Sunday, January 11, 2015

Traditional Chinese Snacks

blogger widgets
Today in the office my coworkers invited me to try some local Chinese snacks. I have seen most of them in the Asian supermarkets in the states but have never picked any up for myself before. Excited to see what they taste like!

Top Row L to R: FulingJianBing, Glutinous rice cakes, Ultra spicy Green peas
Bottom Row L to R: Brown Sugar Preserved Plums, Spicy Peanuts, Sachima
The FuLingJiaBing aka FuLingBing aka Tuckahoe Pie is like a thin white pancake with filling. The main ingredient which makes it unique is the "fuling" (Poria) which is a mushroom from Yunnan used in Chinese medicine. The medicinal use of the fuling is to reduce dampness from the spleen. Flour, sugar and fuling are mixed together to create the thin white outer layer, it tastes like thick rice paper. Sandwiched in between are a variety of fillings like nuts or honey. The one I tried kind of reminds me of a thin honey jelly nougat with a nutty aftertaste, not as chewy though. The earliest known recipe comes from the Qing Dynasty where the Tuckahoe Pie was served to high ranking officials and the royal family as a light snack. Final Verdict: Don't think I'll be trying it again,  not really a texture or taste that suits me.  

Rice cakes are made from glutinous rice. You can find glutinous rice powder in supermarkets which can be mixed with hot water and turned into rice cakes or it's more common just to buy premade rice cakes. Different Asian countries make different dishes and snacks but all are called rice cakes. Even within China there are different rice cake dishes.

Shanghai'sSavory Rice Cake

 Sweet Pan Fried Rice Cake from Southern China's Guangdong 
Korea's Ddeokbokki Dish (one of my favorite dishes)
Japan's Infamous Mochi
The rice cake snack I tried is a traditional Islamic snack in Beijing called  驴打滚 literal translation is Rolling Donkey. Yes, there's a reason why it's called that and it's from how it's made.  It is made from steamed glutinous millet aka sticky rice and filled with red bean.It is then rolled in soya bean-flour, which is where the snack gets the name. 
Rolling Donkey

The spicy peanut and green pea have a special name for it's spice called MaLa which means numbingly spicy and is a characteristic of Sichuan food (a province in Western China known for it's spicy food). The Sichuan chilies and peppercorn makes your mouth  feel both on fire and numb at the same time. Sounds excruciating but Sichuan hotpot is loved in China, you'll see Sichuan hotpot places practically on every street. It's too much for me to handle but if you love spicy food you will no doubt enjoy Sichuan peppers as well!

Two more snacks to go! Are you hungry yet?

Sachima (the pastry found on the lower right of the first picture) is snack I grew up with. Imagine the American Rice Krispy Treat, very similar airy texture and flavor but with less butter smell. According to research done by Carolyn Phillips in her post "A Chinese New Year Treat Wrapped in Mystery" she found that Sachima originated from Northeast China in what was once known as Manchuria. A little disturbing but Sachima's literal translation from the Manchurian word is "dog nipples dipped in syrup". Good news is that Manchurian's definition of the word "dog nipples" refers to goji berries (a fruit that is similar to Chinese wolfberries). The traditional method of making Sachima is to combine Beijing style egg puffs tossing them in syrup and adding goji berries, nuts, raisins and sesame seed to add flavor and color.

The last snack I tried today is the Brown Sugar Dried Plum candy (黑糖话梅. It's creamy, sweet and sour at the same time. This plum comes from the plum blossom tree and is pickled in vinegar and salt. In Japan, the plums are used in their infamous plum wine.  The Chinese love eating dried plum, not only for the taste but also for medicinal purposes. It can help with bad breath, digestion and the intense sour taste gives a boost of mind. I do advice not to eat too many dried plums in one sitting as it will give you a stomachache but these candies are so hard to resist!

No comments:

Post a Comment