Chinese Local Snacks
In the vast area of China, every region has not only distinctive dishes, but many delicious snacks. They are mainly served at breakfast or deep night. From the snacks one can not only taste the local flavor but sense the regional culture, local manners, and customs. To have a taste of local snacks is the thing that no tourist will miss.
Beijing and Tianjin snacks represent the local flavor of northern China. They assimilated the flavor of several ethnic groups including Han, Hui, Mongolian and Manchu. They have a long history with numerous variations and unique flavors.
Beijing snacks are usually peddled at the temple fair or street market and people will pick up the sound. Beijing dwellers call it pengtoushi ( literally accident food).
Ludagunr ( Glutinous Rice Rolls Stuffed with Red Bean Paste )
Ludagunr is a long roll of glutinous millet with stuffing inside. The snack got the name because it resembles donkeys rolling on the ground when the long rolls are tossed in soybean powder before it is eaten. It looks golden brown, and tastes sweet and soft, and the bean powder smells fragrant. It is a traditional snack which fits both the young and the old.
Miancha ( Wheat Flour Tea)
Miancha is a healthy and restorative food. Stir-fry the wheat flour until it turns yellow, sesame is also stir-fried to brown. Add the cooked flour and sesame with sweet-scented osmanthus, beef marrow fat and sugar in a bowl and pour in boiling water to turn them into a sticky glutinous soup. There is a particular way to have Miancha: no spoons or chopsticks are needed, just turn the bowl around while drinking the soup.
Wandouhuang ( Pea Cake )
Wandouhuang, Pea Cak, is the delicacy which fits In spring and summer. Quality white pea is the primary ingredient and undergoes procedures like grating, peeling, washing, boiling, stir-frying with sugar and getting cemented and cut into cubes. It is light yellow and melts in the mouth and tastes sweet, fragrant and refreshing. The Empress Cixi’s favor over the snack helps to make it famous.
There are numerous snacks in Tianjin. The most notable are Three Incomparable of Jinmen: Goubuli Steamed Bun, Guifaxiang Fried Dough Twist, and Erduoyan Fried Rice Cake.
Goubuli Steamed Bun
Goubuli Steamed Bun Store’s original name is Judehao and has a history of over a hundred years. The store owner’s nickname was Gouzi ( Doggy). The steamed bun was so popular that Doggy was too busy to catch a conversation with the customers. People made fun of him, saying that Doggy selling the buns talks to nobody and was then shortened to Goubuli, meaning Doggy paying no attention to anybody . Later on, the nickname Goubuli steamed bun went around. The buns are particular with the ingredients and seasoning, tasting fragrant but not greasy and looking delicate with the pleats on the top. There are at least 15 neatly fold pleats on each bun.
Guifaxiang Fried Dough Twist
The dough twists invented by Guifaxiang Company is a golden brown stick decorated with broken crystal sugar and red and green candied fruits. It gives out a sweet osmanthus smell. It tastes crunchy and crisp even put away for over a month.
Erduoyan Fried Rice Cake
One of the three incomparable snacks in Tianjin. It got the name Erduoyan because the cake store, which is over a hundred years, is close to the Erduoyan ( earhole ) Alley. It is made with sweet red bean smash wrapped with glutinous rice.
It is deep fried, so tastes crisp outside and soft and sweet inside.
The northwestern style is best present by Shanxi and Shaanxi snacks. Northwesterners prefer wheat and snacks are made of wheat. They taste rich and mellow, full of the countryside flavor.
There are rich varieties of snacks made of wheat in Shanxi, such as sliced noodle, cat’s ear, Bo Yu’er, sand cake, oats roll, fried millet cake, Taigu cake, pinched wheat slice, Wenxi boiled cake and stringy pancake. Other local delicacies include Baode date, Taiyuan sliced pork in soy sauce, Pingyao beef, Shenchi dough twist, oil over meat, Wujia smoked pork, pea cake, smoked donkey, etc.
It is made by pinching broad-bean-sized dough and kneading it into the shape of the cat’s ear. Stir-fry the boiled cat’s ear with Chinese chives, pork, shrimp, mushrooms, and ham with high heat. The ear retains the juice and tastes savory.
