Tag Archives: cheap eats

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)

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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