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What is Chamoy and Why I Put it on Everything

If you've never heard of chamoy, you're missing out on a salty, sweet, spicy ingredient that somehow works with anything you put it on. Some people put hot sauce on everything, some always find a way to incorporate butter, but nothing is quite as versatile or tasty as chamoy. Chamoy is a salted pickled sour fruit that comes in the form of dried fruit, candy or sauce. Not only is it delicious, but some say that chamoy encapsulates the flavors of Mexico with its salty-sweet spiciness!

What is Chamoy?

A view of a mangonada drink.

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This yummy, tangy food is made from ume plums, which are extremely sour apricots, along with chili peppers. Like mole, it has a little of every flavor, somehow combining sweet, sour, spicy, salty, and umami and pulling it off. Chamoy can be found as liquid or paste, and it's advertised as a condiment for a wide range of foods. It's tasty when eaten on nuts, potato chips, fresh fruit, juices, and so much more.

Tajin Fruity Chamoy Hot Sauce

Chamoy is a Mexican food, but most believe that it was brought over by Asian immigrants. One theory is that the word comes from the Cantonese word "mui" which refers to cracking seeds. Another speculation is that chamoy is the Mexican version of the Japanese umeboshi, which is pickled ume fruit. The Mexican version has adapted to use dried apricot, plum or mango rather than just ume. More theories still connect it to Chinese, Filipino or Vietnamese foods.

In a process similar to that of umeboshi, Mexican chamoy is made by packing fruit into dry salt or brine to dry it. Once dried, the fruit is sold as a snack called saladitos, which means "little salty things" in Spanish. The fruit brine that results from this process is seasoned with chile powder, which makes it into chamoy. Since there's a wide variety of fruit and brining solutions used, this can result in a range of flavors and textures.

What Does Chamoy Taste Like?

Try chamoy for the first time and your taste buds might not know what to think. Is it salty? Sweet? Bitter, tangy, spicy?

Slow down and you'll realize it is all of the above. Loaded with umami flavor, the sauce pairs with almost everything because of its complexity.

How to Use It

Cucumber and mangoes with chili powder and chamoy. Mexican dessert

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Chamoy is an ingredient in Mexican street food, and you'd be likelier to find it there than in a fancy restaurant in Mexico. It's often enjoyed on fresh fruit alongside a sprinkling of tajin. Thinner, more liquid chamoy sauce is marketed similarly to hot sauce and used as a sauce or marinade in a variety of dishes. The thicker version is sold in little jars and enjoyed as a dip for veggies or fruits.

Many people are most familiar with chamoy as Mexican candies, which can be made from tamarind, mango and watermelon. This versatile food is also incorporated into various frozen sweets like raspados or sorbet. Raspados, which are shaved ice treats, are referred to as chamoyada when featuring chamoy. This tangy sauce is also served along paletas, which are fruit popsicles. Along with sweets, chamoy is also occasionally used in micheladas or lining a glass of mangonada.

Enjoy Your Own Chamoy

If you're ready to try this flavorful food in your own cooking, buying it on Amazon is a safe way to go. However, you can also make homemade chamoy using a classic chamoy recipe. Whichever option you choose, you won't regret trying this tangy, sweet, and spicy flavoring on a multitude of dishes!

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