Shazi Bing ( Sand Cake )
Add wheat flour with oil . salt. five-spice powder and make it into the salty dough. Turn the dough into thin cakes and bake them on hot cobblestones and develop the uneven appearance. It tastes crisp and crunchy, and is also called Ba-Bing ( Scarred Cake).
Bo Yu’er ( Scraping Fish )
Scrape the wheat paste into strips with a chopstick over a pot of boiling soup and the stripes get done instantly. The stripes swirling in the hot soup resemble swimming fish and thus get the name.
Shaanxi snacks also feature in wheat. Notable street snacks include pita bread soaked in lamb soup, buckwheat noodles, Jia San soup dumpling, Shaanxi cold noodle, fried bubble cake, Qishan noodle, Chinese hamburger and Guokui ( wheat wok).
Yangrou Paomo ( Pita Bread Soaked in Lamb Soup )
It is the most characteristic and best-known food in Xi’an. Break the pita bread in little pieces and soak them in lamb soup. The soup is delicious and pita absorbs the aroma and taste. The lamb soup is cooked with special care with heavy seasoning. The soup tastes mellow and the lamb soft. It is fat but not greasy. It warms the stomach and endures the hunger; therefore it is beloved by the northern people. There are many restaurants serving pita bread soaked in lamb soup in Xi’an, the most notable being Lao Sun Jia ( Old Sun’s ) and Tong Sheng Xiang.
Shaanxi Cold Noodle
There are two types of cold noodles, rice noodles, and wheat noodles. Rice noodle is more popular. Therefore, it is also called Mipi ( Rice noodle). Cut the rice sheets into 0.5-centimeter-wide stripes and mix with cucumber slices, salt, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame paste, and pepper oil. The cold noodle tastes sour, fragrant and refreshing, the best food to relieve the heat in summer.
Fried Bubble Cake
Fried bubble cake is the well-known traditional food of Sanyuan County. It dated back to Youjie Cake named Jian Feng Xiao, a famous refreshment from Wei Juyuan’s Burning-Tail Feast in the Tang Dynasty ( 618-907). Make a stuffing of sugar, golden osmanthus, rose and walnuts and wrap it with dough. Deep fry the cake until bubbles come upon its surface. It tastes crunchy, soft and sweet. The bubbled cake melts instantly in the mouth.
South of the Yangtze Flavor
There are rich varieties of Zhejiang snacks . and their favored tastes are sweet, glutinous, soft or aromatic. Just to name a few, Wushan crisp cake, Jiaxing Xianrou Zongzi ( wrapped sticky rice with fresh meat in Jiaxing), horseshoe crisp, Pujiang wheat bread, soup dumpling with crab paste, shrimp roe noodles, Shaoxing stinky tofu, mixed noodles with crab paste, West Lake lotus root jelly, Jinhua dry vegetable crackers, Ningbo lard dumpling, etc.
Wushan Crisp Cake
A Hangzhou delicacy, it is a fried multi-layer crisp cake made with oil dough. The layers being clear and the color ivory, it tastes crunchy and sweet. Although fried with oil, it does not taste greasy. Already called the best cake in Wushan in the Southern Song Dynasty ( 1127-1279), it is still popular nowadays.
Shrimp Roe Noodles
Take the eggs of Yangtze River prawns with many supplements to make a thick soup, and then boil the hand-made noodles in the shrimp soup. The noodles taste soft and mellow with rich nutrition.
Shanghai snacks have blended in the Lower Yangtze region flavors and developed rich varieties. The most favored three types are soup dumpling, Baiye, and oil gluten. There is also fried bun, Nanxiang steamed bun, three-delicacy wonton, oil tofu noodle soup, mixed noodles with onion oil, shrimp, cherry cake, the crab shell yellow, sticky rice dumpling with red bean powder, rib-shaped rice cakes, and many more.
Baozi Stuffed with Juicy Pork
It is steamed with small bamboo steamers. These baozi are delicate in appearance and taste, the wrappers are thin and the filling deliciously juicy. The way of eating the baozi is unique: take a small bite in the skin, suck the juice and finish the rest. There is often ten baozi put in the one steamer. which is lined with pine needles for their fresh aroma and protection of the baozi’s thin skin.
