Tag Archives: handheld

Dāo Xiāo Miàn – Sliced Noodle -­ 刀削面

A noodle delicacy coming directly from the noodle­-renowned Shanxi region. The Hand Shaved Noodles offer a rustic approach to the many variety of noodles found in China. The technique for preparation requires precision only achieved with endless practice. Unlike the other variety of noodles, these are meant to look simple, imperfect, and simply mouth-watering. Prices range depending on the different ingredients that can be added, but you can expect to pay around 30rmb per dish. It is considered as one of China’s famous five noodles, the other four being Beijing’s Zhajiangmian, Wuhan’s dry noodles, Sichuan’s dan dan noodles and Shandong’s Yi mein.

Cooking Method:
Preparing the Dough­
4 Cups of of bread flour (小麦面粉)
1­2 Cups of water
3 Cups of all purpose flour
1 Cup of rice flour
1 tbs of Salt
1tbs of baking powder
1­2 Cups of Water
Pour the dry ingredients into a bowl, open a small space in the center and slowly start pouring water. Mix the dough as you pour the water until you have a dry–but not sticky–mass. Add more water if necessary. When you have a rough dough, knead for 10 minutes. Let it rest for 10 minutes and knead again for another 10 minutes. Roll the dough into an oval and let it rest in the fridge.
OPTIONAL: Repeat the knead­rest process until you have a smooth surface. Wrapping the dough in plastic paper, while letting it rest, helps moisturize the dough.
Boiling the Noodles­
The noodle itself has a seemingly simple, traditional preparation. Start boiling water and add salt. Once the water is boiling, hold the dough on one hand and use a sharp knife to cut slices out of the mass (Preferably at a 30 degree angle). The motion should be seamless, with the knife always touching the dough. Cook for about 5 minutes and then take the noodles out.
Add the noodles to a beef bone broth (牛骨头). Add red braised beef (红烧牛肉)or red braised cow mix (红烧牛杂). Place a few coriander leaves on top and enjoy.

Dāoxiāomiàn originated in Taiyuan, Shanxi during the 12th century. Although there is no clear record of how this type of noodle preparation came to be, there is a common tale that dates its origins back to the Mongolian Tartar occupation of the central plains in the Yuan Dynasty. At that time various types of household metalware were confiscated in order to prevent people from revolting and thus only one knife was available for every ten houses. The tale tells the story of a housewife preparing noodles. She had left the dough resting waiting for her family’s turn to use the knife. However while the husband was walking back home he stumbled upon a sharp yet thin piece of metal on the ground. Once home, the husband impatiently handed his wife the piece of metal and suggests she uses it to cut the dough–it worked. This technique resulted in noodles thick around the center but soft around the edges, a characteristic trait of Dāoxiāomiàn. This method quickly spread among the people of Shanxi. Later in the Ming Dynasty this technique also spread outside of the household and into restaurants and city streets.

Variations occur both in terms of sauces/broths and toppings. The broth can be cow bone broth, replaced by gravy, the noodles can also be braised in a pork marinade sauce, they can be stir fried or even presented cold tossed. Toppings can include more pork, bay leaves, cow innards, bean sprouts, etc.
太原刀削面, Taiyuan Noodle
大同刀削面, Datong Noodle
刀削面卤汤, Gravy soup DaoXiaoMian

Juǎn Bǐng – Chinese-style Burrito – 卷饼

Originally from Taiwan, Juǎn bǐng (Chinese: 卷饼) is served as a portable street food snack or meal throughout the day. It comes with a thin pancake smeared with sweet and spicy sauce and wrapped around a variety of fillings that are garnished with lettuce, scallions and cucumbers before being rolled up and served. Their prices range from 9 to 15 yuan depending on the protein and add-ons chosen.

The pancake dough is usually pre-made or pre-bought and made of flour, water, salt and oil. Hoisin and chili sauce are spread inside the pancake. Fillings can be anything from roasted duck, braised pork, char siew, or a poached egg. Proteins are garnished with lettuce, julienned cucumbers and scallions, cilantro, and chili oil.

Cooking Method:
Juan bing uses a pre-made dough that is first flash-fried in oil to be heated. Hoisin and chili sauce are smeared evenly over the pancake’s surface before the protein and add-ons are placed in the center. Add-ons can be anything from roasted duck, braised pork, char siew, or a deep fried egg. The fillings are then garnished with lettuce, julienned cucumbers and scallions, cilantro, and chili oil. The pancake is rolled and served in wax paper.

Legends tell a story of a talented boy named Duan Lin Xue who lived during the Qing Dynasty in the period of Emperor Guangxu’s reign. At the age of 10, he could write poems; and he was able to pass the imperial examination at the country level by the time he was 13 years old even though most people couldn’t achieve that feat until they were 30. Because his family was very poor, his mother made him an over-sized gown so that he could wear it for many years. When he wore this gown to see his professor to give thanks, the professor stated the first line of a couplet, pointing out that his clothes didn’t fit and it was dragging on the floor. Duan Lin Xue cleverly responded with a second line of a couplet, complementing the red pearls on his hat. The professor was highly impressed, praising him for his intelligence and wit.

Because the boy’s family was so poor, he couldn’t afford to go to college, so his mother Hu Shi taught him on her own. He didn’t know much about the city because he didn’t venture out far from his home, but one day during the Lantern Festival he walked around the streets. He came upon a delicious smell wafting from a juan bing stand, and returned to his home to ask his mother what it was because he couldn’t afford to buy it. His mother became very sad that she could never buy her son good food, so she brought a few pancakes home. She added pickles and scallions to attempt to replicate the food he saw on the street. He thought it was very tasty, and asked his mother what it was, and she called it “Shou Pa Zi Bao La Za” or “handkerchief with a lot of random things inside.”

