Li Hing Apricot
January 9: National Apricot Day
When they were in intermediate school in Hawaii, Islander and her friend, sistah Nan N., used to walk across the street after their last class to get a snack at the strip mall. With their limited keiki allowance, they usually bought something inexpensive and small, such as shave ice, chips, cookies, arare (rice crackers) or crack seed. Collectively, the latter consists of partially pitted plums or other dried fruits that are sprinkled with a reddish, salty-sweet-sour powder called li hing. The distinctively unique spice mix was introduced to Hawaii by the Chinese who labored in the sugar cane plantations. Li hing means “traveling” in Chinese, and the dried fruits, such as plums (mui, as in the popular li hing mui), prunes, apricots, mangos, cherries, pineapples and others, provided a portable and preserved quick snack for the migrant workers.
Crack seed has become a nostalgic part of Hawaii’s local food culture and is available from glass jars at specialty stores and mall kiosks and in packages wherever snacks are sold. Even Nan now sells crack seed and other local goodies at her family’s mini-mart in West Oahu. Once in a while she would send care packages to us. Islander appreciates those tasty treats that remind her of their childhood together.
With li hing powder now available, she can easily flavor any dried fruit, such as apricots, at home on the mainland. Li hing apricot may be an acquired taste for some, but it is a novel delicacy from Hawaii worth blogging about on National Apricot Day.
- 1 cup dried apricots
- ½ tablespoon li hing powder
In a bowl, sprinkle li hing powder over the dried apricots. Toss until the apricots are coated well. Store in an airtight container or zipper top plastic bag until ready to snack on them.