Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dragon beard candy at London Chinatown - live demonstration of how to make dragon beard candy

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We were on our way to check out Seven Dials’ Hawksmoor over the weekend when I convinced Wife to make a detour to Leicester Square as I was pretty sure that the Chinese New Year decorations would be up at London’s Chinatown. I turned out to be wrong, the rows of lanterns weren’t up yet.

Unlike the New Year, which falls on the first day of the Gregorian calendar, the Chinese New Year follows the Lunar calendar that follows the lunar phases. As a result, the first day of the year always falls on a different date on the Gregorian calendar.

Disappointed, we were heading back to Seven Dials when a dragon beard candy stall set up in front of Feng Shui Inn caught my eye. Though I remember seeing the stall set up at the same spot every Chinese New Year, we have never gotten round to getting any dragon beard candy from it. While we do have that in Singapore, it isn’t exactly my favourite Chinese New Year snack as the candy, which is made from saturated maltose solution, just clings to your teeth, hardly pleasant.

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A lady at the stall was demonstrating how the delicate snack was made. According to her, she has also been previously invited by the British Museum to do the same. I could see why; she took less than a minute to finish making a portion. Her fluid motions reminded me of the chef making noodles at Lanzhou La Mian. A small box with four pieces of dragon beard candy goes for £3 (two boxes for £5), which I suspect is pretty much the price back home as well given the ridiculous exchange rate.

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Well, the dragon beard candy with its grated peanuts fillings still clung to my teeth as before. Also, it tasted less sweet than the ones back home. While I probably wouldn’t get it again in a hurry, you might want to give it a try if you have not had dragon beard candy before.

Just so that you know, the temporary stall is set up for business during the build up to Chinese New Year and will be in operation for only two months of the year. As far as I know, it seems to be the only place in London where you can have a live demonstration of making dragon beard candy. So there you go, anything to do when you are in London's Chinatown in the next couple of weeks.

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