Plum Powder

What the heck is plum powder? aplumpA year or two ago some friends suggested that I try some “plum powder” from DEC, this Chinese grocery in Virra Mall. Never a big fan of things that come unlabelled, I hesitated for the longest time until finally my curiosity was piqued. I brought home a little plastic container of the stuff with no ingredients listed (and cost a whopping P200 or so) and opened it up. It looked a bit like the salt/pepper mixture that is served with fried chicken in some Chinese restaurants, but its aroma is a little different. What is it? I don’t really know for sure but it seems like all that great dried sweet/salty plum (champoy) powder that flakes off of the champoy. I was told to try it with some pomelo or green mango and while I found it rather interesting, I was not immediately hooked.

Growing up, I was a HUGE fan of champoy or dried plums with sugar and salt. plump2I used to eat the bright red variety and they were best consumed with a regular coke as the salt/sweet extremes were really mouth puckering. Despite my parents attempts to convince me that champoy was made in some sweaty-worker’s armpit (hence the saltiness), they were a personal favorite. Well, guess what the plum powder tastes like? A whole bunch of powdered champoy. It adds a nice salty counterpoint to whatever you dip into it and despite the price…a little goes a very long way. I only fret that it is likely laced with MSG and I am not thrilled by the thought. The other flavor components are probably star anise. At any rate, the stuff is available at chinese groceries and is worth a try…particularly if you like champoy. The little bottle here was PHP150 and it gave no clue to what ingredients went into the concoction.


25 Responses

  1. The powder is just dried plums with sugar. Over in Malaysia we use to eat guava with this powder. It tastes great.

  2. ssk I tried this plum powder with guava today but wasn’t too thrilled. Did you eat it with particularly sour guava? I have a post on guava coming up in a few days…

  3. i wonder what sour guava is. though there are some varieties, none is sour. the main difference is only seedless or with seeds. they are crunchy and are not usually eaten ripe, when they turn soft. i wish i have a photo of a fruit to show you.

    but plum powder is very popular in malaysia. they are eaten with many types of fruits, including star fruit and pineapple.

    plum powder is NOT the same as the salt/pepper mixture you mentioned. this mixture contains some ground spices and fine salt, which is popular as a taste enhancer for roast chicken in many chinese restaurants.

  4. MM,

    If Im not mistaken, what youre referring to is not made of champoy, in Hokkien, that powder is called ‘kiam-muy-hoon’ or as the name implies, kiamuy (different from champoy). I havent figured out if theyre both made of plums…

    And yes, its usually paired with guava.

  5. Marketman, I also used to interchange champoy and kiamuy. Champoy is the black, moist, sweetish one while kiamuy is the red, salty, wrinkled one. Lately, I have seen kiamuy encased in caramel, looks kinda like the yema in one of your earlier posts.

  6. Maricel, you are absolutely right. I have always called the red one champoy when it should be kiamuy. Ivan it’s called plum powder so I would hope there are some form of plums in it and the flavor seems to suggest that. ssk, I know it is different from the salt/spice mixture served with chicken and merely suggest that it looks a bit like it. Sour guava meaning unripe guava, as we sometimes like to eat it here as well. Unripe guava is crunchy and more tart though not really SOUR as an unripe mango might be… Gosh, wouldn’t it just be easier if everyone put a list of ingredients on the food stuff that they package and sell? Overall, I find the powder generally interferes with the underlying flavor of the fruit and just haven’t quite gotten hooked on it yet. Sort of the way some people put tabasco on everything…the spice can kill a lot of other flavors… but I still have a whole bottle to go…who knows.

  7. Maricel,

    Have tried one of those Kiamuy candies, imagine eating salty candy. Theyre not that bad but mu must have a high tolerance for saltiness to take it in. Im not sure about the therapeutic effects of it but I know some people who eat kiam muy to relieve headaches and nausea.

  8. I have chinese friends who swear by kiamuy or champuy for carsickness, seasickness, or any travel sicky feelings. They say it kills the nausea. I’d rather have candied ginger.
    I saw a recipe that uses the powder on shortbread cookies. Hmmmm…

  9. Like what the ladies said, this is usually eaten with fruit. The Thais mix this plum powder together with finely ground chilies and sugar and use it as a dip for guavas (the big and crunchy variety), green mangoes, pineapples, pomelos, rose apples–any fruit that is a little tart. From groceries to the fresh fruit hawker, the plum powder mixture, placed in little plastic packets always come with these fruits. Thais pay painstaking attention to detail so the regular fruit hawker will cut-up whatever fruit you buy into bite-size pieces, place it in a plastic bag, throw in a packet of plum powder mixture, a packet of extra sugar and a wooden skewer–so you could spear the fruit pieces, dip it in the powder and pop into your mouth. No sticky fingers :) The same powder is also used for coating (with or without the chilies and sugar) Bangkok sampalok. Cheers

  10. Sandy, thanks for that explanation, I was curious where this plum powder is used in abundance. How interesting. Mila, I swear by kiamuy and carsickness…it works for me.

  11. champoy and kiamoy are not only good for headaches and carsickness, it is also good if your are driving and falling asleep, it will keep you awake. It also keeps me awake when I’m at work.

  12. yes i think what she means is the kiamoy powder…champoy is black sweet rumy or winey flavor juicy candied fruit which i am trying to research what kind when i found this site.

    The orange salty dried plum is kiamoy, but it also comes in sweet and not so dried..colors ranges from orange to red to dark brown for sweet ones.

  13. This sounds a lot like li-hing powder I buy at cybersnacks online. They are in Hawaii and I live on the mainland. Love it!!! It’s the same stuff.. probably with anise (licorice flavor in it) You can buy it from them in 1/2 lb or 1 lb bags for a reasonable cost. The 1/2 lb is 5.25 US dollars right now. a little goes a long way. They are even using it for ice pops, shaved ice, edge of margaritas and so much more. I’m hooked lol

  14. dad bought a couple of packs when we went to Thailand ata last year. he uses it as a dip when eating guavas. i dunno how it tastes like though.

  15. I found this site because I was searching for information on plum powder. I was recently given a small bag of the stuff from a friend of mine. She and her husband recently had a house warming party and she served these wonderfully sweet bell peppers. She had dissolved some of this plum powder in boiling water (I couldn’t get any measurements from her other than “to taste”) and once the water cooled she soaked the bite sized chopped peppers in the water overnight. They were wonderful!

  16. good day! just wanna know the procedure and ingredients of making kiamoy. i wanna do homemade kiamoy. thanks!

  17. Hi,
    Where can I buy Champoy in Netherlands?
    Thanks !!
    ((I am really craving for it, its been years since I last had it and for some reason I am just dying to find it ..))

  18. Where can I buy this? I live in California and tried it on pineapple today, very yummy.

  19. the original plum powder that use to eat with guava is white in colour, the most popular. the brownish and the same colour like pepper is less popular. eventhough the colour is white,but the magic appears when u sprinkle onto guava and change colour to light brown. high quality and expensive than normal plum powder. we produced using high quality plum and the taste is extremely heaven. can contact me for bulk order at +60163461808 or email me at

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