Tag Archives: portable

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

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

 

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