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tang cong (糖蔥)

Chinese. ‘Sugar shallot’ or ‘onion candy’. Name of a Chinese-Taiwanese confectionary made from liquid sugar or syrup, which is poured out in a wok that floats on boiling water. The wok is turned around on the boiling surface making the liquid spread to the sides, where it dries into a soft chewy substance, which is loosened from the sides and folded back into the centre of the wok. This process is repeated several times until a large gold-coloured lump of a caramel-like substance is obtained. This lump is then folded over a hook and stretched out by forcefully pulling and swinging it around in the air by hand, over and over again, somewhat akin to dough or chewing gum being stretched out, each time folding the extra obtained lengthy part together, twist it around, and repeating the action, sometimes using ones own weight to pull the strands, in order to ease this heavy task with the aid of gravity. This makes the lump become ever longer and thinner, while its colour gradually changes into a shiny off-white. Eventually, the strand is no longer folded back but stretched even further, to a long string measuring several meters in length. This is then hung over a wooden stick and cut into small pieces resembling shallots, hence the name. The snack was invented in Taiwan during the island's Japanese occupation, when the latter banned the locals from keeping their own sugarcane, instead confiscating it and shipping it back to Japan. Hence, the local population set out to find a way to disguise the sugar by changing its appearance, and in doing so created this form of candy.