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Sugar, Honey and Sweet Bamboo
Sugar is plentiful in China, as is honey, artificial sweeteners, and other things like sweet bamboo that you may not have come across before.

I use granulated sugar bought from the local wet market, and this is not as highly refined as in the west. I prefer it! Common sugar is very cheap with a pound weight costing a few RMB. However you will pay more in supermarkets for pre-packaged and highly refined sugars, but the taste is not as good as the cheaper versions sold on the local streets.
Chinese supermarkets offer many versions of granulated sugar, and better stores also stock sugar crystals and cubes, caster sugar, icing sugar, muscovado sugar, brown sugar, and molasses. You can also buy sugar substitutes (sweeteners).

We buy our sugar loose from the wet market, and usually go for one of the middle refined versions that retain a little golden pigment. The prices are a lot cheaper than in the supermarket, and you can fill the bag yourself.

This sugar tastes like cane sugar, not beet sugar, but some may be made from sweet bamboo. This is very similar in many respects to sugar cane.

Note: Many chefs cook with honey or 'honey-stick' which are a solid form of molasses.

Honey is widely available in wetmarket's and supermarkets. There is the same choice as in the west with the main choices being liquid or solid, and locally made vs large factory.

Sugar Sticks
These are in fact a solidified form of molasses, are up to six-inches long, and are found in every Cantonese kitchen. Cantonese will regularly use one stick in place of salt, say to prepare a potaoto dish. Ghaustly!

Cantonese omelet is made using eggs, tomatoes, and several pounds of this stuff, which to my palate makes the dish revolting.

Recipe - Cantonese Omelet
Into a wok with a little oil add several ounces (Half a stick) of grated or diced sugar stick and heat until it dissolves. Break 4 eggs into a wok and whisk with a fork or pair of chopsticks. Heat and stir as the omelet forms, adding half a pound of peeled tomatoes. Once the eggs are set, serve using a large bowl into which you tip this goo. Totally disgusting!

Sweet Bamboo
Sweet bamboo is grown by most local farmers and is often available from street traders riding around on 3-wheeled bicycles in cities. It is deliciously sweet, so try some when you have the chance. Locals eat this by stripping away the outer bark with their teeth and chomping on what remains - you may prefer to use a paring knife?

There are two versions of sweet bamboo, one original and the other charred. The burnt one is favoured and sweeter, but both are a real treat - especially for kids.
Image: Loose sugar bought from the wet market - Click to Enlarge

Image: A jar of honey - Click to Enlarge

Image: Honey sticks of solid molasses - Click to Enlarge

Image: Strips of sweet bamboo - Click to Enlarge
This information is as supplied by ourselves, and ably supported by our friends and various internet portals.
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