Baiye ( Tofu Skin Rolls)
Turn the dried bean milk cream sheet ( called Qianzhang in Shanghai dialect, literally mean a thousand sheets ) into little knots. Boil them and put them in bone soup, sprinkle with chopped spring onion and salt. It tastes light and refreshing. There are many layers of the bean milk cream, and that is why it got the name Baiye ( a hundred sheets ).
Fry the little-fermented dough balls until they are golden brown, and put the fried balls in hot bone soups and add in the seasoning. The fried balls are fragrant and pleasing, but not greasy.
Hubei and Hunan Flavor
Hubei and Hunan snacks best represent the flavor of central-south China. Local people love hot spicy food. Most street food is hot, sometimes also tastes salty and sweet, which is very appealing.
Hubei snacks take from extensive ingredients and apply many cooking techniques. They feature in rice, bean, wheat and lotus root products, bearing the imprint of “the land of rice and fish”. Here is the list of notable snacks : Wuhan hot dry noodles , Lao Tongcheng three-delicacy doupi, Zigui zongzi , Huangzhou sweet rice wine , Huangmei lotus seed soup , Huanggang green bean rice cake , Yunmeng fish noodles , Enshi potato, Badong five-spice bean curd , Xiaogan rice wine , Jiangling eight-treasure rice and Four Season soup baozi.
Doupi is famous street food in Wuhan, usually, serve at breakfast. It is made of glutinous rice wrapped with bean milk cream sheet. The most recognized brand is Lao Tongcheng three-fresh doupi. The rice is mixed with fresh pork, fresh eggs, and fresh shrimps. It looks golden and tastes delicious.
Wuhan Re Gan Mian ( Hot Dry Noodles)
Wuhan re gan mian ( hot dry noodles ) is one of the five great noodles in China , the rest four being Shanxi daoxian mian ( sliced noodles), yifu mian of Guangdong and Guangxi Provinces, Sichuan dan-dan mian ( peddler’s hot and spicy noodles ) and zhajiang mian ( noodles with fried bean paste ) of Northern China . The hot dry noodles’ recipe is as follows: The noodles are boiled first and rinsed in cold water and drained, then mixed with a few drops of oil. Before it is served, sprinkle the noodles with sauce made of sesame paste, sesame oil, vinegar, pepper oil and add shrimps and pickles. The noodles being slippery and elastic and the sauce strong and fragrant, it allures the appetite.
Xiaogan Rice Wine
Xiaogan rice wine has a history of over a thousand years. It is particular about the ingredients and brewed in a unique way. It is made with quality glutinous rice with local yeast passed down from ancestors. The wine is as white as jade with a delightful aroma. It is sweet and refreshing and the taste lingers.
The flavor of Hunan snacks can be best felt from those of Changsha , namely , fried stinky tofu , zongzi ( sticky rice wrapped in reed leaves ) , milk candy with sesame , Furong hot pot , Xiangbin spring rolls , sister’s dumpling , pig blood , fried rice noodles , fried eight-treasure rice with chicken oil , turnip strips cake , fried sweet potato cake , fried sticky rice dumpling . flavored small lobsters, red-cooked pig’s feet, and spicy hot pot, etc.
Changsha people call stinky tofu as Chou Ganzi. It differs from the stinky tofu of other places in the dark color and strong odour, smelling bad but tasting delicious, crisp outside but tender inside with the hot-spicy flavor. Once take the first bite, you would not stop.
Tangyou Baba ( Fried Sweet Sticky Rice Dumpling )
It is a traditional fried dessert in Changsha. The ingredients are common: sticky rice and brown sugar, but expertise in the amount of sugar, the heat and frying time are required to make it right. The freshly made Tangyou Baba looks golden brown, tastes crisp outside but tender and elastic inside. It is sweet and fragrant, no wonder welcomed by the locals.
Flavored Small Lobsters
A featured delicacy in Hunan. Made by little lobsters, it tastes hot-spicy and numbing, fresh and fragrant, making it the best beer companion at summer night. When the summer night comes, you will find diners of these lobsters everywhere. They all look the same: mouth red, forehead sweating, sometimes even with tears, but still can not move away from the dish.
Sichuan and Yunnan snacks are the main varieties of southwestern style. Sichuan snacks are rich in the category and well-known for the hot-spiciness. Yunnan snacks feature in the flavors of the many ethnic minorities living there.
