Tag Archives: savory

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

 

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

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