Northern Chinese cuisine, with its use of cilantro, peppercorns, and uniquely hot chilies, reacquainted me with many spices I haven’t tasted frequently since moving in Korea. As some of you know, I was off the blogosphere for 5 days, experiencing the Great Wall and Great Firewall of China alike. Keep your eyes open for more posts on my thoughts and experiences while there, but in the meantime, I bring you:
Tastes of Beijing!
There was a food stand right next to Qianmen station offering a variety of breads and pastries, candied strawberries and Chinese hawthorns (tanghulu), and nai lao– deliciously creamy, lightly sweetened yogurt drinks.
Just stick a straw through the top and enjoy! They were seriously tasty.
No exploration of Beijing’s cuisine would be complete without sampling its most iconic dish: Peking duck! I had high hopes, and the meal did not disappoint. Crispy duck skin, slices of green onion and cucumber, a sweet and salty bean-based sauce, and paper-thin pancakes to wrap it in!
I bought this from a street vendor across from the Lama Temple, on a lane selling a variety of tempting options I’d not seen before (chestnut cake, anyone?) This snack contained celery and marinated pork, served in an English muffin-esque bun. A bit too salty for my taste, but enjoyable nonetheless.
A meal at a hole-in-the-wall place down a hutong near our hostel. Black bean chicken with celery, onions and chili peppers. Sichuan-style dry-fried green beans mixed with dried chilies and delightful, fiery peppercorns.
This meal was served after a group tour of the Great Wall. It was a satisfying and varied mix of sauteed veggies and meat, and the excellent conversation and company made the meal all the more enjoyable.
I’m sad to say this pineapple bun lacked the dense, sweet pineapple filling I’d been hoping for, but the glaze on top did add a nice mild hint of the fruit anyway.
While exploring the Hutongs of the Hou Hai area, our new friend Jaye picked up a bag of longyan, or dragon’s eye fruit. They’re similar to a lychee, with a juicy, translucent flesh surrounding a black pit (hence the name ‘dragon’s eye’)! This jianbing is perhaps one of my favourite new street snacks. The vendor spread crepe dough thinly on the grill, and cracked an egg on top. She added hoisin sauce and two types of chili sauce, green onions, cilantro, and a rectangular, crunchy cracker of sorts. A few expert folds later and this treat was in my hands- start to finish in barely a minute. I thoroughly enjoyed the blend of chili, cilantro, eggy goodness, crunchy insides and soft pancake exterior. It kept me full for several hours as well- good value for 10 yuan! Finally, if you know me well by now, you’ll know that no culinary exploration is complete for me without a stop for some quality java! 🙂
Which of these offerings most took your fancy? Have you been to China yourself? What did you think of the meals you sampled?