Cooking

You Talkin' to Mui?

Add some aloha to your cooking with salty plum powder

Like salty? Into sour? Get excited about exotic powders that are going to make everything taste better?

Meet li hing mui, the popular Hawaiian salty plum powder, that's your spice rack's new best friend.

OnoPops, based in Honolulu, is the first company to produce an all-natural version of the seasoning ($5 for 2-ounce bag; for those all on the li hing mui train, $15 for 8-ounce bag), which is typically made with salted, dried plum ground into a fine powder with aspartame and Red Dye #5.

Brothers Joe Welch and Josh Lanthier-Welch achieve the dusty red hue and saline, licorce-y, sweet taste with two types of plum powders (one from Taiwan, another a smoked version from Japan), organic Chinese spices, and carmine, made from cacti-loving cochineal bugs to lend the powder some color.

The island ingredient may not have made it to your mainland kitchen, so we've compiled a crash course on how to cook with li hing mui.

Sprinkle It: Bye-bye, butter. Mix li hing mui with garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne (see the recipe) for a savory topping to scatter on fresh popcorn.

Emulsify It: Whisk the powder into basic vinaigrette (see the recipe), and drizzle the rosy dressing over a summer salad.

Spike It: Rub li hing mui and demerara sugar along a coupe's rim instead of salt for this exotic take on the classic Margarita (see the recipe).

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