Traditional snacks in Beijing

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  • Baodu(爆肚)

Locally called "Bao Dur", Quick-fried Tripe is one of the best examples of old Beijing local snack. It is also a kind of Muslim food. Tripe is from the stomachs of a bull or a lamb.

It should be washed very clean, and then cut into stripes and put them into a pot of boiling water to cook thoroughly. By adding cooking oil, sesame sauce, Chinese vinegar, chili oil, bean paste and small pieces of vegetables, the dish is ready to serve. The Quick-fried Tripe is saucy and crispy.

Quick-fried Tripe stores were almost run by local Muslims. Loved by many celebrities in the past, the snack was said to have the function to cure stomach diseases. Beijing people usually like to eat the dishes with Chinese white liquor.


  • Mung Bean Milk (Dou Zhi)(豆汁)

Mung Bean Milk, which first appeared about one thousand years ago, is the number one snack when people are talking about Beijing snacks. It is actually remnant of mung bean when it is used to make starch. It looks grey-green and tastes sour and a little sweet. When served, it must go with pickles, which are thinly cut and sprayed with cayenne pepper oil. It will taste better, especially for those who try it for the first time. Most people will find it hard to swallow because of its flavor, but if you could manage to try for the second time, maybe you will like it. Some people have got into the habit of drinking it and they even would search everywhere and wait a long time in lines for it.

Mung Bean Milk is rich in protein, vitamin C and dietary fiber and has some effects like appetizing, relieving summer heat, detoxifying and some other effects that account for its popularity among many people.


  • Jiao Quan(焦圈)

Jiao quan (Chinese: 焦圈; pinyin: jiāoquān; or xiaoyougui; also called fried ring) is a dish from Beijing cuisine. It has a golden color, shaped like a bracelet. It feels crispy and crunchy when eaten. The unique taste of it is very popular in Beijing cuisine.[1] People usually eat jiaoquan with shaobing and douzhi.

Jiao quan is a special Beijing local food. The shape of it is like a doughnut, but it has a crispier texture.


  • Chatang(茶汤)

Chatang or seasoned flour mush is a traditional gruel common to both Beijing cuisine and Tianjin cuisine, and often sold as a snack on the street. It is made from sorghum flour and/or broomcorn millet and/or proso millet flour and glutinous millet flour. The literal translation of the Chinese name is misleading, because there is neither any tea nor any soup in this dish.

The dish is prepared in two steps. First, flours of sorghum and/or millet are cooked in advance, often stir fried, and after the completion, the flour is ready to be served. When a customer orders the dish, hot water is poured into the bowl containing the flour(s) to create a paste-like mush, and it is served with white and/or brown sugar, and Sweet Osmanthus sauce. Interestingly, the Sweet Osmanthus plant is not native to northern China.

Traditionally, the skill of the server judged on several factors and one of them is the requirement is regarding the resulting mush: the most skillful server would be able to create the mush that is so thick that when a chopstick is inserted into the mush, it remains vertical, while at the same time the mush remains fluid. Other criteria for the servers' skills included the ability not splash any hot water outside the bowl and spill out any flours, because traditionally all ingredients are placed in a bowl, into which is poured boiling water from a special copper kettle with a long, dragon-shaped spout. And special skills were needed to handle this equipment. The ingredients are then stirred together and the chatang is eaten with a spoon.


  • Beijing Preserved Fruit(果脯)

The recipe of Beijing preserved fruit originated from the imperial kitchen. Fruits in all the seasons were preserved in honey in categories so that the emperor could enjoy fresh fruits all year around. Balanced sweetness and sour, refreshing smooth and fruity taste make Beijing preserved fruit popular. Preserved apricot, preserved pear, and preserved begonia are the most popular ones.


  • Stuffed Pork Intestine with Buckwheat and Starch(老北京炸灌肠)

This Beijing famous food has been popular since the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD). The intestine is stuffed with batter made of red yeast rice water, buckwheat or starch and various seasonings and steamed, then the steamed stuffed intestines are cut into thin pieces and fried with lard or cooking oil. It is often eat with garlic juice. It tastes crispy outside and tender inside and has the natural flavor of garlic.


