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Shanghai Street Food #16 Crystal Sugar Hawthorns Bīng Táng Shān Zhā 冰糖山楂

I have the worst firecracker hangover headache today. After six nights of interrupted sleep, I can tell you that my Chinese neighbours’ favourite times to let off fireworks are –


1. Ten minutes after I fall asleep
2. Half an hour before I usually wake up 
3. Between 1am and 2am


I can’t fool them by going to bed later and getting up earlier, or by turning out all the lights and pretending I’m not home. What I really need, other than coffee and aspirin and about 10 hours more sleep, is a double-glazed apartment 50 floors above the ground, where the muted sound of firecrackers fifty floors below will be no louder than the coffee machine starting up. 


Also, I wish that the f***er whose car alarm goes off beneath my bedroom window EVERY SINGLE TIME a cracker goes off, will come home to find the battery dead (oh! I wish!!) and all his pot plants dead, and the paint on his car pockmarked by falling debris. 

Enough ranting. On to food. At least Chinese New Year comes with some fantastic street snacks that make up for all the sleep deprivation. After years of shift work I can tell you that it’s not coffee that wakes up your brain, but SUGAR. These sugary little beauties are called Crystal Sugar Hawthorns (bīng táng shān zhā 冰糖山楂and I wish they were available all year round, but that’s what makes them so special


Hawthorns are a member of the rose family and the red berries are the size of a large, round, rosehip. Eaten raw they are incredibly sour and quite astringent, but rolled in oil then confectioner’s sugar and left to dry gives the crunchy, sour hawthorns a crisp sweet white crust. Like a miniature sugared toffee apple. 


They’re quite hard to find, I bought mine from a tiny stall at the Yu Gardens. 5 yuan/bag.

The Shanghai Street Food Series
Number 1   Roast Sweet Potatoes
Number 2   Snack-on-a-stick 
Number 3   Liangpi – a spicy cold noodle dish
Number 4   Langzhou Lamian – hand-pulled noodles
Number 5   Cong You Bing – fried shallot pancakes
Number 6   Baozi – steamed buns, Shanghai style
Number 7   Jian Bing – the famous egg pancake
Number 8   Dan Gao – street cakes
Number 9   Shao mai – sticky rice treats
Number 10  Summer on a Stick – fresh fruits

Number 11  You Tiao – deep-fried breadsticks
Number 12  Dan Juan – egg rolls
Number 13  Shao Kao – street barbecue
Number 14  Bao Mi Hua – exploding rice flowers
Number 15  Chou Doufu – stinky tofu
Number 16  Bing Tang Shan Zha – crystal sugar hawthorns
Number 17  Mutton Polo
Number 18  Yumi Bang – puffed corn sticks
Number 19  Mian Hua Tang – cotton candy
Number 20  You Dunzi – fried radish cakes

Number 21  Suzhou Shi Yue Bing – homestyle mooncakes 
Number 22  Gui Hua Lian’ou – honeyed lotus root stuffed with sticky rice
Number 23  Cong You Ban Mian – scallion oil noodles
Number 24  Guotie – potsticker dumplings
Number 25  Nuomi Cai Tou – fried clover pancakes
Number 26  Da Bing, Shao Bing – sesame breakfast pastries
Number 27  Ci Fan – sticky rice breakfast balls
Number 28  Gui Hua Gao – steamed osmanthus cake
Number 29  Zongzi – bamboo leaf wrapped sticky rice
Number 30  Shengjianbao – pan-fried dumplings

Number 31  Mala Tang – DIY spicy soup

  • http://adventuresinalowgiworld.blogspot.com/ Louise

    Now these do sound interesting. So much more appealing than stinky tofu (a concept from which I am still recovering psychologically!) It is wonderful to have seasonal treats isn't it? But when they're so delicious you do want them more often. Ah, cruel irony.

  • https://www.blogger.com/profile/06536552327023867787 shaz

    Hi Fiona, I have been so slack about visiting! I thought of you constantly on the first day of CNY, that must have been something 🙂 Sounds like it hasn't let up since.

    At least you're getting some sugar to help fix things a little bit. I wonder if these end up as the dried Haw flakes? I probably overdosed on those as a kid.

    Wishing you and your family a happy and prosperous Year of the Rabbit 🙂

  • https://www.blogger.com/profile/11390453342365399230 Fiona

    Happy New Year to you too Shaz! And prosperous too, of course 😉 I guess the Sydney celebrations were a little more subdued….but way safer!

  • https://www.blogger.com/profile/06272799752169958460 christa @ mental foodie

    I don't think I'd ever had it fresh, but I have eaten lots of dried ones (山楂餅). They sold them in Hong Kong, and also I'd found them in Asian grocery stores overseas.

    What it looks like:
    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/168/380619708_d86219bd83_m.jpg

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kimhaa/4920747605/

    Not that sour. Hard to describe what it tastes like but be warned it's addictive 🙂

  • https://www.blogger.com/profile/14079614685499559792 Jennifer-Adventuresome Kitchen

    It's so amazing what you find there! Hope your CNY trials end soon!

  • https://www.blogger.com/profile/11390453342365399230 Fiona

    Thanks Jennifer – only five more nights…..

    And Christa thanks for the links: I have eaten those as a kid too without having any idea what they were…they are quite sweet too in my memory, but the raw haw fruit is really very sour (just ate the last one to make sure!)

    Cheers, Fiona

  • https://www.blogger.com/profile/07733972189200307551 Teresa

    Pei pa koa is pretty decent cough medicine (from herbal as I remembered), great non alcoholic medicine, some western cough medicine are more effective, but this is non drowsy.

    You can access info online @
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nin_Jiom_Pei_Pa_Koa
    ninjiom.50webs.com