Possible Variations:
jianbing 煎饼– Chinese-style crepe
cong you bing 葱油饼– scallion pancakes
shou zhua bing 手煎饼– hand-grabbed pancake
jidan bing 鸡蛋饼– egg pancake

Related Cuisine:
Taiwanese Cuisine


Jiānbing – Chinese-style crepes – 煎饼

Jiānbing  (Chinese: 煎饼), a traditional Chinese snack commonly served in the early hours for breakfast, closely resembles a cross between a crepe and a dosa. The crepe is made with a beaten egg, garnished with fresh herbs, pickles, and dried chili, and smeared with various sweet and spicy sauces. Its fillings are customizable, but the most common and popular version is made with a flat, crispy fried cracker in the center. It is typically sold for 3.5 yuan from 6am to 10am.

Over time, the popular street food has become identified with the term “jianbing ren煎饼人” which is used to describe people who are not capable of focusing on one thing at a time and truly deepen their thoughts. Their distracted mannerisms reflect the cooking style of jianbing, where the batter spreads in many directions across a large, round pan to generate a thin layer of pancake. Jianbing ren also live their lives in a “thin layer” that covers a lot of space without ever becoming “thick.” This can be explained by the change in value for social relationships, where nowadays people must create many superficial friendships in order to find job opportunities unlike their predecessors who had the stability of a work-unit (danwei单位) during Communist and early reform years. Much of the criticism comes from the older generations who lament upon younger generation’s lazy and impulsive characteristics due to the internet-craze and creatively suppressed education system. Many Chinese regard the term as a local characteristic rather than an extension of a global modernity. It is linked to the privatization of market, growing divide between generations, and changing values.

The batter is traditionally made of mung bean flour, but different variations of its recipe might include other coarse grains like millet (xiaomi小米), purple rice (zimi紫米), green bean (lüdou绿豆), corn flour, soybean, or wheat flour. Oil is sometimes used to grease the pan before the batter is spread into a thin layer on the griddle. The pancake is sprinkled with minced scallions, cilantro, pickled mustard tuber. After an egg is broken up and spread on the entire surface, the crepe is smeared with fermented bean curd sauce (hongdou furu 红豆腐乳 or nanru南乳), a hoisin sauce (tianmianjiang甜面酱), and sprinkled with either chili flakes or a chili sauce (lajiang辣酱). Inside, a pre-fried wonton, youtiao, hot dog sausage, or chicken can be wrapped in the center of the crepe.

Cooking Method:
A round, cast iron griddle is heated at a medium-low temperature, and a bit of oil is used to grease its surface. The thickness of the crepe batter varies in consistency, but is always spread evenly across the surface of the griddle in a swift circular motion. An egg is cracked on top and the yolk is evenly broken and evenly spread over the crepe. Sliced scallions, cilantro (xiang cai香菜), and pickled mustard tuber (zha cai榨菜) are sprinkled. The crepe is then folded in half, and smeared with a sweet fermented bean curd sauce (hong doufuru or nanru), a hoisin sauce (tianmianjiang), and sprinkled with either chili flakes or a chili sauce (lajiang). Baocui, a crispy fried cracker, is then added in the center and the crepe is folded and sliced in the center to be eaten as a handheld snack.

According to legends, jianbing originated during the Three Kingdoms period more than 2,000 years ago. Zhuge Liang, Liu Bei’s chancellor in Shandong Province, was encountered with the problem of feeding his army who had lost their woks. Zhuge ordered the cooks to mix water with wheat flour and spread the dough onto flat, copper griddles suspended over a fire. This innovative cooking technique lifted his soldiers’ morale and strength, allowing them to win the battle thereafter. Since then, people from the Shandong province have passed down this dish through generations.

The myth of origin comes from Zhuge Liang during the Chinese Three Kingdoms period more than 2,000 years ago. This man was a chancellor in the province of Shandong for the general Liu Bei, and he had a problem of feeding everyone in the army without the traditional Chinese cooking ware woks. Thus, Zhuge decided to use flat griddle-like pans and mix water with flour to cook this mixture evenly on the bottom of these flat pans. This was so well liked by soldiers that it made them stronger and they were able to win a battle after this. Ever after, people of Shandong province have passed this dish down generation to generation.

Colder temperatures in the northern part of China made it difficult for Chinese to grow rice, which explains use of coarse grains like wheat and millet to make various forms of pancake. Before electricity reached the countryside, every household had a water-powered stone mill (shuimo) that would be used to grind course grains into flour. Peasants would mill a day in advance and pan-fry their jianbing on a metal griddle over hot coals the next morning. The variety of nutrients in the grains allow for the comestible to be easily preserved in high-temperatures.

Possible Variations:
Jianbingguozi 煎饼果子– jianbing filled with a fried cruller (youtiao) instead of a crispy fried cracker (baocui)
jia xiangchang 加香菜– add coriander
jia shengcai 加生菜– add lettuce
cong you bing 葱油饼– scallion pancakes
shou zhua bing 手煎饼– hand-grabbed pancake
dan bing 蛋饼– egg pancake
qian ceng bing 千层饼– flaky pancake
qiang bing 炝饼– puffy pancake

Related Cuisine:
Shandong Cuisine