Tag Archives: cheap

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.

 

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.

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

 

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

 

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