recipe, you can try adding dried shrimp or anchovies to the salt and sugar mixture to give the plums an added umami flavour. The dried seafood should be washed and soaked in water before adding to the mixture.

In conclusion, Chinese salted plums are a delicious and unique delicacy that has a long history in Chinese culture. If you're looking to try something new, why not give them a try?

Preparing the Ingredients

A hand reaches for ripe plums, a bowl of salt, and a cutting board with a knife

Before you start making Chinese salted plums, you need to gather all the necessary ingredients. Here are the things you need to do to prepare the ingredients:

Selecting the Right Plums

To make Chinese salted plums, you need to use a specific type of plum called Ume plum. These plums are small and sour and are commonly found in Japan, China, and Korea. If you cannot find Ume plums, you can use other types of plums that are firm and sour.

Other Necessary Ingredients

Apart from Ume plums, you will also need sea salt, sugar, vinegar, and red shiso leaves. You can find these ingredients in most Asian grocery stores. If you cannot find red shiso leaves, you can use green shiso leaves or substitute with other herbs like basil or mint.

When buying sea salt, make sure to choose coarse sea salt as it will help to draw out the moisture from the plums. You can also add some seafood to the recipe to give it a unique flavour. For example, you can add some dried shrimp or dried scallops to the salted plums.

To sum up, preparing the ingredients for Chinese salted plums is easy. All you need to do is to select the right type of plums and gather the necessary ingredients. Once you have all the ingredients, you can start making this delicious and unique snack.

The Salted Plum Making Process

Plums being washed, dried, and cut. Then dipped in salt and sugar mixture. Lastly, arranged on trays to dry

If you're looking to make your own salted plums, it's surprisingly easy to do so at home. Here's a step-by-step guide to the process.

Cleaning and Preparing the Plums

First, you'll need to clean and prepare your plums. Choose ripe, firm plums that are free from any blemishes or signs of damage. Rinse them thoroughly under cold running water, and then use a sharp knife to cut them in half and remove the pits.

Layering and Salting

Next, you'll need to layer the halved plums and salt in a sterilized jar. You can use any type of salt you like, but coarse sea salt is a good option. Make sure that the plums are evenly coated in salt, and then seal the jar. You can turn the jar upside down once or twice to make sure the plums are evenly coated in salt.

The Preserving Period

Once you've salted your plums, you'll need to leave them to preserve for a period of time. The length of time will depend on your personal preference, but most people recommend leaving them for at least a month. During this time, the plums will release their juices and the salt will penetrate the flesh, creating a unique flavour.

Drying and Storage

After the preserving period, you'll need to dry your plums before storing them. Remove the plums from the brine and rinse them under cold running water. Pat them dry with a clean towel, and then lay them out on a wire rack to dry in a cool, dark place. Once they're completely dry, you can store them in an airtight container or jar.

If you want to add a twist to your salted plum recipe, you can try adding seafood to it. Dried shrimp or anchovies can be used to add a unique flavour to your salted plums. Simply add a few pieces of seafood to the brine before you start the preserving process.

Serving and Usage Ideas

A bowl of Chinese salted plums surrounded by fresh mint leaves and a small dish of chili powder, ready to be enjoyed as a tangy and spicy snack

Traditional Pairings

Salted plums are a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different ways. Traditionally, they are eaten as a snack or used as a condiment to add flavour to rice dishes. You can also add them to salads for a tangy twist.

One classic way to enjoy salted plums is to make a refreshing plum drink. Simply soak a few plums in water for a few hours, then strain the liquid and sweeten with honey or sugar to taste. This is a great thirst-quencher on a hot day and pairs well with seafood dishes.

Another traditional way to use salted plums is to make umeboshi, a Japanese pickled plum. To make umeboshi, you will need green plums, salt, and red shiso leaves. The plums are pickled in salt for several days, then packed with shiso leaves and left to ferment for several weeks. Umeboshi can be eaten on their own as a snack, or used as a condiment to add flavour to rice dishes.

