Tag Archives: sweet

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

Zhè Jiāng – Sugarcane Juice – 柘浆(甘蔗汁)$*

Due to its sweet taste and great availability, sugarcane juice (Chinese: 柘浆) is a popular drink sold by street vendors throughout the year. Since sugarcane is grown in warm temperatures in Southern provinces like Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian, the juice obtained from this plant is commonly found in most cities in Southern China. Depending on the size, a glass costs between 6 and 9 yuan.
Described as “neutral” and “sweet in flavour” in traditional Chinese medicine, sugarcane is considered to be an active antipyretic, so that it effectively reduces fever. While it is a great source of instant energy, this plant drink is also low-glycemic, therefore it doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar. Sugarcane juice contains folic acid which protects from neural birth defects and increases chances of conception. Great amounts of calcium present in this delicacy help build bones and teeth, while potassium balances the pH levels in the stomach. In addition, flavonoids in sugarcane reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Sugarcane is juiced without any additives. It is naturally rich in fructose, hence the sweet flavour without any added sugar. Occasionally it may be prepared with other ingredients, for example ginger, lemon or lime.

Cooking Method:
The juice is produced by crushing this plant in a specialised juicer, which are produced on a world scale in China. While today these machines are typically powered, in poorer areas it is still common to find hand-cranked machines. The juice is usually served cold.

Sugarcane is indigenous to the tropical climates of Southeast Asia. It was first planted as a crop in New Guinea around 6000 BC, though it spread around the world soon afterwards. While juicing (and often crystallising) sugarcane is the most popular method of utilising this crop, other uses include producing molasses, liquor, as well as raw consumption.
After Brazil and India, China is the world’s third biggest producer of sugarcane, harvesting 125 536 thousand metric tones a year.

Related Cuisine:
Vietnamese Cuisine
Thai Cuisine

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

Zong Zi – Glutinous Rice Balls – 粽子

Zongzi (or simply zong) (Chinese: ) is a traditional Chinese food, made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo, reed, or other large flat leaves. They are cooked by steaming or boiling. In the Western world, they are also known as rice dumplings or sticky rice dumplings.

Zongzi (sticky rice dumplings) are traditionally eaten during the Duanwu Festival (Mandarin: Duānwǔ; Cantonese: Tuen Ng), which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar (approximately late-May to mid-June).

The fillings used for zongzi vary from region to region, but the rice used is almost always glutinous rice (also called “sticky rice” or “sweet rice”). Depending on the region, the rice may be lightly precooked by stir-frying or soaked in water before using. In the north, fillings are mostly red bean paste and tapioca or taro. Northern style zongzi tend to be sweet and dessert-like. Southern-style zongzi, however, tend to be more savory. Fillings of Southern-style zongzi include salted duck egg, pork belly, taro, shredded pork or chicken, Chinese sausage, pork fat, and shiitake mushrooms.

Zongzi need to be steamed or boiled for several hours depending on how the rice is made prior to being added, along with the fillings. However, as the modes of zongzi styles have traveled and become mixed, today one can find all kinds of zongzi at traditional markets, and their types are not confined to which side of the Yellow River they originated from.

History of Zongzi

Zongzi are traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival (端午節), on May 5th of the lunar calendar. It is said that on this day, Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese poet who lived in the Chu kingdom, drowned himself in the Miluo River. Before this, he tried to warn his king and his people that their neighbor, the Qin kingdom, was going to invade the Chu kingdom. When the Chu capital was taken over, Qu Yuan was so upset that he drowned himself. When his body could not be found, people threw packets of rice into the river to prevent the fish from eating it.

Regional origin: The Chu kingdom was in present day Hubei

zongzi map

Possible Variations:

Jianshui Zong (碱水粽) – usually eaten as a dessert; the glutinous rice is treated with lye water to make it more alkaline. The rice turns yellow and sweet. It usually has no filling or is filled with sweet mixtures, such as a red bean paste.

People in the north tend to make sweet zongzi. Their fillings could have dried dates, chicken, or red bean paste. People in the south tend to make savory zongzi with pork, Chinese sausage, and mung beans.

Nyonyazong (娘惹粽) – a part of the cuisine unique to Chinese Malaysians/Singaporeans; similar to southern Chinese zongzi, but the filling is made with minced pork with winter melon, ground roasted peanuts, and a spice mix

Taiwanese Zongzi – 臺灣粽; similar to Chinese zongzi, but wrapped with different leaves; not as fatty; pork, mushroom, salted duck egg, peanuts, chestnuts as fillings (some put dried squid or shrimp as well); some are vegetarian so the filling would have only peanuts.

Related Cuisine

糯米雞 (nuomji) is a Cantonese dim sum dish; steamed sticky rice with chicken in lotus leaf wrap. Fillings include chicken, Chinese sausage, salted egg, dried shrimp, mushrooms, and scallions. It’s usually wrapped in a square instead of a prism.