Tag Archives: street food

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)

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

Man Offers $16,112 Reward to Test Youtiao

China Daily reported about a man named Wang Dawei, a youtiao street food vendor from Weifang in East Chinas Shandong province, who offered a 100,000RMB reward to any individual who could disprove his claim that his youtiao was not aluminum-free. Many people know that the secret ingredient local street food vendors use to make their youtiao extra-puffy and crispy is aluminum sulfate crystals, a highly toxic ingredient if consumed too often or at large amounts.

“Using a unique technique, Wang’s youtiao onlycontain 0.7 milligram of aluminum per kilogram. This not only reaches the international standard of 100 milligram per kilogram, but isalso lower than the ceiling of 10 milligram per kilogram for fried food issued by the European Union.”

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2014-04/10/content_17424989.htm

 

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

 

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

 

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