Sichuan snacks are popular for the numbing and hot spicy flavor. Well-known snacks include Liao’s hammered chicken , pepper wonton , Hakka cold noodles , Bobo pot chicken , couple’s sliced beef in chili sauce , Lai’s glutinous rice balls , wonton soup , Chung’s dumpling , spicy hot pot with stranded meat and vegetables , fatty intestine rice noodles , peddler’s hot and spicy noodles , Yibin dry noodles , Mianyang rice noodles , Guangyuan steamed noodles , Luojiang Douji ( bean milk cream sheets ) , Three Bangs ( sticky rice dumpling ) , shadow beef , clear noodles in chili sauce , creamy soup noodles , Zitong crunch cake , fishskin peanut , white tangerine candy , eel egg roll , fried egg with chopped peach , candied cherry , fine nest candy , crunchy candy , candied kumquat , Pingdu beef floss , honeyed orange skin , smoked pork and more.
Bobo Pot Chicken
Bobo pot Chicken has a long history. It has been popular since the Qing Dynasty ( 1644-1911). The chicken is made in strands with sticks and put in a clay pot of seasonings. The chicken skin is crisp and the meat tender. It is both numbing and hot spicy and sweet and refreshing. Bobo Chicken is the perfect match of creamy soup noodles.
Lung Chao Shou ( Wonton Soup )
Chao shou is the wonton by northern Chinese. Sichuan people call it chao shou for the way how it is made. Lung Chao Shou is a delicacy for three reasons: the skin is thin as paper and smooth as silk; the filling tastes tender and mellow; and the broth. simmered with chicken, duck, and pork, looks creamy white.
Dandan Mian ( Noodles in Chili Sauce)
Dandan mian is a common street food with special flavor in Sichuan. Originally, peddlers shouldered the food and hawked along the street, so that is how it got the name. It is made by fine noodles and pork mince. The noodles are thin, the sauce fragrant, salty and a little spicy.
Yunnan snacks feature in rice, wheat, and other grains. Therefore , there are many varieties of rice products , such as braised rice with beans , salty eight-treasure rice , fragrant baked rice in bamboo tube, fresh maize rice , crossing-bridge rice noodles , small pot rice noodles , cold rice noodles with fried paste , chicken bean jelly , Kaiyuan spring rolls and rice noodles with bean pudding . Other ethnic delicacies include stewed bacon rice column, Yao Minority big zongzi ( sticky rice wrapped in reed leaves), rice jelly with bean paste, buckwheat jelly with bean paste, bean powder dumpling, fried crisp and many more.
Crossing-bridge Rice Noodles
Crossing-bridge rice noodle is an exclusive Yunnan snack for its delicious broth and particular way to serve. It consists of broth, meat slices, rice noodles, and supplements. On the surface of the broth there floats a layer of extremely hot oil. First put pigeon eggs in the broth, then add in paper-thin fish slices, pork slices, and chicken slices and stir the broth. They cook instantly; then sprinkle other ingredients and seasonings.
Larou Kaofang ( Stewed Bacon Rice Column )
The famous local delicacy of Zhuang Minority people in Maguan, Yunnan Province. Take three layers of broad leaves as a wrapper and toss bacon in amomum tsako powder. Lay salty sticky rice on the wrapper and place the bacon in the center. Wrap the meat in round column shape and tie it up with straw. Boil the column in fresh water for three hours and stew with low heat for another two hours. The finished is freshly fragrant. soft and elastic.
Xiangzhu Kaofan ( Fragrant Baked Rice in Bamboo Tube )
A delicacy of Dai people in Xishuangbanna . Put sticky rice and peanuts in a bamboo tube and squeeze in the one-end opening with banana leaves. Immerse in water. Then bake the tube until it gets burned and push the banana leaves out. Hammer the bamboo tube evenly to take off the skin. Take out the rice column wrapped tightly by a bamboo membrane and cut into round slices. It is soft, elastic, and clean white with great bamboo fragrance.
