Basi pingguo, pronounced “bah-srr ping-gwor” 拔丝苹果 is a delicious Chinese toffee apple rom the province of Shandong, sometimes translated as “Silk Apple” as the toffee has long, silk-like strings when pulled. Fried in a delicious batter, these are unusual compared to the Western version of this dessert due to the controlled usage of temperature as part of the experience – the toffee apple is dipped into ice water to harden the toffee into a crystalline shell. As a result, the apples are still warm and soft, the top is crunchy and icy.
A specialty of the Northern Shandong region of China, my version of the dessert uses a touch of Chinese Five Spice in the batter to give a warm, spicy flavor and tart Granny Smith apples to contrast with the sweet coating. Otherwise, this is a very traditional recipe, Citizens! 🙂
A different but exceptional recipe will be found in the book of my friend, Chinese chef extraordinaire Carolyn Phillips, in her forthcoming book “All Under Heaven” (McSweeney’s + Ten Speed Press, 2016) – well worth pre-ordering on Amazon, Citizens! 🙂
Shandong is the apple capital of China! Yantai City, a well-known “land of fruits” in Shandong Province, is China’s largest cultivation area of cash apples. The Yantai apple is famous nationwide for its various breeds, huge output and high quality. Yantai apple abounds in nutrition of fructose, apple acid, vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and iron etc., and has high curative value, being especially good for kidney, stomach and heart, etc.
Yantai is a Key Fruit Export Base in north China and the biggest Red Fuji Apple Production Base, which has 186,700 hectares of top–grade apple orchard. The output of Yantai apple, which is the principal variety of fruits in Yantai, is 1.9 million tons, accounts for 9% of national output and the export amount accounts for ¼ of the whole country. At a national appraisal Conference 1994, fifteen varieties of the Yantai Apple were rated, with seven at the top of the list, among the twenty-one high-quality fruits in northern China. It is the biggest economic culture area of apple in China.
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- 3 Granny Smith apples
- 2 egg whites
- 2 tablespoon flour
- ¾ teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- peanut or corn oil for deep frying
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup orange blossom or wildflower honey
- ⅓ cup water
- 1 tablespoon peanut or corn oil
- White and black Sesame seeds
- Peel the apples, core and cut into wedges about ½ inch thick. Whip egg whites until frothy. Add flour, five spice powder and cornstarch and beat into a smooth batter.
- Heat the oil to 375F. Dip each apple wedge into egg white batter, place in hot oil and try, a few at a time, until crisp and brown. Place in a single layer on a warm service platter.
- Bring remaining ingredients to a boil in a saucepan and cook to a hard ball stage syrup; 280 F on candy thermometer.
- Pour over apple wedges, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve at once, accompanied by a large crystal bowl of water containing lots of ice cubes.
- Each person picks up an apple wedge with a fork or small tongs (which forms silk-like threads as you pick it up) and dips it into the ice water to crystallize the sugar and harden the top.
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