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TheTInCook

Chinese Olive Kernels

8 posts in this topic

How do I use these? Just like any other nut in chinese cooking? I've seen two types in the market, labeled as north and south. I've no idea what the difference is.

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I know apricot kernels are often labeled north and south, but no idea about olive kernels. Not really sure what olive kernels are....

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Chinese olives are usually used in hot pots, soups and stews.

GreenChineseolives.jpg

Even more often they are dried, salted and sold pre-packed as snacks in corner shops, much as we might snack on salted peanuts.

PreservedChineseolives.jpg

They are also made into a paste sold in jars in many supermarkets (particularly in the south of China) and used in Cantonese style stir fries.

Olivepaste-1.jpg

As to the difference between 'north' and 'south', I've been trying to get a definitive answer to this for a long time. Most of my Chinese friends are adamant that there is a difference, but when asked to elaborate on that, they tend to glaze over and mumble. Interrogating the market stall vendors got me nowhere either.

I very recently wrote about them on my blog and was kindly informed (once again) that there are two kinds from opposite polarities. When I asked for elucidation, everything went quiet. While typing this, I have asked two local food professionals who have confirmed the duality, but when asked to explain suddenly discovered they were incredibly busy. :sad:

My suspicion is that this is a carry-over from north-south apricots, although I've never had a satisfactory answer about that,either. Some people here aren't sure of the difference between apricot kernels and Chinese olive kernels. Including me!

If I ever get an answer, I'll let you know.

Not really sure what olive kernels are....

It is important to note that 'Chinese olives' aren't olives as in the Mediterranean olive. They are a totally different species and have a totally different taste and texture. They are the fruit of an evergreen tropical tree native to SE Asia, India and Africa. The scientific name is Canarium album as opposed to the European olive which is Olea europaea.

I love 'real' olives; I wouldn't be unhappy if I never saw a Chinese one again!

I don' t mind the paste mentioned above.


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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Thanks for the info and your blog, Liuzhou.

I didn't notice any in the fresh, dried, or paste form at the market. They only had the dry split kernels for sale, kind of looking like split blanched almonds.

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I've seen the kernels used as charcoal (which is great, by the way), but hadn't noticed them as snacks. I'll keep an eye out.

I have had the sweet Chinese olive snacks before. They're definitely very different from the normal Western olive preparations. I can't say I'm a huge fan, but I definitely recommend trying them if you get the chance (most Chinese markets seem to carry them).

The olive pit charcoal is hard to light, but has almost no smoke and a pleasant and mild scent. It's traditionally used in the Chaozhou / Shantou area for heating water for tea under small clay kettles.


Edited by Will (log)

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Regarding the "chicken olives" and "cattle olives", I have, at last, found an explanation. It is here in Chinese.

To summarise, the "chicken variety" are from a smaller, short branched less vigorous strain of tree with yellow leaves. The fruit is yellow and slightly pointed in shape, weighing 6-8g with pale yellow flesh but little juice..

The "cattle variety" is from a more robust tree with dark green leaves and thick branches. The fruit is larger, weighing 12-15g and more juicy.

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