  • Lvdagun (Glutinous Rice Rolls with Sweet Bean Flour)(驴打滚)

As a traditional Beijing snack and one of the favorites of Empress Dowager Cixi, Lvdagun dates back to the reign of Empress Dowager Cixi, the 14th year of Guangxu Reign. Lvdagun definitely ranks among the best Beijing snacks. Unfortunately, the dainty is not suitable for long journey.


  • Fuling Pancake Sandwich(茯苓夹饼)

Fuling Pancake Sandwich, a Beijing specialty, had been imperial food during the end of the Qing Dynasty. Dessert thought it is, Fuling Pancake Sandwich has therapeutic effect on spleen and stomach. It is said that Fuling Pancake Sandwich was specially made for Empress Dowager Cixi. Later it was introduced to folk society and became an acclaimed snack of Beijing flavor. The delicious Fuling Pancake Sandwich features palatable and delectable flavor, soft and refreshing taste which is an affordable regular health food.


  • Tanghulu (Candied Haw)(糖葫芦)

Tanghulu is a traditional Chinese snack of candied fruit. It originated from northern China, but it is now commonly available in most Chinese cities. It generally consists of hawthorn fruit and has a hardened sugar coating that comes from dipping the skewer in sugar syrup. Tasted sour, sweet and cold, it can be found everywhere.


  • Tofu Nao (Tofu Pudding)(豆腐脑)

Tofu nao is made with very soft tofu and has a distinctive flavor when eating with baked sesame seed cakes. The Tofu pudding is often severed with soy sauce, chili oil and mashed garlic.


  • Wandouhuang (Pea Flour Cake)(豌豆黄)

Prepared with white peas, pea flour cake is a typical snack in spring. Pea flour cakes, kidney bean cakes and small corn buns were well-known imperial snacks in ancient China.

It is a snack people usually eat in spring. White-pea flour is first mixed with water, cooked over gentle heat and then fried with sugar. After it solidifies, it is cut into rhombohedra -shaped pieces. It has both nice look and nice taste. The best point of it is its fine and smooth texture that melt at the same time when you put it in your mouth.


  • Youtiao (Sweetened Fried Bread Twists)(油条)

Youtiao, you char kway, or yau ja gwai , sometimes known in English as Chinese cruller or fried bread stick, is a long, golden-brown, deep fried strip of dough in Chinese cuisine and other East and Southeast Asian cuisines and is usually eaten for breakfast. Conventionally, youtiao are lightly salted and made so they can be torn lengthwise in two. Youtiao are normally eaten as an accompaniment for rice congee or soy milk.

The Cantonese name yàuhjagwái literally means "oil-fried ghost" and, according to folklore, is an act of protest against Song Dynasty official Qin Hui, who is said to have orchestrated the plot to frame the general Yue Fei, an icon of patriotism in Chinese culture. It is said that the food, originally taking the form of two deep-fried human-shaped dough but later evolved two doughs joining in the middle, represents Qin Hui and his wife, both having a hand in collaborating with the enemy to bring about the great general's demise.

Thus the youtiao is deep fried and eaten as if done to the traitorous couple. In keeping with the legend, youtiao are often made as two foot-long rolls of dough joined along the middle, with one roll representing the husband and the other the wife.

People in Beijing love to eat this treat in the morning. It is often served with warm doujiang (soy milk). Though it is harder to find youtiao and doujiang these days there are still many restaurants and small shops that offer it in the early morning.


  • Chao Gan (Stir-fried Pork Liver)(炒肝儿)

Chao Gan (Stir-fried Pork Liver) is a featured local snack in Beijing. Historically, Chao Gan is evolved from Ao Gan (stewed pork liver) and Ao Fei (stir-fried pork lung), folk foods in the Song Dynasty. It is also believed that it was originally a gourmet invented by the owner of Huixian Restaurant in the reign of Tongzi in Qing Dynasty, who innovatively prepared it by taking away pork heart and lung. The reason was that it was taboo to stew and serve animal heart and lung together, figuratively cursing its customers simple-minded. Also, Chao Gan in Huixian Restaurant is featured not mixing any kind of seasoning in wok while stir-frying to keep pure taste of pork liver.

