This article originally appeared in the October 2015 Issue: Craving Comfort. Read it here!
Top photo credit: Jenny
Although we may not reside in a country where trees lose their leaves in a watercolour swirl of reds and yellows, we have the colourful traditions of the Mid-Autumn Festival to bring colour and food worship into our eyes and bellies. Now that the festival is finished, Alicia Walker feasts upon some of the autumnal foods that’ll bring those Hong Kong harvest hues back into our lives and larders.
Also known as nashi pears, these sweet and super juicy brownish yellow fruit has a high water content that makes them best eaten raw and unaltered although they are used frequently in Chinese medicine clearing up chesty coughs. These large varieties are high in fibre, low in calories and pretty delicious if your sweet tooth starts acting up.
Native to China, this dark orange tomato-like fruit has a waxy skin with a mushy, pulpy interior. Sweet and tangy when ripe, they make for a lovely and tasty touch to salads, salsas and desserts.
This aptly named bright yellow produce is indeed shaped like a star and adds an aesthetically intereting addition to any fruit plate. With a fresh, crunchy texture and taste that’s both sweet and sour at the same time. Known in Chinese medicine as both a strength replenisher and thirst quencher, this fruit really is a little star of the wet market aisles.
The notoriously hard-to-peel skin of this gargantuan round, gives way to a citrus fruit that is sweet and crisp and much like a grapefruit without all the messy juices. Best eaten raw but you’ll need to get your chainsaw out to get into these delicious bad boys.
As fun to eat as it is to say, this multitudinous fruit ranges from cherry-sized rounds to a larger, grapefruit size with a skin colour of red, green or white and a marrow that can be yellow, red or white. The “Pearl Taiwan” guava is a common Hong Kong farm-grown version that has a brilliant green exterior and white flesh. Nutrient-rich, guava is often included on superfood lists and is great fresh, juiced or cooked into jellies and preserves.
You say potato, I say sweet potato. Although not actually a potato, these roots contain a huge amount of beta-carotene that turn its flesh a rich yellow or orange. High in vitamin C, fibre and considered a low glycamic food, making them ideal maintaining and even blood sugar. Bake them, boil them, mash them, or living in Hong Kong you’re in luck, roasted sweet potatoes start arriving on the street stalls this time of year and are baked up in a big iron drum and served completely without adornment for a toasty, healthy and luscious autumn snack.
That brilliant orange colour announces to the vegetable buying world that it is chock full of antioxidants and beta-carotene as well as being loaded with vitamin c. Roasted, pureed up into a rich soup, made into a pie or grilled and tossed into a salad, you’ve gotta get your fill of this saffron-hued vegetable before it returns to the vines of the pumpkin patch for a new batch of gigantic orbs of goodness. And if you’ve purchased a few of these golden globes specifically for Halloween carving, you can still roast up the seeds which are packed full of protein, omega 3 and zinc.
This renowned Cantonese elixir is known to warm up the body by increasing blood circulation making it ideal for the months when the 852 becomes cool enough to adorn a jacket. Many different snakes are commonly used to make this delicacy, with python, cobra and banded kraits all being popular, among others, and mixed up with ingredients such as orange peel, ginger and lemon leaves. If you feel like it's all a bit too adventurous for your taste, you can relax - it tastes like chicken.
Also known as Chinese mitten crab on account of the little furry mitts that cover the claws of this unique crusctacean. An expensive treat, the crabs are cherished for the gooey orange roe and traditionally steamed and served with a warm plum wine. Also eaten medicinally for their yin (cooling) effect on the body, therefore they are often prepared with a heating food like ginger to balance things out. So get your mitts on a pair of these if you want to warm yourself up from the inside out.
These flowers are in full bloom this season so you’ll see plenty of cakes, wines, jellies and desserts are peppered with Osmanthus this time of year. Thought to improve the digestive system and relieve coughs, it makes the transition between seasons all the sweeter and more fragrant with a helping of this floral addition.