Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Friday Food 59 – Chinese Olives


Friday food is a weekly article about one of the more unusual food items to be found in Liuzhou that week. This Friday we are looking at Chinese olives.

The first thing to say about Chinese olives is that they aren’t olives. Nor are they necessarily Chinese. They are the fruit of an evergreen tropical tree native to SE Asia, India and Africa. The scientific name is Canarium album but in Chinese they are 橄榄.

They turn up fresh in various colours, but usually green and are used in soups, hot pots and sometimes in stir fries.

More often you are likely to find them in every convenience store as a snack food, dried, preserved, salted, wrinkled. Not a good thing in my opinion, but apparently popular.

Preserved Chinese olives

One other way, which I mind less, is that they turn up as olive paste. This is popular in Cantonese cooking, but despite my lack of enthusiasm for Cantonese cuisine, I do rather like using a bit of this to perk up an otherwise humble (boring) stir fry. Available in every supermarket. Sometimes labelled “Olive Vegetable”

Chinese Olive Paste

But of course, what you really want to know is “what about real olives?”

These are available, but only in bottled form. They are imported from Spain and widely distributed by the company Podium. The black variety are the most dependable supply. I’ve been buying them in Liuzhou for 15 years without a break.

Black olives

They also do green ones. In the past I have bought plain pitted green olives, pimiento stuffed green olives, anchovy stuffed green olives and just green olives stuffed with their own stones. These are less reliable and come and go. Best places to look are the various shops listed here.


Pimiento stuffed manzanilla olives.

. This entry was posted on Friday, December 28th, 2012 at 7:00 am and is filed under Food and Drink, Friday Food. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

4 Responses to “Friday Food 59 – Chinese Olives”

  1. Vera Says:

    Can you describe how the fresh Chinese olives taste?

  2. Liuzhou Laowai Says:

    I’d rather not. I don’t really like them.

  3. Vera Says:

    I just want to learn to describe the taste.hahah. We have “chicken olives” and “cattle olives”. I think what you mentioned is the “cattle “ones.

  4. Liuzhou Laowai Says:

    Chicken and cattle? Tell me more!

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