Category Archives: encyclopedia

Jī Dàn Zǎi – Egg Waffle – 鸡蛋仔

Originating in Hong Kong, Jī dàn zǎi (Chinese: 鸡蛋仔) is a honeycomb-shaped waffle made notably out of egg. It is cooked with a griddle already moulded into its unique shape and are most often served hot in its original flavour. It is one of the more popular snacks sold by street vendors in Hong Kong and loved particularly by students. Jī dàn zǎi has gradually made its way from Hong Kong to mainland China, often appealing the mainlander crowd with traditional Hong Kong signs all over its stands.

Ingredients:
The general ingredients for the egg waffle mix consists mainly of egg, sugar, flour, cream, and evaporated milk. Depending on the vendor, other sweet additional ingredients could be added such as custard powder and tapioca. Other variations and flavors include chocolate, seaweed and pork floss, and sesame and peanut flavored.

Cooking Method:
Pour the egg waffle mix into a two-sided honeycomb-shaped griddle. Close the griddle to create the honeycomb shape. In order to bake the waffle, two methods are typically used. The first involves the traditional way of baking the egg waffle mix over a charcoal fire. The second and most commonly used method (due to economic and safety reasons) is to bake the mix over an electric stove top. The ideal jī dàn zǎi has a crisp, fully baked, golden exterior while the inside of every circle is semi-cooked to a soft and melted filling.

History:
The origins of the egg waffle can only be traced back to its roots in 1950’s Hong Kong. One story surrounding the snack claims that the honeycomb shape is actually the shape of several eggs in order to make up for a lack of them. At the time of post-war Hong Kong, eggs were a luxury. Others say that the egg waffle mix was created by accident when traders bought cheap broken eggs and made it into a batter.

Possible Variations:
Gai daan tsai

Photo Credit to: https://zh.wikipedia.org/zh/File:HK_Lower_Wong_Tai_Sin_Eatate_Tung_Tau_Tsuen_Road_n_Ching_Tak_Street_%E9%9B%9E%E8%9B%8B%E4%BB%94.JPG

Mǐ Huǎ Táng – Puffed Rice Snack – 米花糖


This kind of food can be easily found all around Shanghai, it is sold both in stores and on streets. It originally comes from Sichuan , where it has been enjoyed for couple of centuries. The snack is present in all of China in many forms and variations, which is in a great extent due to the simplicity of its ingredients. The simplest form of 米花糖 (mǐhuǎtáng), where rice is mixed with dissolved sugar. It costs only 10 yuan per pack. The  pack contains around 350g. Price might vary depending on the ingredients.

Ingredients:
米花糖 has many variations. The simplest kind is made out of white rice to which sugar dissolved in water is added. The flavor of the snack can be modified depending on what ingredients are used and in which quantities. Some people like to add oil, dried fruits, honey or nuts on top of sugar.

Cooking Method:
Before any other ingredient is added, the rice must be puffed. The two most common ways are deep frying or dry puffing, which is done with a “popcorn machine” (爆米花机 bàomǐhuājī). The rice is fried in a scalding hot oil; it takes from 15 to 25 seconds for rice to puff if the temperature is right. The “popcorn machine” is mostly seen on streets. While using this machine is a healthier way of puffing rice, the temperature and the pressure of the cylindrical metal container must be kept under control. The metal container is constantly rotated, while heated by burning coal. The act of rotating the container helps evenly distribute the temperature inside. Because the container is sealed, the pressure inside rises with the increasing temperature. When the rice is puffed and the container is opened, the pressure creates a small explosion and the rice bursts into a “bag” placed over the container. Puffing rice with the “popcorn machine” takes  between 8 and 10 minutes.
Puffed rice is mixed with sugar that has been dissolved in water, then cut into small brick like pieces. One can add dried fruit pieces or nuts on top of sugar. Cutting the mixture is usually done on a lower temperature, where the sugar creates a stronger bond between rice grains.

History:
米花糖 is believed to come from Sichuan Pujiang. Traditionally  米花糖 that comes from Pujiang is made with lard oil, which gives it a characteristic taste and aroma. 米花糖 was first recorded during the Qing dynasty, around two hundred years ago. Nowadays 米花糖 and its variations can be found even in Hong Kong, where it was brought during the Japanese war.
In the beginning of 2007 a 米花糖 Museum has been opened in Pujiang, Sichuan. It is the first and the only museum that focuses on 米花糖.

Possible Variations:
Yìmǐ 薏米–  puffed barley  (5rmb for around 200g)
Bàomǐhuā 爆米花 – popcorn  (5rmb for around 200g)
Yùmǐtiáo 玉米条 – corn sticks are usually pre-made at home with “rice stick machine” 米棍机 (5 rmb around 200g)

Bào Chǎo Mǐ Huā – Puffed Rice – 爆炒米花

Puffed rice is a typical Shanghai snack and a part of old Shanghai memory. Usually, the vendor places a bag of rice and the shaking furnace on a tricycle. In the afternoon, he will rides to the head of the “lòng táng (弄堂)“, which is a typical Shanghai alley, and start to peddle. They have their special tune, which goes as “bào–chǎo-mǐ-huā–lou—.” in Shanghai dialect. The end “lou” is a necessary modal particle and it has to last long enough. However, the huge sound of the puffering is always the best advertisement. When children hear the sound, they will carry a small bag of rice and a spoon of cooking oil to find the vendor. When the pressure is ready, the vendor will notice everyone. He shouts, “Coming!” Then everyone covers their ears and retreat a few steps away. The sound is like having a tire punctured. Nowadays, the peddle of the vendor cannot be heard anymore, but the huge sound remains. You can still find the vendors of the puffed rice in the street especially at night. Just follow the sound.

Ingredients:
You only need a small bag of rice, sugar and a spoon of oil for a big bag of puffed rice. However, the machine for the puffed rice can also be used to puff other things. Some vendor also puffs beans, corns and rice cakes. You can also require the vendors to add your spices into it. The recipe can be creative according to you.

Cooking Method:
The mechanism of making the puffed rice is quite simple. First you open the container and pour the rice and oil into it. If you like sweet puffed rice, you can also add more sugar into it. Then you seal the container and start to heat it. The vendor controls the air bellow by one hand and shakes the iron furnace by the other hand. You can tell the pressure by the piezometer attached to the furnace. When the pointer arrives at the high pressure area, the vendor will notify everybody to get ready. You need to cover the two endings tightly with bags as soon as possible. Finally the show ends with the huge sound and white appetizing puffed rice.

History:
Puffed Rice was invented in Wu prefecture (now western Zhejiang Province) in the Song Dynasty. The earliest record of the puffed rice is written in the book “Record of Wu Prefecture” by Chengda Fan. Originally, this kind of food was especially cooked during the Spring Festival for divination purpose. In Song Dynasty, it was made on the day of the Lantern Festival. Because the utensil for the puffed rice at that time was not sealed and weather you could get the rice puff was all by chances. The utensil is called “fǔ (釜)”, which is the origin of the cauldron. It was placed on the stove and heated with wood fire. Thus, the one who got more puffed rice was regarded as the luckiest one. After the westernization and modernization, people invented the sealed iron shaking furnace to make puffed rice. It is also said that the British invented the similar machine to make popcorn and then they brought it to China by the merchants later. Before the Open and Reform, when Chinese people still live a poor life, people buy rice according to food coupon so they do not own much rice for snack. Puffed rice is still a snack only for the Spring Festival. The great sound made by the puffing is the happiest thing for the children. With the development of Shanghai, more and more people are able to enjoy puffed rice at any time. However, fewer people are making puffed rice and it becomes a part of the memory for old Shanghai people.

Photo Credit to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shizhao/6779948306

Yú Wán – Fish Ball – 鱼丸

Fish Ball (Chinese: 鱼丸 Yú Wán)is a general name for ball-like fish  snacks in China. It’s very popular in southern part of China, such as Fuzhou, Xiamen, Guangzhou and etc. The fish ball can be chopped fish crust stuffed with pork or without. The mouth feel for it can be soft or crispy, depending on the ingredients used. The cooked fish ball on the street is 1 to 2 Yuan each on average (usually it’s sold as 10 Yuan for one bowl, which includes 5 to 6 fish balls). It can be cooked with other ingredients or simply boiled in the water for soup.

Ingredients:
Fish such as eels, yellow croaker or little sharks, are chopped into mince, added with salts and condiments, mixed with potato starch and made into ball-like shape. Chopped pork can be stuffed into the ball.

Cooking Methods:
The fish ball can be fried with curry, hot peppers or other vegetables.The most common recipe used by the street food vender is simply boiling fish balls in the water and providing them with soup.

History:
According to the history, Qin Shihuang (The fist emperor in China) told his cook to prepare a fish dish for every meal, but the fish must be without bones. Picking the meat from the bones is really difficult and the new fish dishes are also difficult to design.
One day the cook, getting sick of thinking about new fish dishes for the emperor, chopped the fish on the table to vent. Surprisingly, he found that the fish meat was chopped into mince and the fish bones can be easily picked out of the meat. Therefore he rolled the chopped fish meat into ball-like shape and boil them in the water with condiments. Qin Shihuang liked the fish ball soup a lot and the recipe was adjusted and passed on through generations.

Possible Variations:
Fuzhou fish ball — with pork inside.
Southern-Fujian fish ball (脆丸) — without pork inside.

Related Cuisine:
Fujian Cuisine (闽菜)

Xiǎo Lóng Xiā – Crayfish – 小龙虾

Xiao long xia (小龙虾), translated directly to little dragon shrimp or little lobsters, are a popular dish served in restaurants and on the street in Shanghai. While most popular in the summer, you can still find them in early spring cooked and served out of makeshift carts lining the streets. The dish has many fresh ingredients, including it’s main one as the crayfish are cooked live. After cooked and fried in a spicy mixture, you shell the crayfish and get a small bite of meat from it’s tail- no silverware allowed.
 
Ingredients:
Crayfish, cooking oil, water, soy sauce, chillies, peppercorn, mala sauce, and ginger.
Method:
Crayfish are cleaned and rinsed with cold water. Then, the crayfish are boiled for a few minutes until they turn a deep red. After being boiled, they are put into a large, circular, deep fryer which contains a mixture of cooking oil, water, soy sauce, chillies, mala sauce, peppercorn and ginger for a few minutes. After being fried, they are then shelled and enjoyed!
History:
In the 1930s, Louisiana red swamp crayfish was brought to Jiangsu province by the Japanese. While first the creatures were seen as exotic, they were not welcomed by the local people as they caused crop damage and brought no direct benefits to people of the community. However, the crayfish adapted to the local environment and populations began to flourish in the coastal environment. Eventually, the crayfish were made and popularized into a dish called xuyi shisanxiang longxia, or “Xuyi Thirteen Fragrance Little Lobster,” that brought major business to cities in the 1990s. The flavor was influenced by neighboring provinces like Anhui and Zhejiang which contributed to the spicy oil mixture the crayfish are cooked in. Now, crayfish are considered a local food as they are farmed in coastal areas.
Variations:
There can be many subtle variations of this dish as the spice mix the crayfish are fried in can be manipulated to fit any spice level from mild to very spicy. Every restaurant or vender uses a subtly different mixture so they’re bound to taste similar, but not the same, at every spot you try out. There are also variations were crayfish are flavored with wine or beer to give it a fuller taste.
maxiao 麻小- mala flavored crayfish
shisanxiang crayfish 十三香小龙虾 – thirteen spice crayfish

Dāo Xiāo Miàn – Sliced Noodle -­ 刀削面

A noodle delicacy coming directly from the noodle­-renowned Shanxi region. The Hand Shaved Noodles offer a rustic approach to the many variety of noodles found in China. The technique for preparation requires precision only achieved with endless practice. Unlike the other variety of noodles, these are meant to look simple, imperfect, and simply mouth-watering. Prices range depending on the different ingredients that can be added, but you can expect to pay around 30rmb per dish. It is considered as one of China’s famous five noodles, the other four being Beijing’s Zhajiangmian, Wuhan’s dry noodles, Sichuan’s dan dan noodles and Shandong’s Yi mein.

Cooking Method:
Preparing the Dough­
4 Cups of of bread flour (小麦面粉)
1­2 Cups of water
or
3 Cups of all purpose flour
1 Cup of rice flour
1 tbs of Salt
1tbs of baking powder
1­2 Cups of Water
Pour the dry ingredients into a bowl, open a small space in the center and slowly start pouring water. Mix the dough as you pour the water until you have a dry–but not sticky–mass. Add more water if necessary. When you have a rough dough, knead for 10 minutes. Let it rest for 10 minutes and knead again for another 10 minutes. Roll the dough into an oval and let it rest in the fridge.
OPTIONAL: Repeat the knead­rest process until you have a smooth surface. Wrapping the dough in plastic paper, while letting it rest, helps moisturize the dough.
Boiling the Noodles­
The noodle itself has a seemingly simple, traditional preparation. Start boiling water and add salt. Once the water is boiling, hold the dough on one hand and use a sharp knife to cut slices out of the mass (Preferably at a 30 degree angle). The motion should be seamless, with the knife always touching the dough. Cook for about 5 minutes and then take the noodles out.
Add the noodles to a beef bone broth (牛骨头). Add red braised beef (红烧牛肉)or red braised cow mix (红烧牛杂). Place a few coriander leaves on top and enjoy.

