Almond jelly with poached kumquats

Almond jelly with poached kumquats

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen

The bitter-edged almond taste here comes from apricot kernels, which the Chinese call ‘sweet southern almond kernels’. In Chinese pharmacology, raw apricot kernels are considered more a drug than a foodstuff, purporting to combat cancer and blood disease, and to promote a general sense of well-being. Raw apricot kernels contain vitamin B17, which can cause nausea in high doses, so you do need to limit the amount you eat.


Quantity Ingredient
200g whole blanched almonds
75g sweet southern apricot kernels, (see note)
500ml soy milk
170g caster sugar
9 teaspoons powdered gelatine
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Poached kumquats

Quantity Ingredient
600g kumquats
400g caster sugar


  1. Combine the almonds and apricot kernels in a bowl, then add 750 ml boiling water and soak for 1 hour. Transfer the mixture in batches to a food processor and process until the solids are very finely ground. Transfer to a sieve lined with muslin (cheesecloth) and strain the liquid into a bowl. Gather the solids in the muslin and wring tightly to extract as much liquid as possible — the solids should be quite dry. Measure the liquid, then add enough water to make the liquid back up to 750 ml.
  2. Combine the soy milk, sugar and almond liquid in a saucepan and bring almost to the boil, then remove from the heat. Meanwhile, put 250 ml cold water in a small heatproof bowl or cup and sprinkle over the gelatine. Stand for 5 minutes, or until the gelatine has softened, then place the bowl in a saucepan of just simmering water for 5 minutes, or until the gelatine has completely dissolved. Add the gelatine and almond extract to the milk mixture and stir to combine. Pour into six 250 ml jelly moulds or two 750 ml moulds. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight, until firm.
  3. To prepare the poached kumquats, prick the kumquats several times with a fine metal skewer. Place the kumquats in a saucepan of cold water and slowly bring to a simmer, then drain, cover with water again and repeat the process twice more. This helps to remove some of the bitterness in the skins. Combine the sugar with 310 ml water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the kumquats and cook over a medium–low heat for 15–20 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the heat and leave to cool in the liquid. The kumquats can be stored in the fridge in a sealed jar for up to 4 weeks.
  4. To serve, dip each mould briefly in hot water to loosen the jelly, then turn out onto a plate and spoon over some of the kumquats and syrup.


  • There’s an important distinction between apricot kernels in Chinese cuisine. The northern kernels are small and carry traces of cyanide, which gives them a distinctive bitterness and calls for sparing use. Southern apricot kernels are larger, heart-shaped and distinctly sweeter. Both are used in traditional Chinese medicine to soothe the throat or cure coughs. In cooking, the southern apricot kernels are added to soups and desserts. Look for them in Asian grocers (they may be labelled as ‘almond kernels’) or try a Chinese herbalist.
Real Food of China
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