Fresh Red Dates
Traditional Chinese Name:
红枣 (hóng zǎo)
Ah! The sweet crunchy crunchy of little fruit, bursting with juices and sugars. This is definitely not your traditional Chinese soup ingredient, but I walked by a vendor this morning who insisted I try them with soup! She knows I’m always on the look out for new and interesting ingredients, so she suggested this sweetish, fruity soup paired with pork shank for the family. I’d never thought to use fresh dates, but this is a unique find indeed! The seeds are not easy to extract, so I kept them in. They aren’t are fiery as their processed cousins, the dried red dates, because of how they are processed. And, you can eat them raw! If you happen to chance across this during your shopping, try them! A great pairing with the snow pear!
What is it?
- A small, round, red, seeded fruit (in its mature state) produced by date palm tree
- When eaten raw, it’s got a sweet almost apple like taste with a crunchy texture
- Commonly found in Asia, some parts of Europe and India
- In Chinese cuisine, the dried dates can be found in both salty and sweet dishes, in soups, as dried snacks and in teas
- Fresh dates aren’t so common in soups and are quite seasonal, so be sure to check availability
How do I prepare it?
- Rinse and wash under cold water before usage to remove dirt and grim
- You can remove the seeds similar to apples, but you can also slice (as shown) and use in soups
- You don’t need to peel the skin, they can be eaten with the fruit
- Suggest to cut and slice only if you’re going to use them, else you can keep them in the fridge for a week (similar to apples!)
Where can I buy it and cost?
You can purchase fresh dates from any supermarket or your local wet mart
- They are seasonal fruits and usually available in late September
What is the cost?
Fresh dates cost around $12 HKD for a pack of 8-10, this will vary on season and vendor
- Red dates are known to assist in maintaining healthy blood pressure and assist the stomach and spleen in poor appetites
- It is also commonly used to address stress in drinks and teas
- Due to its sweetness, it is soothing to the throat and used to treat sore throats
- Red dates are an excellent source of Vitamin C (and also packed with great antioxidants that help kill free radicals which increase aging)
- A common ingredient found for Chinese confinements
- Dates are high in fiber, helping with digestion and constipation
- They are also known to help blood sugar control
- Be sure you are buying red dates from a reputable source as some red dates do carry diseases
- For soups, use pitted dried dates. The seeds are known to create “fire” in the body and not usually ideal
Looking to build your basic Chinese Soup Pantry?
The dried red dates is one of them! Check it out in my video to learn more!