History:
Dāoxiāomiàn originated in Taiyuan, Shanxi during the 12th century. Although there is no clear record of how this type of noodle preparation came to be, there is a common tale that dates its origins back to the Mongolian Tartar occupation of the central plains in the Yuan Dynasty. At that time various types of household metalware were confiscated in order to prevent people from revolting and thus only one knife was available for every ten houses. The tale tells the story of a housewife preparing noodles. She had left the dough resting waiting for her family’s turn to use the knife. However while the husband was walking back home he stumbled upon a sharp yet thin piece of metal on the ground. Once home, the husband impatiently handed his wife the piece of metal and suggests she uses it to cut the dough–it worked. This technique resulted in noodles thick around the center but soft around the edges, a characteristic trait of Dāoxiāomiàn. This method quickly spread among the people of Shanxi. Later in the Ming Dynasty this technique also spread outside of the household and into restaurants and city streets.

Variations:
Variations occur both in terms of sauces/broths and toppings. The broth can be cow bone broth, replaced by gravy, the noodles can also be braised in a pork marinade sauce, they can be stir fried or even presented cold tossed. Toppings can include more pork, bay leaves, cow innards, bean sprouts, etc.
太原刀削面, Taiyuan Noodle
大同刀削面, Datong Noodle
刀削面卤汤, Gravy soup DaoXiaoMian

Zhè Jiāng – Sugarcane Juice – 柘浆(甘蔗汁)$*

Due to its sweet taste and great availability, sugarcane juice (Chinese: 柘浆) is a popular drink sold by street vendors throughout the year. Since sugarcane is grown in warm temperatures in Southern provinces like Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian, the juice obtained from this plant is commonly found in most cities in Southern China. Depending on the size, a glass costs between 6 and 9 yuan.
Described as “neutral” and “sweet in flavour” in traditional Chinese medicine, sugarcane is considered to be an active antipyretic, so that it effectively reduces fever. While it is a great source of instant energy, this plant drink is also low-glycemic, therefore it doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar. Sugarcane juice contains folic acid which protects from neural birth defects and increases chances of conception. Great amounts of calcium present in this delicacy help build bones and teeth, while potassium balances the pH levels in the stomach. In addition, flavonoids in sugarcane reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Ingredients:
Sugarcane is juiced without any additives. It is naturally rich in fructose, hence the sweet flavour without any added sugar. Occasionally it may be prepared with other ingredients, for example ginger, lemon or lime.

Cooking Method:
The juice is produced by crushing this plant in a specialised juicer, which are produced on a world scale in China. While today these machines are typically powered, in poorer areas it is still common to find hand-cranked machines. The juice is usually served cold.

History:
Sugarcane is indigenous to the tropical climates of Southeast Asia. It was first planted as a crop in New Guinea around 6000 BC, though it spread around the world soon afterwards. While juicing (and often crystallising) sugarcane is the most popular method of utilising this crop, other uses include producing molasses, liquor, as well as raw consumption.
After Brazil and India, China is the world’s third biggest producer of sugarcane, harvesting 125 536 thousand metric tones a year.

Related Cuisine:
Vietnamese Cuisine
Thai Cuisine

Dòuhuā – Tofu Pudding – 豆花

Dòuhuā can be found in restaurants, but it can also be bought from little stalls by the street to peddlers carrying around the ingredients around in two buckets hanging from a stick on the man’s shoulders. It has gone beyond China to many places in Southeast Asia, and it’s amazing how so many people could be brought together by tofu.

Ingredients:
For the tofu: Soy beans, gypsum powder, corn flour/cornstarch
For the syrup, the sweet kind: brown sugar and water. Optionally, add ginger

Cooking Method:
To make the soy milk, soak the soy beans for about 10 to 16 hours. Grind the soaked beans and put through a strainer. Boil the milk, then mix water with the gypsum and cornstarch. Pour in the gypsum mixture. Stir it a lot, because gypsum could settle really quickly to the bottom. When done, stir for a few seconds then cover it and let it rest. It can be served in 15 minutes by using a ladle to scoop out lumps of it.
For the syrup, pour water into a saucepan, and when it’s boiling, put in the brown sugar. Ginger can then be added.

History:
Tofu originated during the Han dynasty in China. Some say that tofu came from Prine Liu An’s failed experiment to create immortality pills, others say that it came about from a Mongolian cook accidentally mixing sea salt with boiling soybeans. The creation of dòuhuā came soon after, and it is believed that douhua originated at around that same time. It was carried to other parts of Asia with the spread of Buddhism.

Related Cuisine:
It differs in different parts of China. For example, it is eaten with soy sauce in Northern China. In Sichuan, it can be eaten with chili oil and Sichuan pepper. It can also be found in other countries, such as Taiwan, where it can be served with crushed peanuts and adzuki beans and tapioca. In Southeast Asia, such as Indonesia, it can be served with ginger syrup and peanut. In the Philippines, specifically in Baguio, it can be served with strawberry syrup, due to the abundance of strawberries in that mountainous area.

Photo Credit to :https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7340/16587403572_50a8d5432b_b.jpg

Má Huā – Fried Dough Twist – 麻花

Although I was born in Beijing, my ancestral hometown is in Qingdao, Shandong province. There were plenty of different street food near the neighborhood where my grandma’s house in Qingdao was when I was a little girl. Thus, back in the deep of my memory, I was simply fascinated with the snacks that I enjoyed on the street. One of them is Má Huā (Chinese: 麻花).
It is well-known that TianJin is the city which is the most famous for Má Huā, however, Má Huā is not typical to TianJin. We also have Jisan Má Huā in Shanxi province, Xianyang Má Huā in Shaanxi province and so on. Overall, it is a Han ethnic food with various flavors in different places, which is made of two or three twisted strips of dough and usually fried in peanut oil. Since it looks like hinge, it is also called “hinge stick” in Chinese (Chinese: 绞链棒).
It describes the clothes is almost torn up due to wear and tear. Má Huā can be either sweet or salty. Má Huā contains a lot of protein, vitamin and trace elements that is good for human body under its shiny golden color. Although it is fried, it is not fatty at all, so it is ideal as a kind of snacks. When it is the “Beginning of Summer” (Chinese: 立夏), there is a tradition of eating Má Huā in the Northeast area of China.

MÁ HUĀ – FRIED DOUGH TWIST – 麻花

Ingredients:
Salt, Sugar, Peanut Oil, Wheat Flour, Sesame

Cooking Method:
1.  Put wheat flour and peanut oil with salt and water together into a container, well mix them and wait for 20 minutes to let the dough ferment.
2. Take out the well-fermented dough and cut it into many tiny pieces of dough, and then rub each tiny dough to make it into strip shape (Depend on your personal preference, you can also add sesame and sugar into the dough when you rub it).
3.  Continue to rub each strip shape dough in opposite direction and close the ends to make a raw  Má Huā.
4. Put the oil into the pan and fry the Má Huā when the oil is not too hot yet.

Additional Cooking Method:
I got to know Má Huā so well because it is a tradition to my family to make Má Huā by ourselves during the Spring Festival. What is interesting is that our cooking method is different than others. We not only add sesame and sugar into the dough but also use olive oil to fry. What’s more, the way of making raw Má Huā is different than simply rub it till it becomes strip shape but we make the dough as a thin pancake and then cut it into small pieces. At last, we roll over one side of the edge and make it as a Má Huā shape.

History:
There are different histories of different type of  Má Huā from different places. No one can tell for sure when and what the exact origin of Má Huā is. However, there is one among them that I find most interesting to me, which is the origin of Daying Má Huā in Henan province. It is said that at the end of Ming Dynasty, there were a lot of poisonous scorpions in Daying and many people died because of being bite by the scorpion. So the local people decided to make twisted dough which looked like the tail of scorpion and eat it after frying in order to curse the scorpion every the second day of February of Chinese lunar year. It is called “eat the tail of scorpion” (Chinese: 咬蝎尾).
Later the tradition gradually developed into making today’s Má Huā. And Má Huā thus implies fortune and happiness. Whenever there is someone either get married or pass away, the local people will give Má Huā as a gift to express their best wishes to the ones.

Interesting Point:
TianJin GuiHuaXiang ShiBaJie (Chinese: 桂发祥十八街) Má Huā is the earliest Guinness record keeper of Má Huā in China. They created the largest Má Huā in the world at that time. It was 1.5564 meters long and 24.98 kilograms weight.

Possible Variations:
Yóu Tiáo 油条
Zhá Săn Zi 炸馓子
Táng Ěr Duō 糖耳朵

Photo Credit to: https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7340/16587403572_50a8d5432b_b.jpg

Tŭ Sŭn Dòng – Sea Worm Jelly – 土笋冻

 

 

Tu Sun Dong (Chinese: 土笋冻)  is a dish consisting mainly gelatin extracted from boiled sea worms topped with spices and herbs such as cilantro, soy sauce, vinegar, and chili sauce. The literal translation of the name means “earth bamboo shoots, chilled.” These sea worms are commonly harvested in shallow, muddy beaches in the southwestern province of Fujian, China. Prices range from anywhere between five and ten kuai. Although the slimy, smooth texture and physical features of the worm might seem daunting to eat, this protein rich food is known for its ability to strengthen the immune system and ward off the common cold.

Ingredients:
The main ingredients are sipunculid worms and a variety of spices. Most vendors will put strong flavors such as soy sauce, vinegar, and chili sauce to counterbalance the mild, sour flavor of the worms.

Cooking Method:
First, the sipunculid worms are soaked in water to get rid of the excess mud. Then, they are thrown into boiling water. The boiling worms release a gelatin like substance. This gelatin is then poured into small molds. After waiting a period of time to cool, this slightly brown and dull yellow looking gelatin are set in the white carcasses of the worm. Achieving the jelly, smooth texture is a sign of a good Tu Sun Dong. The jelly is then topped with the vendor’s special array of spices and herbs.

History:
Similar to many delicious, impromptu kind of dishes, this delicacy started as a necessity. A military commander with his army in Xiamen ordered his men not to seize any food from the indigenous people. Many soldiers stationed near the beach found a bountiful amount of sea worms. They simply boiled these worms and ate them. Coincidentally, the chilling cold of the winter naturally turned the soup into jelly. A vast majority of the soldiers rather preferred the jelly than the soup and this dish was born.

Possible Variations:
none

Huái Nán Niú ròu Tāng – Huai Nan Beef Soup – 淮南牛肉汤

Huai Nan Niu Rou Tang (淮南牛肉汤) is a special dish from the Anhui region (East of China, Northern part of Anhui) which takes over 5h to prepare. It is based on the special tasty beef broth and then noodles and other toppings are added. The dish costs 12 kuai (14 if you want a boiled egg added).

Ingredients:
Soup: Beef, garlic, Chinese herbs, water, oil, ginger, anis, salt.
Toppings: noodles (either rice noodles or sweet potato noodles), crushed chilly sauce, cilantro, shallot, caraway, vinegar and an optional boiled egg.

Cooking Methods:
The broth takes about 5 hours to prepare. The beef is cooked and then soaked in water with ginger anis and salt to absorb the flavors.
Once it’s ready, the soup is poured in a large metal container where then separately a ladle is added with the chosen noodles. It takes one minute for the noodles to cook. Once it’s done, a spoonful of a “mysterious powder” is added to the base of the bowl. Then the cooked noodles are placed in the bowl, with the caraway on top, the cilantro and shallot and a vinegar drip. To top it, you add a spoonful of the chilly crushed sauce, and then the final touch: the bowl is filled up with the tasty huai nan beef meat soup!

History:
There are divided theories as to where this dish originates from. Some believe this dish originates from either the nomadic Song or Yuan Dynasty people, others believe Wangan Liu to be the pioneer but it is also presumed that Kuangyin Zhao was the first. In《淮南子·齐俗训》(Huai Nan Zi Qi Su Xun), there is this account of the preparation: “今屠牛而烹其肉,或以为酸,或以为甘,煎熬燎炙,齐味万方,其本一牛之体。” which means that from the same cow meat one can obtain different flavours, such as sweet or sour, by different cooking methods. This dish is now one of the most traditional and authentic foods in the Anhui province and there are a good number of street food vendors who cook a delicious and authentic version of it for a good price.

Possible Variations:
Noodle Type- rice noodle (mi fen) or sweet potato noodle (hong shu fen)
Optional boiled egg added at the end

Wú Gǔ Jī Liǔ – Chicken Fingers/Chicken Strips – 无骨鸡柳$

Wú Gǔ Jī Liǔ(Chinese: 无骨鸡柳) is one of the most common street food found not only in Shanghai but all over China. Almost every student has tasted this typical street food at the school gate during their school days. It is very common that a crowd of students gather around the vendor to buy the chicken fingers after classes on their way home. Not expensive, generally there’s only¥2 that you can buy one strip.

Liǔ in Chinese means willow. The reason why it is called Jī Liǔ is that the chicken breast has to be cut into several slices of the shape of willow leaves before fried. Different from making it at home, most of the chicken fingers were fried once before vendors come to street to sell them. And when someone wants to buy the chicken fingers, the vendor will fry them again to warm them.(one thing makes it unhealthy is that sometimes the vendor even fries them 3 or more times without changing oil) Before being eaten, the chicken fingers will usually be topped with various flavoring including paprika, ground cumin and hot sauce. Along with a stick inserted, the chicken fingers are easy to hold to eat on the street.

Ingredients:
Chicken breast is main and essential. The marinade is necessary which is a mixture of water, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, yellow wine, MSG(monosodium glutamate), table salt, sugar, ground white pepper, garlic powder, and oil.

Cooking Method:
Cut chicken breast into pieces, and then cut chicken breast pieces into strips as willow leaves. Insert a wooden stick into per strips. Mix all the ingredients together to make marinade. Soak the chicken strips in the marinade in refrigerator for 12 hours to flavor and soften them thoroughly. It is recommended to turn all the chicken strips over in marinade every 2 hours. When the chicken strips are well soused with marinade after 12 hours, pour about 300ml oil to pot and then heat it. When bubbles can be seen, put the chicken strips into hot oil and fry them for about 2 minutes. Then take them out and get rid of oil.

