Well Being

Dragon Beard Candy

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a.k.a. Dragon Whisker Candy, Dragon Whisker Sweet, Dragon Hair Candy, Dragon Moustache Sweet…. in Chinese long xu tang.

You can buy them at Harmony Sweets, though they are also currently on sale at Jason Truesdell‘s online shop YuzuMura.com. Mr. Truesdell imports them from Bamboo Garden in Hong Kong (the site is best viewed with MSIE).

What makes them so special? Dragon beard candy is made with very simple ingredients, mainly maltose and sugar, but it takes a few years to master the art of pulling them…. into literally thousands of strands, much like hand-pulled noodles. After all that stretching and twisting and folding, they are cut into shorter lengths and rolled around a mixture of sesame seeds and peanuts, among other things. A sweet that goes back in history 2000 years. Bamboo Garden's process varies from the traditional, though: the founder, Hon Keung Wong, has found a way to lengthen the candy's shelf life to 4 months, as opposed to street versions that have to be consumed immediately. Mr. Wong currently has more than 20 dragon beard candy masters in his factory.

In the Pacific Northwest, Dragon Beard Candy can be found at Uwajimaya. In New York, try Deluxe Food Market at 79 Elizabeth St in Chinatown; there's a guy outside who, according to Chowhound folks, is there from 4-8 in the cooler months. Or try The Flushing Mall. In Canada, stop by Chinatown in Montreal. They are also made at Chinese New Year festivities in Vancouver. If you've got any other tips on where to find this delicacy, please leave a comment.

In Hong Kong, of course, they are sold at street stalls. They are also made at Jaoho Street Night Market in Taipei. If you're not near any of these places and are thinking of ordering them by mail or online, you better hurry. Looks like Jason Truesdell's reconsidering his investment — I do hope business picks up as he predicts during the holidays, as I'd hate to see this be the end of mail-order Dragon Beard Candy in the US! We always hear about artisanal this and that, but it's rare that a centuries-old artisanally-produced Asian food product is promoted and sold here.

Here are some pictures and an animated gif of dragon beard candy being made (click on the 3rd link in the sidebar). There's also a downloadable video at sbs.com.au, an Australian site. And here's another one at YuzuMura.com — click on “Download video”.

If you want to try making some at home, Uncle Phaedrus has a recipe for it. Good luck and please leave a note here if you do try it!