Tag Archives: dessert

Jī Dàn Zǎi – Egg Waffle – 鸡蛋仔

Originating in Hong Kong, Jī dàn zǎi (Chinese: 鸡蛋仔) is a honeycomb-shaped waffle made notably out of egg. It is cooked with a griddle already moulded into its unique shape and are most often served hot in its original flavour. It is one of the more popular snacks sold by street vendors in Hong Kong and loved particularly by students. Jī dàn zǎi has gradually made its way from Hong Kong to mainland China, often appealing the mainlander crowd with traditional Hong Kong signs all over its stands.

The general ingredients for the egg waffle mix consists mainly of egg, sugar, flour, cream, and evaporated milk. Depending on the vendor, other sweet additional ingredients could be added such as custard powder and tapioca. Other variations and flavors include chocolate, seaweed and pork floss, and sesame and peanut flavored.

Cooking Method:
Pour the egg waffle mix into a two-sided honeycomb-shaped griddle. Close the griddle to create the honeycomb shape. In order to bake the waffle, two methods are typically used. The first involves the traditional way of baking the egg waffle mix over a charcoal fire. The second and most commonly used method (due to economic and safety reasons) is to bake the mix over an electric stove top. The ideal jī dàn zǎi has a crisp, fully baked, golden exterior while the inside of every circle is semi-cooked to a soft and melted filling.

The origins of the egg waffle can only be traced back to its roots in 1950’s Hong Kong. One story surrounding the snack claims that the honeycomb shape is actually the shape of several eggs in order to make up for a lack of them. At the time of post-war Hong Kong, eggs were a luxury. Others say that the egg waffle mix was created by accident when traders bought cheap broken eggs and made it into a batter.

Possible Variations:
Gai daan tsai

Photo Credit to: https://zh.wikipedia.org/zh/File:HK_Lower_Wong_Tai_Sin_Eatate_Tung_Tau_Tsuen_Road_n_Ching_Tak_Street_%E9%9B%9E%E8%9B%8B%E4%BB%94.JPG

bīngtáng húlú – Candied Haw in a Stick – 冰糖葫芦

Tanghulu is one of the most traditional Chinese snacks in history. The taste is sour hawthorn and sweet, crispy sugar cover. It is made by several candied Chinese hawthorns on a bamboo skewer. Hulu means the bottle gourd in Chinese but here it refers to all small, round fruits used to make this kind of snack. It is commonly sold in winter, which is the reason why Iced Tanghulu is the other name, since the sugar cover is cold in winter. If Tanghulu is made in summer, the sugar cover will be sticky and impair the taste of it.

Tangulu is considered as a northern Chinese cuisine originally, but later it was sold all over China. In the past, the vendors put the Iced Tanghulu in a cart or carrying pole, and they would peddle along the street. The child gathered around the vendors to purchase Tanghulu. Contemporarily, some manufacturers also have their own shop to sell the Tanghulu instead of peddling.

Sugar syrup
Chinese hawthorn
Sesame sprinkles
Cherry tomatoes
Mandarin orange

Cooking method:
The Chinese hawthorns are put together onto a bamboo skewer. Then the skewer is immersed into the sugar syrup so that the whole skewer and hawthorns can be covered with the syrup. The cover of sugar will get hard after the skewer is took out from the syrup. Alternatively, the hawthorns can be replaced by other fruits.

The contemporary view the origin of Tanghulu is Liao Dynasty, but there are also some folk stories depicting the history.
It is said that Consort Huang (the most favorite concubines of the emperor) got heavily sick and the royal doctors could not treat her. The Emperor Guang of Song dynasty inquired in the whole country and one doctor from the outside of palace succeeded in curing the Consort. He asked the consort to eat hawthorns with candies. Later, the method became prevailing in folk and was called as Tanghulu.


Bing Tanghulu in literature:
“Either in daytime or night, people can always hear the vendor’s peddling about the persimmons. And the vendors also peddle the Bing Tanghulu, which is adored by children. Several candied fruitlet are put together on the skewer.” – Lin Yutang (Translated by Zhenyu Zhu)

Photo Credit to: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TangHuLu.JPG

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.