History:
Different from classic friend chicken, there’s no flour wrapping around the chicken. But since it became popular after 2000, it honestly has something to do with western fried chicken. So it’s more like a variation: a type of Chinese localized western fast food. As for street food, to make them faster and sell them more on the street, the vendors fry them at home, so those chicken strips are just semi-finished products, and they fry them again on the street before selling them. And sometimes, owing to problems, they will fry these chicken strips three times and even more. Though it is unhealthy, this repeated process is normally what we usually called street food style.

Possible Variation:
xiāng sū Jī Liǔ – Chicken Fingers/Chicken Strips – 香酥鸡柳

Reference:
General information: Chicken strips vendor Mr. Zhang around Nextage Department Store on Zhangyang Raod

bīngtáng húlú – Candied Haw in a Stick – 冰糖葫芦

Tanghulu is one of the most traditional Chinese snacks in history. The taste is sour hawthorn and sweet, crispy sugar cover. It is made by several candied Chinese hawthorns on a bamboo skewer. Hulu means the bottle gourd in Chinese but here it refers to all small, round fruits used to make this kind of snack. It is commonly sold in winter, which is the reason why Iced Tanghulu is the other name, since the sugar cover is cold in winter. If Tanghulu is made in summer, the sugar cover will be sticky and impair the taste of it.

Tangulu is considered as a northern Chinese cuisine originally, but later it was sold all over China. In the past, the vendors put the Iced Tanghulu in a cart or carrying pole, and they would peddle along the street. The child gathered around the vendors to purchase Tanghulu. Contemporarily, some manufacturers also have their own shop to sell the Tanghulu instead of peddling.

Ingredients:
Sugar syrup
Chinese hawthorn
Sesame sprinkles
Alternatively:
Cherry tomatoes
Mandarin orange
Strawberries
Kiwifruit
Grapes

Cooking method:
The Chinese hawthorns are put together onto a bamboo skewer. Then the skewer is immersed into the sugar syrup so that the whole skewer and hawthorns can be covered with the syrup. The cover of sugar will get hard after the skewer is took out from the syrup. Alternatively, the hawthorns can be replaced by other fruits.

History:
The contemporary view the origin of Tanghulu is Liao Dynasty, but there are also some folk stories depicting the history.
It is said that Consort Huang (the most favorite concubines of the emperor) got heavily sick and the royal doctors could not treat her. The Emperor Guang of Song dynasty inquired in the whole country and one doctor from the outside of palace succeeded in curing the Consort. He asked the consort to eat hawthorns with candies. Later, the method became prevailing in folk and was called as Tanghulu.

 

Bing Tanghulu in literature:
“Either in daytime or night, people can always hear the vendor’s peddling about the persimmons. And the vendors also peddle the Bing Tanghulu, which is adored by children. Several candied fruitlet are put together on the skewer.” – Lin Yutang (Translated by Zhenyu Zhu)

Photo Credit to: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TangHuLu.JPG

Gǎ Ba Cài – Pancake Stripe “Noodles” – 嘎巴菜$

Gǎ Ba Cài (嘎巴菜) is a Tianjinese word. After translated into standard Mandarin, it is called Guō Ba Cài (锅巴菜). It is a traditional Tianjin street food which only serves as breakfast. It is so unique that no one can find it anywhere else around the world. Ga Ba Cai looks like short wide green noodles dipped in sticky brown sauce. Ga Ba Cai is salty and with a complex taste from a combination of many different kinds of spices. The “noodle” part is chewy and the “sauce” part is strong and a bit sticky. The “noodle” part is called “Gǎ Ba (嘎巴)”. “Gǎ Ba” is the Tianjinese for “Guō Ba (锅巴)”, which means the “crust” part that is created when rice or paste touches hot metal surface. “Ga Ba” is another way for Tianjinese to say “Jiān Bing (煎饼)” (pancakes). The “sauce” part is called “Lǔ (卤)”, which means the sticky soup-like sauce.

Ingredients:
Rice, Mung Beans, Chopped Scallions, Chopped Ginger, Cut Caraway Pieces, Peanut Oil, Sesame Oil, Aniseed Powder, Ferment Flour Sauce, Soy Sauce, Five Spices Powder, Soda Powder, Starch Solution, Smoked Tofu Slices, Preserved Tofu Sauce, Sesame Sauce Chili Oil and Garlic Chops Dipped in Water, etc..

Gǎ Ba Cài (嘎巴菜) is a Tianjinese word. After translated into standard Mandarin, it is called Guō Ba Cài (锅巴菜). It is a traditional Tianjin street food which only serves as breakfast. It is so unique that no one can find it anywhere else around the world. Ga Ba Cai looks like short wide green noodles dipped in sticky brown sauce. Ga Ba Cai is salty and with a complex taste from a combination of many different kinds of spices. The “noodle” part is chewy and the “sauce” part is strong and a bit sticky. The “noodle” part is called “Gǎ Ba (嘎巴)”. “Gǎ Ba” is the Tianjinese for “Guō Ba (锅巴)”, which means the “crust” part that is created when rice or paste touches hot metal surface. “Ga Ba” is another way for Tianjinese to say “Jiān Bing (煎饼)” (pancakes). The “sauce” part is called “Lǔ (卤)”, which means the sticky soup-like sauce.

Ingredients:
Rice, Mung Beans, Chopped Scallions, Chopped Ginger, Cut Caraway Pieces, Peanut Oil, Sesame Oil, Aniseed Powder, Ferment Flour Sauce, Soy Sauce, Five Spices Powder, Soda Powder, Starch Solution, Smoked Tofu Slices, Preserved Tofu Sauce, Sesame Sauce Chili Oil and Garlic Chops Dipped in Water, etc..

Cooking Methods:
Making “Gǎ Ba”:
The ratio between rice and mung beans should be 1:1. Soak rice and mung beans in water until they are soft, mill them into paste. Get a spoonful of paste and pour it onto a special pan (which is constructed with a flat iron plate and a barrel-shaped stove under it, people use to add coal into the stove). Use a T-shape bamboo pice push the paste a round to form a very thin layer of pancake (Gǎ Ba or Guō Ba or Jiā Bing). Use a metal blade to remove the pancake from the pan. Collect a deck of pancakes, cut them into stripes like bamboo leaves. Lay the pancake stripes aside and let them cool down. Add a bit of flour to them and shake a bit in case they will stick together.
Making “Lǔ”:
Boil peanut oil and add chopped scallions, chopped ginger and caraway pieces until they create a special smell. Add aniseed powder and ferment flour paste and stir fry for a while. Pour in soy sauce until boiled. Add salt water, five spices powder and soda power; boil until boiled. Add starch solution and stir until the whole soup is sticky.
Final Step:
Get a bowl of “Ga Ba”, for the “Lu” in it. Stir a bit and add smoked tofu slices, preserved tofu sauce, chili oil, sesame paste, chopped caraway and chopped garlic in water (the ingredients added varies from stand to stand). Stir again and enjoy.

Tips:
1. Put “Lu” and “Ga Ba” together only when you are about to eat it. Soaking in “Lu” for too long can make “Ga Ba” too soft and lose its chewy texture.
2. Eat “Ga Ba Cai” when it is hot. After it get cold, the “Lu” will change its texture and taste (“Ga Ba” can be cold but “Lu” must be hot).
3. Since “Ga Ba Cai” has a strong and salty taste, most people will have a bowl of soy milk or eat a “Shao Bing” (sesame pancake) with it.

History:
As known, Jian Bing are from Shandong and has been exported to everywhere around China. In addition to wrap vegetables and eat with sauce, some people also soak Jian Bing in water because they are dry. After Jian Bing came into Tianjin, there forms two ways of eating Jian Bing: Jian Bing Guo Zi (fried bread stick wrapped with pancake) and Ga Ba Cai. The earliest and most famous place to eat Ga Ba Cai is Da Fu Lai (大福来), the name means “great luck comes” in Chinese. Ga Ba Cai was created in Qing Dynasty. A man called Zhang Lan managed a Jian Bing stand to earn living. When the emperor Qian Long came to Tianjin, he stopped at Zhang Lan’s stand and ordered some Jian Bing. Because the emperor has never tasted non-royal food, so he became very curious and ate the Jian Bing too fast. Because Jian Bing are dry, so Qian Long was chocked by eating too fast. Zhang Lan turns very nervous and thought the emperor will punish him. At this moment, Zhang Lan’s wife came up with an idea and soaked Jian Bing into a kind of salty soup she just created and gives to her husband to offered to Qian Long. After Qian Long taste it, he was so amazed by the taste and asked who created the dish. Zhang Lan’s wife came out from the back and saluted the Emperor. Qian Long asked her name and it turns out her name is Guo Ba, which is the same sound as the food Guo Ba. Qian Long praised her name and said it just means the “Ga Ba” on a pan. Qian Long decided to name the food after the women and add a character Cài (菜) which means dish and formed a name “Ga Ba Cai”. The day later, Qian Long awarded the couple with a lot of money. The guard who was sent to deliver the money told the couple that their great luck comes. To show their gracefulness, Zhang Lan changed the name of his stand in to Da Fu Lai and changed his Jian Bing stand into Ga Ba Cai stand which sells Ga Ba Cai only. After refined the cooking method, Ga Ba Cai gets very popular in Tianjin.

Related Cuisine:
Tianjingnese Cuisine

Gǎ Ba Cài (嘎巴菜) is a Tianjinese word. After translated into standard Mandarin, it is called Guō Ba Cài (锅巴菜). It is a traditional Tianjin street food which only serves as breakfast. It is so unique that no one can find it anywhere else around the world. Ga Ba Cai looks like short wide green noodles dipped in sticky brown sauce. Ga Ba Cai is salty and with a complex taste from a combination of many different kinds of spices. The “noodle” part is chewy and the “sauce” part is strong and a bit sticky. The “noodle” part is called “Gǎ Ba (嘎巴)”. “Gǎ Ba” is the Tianjinese for “Guō Ba (锅巴)”, which means the “crust” part that is created when rice or paste touches hot metal surface. “Ga Ba” is another way for Tianjinese to say “Jiān Bing (煎饼)” (pancakes). The “sauce” part is called “Lǔ (卤)”, which means the sticky soup-like sauce.

Ingredients:
Rice, Mung Beans, Chopped Scallions, Chopped Ginger, Cut Caraway Pieces, Peanut Oil, Sesame Oil, Aniseed Powder, Ferment Flour Sauce, Soy Sauce, Five Spices Powder, Soda Powder, Starch Solution, Smoked Tofu Slices, Preserved Tofu Sauce, Sesame Sauce Chili Oil and Garlic Chops Dipped in Water, etc..

Cooking Methods:
Making “Gǎ Ba”:
The ratio between rice and mung beans should be 1:1. Soak rice and mung beans in water until they are soft, mill them into paste. Get a spoonful of paste and pour it onto a special pan (which is constructed with a flat iron plate and a barrel-shaped stove under it, people use to add coal into the stove). Use a T-shape bamboo pice push the paste a round to form a very thin layer of pancake (Gǎ Ba or Guō Ba or Jiā Bing). Use a metal blade to remove the pancake from the pan. Collect a deck of pancakes, cut them into stripes like bamboo leaves. Lay the pancake stripes aside and let them cool down. Add a bit of flour to them and shake a bit in case they will stick together.
Making “Lǔ”:
Boil peanut oil and add chopped scallions, chopped ginger and caraway pieces until they create a special smell. Add aniseed powder and ferment flour paste and stir fry for a while. Pour in soy sauce until boiled. Add salt water, five spices powder and soda power; boil until boiled. Add starch solution and stir until the whole soup is sticky.
Final Step:
Get a bowl of “Ga Ba”, for the “Lu” in it. Stir a bit and add smoked tofu slices, preserved tofu sauce, chili oil, sesame paste, chopped caraway and chopped garlic in water (the ingredients added varies from stand to stand). Stir again and enjoy.

Tips:
1. Put “Lu” and “Ga Ba” together only when you are about to eat it. Soaking in “Lu” for too long can make “Ga Ba” too soft and lose its chewy texture.
2. Eat “Ga Ba Cai” when it is hot. After it get cold, the “Lu” will change its texture and taste (“Ga Ba” can be cold but “Lu” must be hot).
3. Since “Ga Ba Cai” has a strong and salty taste, most people will have a bowl of soy milk or eat a “Shao Bing” (sesame pancake) with it.

History:
As known, Jian Bing are from Shandong and has been exported to everywhere around China. In addition to wrap vegetables and eat with sauce, some people also soak Jian Bing in water because they are dry. After Jian Bing came into Tianjin, there forms two ways of eating Jian Bing: Jian Bing Guo Zi (fried bread stick wrapped with pancake) and Ga Ba Cai. The earliest and most famous place to eat Ga Ba Cai is Da Fu Lai (大福来), the name means “great luck comes” in Chinese. Ga Ba Cai was created in Qing Dynasty. A man called Zhang Lan managed a Jian Bing stand to earn living. When the emperor Qian Long came to Tianjin, he stopped at Zhang Lan’s stand and ordered some Jian Bing. Because the emperor has never tasted non-royal food, so he became very curious and ate the Jian Bing too fast. Because Jian Bing are dry, so Qian Long was chocked by eating too fast. Zhang Lan turns very nervous and thought the emperor will punish him. At this moment, Zhang Lan’s wife came up with an idea and soaked Jian Bing into a kind of salty soup she just created and gives to her husband to offered to Qian Long. After Qian Long taste it, he was so amazed by the taste and asked who created the dish. Zhang Lan’s wife came out from the back and saluted the Emperor. Qian Long asked her name and it turns out her name is Guo Ba, which is the same sound as the food Guo Ba. Qian Long praised her name and said it just means the “Ga Ba” on a pan. Qian Long decided to name the food after the women and add a character Cài (菜) which means dish and formed a name “Ga Ba Cai”. The day later, Qian Long awarded the couple with a lot of money. The guard who was sent to deliver the money told the couple that their great luck comes. To show their gracefulness, Zhang Lan changed the name of his stand in to Da Fu Lai and changed his Jian Bing stand into Ga Ba Cai stand which sells Ga Ba Cai only. After refined the cooking method, Ga Ba Cai gets very popular in Tianjin.

