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Feb 18, 2011 04:00 PM

Chinese? rock sugar

Had an urge to make guy don cha (chicken egg in sweet tea) and am running low on long-stored supplies.

Is rock sugar, something I have to by in Ctown or can it be purchased at your friendly neighborhood specialty grocery, like Andronico's in the SF Bay Area?

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  1. It's nothing very special. Any Asian grocery will carry it. Palm sugar would substitute, or Mexican piloncillo (though that is darker, with a strong molasses taste).

    4 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      Dunno about Palm sugar but pilonicllo is a bad substitute for rock sugar. Rock sugar is neutral in taste, pilonicllo is most definitely not.

      Just like you would not freely substitute regular sugar with white sugar, I would not substitute rock with pilonicillo.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        I may be confusing rock sugar with the saw cut slabs of mild brown sugar I get from Chinese groceries. I did note that piloncillo has a stronger molasses. But if you really want a neutral taste, why not just use white sugar?

        1. re: paulj

          Chinese rock sugar is basically white, crystals of sugar (see pic).

          It is used more for the appearance it imparts on food and less for the taste. It gives food a translucent and almost shiny look to it.

          If all you care about is taste, then white sugar is a perfectly fine substitute.

          (FYI, the slabs of mild brown sugar you see in some Chinese markets is simply brown sugar slabs, very similar to piloncillo)

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Yes that's it. I found small jars of rock sugar and loose jasmine tea in my cupboard that I had years ago rescued from my mother's cupboard.

            I would go to Ctown for the aesthetics, except that I have torn muscles in my calf and walking is not what the doctor ordered.

            As I recall, the egg whites were kind of chewy and stained a dark brown by the tea. I think I made a mistake in trying to cook the "perfect" boiled egg instead of blasting it with heat to toughen the white. I also recall the yoke being on the dry side so that it made the tea milky when broken up in the bowl.

    2. If you don't have rock sugar just use regular white sugar.

      Use approx. 1 tablespoon of regular sugar for reach 1 inch. rock sugar crystal piece.

      1. Traditionally, rock sugar is made from unprocessed sugar cane that is cooked until it is slightly brown. So it is not the same or does it taste the same as white sugar or brown sugar