Friday, August 24, 2012

Making Ginger Mui

I love crystallized ginger - it is so good when I have an upset tummy. Crystallized ginger can be found in most natural food stores and now in most grocery stores - those found in the grocery stores can be pricier than those bought at natural food stores. I did find that the store bought ones were coated in a lot of sugar, which is why I started to make my my own and in doing some reading on the Internet, I came across this recipe. The cooking time is a lot less than my original process and comes out really nice - more candied than crystallized, but it's still wonderful.

Wet Li Hing Mui. At 1st glance, they don't look
appetizing, but they are tasty.
I am from Hawaii (now living in Washington State) and there are many local snacks that I love and miss. One of them was Li Hing Mui - a dried preserved plum. They also make a wet version of this and it is really tasty. In 2008, I went back to Hawaii for a very brief visit and found a local snack shop who made their own Ginger Mui - basically, they took cooked ginger and added the spices used to make Li Hing Mui. I recently decided to give it a try.

I Googled how to make Prune Mui - another popular snack locals make, because I knew those ingredients were what I would need to make my Ginger Mui. I came across this recipe (recipe has been deleted) and adapted it to my liking. I would put everything in a large zip top bag and store in the frig as instructed. I hated the waiting time, I am impatient and like to eat it as soon as it's done - I usually start picking it the next day I make it knowing that it wasn't ready to eat. I wanted to make the process faster so I thought of stewed fruits or a compote. Basically cooking fruits in a sugar syrup of whatever a mixture of spices and herbs you like. I thought that would make the process faster and gave it a try.

So here is how I make Ginger Mui. Process your ginger like how I do it here. **Update** I figured out that if you peel the ginger like a potato - use a small spoon and flick the skin away from you, into a sink that has a trap to catch all the peel, the peeling process goes a lot faster. If you use more wrist action, you will have less wear on your fingers and joints. I slice the ginger in good size pieces - don't like it too small. Then I place all the cut pieces in a sauce pan and add filtered water to cover and bring to a boil. Let this go on a high simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and repeat the process. After the second boiling, add 4 cups of water to the pot along with 1 cup of organic sugar (I might go 1/2 cup less next time) - you are making a syrup here, and usually it's a 1 to 1 ratio of sugar to water, but I don't like things really sweet. You bring this to a boil and let it cook till the temperature on a candy thermometer reaches 225 degrees - it goes from 0 to 200 degrees almost instantly, but it takes a while to go from 200 to 225. Make sure the bulb of your thermometer stays in the liquid - the way my pot is, when the liquid gets low, my bulb doesn't accurately sit in the liquid so last time, I just cooked it till all the liquid evaporated. I am frequently stirring so everything gets coated. Also, cooking the ginger can be a little stinky, so warn your family, open your windows, and turn on your stove fan if you have one or make this when no one's home.

At this point, you are done if you want just candied ginger. While it is still wet, sprinkle on some sugar and place on a cooling rack with a cookie sheet under it to dry and use as desired. If  you want ginger mui, this is what you do from here.

Get all  your ingredients together. I have it ready to go so I can just dump and go for a faster process.
Not pictured - candy thermometer.

This is how I squeeze my lemon, use 2 hands (my other hand was taking the pic). Don't squeeze too hard or you'll distort your tongs. If the lemon seems "dry", microwave it for about 10 seconds to get the juices flowing.

Place all the mui ingredients in your pot.

Add your ginger and mix well - turn your stove on to medium at this point.

As the ginger heats up, start stirring to get everything incorporated. Do not get distracted at this point, it goes real fast. It took about 20 minutes for all the liquid to get absorbed. Everything will get thick and sticky, just like how crack seed (preserved plums) are. 

Let cool and store in an air tight container or zip to bag. I stored mine in a 4 cup container like this and it lasted for about 10 days. I would nosh on it in the afternoons and in the evenings - so good!

Making Ginger Mui    (printable recipe)

2 tb. Chinese 5 spice powder

2 tsp. Hawaiian salt (kosher will do)
4 star anise
2 tb. organic sugar or honey
6 tb. whiskey
Juice from 2 large lemons
1 1/2 - 2 lbs. candied ginger

- In a large sauce pan, place all the ingredients except the candied ginger, and stir to incorporate.

- Add the ginger and mix - turn stove on to medium heat.
- Bring to a boil and stir constantly until all the liquid has been absorbed by the ginger, it took me about 20 minutes.
- Let cool, remove the star anise (ok to leave it in the sauce pan, off the heat).
- Store in an airtight container or zip top bag in the frig.
- Eat and enjoy!

So ono!!!! 

(So good!!!!)

The process does take a while (about an hour and a half from start to finish), but in the end you have wonderful ginger mui that is not full of sugar, aspartame or other junk your body doesn't need. Because I use less sugar, I don't feel bad eating a bunch at a time. The first few bites are strong, but it mellows out as it sits in the frig. The last time, I zested the lemon in the mui mix - next time, I will take large pieces of the lemon peel and candy that with the ginger for extra flavor, why throw out good flavor? Speaking of which, any  leftover mui "sauce" is great when stirred in some orange juice - just a couple of teaspoons.

So, next time you have a craving for some local flavor, try my ginger mui recipe a try - I promise you'll like it as much as I do.

2018 Update: I now make this with dried papayas. My natural food store sells dried papaya spears and I cut them into bite sized chunks and make this recipe with it. I like the dried papaya so much better, I think it has a better mouthfeel than the ginger.

Mahalo (thanks) for reading!

Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this post or any of my other posts. Thanks!


Lexie said...

Ono-licious Faith!! xoLexie

Little Me said...

Mahalo Lexie! I appreciate your comment.