Related Cuisine:
Tianjingnese Cuisine
Making “Gǎ Ba”:
The ratio between rice and mung beans should be 1:1. Soak rice and mung beans in water until they are soft, mill them into paste. Get a spoonful of paste and pour it onto a special pan (which is constructed with a flat iron plate and a barrel-shaped stove under it, people use to add coal into the stove). Use a T-shape bamboo pice push the paste a round to form a very thin layer of pancake (Gǎ Ba or Guō Ba or Jiā Bing). Use a metal blade to remove the pancake from the pan. Collect a deck of pancakes, cut them into stripes like bamboo leaves. Lay the pancake stripes aside and let them cool down. Add a bit of flour to them and shake a bit in case they will stick together.
Making “Lǔ”:
Boil peanut oil and add chopped scallions, chopped ginger and caraway pieces until they create a special smell. Add aniseed powder and ferment flour paste and stir fry for a while. Pour in soy sauce until boiled. Add salt water, five spices powder and soda power; boil until boiled. Add starch solution and stir until the whole soup is sticky.
Final Step:
Get a bowl of “Ga Ba”, for the “Lu” in it. Stir a bit and add smoked tofu slices, preserved tofu sauce, chili oil, sesame paste, chopped caraway and chopped garlic in water (the ingredients added varies from stand to stand). Stir again and enjoy.

Tips:
1. Put “Lu” and “Ga Ba” together only when you are about to eat it. Soaking in “Lu” for too long can make “Ga Ba” too soft and lose its chewy texture.
2. Eat “Ga Ba Cai” when it is hot. After it get cold, the “Lu” will change its texture and taste (“Ga Ba” can be cold but “Lu” must be hot).
3. Since “Ga Ba Cai” has a strong and salty taste, most people will have a bowl of soy milk or eat a “Shao Bing” (sesame pancake) with it.

History:
As known, Jian Bing are from Shandong and has been exported to everywhere around China. In addition to wrap vegetables and eat with sauce, some people also soak Jian Bing in water because they are dry. After Jian Bing came into Tianjin, there forms two ways of eating Jian Bing: Jian Bing Guo Zi (fried bread stick wrapped with pancake) and Ga Ba Cai. The earliest and most famous place to eat Ga Ba Cai is Da Fu Lai (大福来), the name means “great luck comes” in Chinese. Ga Ba Cai was created in Qing Dynasty. A man called Zhang Lan managed a Jian Bing stand to earn living. When the emperor Qian Long came to Tianjin, he stopped at Zhang Lan’s stand and ordered some Jian Bing. Because the emperor has never tasted non-royal food, so he became very curious and ate the Jian Bing too fast. Because Jian Bing are dry, so Qian Long was chocked by eating too fast. Zhang Lan turns very nervous and thought the emperor will punish him. At this moment, Zhang Lan’s wife came up with an idea and soaked Jian Bing into a kind of salty soup she just created and gives to her husband to offered to Qian Long. After Qian Long taste it, he was so amazed by the taste and asked who created the dish. Zhang Lan’s wife came out from the back and saluted the Emperor. Qian Long asked her name and it turns out her name is Guo Ba, which is the same sound as the food Guo Ba. Qian Long praised her name and said it just means the “Ga Ba” on a pan. Qian Long decided to name the food after the women and add a character Cài (菜) which means dish and formed a name “Ga Ba Cai”. The day later, Qian Long awarded the couple with a lot of money. The guard who was sent to deliver the money told the couple that their great luck comes. To show their gracefulness, Zhang Lan changed the name of his stand in to Da Fu Lai and changed his Jian Bing stand into Ga Ba Cai stand which sells Ga Ba Cai only. After refined the cooking method, Ga Ba Cai gets very popular in Tianjin.

Related Cuisine:
Tianjingnese Cuisine

Luóbosī bǐng – Turnip Strips Cake – 萝卜丝饼

Luó bo sī bǐng–Turnip strips cake (萝卜丝饼) is originated in Jiangsu Province, which is a popular pastry near the area around Suzhou, Wuxi and Jiangyin. The recipe of turnip strip cake varies due to different place and time period. People usually eat turnip strip cakes for breakfast since it provides both pastry and vegetable, which is healthier than the deep fried pastries. Turnip strips cake are can be easily find at the breakfast vendors, as well as in some traditional eateries. The most traditional way to bake the turnip strips cake is to put it in a coal stove. When the vendor picks out a piece with the long “pliers,” you will definitely be appealed by the smell of the turnip strips cakes. With the development of the cooking supplies, more and more eateries choose to use electronic oven for convenience, but most vendors on street still keep the coal stove. The common price for a turnip strip cake is about 1.5 kuai to 3.5 kuai.

Ingredients:
Stuffing part:
Turnip, ham (preferred, or salted meat or fresh meat), spring onion;
lard oil, vegetable oil, salt, sugar, white pepper powder, spring onion.
Pastry part:
Flour, sesame, lard oil, vegetable oil, salt, water, yeast powder.

Cooking Method:
Stuffing Part:
1. Chop turnip into thin strips, put some salt into the turnip strips and wait for 10 mins to squeeze the water out.
2. Boil the vegetable oil and pour the hot oil on the chopped spring onion to make the spring onion oil.
3. Chop ham/salted meat/fresh meat into small granule, seasoning with a little cooking wine.
4. Mix the turnip strips, chopped ham or meat, spring onion oil and the lard oil, seasoning the mixture with salt, sugar and white pepper powder.
Pastry part:
1. Mix half of the flour with yeast powder and warm water. Let the dough rest for 30 mins.
2. Mix another half of the flour with the vegetable oil and the lard oil to make the oil pastry.
3. Make both of the dough and the oil pastry into thin pieces. The size of the dough should be twice larger than the oil pastry. Put the oil pastry in the middle, fold the two sides of the dough and then use the stick to roll the mixed dough into the original size.
4. Fold the mixed dough, and use the stick to roll it into the original size. Repeat at least three times.
5. Use the pastry to wrap the stuffing. Put some sesame on the top. Bake the raw turnip strip cakes in the coal stove or oven for 10-12mins.
* Lard oil is essential in this street food and most lard oil is hand-made by the vendors. They chop the raw leaf lard into small pieces and then boil that in water; when water get evaporated, the lard oil comes out and eventually it would become pure lard oil. People usually store lard oil just in bottle or bowl because it would be concrete so that it’s hard to go bad. The left cracklings, for some people, could be their favorite snake. Many of the famous food in Shanghai, like wonton(馄饨), bā bǎo fàn–Eight Treasures Rice(八宝饭)and etc. It’s also popular among southern China. Scientific research shows that lard oil contains high content of saturated fatty acids and cholesterol, which is good for health.

Recommended Place to Go:
East Gate Eatery 东门餐厅
Address: No. 2 Kangjia Lane, by Zhonghua Road, Huangpu district.
*Please notice that if the boss is not in a good mood or not satisfied with the quality of the ingredients, chances are that you might not get a turnip strip cake from him

History:
Nowadays in Shanghai, the turnip strips cake is not the same as what people in Suzhou eat. The earliest version is to put the wet pastry in a small mould with the turnip strips, pour another layer of wet pastry on the top and then fry it, which is now called yóu dūn zǐ油墩子in Shanghai. Shanghai style turnip strips cake is a combination of the turnip stuffing with huáng qiáo shāo bǐng– Huangqiao sesame cake(黄桥烧饼), which is originated in Suqian, Jiangsu, so the Shanghai style turnip cake can keep both the golden brown flaky pastry and the juicy and tasty turnip stuffing. The turnip strips cake has been in fusion since it is introduced in Shanghai. One example is the fusion with the fried egg pancake from northeastern part of China, where people prefer to put stuffing like leek in the pastry. Instead of the flaky pastry, this type of turnip strips cake is thinner and crispier, because the plain pastry is fried. People first put a piece of pastry on the pan, then the turnip strips and the egg, and finally fold everything into a rectangle piece. Usually this kind of fried turnip strip are served with a special sauce.

  

Possible Variations:
luó bo sī jī dàn guàn bǐng–fried egg pancake with turnip strips stuffing
luó bo sī sū—turnip stirps puff, in Cantonese Dim Sum

Related Cuisine:
Jiangsu Cuisine, Shanghai Cuisine

Juǎn Bǐng – Chinese-style Burrito – 卷饼

Originally from Taiwan, Juǎn bǐng (Chinese: 卷饼) is served as a portable street food snack or meal throughout the day. It comes with a thin pancake smeared with sweet and spicy sauce and wrapped around a variety of fillings that are garnished with lettuce, scallions and cucumbers before being rolled up and served. Their prices range from 9 to 15 yuan depending on the protein and add-ons chosen.

Ingredients:
The pancake dough is usually pre-made or pre-bought and made of flour, water, salt and oil. Hoisin and chili sauce are spread inside the pancake. Fillings can be anything from roasted duck, braised pork, char siew, or a poached egg. Proteins are garnished with lettuce, julienned cucumbers and scallions, cilantro, and chili oil.

Cooking Method:
Juan bing uses a pre-made dough that is first flash-fried in oil to be heated. Hoisin and chili sauce are smeared evenly over the pancake’s surface before the protein and add-ons are placed in the center. Add-ons can be anything from roasted duck, braised pork, char siew, or a deep fried egg. The fillings are then garnished with lettuce, julienned cucumbers and scallions, cilantro, and chili oil. The pancake is rolled and served in wax paper.

History:
Legends tell a story of a talented boy named Duan Lin Xue who lived during the Qing Dynasty in the period of Emperor Guangxu’s reign. At the age of 10, he could write poems; and he was able to pass the imperial examination at the country level by the time he was 13 years old even though most people couldn’t achieve that feat until they were 30. Because his family was very poor, his mother made him an over-sized gown so that he could wear it for many years. When he wore this gown to see his professor to give thanks, the professor stated the first line of a couplet, pointing out that his clothes didn’t fit and it was dragging on the floor. Duan Lin Xue cleverly responded with a second line of a couplet, complementing the red pearls on his hat. The professor was highly impressed, praising him for his intelligence and wit.

Because the boy’s family was so poor, he couldn’t afford to go to college, so his mother Hu Shi taught him on her own. He didn’t know much about the city because he didn’t venture out far from his home, but one day during the Lantern Festival he walked around the streets. He came upon a delicious smell wafting from a juan bing stand, and returned to his home to ask his mother what it was because he couldn’t afford to buy it. His mother became very sad that she could never buy her son good food, so she brought a few pancakes home. She added pickles and scallions to attempt to replicate the food he saw on the street. He thought it was very tasty, and asked his mother what it was, and she called it “Shou Pa Zi Bao La Za” or “handkerchief with a lot of random things inside.”

Possible Variations:
jianbing 煎饼– Chinese-style crepe
cong you bing 葱油饼– scallion pancakes
shou zhua bing 手煎饼– hand-grabbed pancake
jidan bing 鸡蛋饼– egg pancake

Related Cuisine:
Taiwanese Cuisine

 

Málà tāng – Hot and Spicy Soup – 麻辣汤

Málà, which translates to mouth-numbing, refers to the saliva-inducing, buzzing sensation that the Sichuan pepper creates the moment it hits your tongue. It is the essential ingredient to málà tāng (Chinese: 麻辣汤), a type of “DIY hot pot” experience that can be found around the city in various hole-in-the-walls. Typically served from late afternoon to dinnertime, this warming dish might range in ingredients and level of spice–a detail that disproves its misleading name.

A stack of basket sits alongside a large, glass slide-door refrigerator that displays stacks upon stacks of skewered vegetables, fishballs, meats, poultries, eggs, and seafood. There are also various types of noodles, tofu, and bean curd products that can be added to your personal selection. Customers are typically given a baseline price of 8 kuai to be added onto if more ingredients are chosen. Each additional ingredient can range from 0.5-1 kuai for vegetables, carbs and tofu and 2-3 kuai for meats, poultry and seafood.

Ingredients:
The variety of ingredients for the soup can range, but mala tang vendors typically provide everything from poultry, beef and pork meat/innards, a variety of cellophane, rice, and egg noodles, different flavors of fishballs, various forms of tofu/bean curd, octopus, squid, shiitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, bok choy, various leafy greens, bean sprouts, cilantro, broccoli, cauliflower, and potato. The broth is boiled from pork belly, chicken bones, ginger, Sichuan peppers, and  possibly MSG.

Cooking Method:
After ingredients are chosen and handed to the cook, the ingredients are placed into a wired sieve spoon that is immersed into a boiling pot of broth that becomes infused with more and more flavor as ingredients are added in from various customers’ orders. Once the ingredients are cooked, they are dumped into a bowl and a sprinkle of garlic, chili pepper, chili oil, minced scallions, sesame oil, black vinegar, and crushed Sichuan pepper can go in before the broth is poured in to complete the dish.

History:
Before becoming a popular street food specialty, mala tang was a popular meal eaten among poor travelers and laborers in Sichuan province. It was said to have been a culinary innovation of the fishermen along the Yangtze River. For meals, they would collect stones to make a fire, get water from the river to put inside a crock pot for boiling water, gather wild vegetables for the broth, and create their own sauce to season their soups.

