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Ài yù bīng (愛玉冰)

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Ai yu bing 02.jpg

Ài yù bīng (ò-giô-peng, 愛玉冰), otherwise called Aiyu jelly, is a gelatinous dessert made from the gel of the seeds of a variety of fig (Ficus pumila var. awkeotsang) that can be found in Taiwan and East Asian countries. It is known as ò-giô in Taiwanese and is widely used in its cuisine.

History

According to oral history, the plant and the jelly were named after the daughter of a Taiwanese tea businessman in the 1800s. The jelling property of the seeds was discovered by the businessman as he found a clear yellowish jelly in the water he was drinking and was refreshed upon trying it. Looking above the river he noticed fruits on hanging vines that contained seeds that exuded a sticky gel when rubbed. He gathered some of the fruits and served them at home with honeyed lemon juice and sweetened beverages. Finding the jelly-containing beverage delicious and thirst-quenching, the enterprising businessman delegated the task of selling it to his daughter, Aiyu. The snack was very well-received and became highly popular, so the businessman eventually named the jelly and the vines after his daughter.

Preparation

The aiyu seeds are placed in a cotton cloth bag, and the bag and its contents are submerged in cold water and rubbed until a slimy gel will be extracted from it by squeezing. The washed gel is then allowed to set into a jelly either in a cool location or in the refrigerator. Sugar must not be added to the aiyu prior to the setting of the gel; distilled water must not be used since the gelling depends on the presence of minerals in the water; during washing, the seeds must not be rubbed so hard as to rupture their shells. The jelly is usually served with honey and lemon juice but can also be included in other sweetened beverages or shaved ice and is particularly popular as a cool drink in hot summers. Since the gel does not dissolve in hot water, aiyu is sometimes used as an ingredient in hot pot.

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References

Aiyu jelly, en.wikipedia.org

Desserts, www.cquimbyart.com

Cuisine Of Taiwan: Typical Dishes, www.museumstuff.com