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.

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.

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


Chǎo Lìzi – Sugar chestnuts – 炒栗子

Chǎo lìzi (Chinese: 炒栗子) can be found churning in large cauldrons on the street emitting sweet, nutty flavors into the air. Chestnuts are roasted and seasoned with coarse sand, syrup and osmanthus essence. Once they’ve been evenly roasted, the sugary chestnuts appear glossy. The shells should fall away easily–an indication of the quality of the chestnuts–revealing the “meat” which should be golden, soft and tasty. They are best eaten immediately after they have been taken from the wok. Once cooled, they are no longer as sweet or fragrant.

Sugar-roasted chestnuts from the Xin Chang Fa Food Store chain are regarded as the best in Shanghai. This street food treat is popularly eaten among locals during the colder months of the year, usually selling for 16 yuan to 32 yuan per kilo.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, chestnuts are regarded as “fruit for the kitney and patients with renal diseases.” It is a warming food that is said to nourish the qi of the gastrointestinal system, spleen and kidneys. Chestnuts are also used to improve circulation, and are eaten daily by elderly Chinese people to prevent and treat high blood pressure, heart disease, hardening of the arteries and osteoporosis. They are especially eaten during the autumn and winter because their high carbohydrate content provides a warming quality that is good for suppressing and combating colds.

Chestnuts are soaked in rock sugar, molasses, and water. They are then fried in oil until golden.

Cooking Method:
Chestnuts are first boiled until tender. Sugar and molasses are boiled before the chestnuts are added and cooked at a simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed. The chestnuts are drained and then added to an oiled cauldron. They are churned by a rotating shovel inside the heated cauldron filled with coarse sand. The purpose of the sand is to heat them evenly and retain their inherent sweetness.

Chestnuts have been apart of Chinese cuisine since neolithic times. Remains of a chestnut species named Castanea vulgaris, have been found earlier than the Han Dynasty. Chestnuts were one of the many food items found in tombs in Hubei. Chestnut trees were indigenous in the Hubei Province as well as other northern, western, and some southern areas too. Traces of its existence in such an exceptionally early part of China’s food culture proves that it is one of the earliest nuts used in antiquity. They were given to emperors as tribute, using them as gifts for his noble lords. Their trees were considered a good omen, so they were often planted near court mansions or alters at temples dedicated to earthly spirits. In ancient times, chestnuts were stored sun-dried and sand-covered under a pottery dome.

Chestnuts have also been prevalent in ancient texts such as early writings from the Zhou Dynasty through the Han Dynasty. They have been recorded in the Shih Ching “Book of Odes” and in the Li Chi “Book of Rites.”

Related Cuisine:
Hunan, Zhejiang cuisine

Dòu Huā – Tofu Soup – 豆花

Dòu Huā (Chinese: 豆花) is a street food commonly eaten as breakfast or a late night treat alongside a crispy youtiao. In Shanghai, it is usually served with savory flavors and garnishes such as soy sauce, salt, cilantro, chili oil, pickled mustard tuber, and sliced pieces of youtiao.

The tofu curd is made from dried soybeans, water, gypsum powder and cornflour. The dessert version adds a dark syrup infused with ginger. The salty version adds a dash of soy sauce, chili oil, and salt and garnishes with cilantro and minced pieces of pickled mustard tuber.

Cooking Method:
The soy milk is first made by soaking pulverized soybeans with water and straining it, repeating this process multiple times. Once the soy milk is made, it is left to simmer as a mixture of gypsum powder, corn flour and water are slowly added in. After the curd has set, it can be spooned into a bowl and topped with whatever sweet or salty dressings desired.

According to legends, tofu originated in China over 2,000 years ago. It is believed that its production began during the Han Dynasty when a cook decided to experiment by flavoring a batch of cooked soybeans with the compound nagari. Instead of getting flavored soybeans, he ended up with bean curd.

Possible Variations:
dòufurǔ – fermented tofu
chòudòufu – stinky tofu
dòupào – fried tofu
dòngdòufu – thousand layer tofu

Related Cuisine:
Sichuan, Hubei cuisine