Another tale recounts the story of six old women who made food for the stonemasons as they were building the Leshan Giant Buddha in the Sichuan Province. The women prepared meat and vegetables on a stick and immersed them into the seasoned broth to cook before serving.

Related Cuisine:
Sichuan Cuisine

 

Shāokǎo / Chuàn’r – Barbecued Skewers/Kebabs – 烧烤 / 串儿

Easily found by the billowing smoke and strong smells that trail its coal burners, shāokǎo/chuàn’r  (Chinese: 烧烤 / 串儿) street stands corner nearly every street as soon as the sun begins setting until the early hours the next morning. Whether they’re found inside a hole-in-the-wall or pitched on a wooden tricycle, their stands are always easily spotted for the colorful array of skewers that lay side by side on display. Everything from skewered vegetables, sliced baozis, different types of tofu, chicken gizzards, whole fish or mutton pierced onto bamboo sticks sit in open air or under plastic-wrapped for customers to customize their selection. Skewers are heavily seasoned with a brush of oil and chili sauce and a sprinkle of a variety of spices such as spices like cumin, coriander, cayenne, dried chili pepper, paprika, pepper, and MSG. Locals typically pile on order of shao kao to accompany a beer while playing games of Chinese dice. Prices range per skewer, with vegetables, baozis, and tofu for 1 kuai, meats and poultry from 2-3 kuai, and seafood for up to 8 kuai.

Ingredients:
The variety of skewers/kebabs can range from vendor to vendor. It typically includes poultry (gizzards, kidney, hearts, skins, seasoned white and dark meat, and wings), beef chunks (each varying with amount of fat chunks and tendon), pork (seasoned meat, intestine, fat chunks), fish, scallops, octopus, squid, different types of bean curd or tofu, eggplant, sliced potato, broccoli, squash, cauliflower, scallions, chives, shiitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, quail eggs, baozi, and korean rice cakes. The skewers are brushed with sesame oil, chili sauce, and sprinkled with a variety of spices such as spices like cumin, coriander, cayenne, dried chili pepper, paprika, pepper, and MSG.

You can usually differentiate shao kao stands to chuanr stands because the latter is usually sold alongside round flatbreads or xiànr bǐng 馅饼 that serve as a mechanism for the kebabs to rest on or placed inside. These breads are also placed onto the grill and seasoned before being served.

Cooking Method:
The skewers/kebabs are lined up over long, narrow charcoal grills, brushed with oil and chili sauce, and seasoned with a variety of spices. They are constantly churned and fanned until cooked and ready to be served.

History:
According to the Chinese classical text, San Zi Jing (Three Character Classic), early ancestors would hunt animals by spearing them. As a means to help his people, emperor Fuxi made a net and taught civilians how to fish and hunt birds and animals. Another issue arose when people were forced to eat their game and catch raw, which not only tasted terrible but also caused people to become sick. To save the day, Fuxi stole fire from the heavens and taught people how to barbecue shaokao so that people could become healthier.

The term chuanr is derived from the Xinjiang province of China, classified as a type of kebab traditionally made from lamb meat. It is a product of the Chinese Islamic cuisine of the Chinese Muslim population, specifically Uyghurs. They are just one of the many different types of food that reflect a deviation from chinese cuisine and a closer resemblance to that of Middle Eastern cuisine, such as halal food, that migrated over to China by the arrival of Islamic heritage.

Related Cuisine:
Xinjiang cuisine

Shǒu Zhuā Bìng – Hand-grabbed Pancake – 手抓并

Shǒu zhuā bìng (Chinese: 手抓并) originated in Taiwan, and became capitalized by various chains, such as Liang Quan Qi Mei, that specialize in making this street food. Its stands can be found throughout the city, and are available at any time throughout the day. The pancakes are typically made from pre-made dough that is frozen or refrigerated, and then cooked on a flat top where the dough is grabbed at until crisp layers of dough form. Toppings such as pork floss (rouxuong), a fried egg, hot dog, tomatoes, or lettuce can be added along with a drizzle of sweet and sour sauce.

Ingredients:
The batter of shou zhua bing is made from flour, water, oil, salt, and baking powder. Fillings may include pork floss (rouxuong), a fried egg, hot dog, tomatoes or lettuce. Sweet and sour sauce is also drizzled onto the pancake before serving.

Cooking Method:
For pre-made doughs that are typically sold in markets and used at street food stands, a flat top grill is heated and greased with oil. The pancake is then cooked on each side until a golden color starts to form. A spatula or tongs are typically used to begin rotating the pancake while simultaneously grabbing at it in order for crispy layers to form. Fillings are then added before the pancake is wrapped and served in a small paper pocket lined with foil.

History:
Shou zhua bing was officially brought to the mainland by the Taiwanese food chain, Liang Quan Qi Mei, in 2004. The stand has increasingly gained popularity among locals, expanding its presence to become one of Shanghai’s common street food snacks.

Possible Variations:
jianbing 煎饼– Chinese-style crepe
cong you bing 葱油饼– scallion pancakes
jidan bing 鸡蛋饼– egg pancake
qian ceng bing 千层饼– flaky pancake
qiang bing 羌饼– puffy pancake

Related Cuisine:
Taiwanese cuisine

Qiāng Bǐng – Puffy pancake – 羌饼

Commonly sold in wet markets or on the street throughout the day, qiāng bǐng (Chinese: 羌饼) is a thick, savory bread that is fried in a shallow, round pan. Its dough is chewy and slightly crisp on the outside with fragrant and nutty flavors from the minced scallions and sesame seeds. The thickness of the qiang bing can also vary from stand to stand. It is typically served by slice for about 1.5 yuan.

Ingredients:
The dough is made with flour, yeast, water, and salt. It is fried in oil and sprinkled with minced scallions and sesame seeds. A heated, shallow round pan is filled with oil and the dough is cooked on one side. The dough is pushed down to be immersed into the oil and slightly pierced to cook evenly, then flipped. Once the crust is golden on both sides, the bread is removed from the pan, sprinkled with minced scallions then left to cool before served.

Cooking Method:
A mixture of flour, yeast, warm water, and salt are combined and then set aside under a damp towel to rest and rise. After the dough has expanded, flour is sprinkled onto a flat surface and the dough is rolled out and shaped into a large circle. The dough is brushed with oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds. A heated, shallow round pan is filled with oil and the dough is cooked on one side. The dough is pushed down to be immersed into the oil and slightly pierced to cook evenly, then flipped. Once the crust is golden on both sides, the bread is removed from the pan, sprinkled with minced scallions then left to cool before served.

History:
The word “Qiang” from qiang bing comes from the Chinese minority, Qiang’zu, from the Tibetan and Sichuan Provinces. Their existence is slowly declining due to its lack of popularity among locals, which can most likely be explained by people’s preference to thinner crepe-like bings that are made fresh.

Possible Variations:
jiu cai hezi – stuffed with chinese chives
nuo mi hezi  – stuffed with glutinous rice
jianbing 煎饼– Chinese-style crepe
cong you bing 葱油饼– scallion pancakes
shou zhua bing 手煎饼– hand-grabbed pancake
jidan bing 鸡蛋饼– egg pancake
qian ceng bing 千层饼– flaky pancake

Related Cuisine:
Sichuan Cuisine

Cōng Yóu Bǐng – Scallion pancakes – 葱油饼

Cōng yóubǐng (Chinese: 葱油饼) is a savory, non-leavened flatbread that can be found in wet markets or on the street side in small glass-box stands. Scallions are dispersed throughout the dough, and it can be topped with various flavors including spicy and spicy sauce, plain, or with eggs coated on one side. The pancakes are served by weight, ranging in price depending on amount desired.

Ingredients:
Flour is combined with minced scallions, lard, and salt. The dough is rolled out thinly and fried in oil. It can then be left plain or topped with hoisin, sweet chili sauce, or cooked with egg.

Cooking Method:
A combination of flour, salt, oil, and water are combined in order to make the dough. The pancake is formed on a floured surface after the dough is rolled out into a thin layer. It is then brushed with sesame oil, sprinkled with scallions, rolled into a coil, and flattened out again to create flaky layers. The dough is fried in a shallow pan until golden brown. For different flavors, the dough is smeared with spicy sauce, hoisin sauce, or cooked again with egg on one side.

History :
Origins of cong you bing are unclear, but a Chinese folk story that relates to the evolution of pizza and its relation to the scallion pancake which believes that Marco Polo had brought it back to Italy upon his return. A humorous newspaper article describes the invention of pizza stating that Marco Polo had missed scallion pancakes so much that he tried to find chefs willing to make it for him. After convincing a chef from Naples to recreate the dish and finding that he was unable to, Marco Polo suggested that the filling be placed on top of the dough rather than inside. Everyone at that dinner party praised the dish, and the chef returned to Naples to improvise with his creation by adding cheese and other ingredients to form today’s pizza.

Possible Variations:
Jianbing 煎饼– Chinese-style crepe
jidan guangbing 鸡蛋光饼– Chinese-style burrito
shou zhua bing 手煎饼– hand-grabbed pancake
jidan bing 鸡蛋饼– egg pancake
qiang bing 炝饼– puffy pancake
qian ceng bing 千层饼– flaky pancake
shao bing – Sesame breakfast pastries

Related Cuisine:
Fujian, Shandong Cuisine

 

Jiānbing – Chinese-style crepes – 煎饼

Jiānbing  (Chinese: 煎饼), a traditional Chinese snack commonly served in the early hours for breakfast, closely resembles a cross between a crepe and a dosa. The crepe is made with a beaten egg, garnished with fresh herbs, pickles, and dried chili, and smeared with various sweet and spicy sauces. Its fillings are customizable, but the most common and popular version is made with a flat, crispy fried cracker in the center. It is typically sold for 3.5 yuan from 6am to 10am.

Over time, the popular street food has become identified with the term “jianbing ren煎饼人” which is used to describe people who are not capable of focusing on one thing at a time and truly deepen their thoughts. Their distracted mannerisms reflect the cooking style of jianbing, where the batter spreads in many directions across a large, round pan to generate a thin layer of pancake. Jianbing ren also live their lives in a “thin layer” that covers a lot of space without ever becoming “thick.” This can be explained by the change in value for social relationships, where nowadays people must create many superficial friendships in order to find job opportunities unlike their predecessors who had the stability of a work-unit (danwei单位) during Communist and early reform years. Much of the criticism comes from the older generations who lament upon younger generation’s lazy and impulsive characteristics due to the internet-craze and creatively suppressed education system. Many Chinese regard the term as a local characteristic rather than an extension of a global modernity. It is linked to the privatization of market, growing divide between generations, and changing values.

Ingredients:
The batter is traditionally made of mung bean flour, but different variations of its recipe might include other coarse grains like millet (xiaomi小米), purple rice (zimi紫米), green bean (lüdou绿豆), corn flour, soybean, or wheat flour. Oil is sometimes used to grease the pan before the batter is spread into a thin layer on the griddle. The pancake is sprinkled with minced scallions, cilantro, pickled mustard tuber. After an egg is broken up and spread on the entire surface, the crepe is smeared with fermented bean curd sauce (hongdou furu 红豆腐乳 or nanru南乳), a hoisin sauce (tianmianjiang甜面酱), and sprinkled with either chili flakes or a chili sauce (lajiang辣酱). Inside, a pre-fried wonton, youtiao, hot dog sausage, or chicken can be wrapped in the center of the crepe.

Cooking Method:
A round, cast iron griddle is heated at a medium-low temperature, and a bit of oil is used to grease its surface. The thickness of the crepe batter varies in consistency, but is always spread evenly across the surface of the griddle in a swift circular motion. An egg is cracked on top and the yolk is evenly broken and evenly spread over the crepe. Sliced scallions, cilantro (xiang cai香菜), and pickled mustard tuber (zha cai榨菜) are sprinkled. The crepe is then folded in half, and smeared with a sweet fermented bean curd sauce (hong doufuru or nanru), a hoisin sauce (tianmianjiang), and sprinkled with either chili flakes or a chili sauce (lajiang). Baocui, a crispy fried cracker, is then added in the center and the crepe is folded and sliced in the center to be eaten as a handheld snack.

History:
According to legends, jianbing originated during the Three Kingdoms period more than 2,000 years ago. Zhuge Liang, Liu Bei’s chancellor in Shandong Province, was encountered with the problem of feeding his army who had lost their woks. Zhuge ordered the cooks to mix water with wheat flour and spread the dough onto flat, copper griddles suspended over a fire. This innovative cooking technique lifted his soldiers’ morale and strength, allowing them to win the battle thereafter. Since then, people from the Shandong province have passed down this dish through generations.

The myth of origin comes from Zhuge Liang during the Chinese Three Kingdoms period more than 2,000 years ago. This man was a chancellor in the province of Shandong for the general Liu Bei, and he had a problem of feeding everyone in the army without the traditional Chinese cooking ware woks. Thus, Zhuge decided to use flat griddle-like pans and mix water with flour to cook this mixture evenly on the bottom of these flat pans. This was so well liked by soldiers that it made them stronger and they were able to win a battle after this. Ever after, people of Shandong province have passed this dish down generation to generation.

Colder temperatures in the northern part of China made it difficult for Chinese to grow rice, which explains use of coarse grains like wheat and millet to make various forms of pancake. Before electricity reached the countryside, every household had a water-powered stone mill (shuimo) that would be used to grind course grains into flour. Peasants would mill a day in advance and pan-fry their jianbing on a metal griddle over hot coals the next morning. The variety of nutrients in the grains allow for the comestible to be easily preserved in high-temperatures.