Guangdong snacks are exquisite and good-looking with dazzling varieties. There are cakes, congee, desserts, and cold tea. Pastries include rice noodles, shrimp dumpling, baozi stuffed with barbeque pork, durian cake, golden yoke steamed bun, water chestnut jelly, golden cake, taro cake, lotus seed paste bun of crisp skin. rice noodles, lotus leave rice, sticky rice . and little chicken cake. Well-known congees include small boat congee, jidi zhou ( congee with porcine organs), fish fillet porridge, Congee with minced pork and preserved egg. As for desserts. there is double-skin milk, Jiang zhuang nai ( ginger milk pudding), Phoenix milk paste, Guiling jelly, milk egg custard, black sesame soup, and almond tea. There are many kinds of healthy and restorative tangshi ( sugar soup), including seaweed mung bean soup, red bean soup, lotus seed tremella soup, sweet sago cream, etc., and there are also liangcha (herbal tea) with therapeutic functions: Momordica grosvenori tea, honeysuckle tea and more.
Zhengchangfen ( Steamed Rice Sausages )
A rice product, it is also called bula zhengchangfen or lachang. Ladle ground rice paste on a multi-layer steamer or cotton fabrics to steam into thin sheets. Put meat, fish fillet or shrimp on the rice sheet and make it a long roll and steam until it is cooked. Cut the steamed long rolls short and serve in plates. There can be different flavors of beef, pork, fish fillet, egg, and others.
Small Boat Congee
It is made by mixing small shrimps, fish fillet, chopped spring onion, egg shred, jellyfish, peanuts, porcine skin, and chopped youtiao with rice congee, and then boiled together. The ingredients may seem a lot, but their flavors mix well and the congee tastes light and refreshing. It got the name because it originally was sold on small boats on the river across Lizhiwan.
Double Skin Milk Pudding
The dessert was invented in the late Qing Dynasty. It was accidentally invented by a farmer in Shunde, Guangdong Province. Shunde double skin milk pudding is meticulously made. Being white and fragrant, fine and smooth, it goes well with red bean, lotus seeds, mango, or black sesame paste. The sweetness is unforgettable.
Fujian style snacks consist of many local varieties, including the one of Fuzhou, Xiamen, Quanzhou, Putian, Zhangzhou,
Longyan, Nanping, Sanming, Ningde, and Shaxian. In Fuzhou there is the Qingming cake, mung been cake, star fish ball and yanpi; in Xiamen there is Qinglan stuffed pie, fishskin peanuts, canned mushroom, and minced meat, peanut crunch ; in Quanzhou there is pork zongzi , shenhu fish ball and Yuanxiao ball , In Shishi there is sweet sticky rice cake ; in Anhai there is kumquat cake and Halal beef fried dumpling ; in Zhangzhou there is noodle eaten with hands , and stuffed soybean milk rolls ; in Sanming there is smoked duck, mushroom and egg sausage in soup, stuffed warabi and taro bun, and salty sesame pancake ; in Longyan there is white hetian chicken, salty and crisp peanuts, and instant-boiled beef ; in Putian there is Matsu cake and Xinghua rice noodles . etc . These snacks come in sweet and salty flavors , both vegetarians and non-vegetarians can find their favorite tastes.
Star Fish Balls
These fish balls with filling dated back to early Qing Dynasty ( 1644-1911 ). First chop the fish meat into mince and mix with starch and stir evenly . Fill the fish balls with pork and boil them in hot broth . The cooked fish balls float and swing in the soup , resembling the stars in the sky , hence the name of the food . It is a famous Fuzhou delicacy.
Ding Bian Hu
It is also called Guo Bian Hu. Grind rice with water into paste and spread it along the brink of a wok , in which there is boiling shrimp broth . When the rice paste is half done, move it in the shrimp broth and cook together. It goes well with meat cakes and is often served at breakfast. A delicacy of Fuzhou, it has passed on as far as Taiwan.
Rouyan is the Fujian dialect for wonton. Bian rouyan ( literally flat wonton ) is also called Taiping Yan ( Peaceful Wonton), a delicacy at times of celebration in Fuzhou’s folk custom. At special occasions like festivals, holidays or weddings, family reunion o farewell, it is a must in the dinner, for its auspicious name and the message it conveys. Bian rouyan is unique in its skin. The skin is made with lean pork and starch. It is thin as a paper sheet. white and smooth, giving out meat aroma. It tastes like the favor of the bird’s nest and is very refreshing.