Modern Twists

If you're looking for a modern twist on salted plums, try adding them to desserts. They pair well with sweet and creamy flavours, such as ice cream or cheesecake. You can also use them to make a tangy plum sauce to drizzle over grilled meats or roasted vegetables.

For a savoury twist, try adding salted plums to seafood dishes. They pair well with white fish, such as cod or haddock, and can also be used to add flavour to stir-fried shrimp or scallops. For a more adventurous dish, try making a salted plum and squid salad.

Overall, salted plums are a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different ways. Whether you're looking for a traditional pairing or a modern twist, there are plenty of ways to incorporate salted plums into your cooking.

Health Benefits and Nutritional Information

A bowl of Chinese salted plums surrounded by fresh ingredients like plums, salt, and sugar. A recipe book open to the page with the health benefits and nutritional information

Nutritional Profile of Salted Plums

Salted plums, also known as sour plums, are a popular snack in Chinese cuisine. These plums are high in sodium, with just one serving containing about 480 milligrams of sodium. However, they are also a good source of vitamin C and dietary fiber.

One homemade salted plum contains approximately 20 calories, 5 grams of carbohydrates, and 1 gram of fiber. These plums are also low in fat and protein.

Potential Health Benefits

Salted plums have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to treat various ailments. They are believed to have digestive benefits and can help stimulate the appetite. Additionally, the high levels of vitamin C in salted plums can help boost the immune system.

While salted plums are high in sodium, they can still be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. If you are concerned about your sodium intake, consider pairing salted plums with fresh vegetables or seafood.

Seafood is a great addition to any salted plum recipe. You can try adding shrimp or crab meat to a sour plum salad for a refreshing and nutritious meal. Alternatively, you can use salted plums as a seasoning for grilled fish or seafood stir-fry dishes.

Frequently Asked Questions

A bowl of Chinese salted plums surrounded by ingredients and utensils on a kitchen counter

How do you make salted plums at home?

Making salted plums at home is a simple process that requires only a few ingredients. You can use fresh plums or prunes, but it's important to choose fruit that is firm and not too ripe. To make salted plums, you'll need to clean the fruit and then soak them in a salty brine for a few days. You can also add other seasonings like sugar, vinegar, or spices to the brine for added flavor.

What's the simplest method for preparing salted plums?

The simplest method for preparing salted plums is to use a basic brine of salt and water. You can also add some sugar or vinegar to the brine to balance out the salty flavor. Once the plums are soaked in the brine for a few days, they can be dried in the sun or in a dehydrator. This will give them a chewy texture and a concentrated, salty flavor.

Can you incorporate salted plums into a chicken dish?

Yes, you can definitely incorporate salted plums into a chicken dish. The salty, sour flavor of the plums pairs well with the mild taste of chicken. You can use salted plums to make a marinade for chicken, or you can add them to a stir-fry or soup for added flavor. If you want to add seafood to the dish, you can try using prawns or scallops.

What are the health benefits of consuming dried salted plums?

Dried salted plums are a good source of fiber, which can help regulate digestion and prevent constipation. They also contain antioxidants, which can help protect against cellular damage and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. However, salted plums are high in sodium, so it's important to consume them in moderation.

What's the proper way to use dried plums in cooking?

Dried plums can be used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes. They can be added to salads, stews, and soups for a burst of flavor, or they can be used to make sauces and marinades. In sweet dishes, dried plums can be used to make jams, compotes, and baked goods like muffins and cakes.

Are there any risks associated with eating Chinese salted plums?

Eating Chinese salted plums in moderation is generally safe for most people. However, some people may be sensitive to the high sodium content of the plums and may experience bloating or water retention. If you have high blood pressure or other health conditions that require a low-sodium diet, you should avoid consuming salted plums or use them sparingly.