Possible Variations:
Jianbingguozi 煎饼果子– jianbing filled with a fried cruller (youtiao) instead of a crispy fried cracker (baocui)
jia xiangchang 加香菜– add coriander
jia shengcai 加生菜– add lettuce
cong you bing 葱油饼– scallion pancakes
shou zhua bing 手煎饼– hand-grabbed pancake
dan bing 蛋饼– egg pancake
qian ceng bing 千层饼– flaky pancake
qiang bing 炝饼– puffy pancake

Related Cuisine:
Shandong Cuisine

Shao bing – Sesame seed cake – 烧饼

Shao bing is a flaky, round baked bread topped with sesame seeds, usually eaten as a breakfast or snack accompanied with soymilk or tea. It comes with a variety of sweet and savory fillings including red bean paste, black sesame paste, mung bean paste, meat or plain. Different types of shao bing are often associated with certain cities and towns.

Liu Ji, a famous scholar from the Ming Dynasty, wrote a song titled “Shaobing Song” or the “Pancake Poem” (燒餅歌) to the Hongwu Emperor. Because it is written in cryptic form, its meaning is hard to decipher, but it is believed that certain lines contain references to the future of China. Because most of the predictions since 1911 have been vague and inaccurate, some experts believe the work to be a hoax of recent production, designed to reassure people of the political climate after the Japanese invasion and rise of Communism.

Ingredients:
The dough is made from flour, water, yeast, and either sugar or salt. It can be filled with various sweet or salty fillings and then topped with sesame seeds before being baked.

Cooking Method:
Yeast and warm water are mixed together before being combined with flour and salt/sugar. The dough is left to rise in a warm area before being transferred onto a floured surface where it is rolled out. Fillings are spread out on its surface and the dough is rolled and divided into smaller pieces. The dough is twisted standing up to form layers of dough and then balled up. Sesame seeds top each ball of filled dough to cover its top surface before being baked.

History:
During the Tang Dynasty, Arab traders would travel between China and the West, spreading their Islamic culture including religion and cuisine. Chinese converts thus became known as the Hui people (Huízú), who are associated with this street food for their historical Islamic influences. The earliest record of shao bing was seen in a Chinese historical text, Zīzhì Tōngjiàn (“Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government”), a pioneering reference work in Chinese historiography in the form of a chronicle. The book mentioned several emperors during the Tang Dynasty, including one named Tang Xuan Zhong. He held the throne for the longest reign of the Tang Dynasty; however, he was better known for his love for his imperial concubine Yang Gui Fei 楊貴妃. The story goes that he was so lovestruck by his queen that he neglected his country, which caused people to want to murder her in order to gain back his attention. When the emperor found out, he took the queen to his palace to run away; but on the way there, they both got hungry. Tang Xuan Zhong’s prime minister, Yang Guo Zhong, who was also the elder brother of Yang Gui Fei, bought shao bing for the king. The street food gained popularity among locals once they found out about the emperor’s tasting of their cuisine.

Possible Variations:
dou sha xian bing – red bean pastry
niu rou xian bing – pan-fried beef pastry
liu dou xian bing – mung-bean pastry
hei zhi ma xian bing – black sesame filled pastry
hei zhi ma shao bing – black sesame on pastry

Related Cuisine:
Shandong Cuisine

Dàntà – Egg Tarts – 蛋挞

Founded upon multicultural origins, dàntà (Chinese: 蛋挞) are small, round pastries filled with a rich and silky center. The tart’s crust can either come in Hong Kong style crumbly, biscuit-like crust or Macau style thousand-layer form. In Shanghai, the latter version is commonly sold out of heated glass boxes for 3.5 yuan each. Their custard has a buttery center with a bruleed top, and its crust is light, crispy and flaky.

Ingredients:
To make the dough, mix lard, butter, eggs, and flour. The egg custard filling consists of egg, evaporated milk, sugar, and water.

Cooking Method:
First, combine the lard, butter, eggs, and flour and allow it to sit in the refrigerator.

History :
The first record of dan ta appeared in a banquet for Emperor Kangxi during the “Manchu-Han Imperial Feast,” one of the most lavish meals documented in Chinese culinary history. Dan ta was featured as one of the “Thirty-two Delicacies.”

The Portuguese-style egg tarts are called pasteis de nata. They were introduced to China after gaining popularity in Macau when the Special Administrative Region was under the Portuguese government. Since the 1990s, Fast food chains like KFC and Dominoes have adopted dan ta along with other Asian food items to their western menus.

Possible Variations:
Hong Kong danta – Hong Kong egg tarts
Portuguese danta – Portuguese egg tarts

 

Shāomai – Shanghai glutinous rice dumpling – 烧麦

Typically sold alongside baozi inside stacks of steaming bamboo baskets, shāomai (Chinese: 烧麦) are wonton-skins wrapped around savory glutinous rice with its skin gathered at the top. The street food is typically eaten as a hand-held breakfast staple and sold for 1.5 yuan.

It is a popular street food snack that has been gradually introduced to provinces throughout China, where it has adapted to different regional tastes that have changed its ingredients and forms in various ways. In the southern provinces of Zhejiang, Guangdong, and Jiansu, the radical “mai” in shaomai means to sell, while in Northern provinces of Beijing and Inner Mongolia, the radical “mai” in shaomai means wheat. Regardless of the region’s form of Chinese character, Chinese people know shaomai as a type of dumpling made with flour that is made with baking powder and with a skin that gathers at the top to resemble a pomegranate.

Ingredients:
Shaomai consists of glutinous rice balls seasoned with scallions, minced pork, mushrooms, soy sauce, and salt. They are wrapped around thin wonton skins.

Cooking Method:
Ground pork is seasoned with salt and minced scallions and pan-fried. Shiitake mushrooms are minced and slightly cooked. Glutinous rice (nuomi) is first steamed and then combined with the ground pork, mushrooms, and soy sauce until the rice is dyed a light brown color. The seasoned rice is wrapped around a thin wonton skin and cooked in a bamboo steamer for 5 minutes. They are left in the steamer to stay warm, and served directly from it.

History :
The earliest historical record of shaomai dates back to the 14th century during the late Yuan Dynasty and early Ming Dynasty in a Korean-Chinese textbook called “Pu Tong Yan Jie”, which mentions the street food. It is said that the name comes from having a similar appearanceto taohua, which means peach blossom. During the Qian Long periodof the Qing Dynasty, it also appeared in a line of a poem that stated, “Shao mai huntun lie man pan,” which describes how people ate shaomai alongside dumplings on a plate. Several different fillings are described in the Qingping Shangtang, including vegetable, lamb, chicken, pheasant, sesame, plum, and lamb.

While there are various textual recordings of the street food’s existence, its geographical origins are traced to the Inner Mongolia province, where Qing Dynasty merchants would visit tea houses where they were served and bring them along with them as they traveled throughout the surrounding areas.

Possible Variations:
Siumai – Cantonese pork and mushroom dumpling
Huhhot shaomai – sheep dumpling
Hunan shaomai– chrysanthemum dumpling
Jiangnan shaomai – Jiangnan dumpling
Yifeng shaomai – Jiangxi dumpling

Related Cuisine:
Shanghai cuisine

 

Kǎo Dì Guā – Roasted Sweet Potato – 烤地瓜

For local Shanghainese, kǎo dì guā (Chinese: 烤地瓜) is a favorite street snack during colder months of the year. Vendors usually grow the potatoes themselves, and wheel around a modified barrel oven filled with coal to slowly roast them inside. Once the potatoes are done roasting, they are showcased on top of the heated iron bin usually alongside roasted corn on the cobs. Patrons can choose which potato they want before it is weighed and priced.

Traditional Chinese medicine encourages the consumption of kao di gua during winter because it helps the body remove the season’s dryness. They also are high in nutritional value, considering their fiber content, complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamin A and C, iron, and calcium.

When choosing the best sweet potato, those that have a wrinkly skin that gives in when poked with a finger are usually sweeter and more moist. The soft texture comes from the potato’s high sugar content.

Ingredients:
Sweet potatoes are roasted without any additives for its natural sweetness forms during the roasting process.

Cooking Method:
Sweet potatoes are placed inside an iron barrel heated with coal at the bottom. After they are done roasting, they are showcased on the barrel’s heated lid.

History:
In Jinan, the capital city of Shandong province in Eastern china, a story was told about the emperor Qianlong, and kao di gua. He lived to be 80 years old, making him the oldest emperor to live. Due to his old age, he began to suffer from constipation. His doctors tried many ways to cure his misery, but none succeeded. One day, he was lured into the royal dining room by the sweet aroma of sweet potato. He saw the eunuch roasting them, so he tried one and enjoyed it so much that he wanted to eat it everyday. Gradually, his constipation was cured. Today, this story is told as a solution to people’s constipation.

Related Cuisine:
Shandong Cuisine

 

Guō tiē – Potsticker dumplings – 鍋貼

Typically pan-fried and served alongside sheng jian bao, guō tiē (Chinese: 鍋貼) are a common Shanghai street food snack sold throughout the day. These Northern Chinese style dumplings are larger in size, with thicker, chewier skins and a juicy pork filling. They are typically sold in small bags of four for 3 kuai.

Ingredients:
The dough of the dumpling is made from water and flour. Though the fillings can range from vegetables to chicken or beef, the most common street food guo tie are filled with juicy ground pork. The minced pork filling is seasoned with salt, pepper, and minced chives.

Cooking Method:
The Chinese method of preparing dough first pours boiling water onto the flour and allows it to stand for a few minutes before adding a small quantity of cold water. This allows for the gluten to activate in the dough. After the dough of the guo tie is made, smaller balls are individually formed to be rolled out into circles with thinner edges. The ground pork mixture is placed in the center of the dough and folded inside. Once the dumplings are prepared, a shallow, round pan is filled with a bit of water. The dumplings are placed, fold-side up, into the pan usually alongside sheng jian baos. A wooden top is used to cover and steam the dumplings and buns before oil is added in order for one side of the skin to crisp up. The pan is given a shake in order to prevent the dough from sticking to the bottom and the pan is rotated a few times before being opened up again in order to be sprinkled with minced scallions. The dumplings are left in the pan for their bottoms to become a crisp, golden brown and their tops to be steamed and slightly chewy.

History :
The broader term for guotie is jiaozi, which means dumpling. Legends say that during the later years of the Eastern Han Period, one of the most well-known Chinese physicians, Zhang Zhongjing, invented a food to help peasants stay warm during the cold winter. He filled the dumpling with hot pepper and medicinal material as fillings.

Possible Variations:
shuǐjiǎo – boiled dumplings
zhēngjiǎo – steamed dumplings
dànjiǎo – egg wrapped dumplings

 

Shēng Jiān Bāo – Pan-fried buns – 生煎包

Shēng jiān bāo (Chinese: 生煎包) is one of the most popular street foods found in Shanghai. It is made from semi-leavened dough, wrapped around a ball of seasoned ground pork and a gelatinized soup filling. Minced scallions and sesame seeds are sprinkled onto the buns during the cooking process. The name of the bun comes from its method of cooking, during which the balls of stuffed dough are lined up in a round, shallow pan filled with oil. When the fillings are added, the bottom of the buns form a “knot,” which is the side that faces downwards in direct contact with the oiled pan. This side of the bun becomes golden and crispy during the cooking process, creating a tasty contrast in texture.

After the buns are done cooking, the buns become fluffy and bready on one side and crispy on the other. The proper way to eat the bun is to take a small bite out of the soft side in order to prevent the melted soup from bursting out and to allow the inside to cool down before consuming the entire bun. The buns are sold in groups of four, usually eaten during breakfast time. Traditionally, the buns are eaten alongside a bowl of beef brisket soup and a side of black vinegar to cut the oil. The buns are typically served to-go in a small paper bag for portability. Although they are more commonly sold during early hours of the day, some shops sell them at all hours as a snack.

Ingredients:
The flour is made from flour, water, yeast, and salt. Inside, soup gelatin is made from pork skin, garlic, scallions, ginger, water, salt, and pork bone. The minced pork meat filling is seasoned with rice win, finger, scallion, salt, sugar, soy sauce, white pepper, and sesame oil.

Cooking Method:
Flour, water, yeast, and salt are combined together to form a dough. The mixture is left to rise in a warm, humid area. The ingredients for the soup gelatin are all combined in a stock pot and cooked for hours until the pig’s skin dissolves. The meat mixture is combined well before being formed into smaller portions to be filled inside the pieces of dough along with a chunk of jelly. The dough is ticked in tightly with a top knot and the pieces are closely packed into a large shallow griddle, often side by side to guo tie because they’re cooked in the same way. The buns are sprinkled with minced scallions and either white or black sesame seeds. A bit of oil is poured over the top as the skillet is moved around so to prevent the bottoms of the bun from sticking. After a crust has formed on one side, water is added to the pan and a heavy wooden lid is placed over the griddle to steam the soft tops of the buns.

History:
Over a century ago, shengjianbao were served as snacks to accompany tea as something to enjoy before or after dinner. It soon grew in popularity as a street food because it was both quick and portable. Those who were too impatient to eat were said to be easily “fried” in the hot soup if they took a bite too soon.

Possible Variations:
Niu rou bao – Pan-fried beef buns

Related Cuisine:
Shanghai cuisine

 

Chá Yè Dàn – Tea Eggs – 茶葉蛋

A common street food snack among locals, chá yè dàn (Chinese: 茶葉蛋) are pre-boiled eggs which have been re-boiled in tea, sauce, or spices. It is also known as the marble egg because cracks in the eggshell create marble-like patterns on the egg white. The yolk should have a thin, greyish edge with a yellow core. The use of five-spice for the brine adds a savory, slightly salty flavor to the egg white, and the tea brings out the yolk’s flavor. The eggs are served sitting in a bath of dark brine in order to continue to steep for increasing flavor.

