As a kid, I would watch Saved by the Bell after school with my cousins. We ate all kinds of snacks, often times xí muội. It’s a salted plum candy with some kind of red dye that would stain your fingers. So after eating the candy, I’d suck on my fingers until the red became a healthy looking pink.
Xí muội is also used in drinks, much like salt preserved lemons. Place the plums in a cup, mash some sugar into it (the coarse granules help break down the dried xí muội), and add bubbly water and ice. We call this soda xí muội.
I made my first batch of this childhood and Vietnam-wide favorite with ume plums from the ume co-op. It’s simple! Pack the umes with rock salt into a non-metallic jar. Let it sit for 2 weeks, then drain the liquids. That orange pink liquid can be used as a seasoning or dressing, like you would vinegar. The umes are then sundried for two weeks, depending on how hot it is. You can put it in direct sun. The 100s helped extrude the salt even faster. Then, you have some drinks, candy, and seasoning!