Cherry tomatoes stuffed with marinated plums, one of the most beloved finger foods in Taiwan, are sold at every night market and outside most movie theaters. Sweet, savory, tart and juicy, this bite-size hors d’oeuvre is packed with flavors waiting to explode in your mouth. Remember your first love? It was juicy, fresh like the first spring day, incredibly sweet, yet tart (with uncertainty) and salty (like tears). The combination of cherry tomatoes and marinated plums tastes much like the many layers of a first romance, without the unwanted bitterness, of course.
How to Prepare Marinated Plum Hors d’Oeuvre
The best thing about preparing cherry tomatoes stuffed with marinated plums is that no cooking is required. You simply cut the cherry tomato half way to create a pocket, insert a small piece of marinated plum and your job is done. Since the plum is often as big as the cherry tomato, I usually cut the plum into two or three pieces. (A good-sized marinated plum is big enough for three cherry tomatoes.) You can eat this snack at room temperature or refrigerate it for a couple of hours (or even overnight) and enjoy it chilled. Plum-stuffed cherry tomatoes also make a great hors d’oeuvre for parties since you can prepare them in advance, take them from the fridge and serve. And marinated plums are a great everyday snack, a definite healthy alternative to potato chips or cookies.
The Chinese first discovered marinated plums by accident in the Warring State Period (403 BC – 221 BC). Legend has it that an imperial maid found a plum, which had fallen from a plum tree into a beehive. The maid bit into the honey-marinated plum and found it sweet, tart and thirst-quenching. She then picked more plums and marinated them with honey and salt. Still, the Chinese didn’t mass produce marinated plums until the Han Dynasty (around the second century BC). Unlike the ancient production method, today’s plums are marinated with salt, licorice and sugar instead of honey.