Cha ye dan has recently become an Internet phenomenon after being used as a mechanism of belittlement between Taiwanese media and Chinese mainlanders. During a well-known Taiwanese variety talk show, a woman claimed that she had visited China and noticed that locals were so poor that they couldn’t even afford tea eggs. Since then, many Chinese netizens have turned the criticism into an online joke that hyperbolizes the value in this street food. Pictures will of the tea egg will commonly be framed in a luxurious or fancy way, captioned with a mocking tone that jokes about the large amount of money it costed that individual to purchase such a small treat.

Ingredients:
Traditional preparation uses Chinese five-spice, which contains cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds, cloves, and Szechuan peppercorns. They can be cooked in this spice-seasoned broth alone, or sitting in a brine that is also seasoned with soy sauce and black tea leaves.

Cooking Method:
Eggs are first hard-boiled and removed from the water. The shell of each egg is gently cracked all around in order to create a marbling effect while brining. The cracked eggs are placed back into a spiced-tea broth made of Chinese five-spice, soy sauce, and black tea. The eggs simmer inside this mixture for some time and then transferred into the refrigerator to allow for further steeping. The longer the tea remains in the mixture, the more flavorful and colored it will be.

History:
Essentially of Chinese origin, the details of cha ye dan’s origins are unclear, but the street food gained popularity within a short time span. The dish was introduced to countries where Chinese population migrated in large numbers.

Related Cuisine:
Sichuan Cuisine

 

Bāozi – Steamed buns – 包子

Bāozi (Chinese: 包子) is a pillowy-soft, steamed bun that is filled with savory or sweet centers. Although locals prefer to eat them for breakfast, they are sold from the early hours of the morning until late afternoon. Each one is typically 1.5 kuai out of stacks of bamboo steamers alongside shao mai.

Ingredients:
The bun’s dough consists of water, dry yeast, sugar, bread flour, baking powder, salt and sesame oil.

Cooking Method:
The yeast and sugar are combined in warm water and allowed to sit. After the flour and sugar are combined, the yeast water is added to the mixing bowl until a ball of dough is formed. The dough is kneaded and allowed to rest in a humid environment. After the dough has risen, baking powder is kneaded into the dough before it is divided into two long rolls and cut into pieces. Each piece of dough is formed into a ball that is rolled into a disk so that the filling can be encased in the center. Each ball of dough is allowed to rise before being placed into bamboo steamers.

History :
During the Three Kingdoms period, Zhuge Liang, a military strategist of the time, was on an expedition to Southern China when he and his army found themselves unable to cross a river because the storm was too violent. He asked Meng Hua why they couldn’t cross, and he stated that the war had caused so many deaths that angry spirits were trapped there, unable to return to their families. The spirits claimed that they needed 49 people to sacrifice themselves in order for Zhuge Liang and his soldiers to cross the river. Zhuge Liang wasn’t willing to allow even more people to die, so he asked his cook to make him 49 buns with dough that resembled skin with beef or mutton fillings so that he could trick the spirits into believing that they were real people.

The street food was originally called mantou, which means “flour head,” but as it gained popularity in the north, people began calling it baozi because bao meant “to wrap.”

Possible Variations:
gancai bao – braised cabbage bun
qingcai bao – bok choy tofu bun
rou bao – pork bun
hua juan – scallion mantou
dabao – large bun

 

Cí Fàn Gāo – Deep-fried Glutinous Rice Cake – 粢饭糕

Often served alongside various deep-fried bings and youtiao, cí fàn gāo (Chinese: 粢饭糕) is a rectangular block of compressed glutinous rice that is fried until golden brown. It is often eaten as a savory breakfast snack during autumn, when the rice has just been harvested.

Ingredients:
Glutinous rice is cooked with water, seasoned with salt and deep-fried in oil.

Cooking Method:
The glutinous rice is steamed and then kneaded and seasoned with salt. The mixture is compressed into cakes and cut into rectangles before being deep-fried.

History:
During the Spring and Autumn Festival, a man named Wu Zi Xu wanted to help people who were suffering from hunger after the war. He shaped sticky rice in the form of a condensed brick and buried it in the ground so that people could eat it in case of emergency. While their city was being invaded by emperor Guo Jian, the trapped inhabitants were able to eat the bricks of glutinous rice that were previously buried into the ground in order to survive. The people dug the bricks of rice out of the ground and deep-fried it before eating it. From that time on, people continued to make this dish during the Autumn Festival in remembrance of their hero.

Possible Variations:
ci fan tuan – Chinese cruller stuffed stuffed in a glutinous rice ball

Related Cuisine:
Shanghai Cuisine

Chòu dòufu – Stinky Tofu – 臭豆腐

Chòu dòufu (Chinese: 臭豆腐 ) is a fermented tofu that is deep fried and topped with fermented bean paste sauce, cilantro and chili. Though its pungent smells may linger everywhere, those that can get past its strong scent can enjoy its soft, silky center. The street food snack is usually sold at night, served out of a small bowl and toothpicks to pierce each cube or served alongside rice congee as a breakfast meal.

Ingredients:
The tofu is left to ferment for weeks or months in a brine made from fermented milk, vegetables, and meat. Additional ingredients can be added into this brine, including dried shrimp, amaranth greens, mustard greens, bamboo shoots, and Chinese herbs.

Cooking Method:
The tofu is left to ferment in a brine up to months. After the fermentation process, the tofu is cut into cubes and deep fried. Chou doufu is then topped with a fermented bean paste sauce, cilantro, and chili sauce.

History :
According to legends, chou doufu was invented by a man named Wang Zhi He during the Qing Dynasty. He studied to become a civil servant to emperor Kang Xi, but tried and failed many times. Every time he would leave his hometown to take the exam at the capital city, he would end up using all of his money for transportation and be left with nothing to purchase food. To save himself the cost and time, he decided to make a living in the capital city while he prepared for the next year’s exam. His family back home was wealthy from their tofu factory business, where he learned how to make it at a young age. He rented a few stores in the capital city and bought some simple tools to make it in order to sell it on the street. During that time, the summer heat was causing the fresh tofu that he didn’t sell to become moldy. He didn’t want to waste his food so he came up with a way to preserve it. He decided to cut the tofu into smaller pieces, sun-cure them, then pickle them with salt. They were left storing in a jar until autumn came and he remembered that he had left his pickling tofu. The moment he opened the jar, he was hit with the sharp stench of fermented tofu that had become grey and cinereous. He tried one and didn’t think its taste was terrible, so he sent them to the neighborhood who found that they, too, enjoyed the dish.

Related Cuisine: 
Zhejiang, Hunan cuisine

Chǎo Lìzi – Sugar chestnuts – 炒栗子

Chǎo lìzi (Chinese: 炒栗子) can be found churning in large cauldrons on the street emitting sweet, nutty flavors into the air. Chestnuts are roasted and seasoned with coarse sand, syrup and osmanthus essence. Once they’ve been evenly roasted, the sugary chestnuts appear glossy. The shells should fall away easily–an indication of the quality of the chestnuts–revealing the “meat” which should be golden, soft and tasty. They are best eaten immediately after they have been taken from the wok. Once cooled, they are no longer as sweet or fragrant.

Sugar-roasted chestnuts from the Xin Chang Fa Food Store chain are regarded as the best in Shanghai. This street food treat is popularly eaten among locals during the colder months of the year, usually selling for 16 yuan to 32 yuan per kilo.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, chestnuts are regarded as “fruit for the kitney and patients with renal diseases.” It is a warming food that is said to nourish the qi of the gastrointestinal system, spleen and kidneys. Chestnuts are also used to improve circulation, and are eaten daily by elderly Chinese people to prevent and treat high blood pressure, heart disease, hardening of the arteries and osteoporosis. They are especially eaten during the autumn and winter because their high carbohydrate content provides a warming quality that is good for suppressing and combating colds.

Ingredients:
Chestnuts are soaked in rock sugar, molasses, and water. They are then fried in oil until golden.

Cooking Method:
Chestnuts are first boiled until tender. Sugar and molasses are boiled before the chestnuts are added and cooked at a simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed. The chestnuts are drained and then added to an oiled cauldron. They are churned by a rotating shovel inside the heated cauldron filled with coarse sand. The purpose of the sand is to heat them evenly and retain their inherent sweetness.

History:
Chestnuts have been apart of Chinese cuisine since neolithic times. Remains of a chestnut species named Castanea vulgaris, have been found earlier than the Han Dynasty. Chestnuts were one of the many food items found in tombs in Hubei. Chestnut trees were indigenous in the Hubei Province as well as other northern, western, and some southern areas too. Traces of its existence in such an exceptionally early part of China’s food culture proves that it is one of the earliest nuts used in antiquity. They were given to emperors as tribute, using them as gifts for his noble lords. Their trees were considered a good omen, so they were often planted near court mansions or alters at temples dedicated to earthly spirits. In ancient times, chestnuts were stored sun-dried and sand-covered under a pottery dome.

Chestnuts have also been prevalent in ancient texts such as early writings from the Zhou Dynasty through the Han Dynasty. They have been recorded in the Shih Ching “Book of Odes” and in the Li Chi “Book of Rites.”

Related Cuisine:
Hunan, Zhejiang cuisine

Liángpí – Cold Jelly Noodles – 凉皮

Liángpí (Chinese: 凉皮) is a cold noodle dish tossed with peanut sauce, chili oil, and vinegar and garnished with refreshing garnishes such as julienned cucumbers, cilantro and bean sprouts. When the weather gets warmer, liang pi vendors can be found making this dish out of a glass box perched on top of a tricycle. Customers are given the option of rice or wheat flour or a combination of both to be tossed in with other components of the dish. Liangpi is typically sold for 6 to 7 kuai.

Ingredients:
Different types of liangpi can range in ingredients. Its noodles are either made from rice or wheat flour. The sauce combinations consist of salt, vinegar, chili oil, black sesame paste and garlic. Garnishes can include wheat gluten, julienned cucumbers, bean sprouts, cilantro and scallions.

Cooking Method:
To make the noodles, the wheat or rice flour is turned into a soft dough by adding a bit of water and salt. The dough is “rinsed” until the water is saturated with starch from the dough. The remainder of the dough is then removed and the bowl is left to rest overnight in order to allow the dissolved starch to precipitate. The following day, a residue of starchy paste that sits at the bottom of the bowl is drained of the liquid that sits above it. A small amount of that paste is then spread out into a thin layer and steamed in order to make a “pancake” that is cut into long pieces resembling noodles. These noodles are placed into a bowl and tossed with various sauces and garnishes before being served.

History:
A folk story is told that takes place during the Qing Dynasty where ten acres of rice fields spanned Nanzheng County beside the Feng River. One year, the river had dried up due to the drought and the rice was poor in quality. People became distraught because they didn’t know how to pay their annual tribute to the emperor Qing Shi Huan. A man named Li Shi Er decided to grain the rice into a paste, steam it and cut it into strips. He then added some spicy sauce and vinegar to create Da Mi Mian Pi Zi, the original form of Liangpi. The people all made this dish for the emperor, expecting that he wouldn’t enjoy it. Everyone was pleasantly surprised when the emperor stated that everyone was exempt from the tax that year because he loved the dish so much. The preparation of liangpi became an annual tradition in that town since then.

Possible Variations:
Hanzhong Liangpi – with steamed garlic and hot chili oil
Majiang Liangpi – with julienned cucumber and a sauce made from salt, vinegar, chili oil, and black sesame paste
Shan Xin Gan Mianpi – with wheat gluten, vinegar, chili oil, salt, mashed garlic, and bean sprouts

Related Cuisine:
Shaanxi Cuisine

 

Dòu Huā – Tofu Soup – 豆花

Dòu Huā (Chinese: 豆花) is a street food commonly eaten as breakfast or a late night treat alongside a crispy youtiao. In Shanghai, it is usually served with savory flavors and garnishes such as soy sauce, salt, cilantro, chili oil, pickled mustard tuber, and sliced pieces of youtiao.

Ingredients:
The tofu curd is made from dried soybeans, water, gypsum powder and cornflour. The dessert version adds a dark syrup infused with ginger. The salty version adds a dash of soy sauce, chili oil, and salt and garnishes with cilantro and minced pieces of pickled mustard tuber.

Cooking Method:
The soy milk is first made by soaking pulverized soybeans with water and straining it, repeating this process multiple times. Once the soy milk is made, it is left to simmer as a mixture of gypsum powder, corn flour and water are slowly added in. After the curd has set, it can be spooned into a bowl and topped with whatever sweet or salty dressings desired.

History:
According to legends, tofu originated in China over 2,000 years ago. It is believed that its production began during the Han Dynasty when a cook decided to experiment by flavoring a batch of cooked soybeans with the compound nagari. Instead of getting flavored soybeans, he ended up with bean curd.

Possible Variations:
dòufurǔ – fermented tofu
chòudòufu – stinky tofu
dòupào – fried tofu
dòngdòufu – thousand layer tofu

Related Cuisine:
Sichuan, Hubei cuisine

 

Yóu Tiáo – Chinese Cruller – 油条

Yóu Tiáo (Chinese: 油条), also known as Chinese cruller, oil stick, doughnut, and breadstick, is a trip of fried dough that is typically eaten for breakfast. It usually is served as an accompaniment with rice congee, soy milk, or tofu soup where they are either served whole to be dipped into the liquid or cut into smaller pieces to be sprinkled on top. They are lightly salted and fried in pairs with the center attached so that the dough becomes puffy and crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. You tiao is best eaten immediately after it is fried because of its tendency to become tough or elastic-y if left out for too long. At breakfast, you tiao, can be stuffed inside various carbohydrates such as roasted flatbread (shaobing), rice noodle (zhaliang), or glutinous rice (cifan). Its sweet version is named tang gao, which is similar in appearance to youtiao but shorter in length.

