Let’s talk about li hing powder. Li hing mui is a salty dried plum that comes from China, and you can find it at your local Asian grocery store, or, of course, the internet. I might have what some would call an obsession with li hing.
Last year my best friend Alyson and I took a trip to Kauai, part celebration of my 30th birthday, and part celebration of our friendship. We called it #bifflemoon, and it was glorious. On one of our adventures we drove up to Princeville to visit The Queen’s Bath, a natural tide pool formed by lava rock. We worked up enough courage to jump in which was no small feat for me and my irrational crippling fear of open water, but that is another story for another day. Climbing out of the water, I hit my leg on the reef, and immediately declared I need a mai tai to soothe my injury. As we were headed to the bar, we made a quick pit stop at a road-side shaved ice stand, and this is where I was introduced to the wonders of li hing.
At the recommendation of the girl who took my order, I got a li hing, cherry and coconut shaved ice, and it is still one of the best frozen treats I have ever had. I started noticing li hing candy at all the gas stations and grocery stores we stopped at, and started to pick up a few to try. By far, my favorite candy are li hing sour belts, which I found at the airport on my way home. This year for my birthday, my best friend surprised me with an entire box of li hing candies and I may or may not have cried.
Rum doesn’t get enough credit for being a good option to impart flavors on, but this might be the best version in my humble opinion. Simply mix 2 T of li hing powder in a jar with 10 oz of Koloa White Rum, stir well, and then cover and let sit for at least a week, giving it a shake every other day. The color and flavor are intense, and the rum picks up a good amount of sweetness from the powder, so I normally just make this with rum and fresh lime juice. Feel free to sweeten with some simple syrup if it’s not quite sweet enough for you, but no compromising on the fresh juice. There’s a certain brightness and tip of the tongue acidic-ness that bottled lime juice just doesn’t have.
I always garnish with a fresh lime wedge (never enough citrus!) and if I’m feeling extra nostalgic for Kauai, some fresh orchids.