Tag Archives: vegetarian

Bāozi – Steamed buns – 包子

Bāozi (Chinese: 包子) is a pillowy-soft, steamed bun that is filled with savory or sweet centers. Although locals prefer to eat them for breakfast, they are sold from the early hours of the morning until late afternoon. Each one is typically 1.5 kuai out of stacks of bamboo steamers alongside shao mai.

The bun’s dough consists of water, dry yeast, sugar, bread flour, baking powder, salt and sesame oil.

Cooking Method:
The yeast and sugar are combined in warm water and allowed to sit. After the flour and sugar are combined, the yeast water is added to the mixing bowl until a ball of dough is formed. The dough is kneaded and allowed to rest in a humid environment. After the dough has risen, baking powder is kneaded into the dough before it is divided into two long rolls and cut into pieces. Each piece of dough is formed into a ball that is rolled into a disk so that the filling can be encased in the center. Each ball of dough is allowed to rise before being placed into bamboo steamers.

History :
During the Three Kingdoms period, Zhuge Liang, a military strategist of the time, was on an expedition to Southern China when he and his army found themselves unable to cross a river because the storm was too violent. He asked Meng Hua why they couldn’t cross, and he stated that the war had caused so many deaths that angry spirits were trapped there, unable to return to their families. The spirits claimed that they needed 49 people to sacrifice themselves in order for Zhuge Liang and his soldiers to cross the river. Zhuge Liang wasn’t willing to allow even more people to die, so he asked his cook to make him 49 buns with dough that resembled skin with beef or mutton fillings so that he could trick the spirits into believing that they were real people.

The street food was originally called mantou, which means “flour head,” but as it gained popularity in the north, people began calling it baozi because bao meant “to wrap.”

Possible Variations:
gancai bao – braised cabbage bun
qingcai bao – bok choy tofu bun
rou bao – pork bun
hua juan – scallion mantou
dabao – large bun


Liángpí – Cold Jelly Noodles – 凉皮

Liángpí (Chinese: 凉皮) is a cold noodle dish tossed with peanut sauce, chili oil, and vinegar and garnished with refreshing garnishes such as julienned cucumbers, cilantro and bean sprouts. When the weather gets warmer, liang pi vendors can be found making this dish out of a glass box perched on top of a tricycle. Customers are given the option of rice or wheat flour or a combination of both to be tossed in with other components of the dish. Liangpi is typically sold for 6 to 7 kuai.

Different types of liangpi can range in ingredients. Its noodles are either made from rice or wheat flour. The sauce combinations consist of salt, vinegar, chili oil, black sesame paste and garlic. Garnishes can include wheat gluten, julienned cucumbers, bean sprouts, cilantro and scallions.

Cooking Method:
To make the noodles, the wheat or rice flour is turned into a soft dough by adding a bit of water and salt. The dough is “rinsed” until the water is saturated with starch from the dough. The remainder of the dough is then removed and the bowl is left to rest overnight in order to allow the dissolved starch to precipitate. The following day, a residue of starchy paste that sits at the bottom of the bowl is drained of the liquid that sits above it. A small amount of that paste is then spread out into a thin layer and steamed in order to make a “pancake” that is cut into long pieces resembling noodles. These noodles are placed into a bowl and tossed with various sauces and garnishes before being served.

A folk story is told that takes place during the Qing Dynasty where ten acres of rice fields spanned Nanzheng County beside the Feng River. One year, the river had dried up due to the drought and the rice was poor in quality. People became distraught because they didn’t know how to pay their annual tribute to the emperor Qing Shi Huan. A man named Li Shi Er decided to grain the rice into a paste, steam it and cut it into strips. He then added some spicy sauce and vinegar to create Da Mi Mian Pi Zi, the original form of Liangpi. The people all made this dish for the emperor, expecting that he wouldn’t enjoy it. Everyone was pleasantly surprised when the emperor stated that everyone was exempt from the tax that year because he loved the dish so much. The preparation of liangpi became an annual tradition in that town since then.

Possible Variations:
Hanzhong Liangpi – with steamed garlic and hot chili oil
Majiang Liangpi – with julienned cucumber and a sauce made from salt, vinegar, chili oil, and black sesame paste
Shan Xin Gan Mianpi – with wheat gluten, vinegar, chili oil, salt, mashed garlic, and bean sprouts

Related Cuisine:
Shaanxi 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