Ingredients:
You tiao contains flour, water, sugar, salt, baking soda and vegetable oil. Street vendors usually add alum, potassium aluminum sulfate crystals, to recipes in order to increase the puffy, crispy exterior of their bread.

Cooking Method:
All ingredients are combined to form a soft dough, which is kneaded and left to rest two to three times. The dough is brushed with oil and folded then cut into smaller pieces to be stretched out and twisted together into pairs. A wok of oil is heated before the strips of dough are deep-fried till golden.

History:
You tiao is nicknamed you zha gui, or deep fried ghost, which stems from a story told long ago during about a public protest that took place during a rather heavy and serious part of Chinese history. The protest involved a famous and well-respected General, Yue Fei, who was appraised by the people for his loyalty towards the Song Dynasty and his Emperor during his time at war defending the kingdom from outer invasions, particularly the Jin Dynasty.

At that time, the Prime Minister, Qin Kuai, and his wife, Wang, grew jealous of him and formed a secret liaison with the invading northern tribe of the Jin Dynasty to frame Yue Fei under accusations of a crime and get him executed. Public civilians were frustrated by their inability to defend their General; so in reaction, a shao bing vendor and ci fan tuan vendor decided that they should devise a way to express their opinions. The pancake vendor decidedly sculpted two miniature people out of dough, representing Qin Kuai and Madam Wang. He then began slashing at their figures with his dough cutter. The other vendor brought his deep-fry wok, twisted the two figures together into one piece of dough with their backs to each other, and threw them into the wok full of searing oil.

While they were frying, the vendors called out for people to see. As a crowd of passer-byers formed to see the two ugly figures sizzling in the hot oil, they immediately called out, “Fried Kuai!” At the same time, Qin Kuai happened to pass this spectacle on his way from the imperial palace and was enraged with disbelief by the mutiny of his edible figure.

In the vendors’ defense, two men stepped up and scooped the fried dough out of the oil to eat it. They exclaimed how delicious and crispy it was, which further infuriated Qin Kuai. The two food vendors combined businesses to continue making the fried Kuai. Soon, their business was so busy that they had to design a simpler version of fried Kuai that was made of two strips of dough twisted together in order to represent Qin Kuai and his wife. The street food sensation quickly spread to other cities of China and eventually given the name, “you tiao.”

During the Cultural Revolution in China, educated youths used food-related propaganda as a way of symbolically addressing issues aimed at the laobaixing. A well-known street food youtiao, a deep-fried cruller that literally translates to “oily strip,” appeared as a political emblem as the cheapest and lowliest form of Shanghai street food. It came to represent the poor economic realities of students receiving government scholarships who could only afford to eat, at most, three youtiao a day. These student activists wanted to motivate the government to fund schools and provide living stipends for intellectuals.

Possible Variations:
ci fan tuan – Chinese cruller stuffed stuffed in a glutinous rice ball
shaobing youtiao – Chinese cruller inside roasted flatbread
zha liang – Chinese cruller inside rice noodle roll
tang gao – Sugar doughnut

 

Niú Ròu Xiān Bǐng – Pan-fried Beef Pastry – 牛肉餡餅

Niú Ròu Xiān Bǐng (Chinese: 牛肉餡餅) are savory snacks served throughout the day. They have golden, crisp crusts and a juicy, fragrant beef filling.

Ingredients:
First, the dough is made from flour, water and salt. The meat filling consists of ground beef, scallions, egg, soy sauce, sesame oil, black pepper and white pepper.

Cooking Method:
The ground beef is marinated with all of the spices, soy sauce, and onions and allowed to sit for the flavors to meld together. The flour, salt, and water are mixed together to form a dough. On a floured surface, the dough is kneaded, rolled out, and divided into circles. The seasoned ground beef is placed in the center of the dough and pinched shut. The pastry is then flattened and fried in a heated and oiled shallow pan on medium-low heat. Once both sides are golden brown, it is ready to be served.

History:
According to legends, niu rou bing originated from the Tang Dynasty during  Xuan Zhong’s reign. The story relates to his discovery of shao bing when he was fleeing with his imperial concubine Yang Gui Fei  and tried one on the street. One day he disguised himself and went to the streets of Xi’an. He saw a small shop lined with hundreds of people waiting with cake in their hands. The emperor was lured into line by the delicious smells, and found out that everyone was waiting in line for niu rou bing. After waiting in line and ordering two, he ate the first one so fast that he didn’t even know what it looked like. He saw the second one and realized that it looked like the moon. After, he couldn’t forget the store or the memory of the food, so he often went back to buy and eat it.

A famous poet named Bai Juyi of the Tang Dynasty also wrote a poem about niu rou bing called “Send the Pancake to Yang Wan Zhou.” In it, he appraises how delicious the pancake tastes when it is freshly made, and sends it to his friend.

Possible Variations:
shao bing – Sesame breakfast pastries
dou sha xian bing – red bean pastry
liu dou xian bing – mung-bean pastry
hei zhi ma xian bing – black sesame filled pastry
hei zhi ma shao bing – black sesame on pastry
sheng jian bao – pan-fried bun
niu rou bao – fried beef buns

Related Cuisine:
Shaanxi Cuisine

 

Zong Zi – Glutinous Rice Balls – 粽子

Zongzi (or simply zong) (Chinese: ) is a traditional Chinese food, made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo, reed, or other large flat leaves. They are cooked by steaming or boiling. In the Western world, they are also known as rice dumplings or sticky rice dumplings.

Zongzi (sticky rice dumplings) are traditionally eaten during the Duanwu Festival (Mandarin: Duānwǔ; Cantonese: Tuen Ng), which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar (approximately late-May to mid-June).

The fillings used for zongzi vary from region to region, but the rice used is almost always glutinous rice (also called “sticky rice” or “sweet rice”). Depending on the region, the rice may be lightly precooked by stir-frying or soaked in water before using. In the north, fillings are mostly red bean paste and tapioca or taro. Northern style zongzi tend to be sweet and dessert-like. Southern-style zongzi, however, tend to be more savory. Fillings of Southern-style zongzi include salted duck egg, pork belly, taro, shredded pork or chicken, Chinese sausage, pork fat, and shiitake mushrooms.

Zongzi need to be steamed or boiled for several hours depending on how the rice is made prior to being added, along with the fillings. However, as the modes of zongzi styles have traveled and become mixed, today one can find all kinds of zongzi at traditional markets, and their types are not confined to which side of the Yellow River they originated from.

History of Zongzi

Zongzi are traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival (端午節), on May 5th of the lunar calendar. It is said that on this day, Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese poet who lived in the Chu kingdom, drowned himself in the Miluo River. Before this, he tried to warn his king and his people that their neighbor, the Qin kingdom, was going to invade the Chu kingdom. When the Chu capital was taken over, Qu Yuan was so upset that he drowned himself. When his body could not be found, people threw packets of rice into the river to prevent the fish from eating it.

Regional origin: The Chu kingdom was in present day Hubei

zongzi map

Possible Variations:

Jianshui Zong (碱水粽) – usually eaten as a dessert; the glutinous rice is treated with lye water to make it more alkaline. The rice turns yellow and sweet. It usually has no filling or is filled with sweet mixtures, such as a red bean paste.

People in the north tend to make sweet zongzi. Their fillings could have dried dates, chicken, or red bean paste. People in the south tend to make savory zongzi with pork, Chinese sausage, and mung beans.

Nyonyazong (娘惹粽) – a part of the cuisine unique to Chinese Malaysians/Singaporeans; similar to southern Chinese zongzi, but the filling is made with minced pork with winter melon, ground roasted peanuts, and a spice mix

Taiwanese Zongzi – 臺灣粽; similar to Chinese zongzi, but wrapped with different leaves; not as fatty; pork, mushroom, salted duck egg, peanuts, chestnuts as fillings (some put dried squid or shrimp as well); some are vegetarian so the filling would have only peanuts.

Related Cuisine

糯米雞 (nuomji) is a Cantonese dim sum dish; steamed sticky rice with chicken in lotus leaf wrap. Fillings include chicken, Chinese sausage, salted egg, dried shrimp, mushrooms, and scallions. It’s usually wrapped in a square instead of a prism.

lomiji

Xiao Long Bao – Soup Dumplings – 小笼包

Xiaolongbao (simplified Chinese: 小笼包; traditional Chinese: 小籠包; pinyin: xiǎolóngbāo) is a type of steamed bun or baozi from the Jiangnan region of China, especially Shanghai and Wuxi. It is traditionally steamed in small bamboo baskets, hence the name (xiaolong is literally small steaming basket). Xiaolongbao are often referred to as soup dumplings or simply dumplings in English.[1]

Xiaolongbao are known as siohlon-meudoe[citation needed] /siɔ33lǫ̃44-mø22dɤ⁺44/ in Shanghainese (simplified Chinese: 小笼馒头; traditional Chinese: 小籠饅頭; pinyin: xiǎolóng mántóu). Mantou describes both filled and unfilled buns in northern China, but only describes unfilled buns in southern China.

The characters that make up “xiaolongbao” translate literally to “small”, “steaming basket” and “steamed buns (baozi)”, and the whole term may be literally translated as “little-basket buns”. The appearance of xiaolongbao and jiaozi (dumpling) has meant that the xiaolongbao is sometimes classified as a dumpling outside of China. It is, however, distinct from both steamed and boiled jiaozi in texture and method of production, and is never regarded as a jiaozi (which is more usually translated as dumpling) inside China. As is traditional for buns of various sizes in the Jiangnan region, xiaolongbao are pinched at the top prior to steaming, so the skin has a circular cascade of ripples around the crown, whereas jiaozi are usually made from a round piece of dough folded in half, and pinched along the semicircle. Instead, xiaolongbao is usually regarded as belonging to a whole family of various steamed buns of various sizes sometimes collectively known as tang bao, literally “soup bun”

more/from wikipedia

Photo Credit to: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Xiao_Long_Bao_by_jslander_at_Din_Tai_Fung,_Arcadia.jpg

 

Rou Jia Mo – Shaan Xi Style Sandwich – 肉夹馍

Rou jia mo, sometimes spelled roujiamo (Chinese: 肉夹馍; pinyin: ròu jīa mó), meaning “meat burger” or “meat sandwich,” is a street food originating from Shaanxi Province and now widely consumed all over China. The meat is most commonly pork, stewed for hours in a soup consisting of over 20 kinds of spices and seasonings. Although it is possible to use only a few spices (which many vendors do), the resulting meat is less flavourful. There are many alternative fillings available, for example in Muslim areas in Xi’an, the meat is usually beef (prepared Kabob style and seasoned with cumin and pepper), and in Gansu it is often lamb. The meat is then minced into fine shreds or chopped, then mixed with coriander and mild peppers, and stuffed in “Mo”, a type of flatbread. An authentic Mo is made from wheat flour which is made into a batter and stirred repeatedly for an extended period of time and then baked in a clay or mud oven, but now in many parts of China, Mo is made in a frying pan or a pressure cooker (some even substitute the real Mo with a steamed bun), and the resulting taste diverges significantly from the authentic clay oven-baked version. Depending on the types of spices used to cook the meat and the way the bread is made, the taste of rou jia mo (roujiamo) can vary greatly from vendor to vendor.

Rou jia mo costs around 6 yuan in most parts of China[citation needed] and is considered China’s answer to the Western hamburger and meat sandwiches. In fact, Rou Jia Mo could be the world’s oldest sandwich or hamburger, since the history of the bread dates back to the Qin Dynasty (221 BC – 206 BC) and that of the meat to the Zhou Dynasty (1045 BC to 256 BC). Contrary to popular misconceptions, rou jia mo is not a street food unique to Muslims. It was invented first by the Han Chinese, while Muslims simply substituted pork with barbecued beef or lamb due to Islamic restrictions on eating pork[citation needed].

Rou jia mo (Roujiamo) can be found in many street food vendor stalls or near Chinese mosques. It is called rou jia mo by some vendors, whereas others might call it la zhi rou jia mo (or lazhi roujiamo, Chinese: 腊汁肉夹馍), which simply means rou jia mo with special gravy; yet some others call it bai ji la zhi rou jia mo (or baiji lazhi roujiamo), which means rou jia mo with special gravy in a bread (bai ji refers to the type of bread).

from wikipedia

Pai Gu Nian Gao – Pork chop with Rice Cakes – 排骨年糕

Chop Rice Cake is a special delight, widely consumed in Shanghai, that also happens to be quite economical. It boasts a long history, measured to almost 50 years. This snack is commonly prepared by the method of frying, it usually using such ingredients as a large pork chop and rice cakes. The preparation of this dish calls for the chop to be fried on both sides over medium heat until it reaches a golden brown color, along with a piece of rice cake. This process does not require a lot of time, so that the dish could preserve both: the savory taste of the pork chop and the crispy texture of the rice cake.

PAI GU NIAN GAO – PORK CHOP WITH RICE CAKES – 排骨年糕

People may find this snack in two of the oldest and best known restaurants specialized in preparing Chop Rice Cake – Shuguang Restaurant (previously known as Xiao Chang Zhou) and Xian De Lai Restaurant. The Chop Rice Cakes served in these restaurants are prepared in an absolutely different manner, therefore each of them has its own distinctive aroma, which makes it difficult to choose or favor only one of them.

Photo Credit to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lordcolus/9059100160