It's better to have Chao Gan without chopstick or sponge. Hold the bowl with thumbs and touch the edge with lips and teeth in a round track while fingers slightly turn around the bowl. Sip Chao Gan and gum them. You may feel it hot in the month and make sound in sipping Chao Gan but it is traditionally the most appropriate way to enjoy this local snack.


  • Mati Shaobing (Horseshoe-shaped Baked Roll)(马蹄烧饼)

An old saying goes: “East or west, come to eat horseshoe baked roll at an early date”. A rectangular brick hanging furnace is the tool for making horseshoe baked roll. Coal fire below the tool helps heat the food. A hole can be seen from above the furnace, where you can see hoof-shaped patterns. When baking the roll, the baker needs to spray some sesame onto round rolls which are with half leaven dough and stuck on the chopping board. After that, the baker should apply oil and sugar water, and stick the rolls onto the top of the furnace. That’s when the roll starts taking shape. After being baked ripe, the rolls are empty inside while charred outside. You can put a fried break stick into a split roll and the combination tastes delicious, sweet and crisp.


  • Tang Erduo (Fried sugar cake)(糖耳朵)

Also known as honeyed doughnut, the ear-shaped snack is a common Beijing snack. Immediately after taking the shape of an ear, Tang Erduo needs to be soaked in tepid maltose water before it gets cold. It is a snack that is often served in spring, autumn and winter. Honey is likely to fall because of it is done in summer. Brownish yellow honeyed doughnut tastes smooth, soft, sweet and delightful.


  • Zhimajiang Shaobing (Baked Roll with Sesame Paste)(芝麻酱烧饼)

Shaobing (baked roll) is a popular snack in Beijing. Restaurants run by the Hui people used to provide the snack with its outer layer at times covered with sesame, while the middle of the snack is invariably pasted with sesame paste regardless of its outer layer. A typical Hui snack usually includes a full range of fermented drink made from ground beans with pickles, fried ring, tofu jelly with baked roll with sesame paste, hard tofu with baked wheaten cake, millet congee with pie and crisp fritter with tongue cake. Baked roll with sesame paste is golden yellow, charred outside while tender inside. It produces a strong aroma. A cut of the snack reveals evenly layers inside. The most typical one is usually composed of 15 or 16 layers.


  • Tanghuoshao (Sweetened Baked Wheaten Cake)(糖火烧)

Sweetened Baked Wheaten Cake is a common breakfast for Beijingers that enjoys a history of more than 300 years. Dashunzhai, a maker of the snack, is the most famous of all. The cake is fragrant, sweet and rich in taste. It is soft, tender but not sticky, so it’s more suitable for the elderly. Ganglushaobing (round rolls baked in a jar as furnace) was a kind of snack in Hebei province, and later it was spread to Beijing and became a Beijing snack. People use a jar as furnace baking the snack. The baker only needs to stick rolls onto the wall of the jar, hence its name.


  • Aiwowo (Glutinous rice ball)(艾窝窝)

"White flour into a steamer, and it is with assorted fillings. It looks like a sweet dumpling without being cooked. It is called Aiwowo". Aiwowo is a traditional Beijing snack. Its outing is made of steamed sticky rice and filling of fried peach kernel, watermelon seeds, sesame seeds and white sugar. The snack is edible after it is done. During the Spring Festival, the snack will hit the shelf of many snack stores in Beijing. And it won’t be removed from the shelf until the end of summer. It is better served in spring and autumn, but nowadays it can be bought at any season.


  • Sanzi Twist(馓子)

Sanzi Twist is a fine snack of Beijing Muslim snack that is welcomed by the general public. Also known as Sanzi or ring cake, it is a kind of fried dough twist. It is said that ring cake came into being in the Warring States Period. After the Qin and Han Dynasties, Sanzi twist became a must for Hanshi Festival. Its making process is very complex. First, you need to put vitriol, alkali, brown sugar and sugar osmanthus into warm water. Second, put flour into the solution and stir it. Then you roll it into a long strip and let it stay there for a while before cutting it into pieces with each weighing 40 grams.


  • Tangjuanguo (Sweet Rolled Cake)(糖卷果)

Tangjuanguo is a renowned snack of Beijing delicacies as it is well received by Chinese and foreign food lovers, particularly women. Its main ingredients include Chinese yam, Chinese dates, supplemented by green plum, peach kernel and melon seeds.

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