China is full of completely different types of cuisine, so when I was in Dongbei (Northeast China) I made sure to try as much as the local cuisine as I could. Here in Guangdong, the food just doesn’t match up to the rich and flavorful foods of Dongbei. In the city of Dandong, near the Great Wall I was able to sample some kao leng mian, 烤冷面 which is basically a rice noodle that very much reminds me of a Mexican enchilada.
For only 6 RMB ($.87) you can get a plate of this stuff and it is quite delicious! I watched as they cooked it on an open grill, added egg and other toppings.
Upon tasting kao leng mian, it really did taste like an enchilada! The first big noodle they use looks so much like a corn tortilla, and tastes very similar too. I was sure it was made of corn until asking, and found out that it is actually rice. Maybe it’s my mind playing tricks on me, but I swear it tasted just like an enchilada, although no meat. Have a look at the picture below and see if you don’t think it’s an enchilada!
All it really needed was some melted cheese and you probably wouldn’t even notice the difference! Check out the video at the top if you are interested in how they make this interesting dish. I’ll be returning to Dongbei soon, and I can’t wait to try out this kao leng mian once again!
One of the coolest things about China is how vibrant things can be late at night. Of course, it depends what part of the city you’re in but in most parts, there is usually a late night area with street barbecue that runs into the late hours of the night, sometimes as late as 3-5 AM! It was about midnight last night when we developed some strong barbecue cravings, so we decided to head down to one of our local barbecue spots at Dafen here in the city of Shenzhen. Chinese saokao (烧烤, or barbecue) is absolutely delicious, and I intend to show you just how delicious! First, have a peek at some of the things we had to eat that night:
We went to our local barbecue spot (In truth, it was our first time going there since we moved to this new part of town) and checked out what they were offering. We stacked up everything in the basket and gave it to the laoban, and watched them cook it.
The first thing to sample was an appetizer. We had ordered some dried squid with wasabi and soy sauce, known as youyu (鱿鱼). This had the consistency of something like beef jerky, but with a seafood flavor. When you dip it in the wasabi and soy sauce together, it has a real kick to your nostrils!
The first two things I had tried were the enoki mushrooms (金针菇) and shiitake mushrooms (香菇). I love all shrooms, as they help you to see life clearly! Barbecued mushrooms are no exception, especially when they are topped with special lajiao. After that came tofu (豆腐)that is covered in some kind of spicy orange sauce and also barbecued. Very delicious – much tastier than plain old tofu, that’s for sure! Following the tofu was some spring onions (韭菜) that were delightfully tasty and flavorful. Of course they were covered in oil and barbecued, so they tasted much better than raw!
Next up was some koi fish (开心鱼). Now I really had no idea what exactly this skewer was when I saw it. I thought it might be dried shrimp that was barbecued. When we got home and looked it up, I was surprised to find out that it was in fact koi fish.
Upon trying this dish, it reminded me a lot more of fish jerky than anything. Overall a nice fishy flavor with that dried chewiness that we so love in jerky.
The last couple dishes were chicken and fish. The chicken (鸡腿) was fantastic. The meat was nice and juicy and tender, some of the skin was crispy, and the lajiao had my mouth on fire at the same time. The fish, which we found out was actually called Ribbonfish (I had thought it was just mackerel) was the best dish of the night, however. The skin was very crispy, the fish meat was pleasant and soft, and the best part is they took out the bones. I rarely eat fish in China because of the strong presence of bones – which I hate! Any Chinese fish dish where the bones are removed is worth 5 stars to me!
Above are the chicken and fish dishes – click the pictures for a bigger view! That was all we ate that night, and my was it good! The total for the bill came out to 62 RMB, or $9.48 USD! What a steal! Check out the video of this Chinese barbecue adventure on my YouTube channel, below! Please subscribe if you enjoy the content! What do you think of Chinese barbecue? Do you enjoy it? Please let me know in the comments!
This morning I went down the street near the metro station at Dafen to grab some baozi and jump on my skateboard for the first time in a VERY long time. I talked about baozi already before in my first blog post, “What’s for breakfast in China?” but I wanted to take a video for this post, so I thought I would bring them back. Also the first baozi article I did was on beef baozi, and today they were pork!
The baozi is a very traditional and one of the most common things that Chinese people eat for breakfast. This particular baozi was full of stuffed pork (Which was fatty and greasy, which is a little heavy for the morning but that’s why you don’t eat too many!) and also some cabbage, if I recall correctly. 1 of these baozi only cost 1 RMB, or $.15 USD so my breakfast only cost $.30 since I had two. That baozi was more than enough fuel to give me the energy I needed to pull off a few skateboarding tricks.
As I proceeded to bite into the delicious baozi, something insane happened. The fatty pork juices dripped out, and nearly landed on my shorts! Luckily I was quick enough to recover, only having to explain to the camera what had happened with my mouth open and simultaneously full of baozi. A baozi stain is no fun – I assure you and I am happy I avoided it. Those juices however, are delicious so I highly recommend taking a more full bite and making sure you get the juice with it! After finishing those delicious baozi, it was time for some skateboarding. I used to skate a lot in my younger years (13-20 years old) but pretty much stopped shortly after high school. However, it’s still fun to roll around and do some tricks sometimes!
An enjoyable morning it was, though hot! By the time I was done skating, I was absolutely drenched in sweat. Nevertheless, please be sure to check out the breakfast video from this morning, which also comes with a little bit of skateboarding attached! What do you think of baozi? Let me know in the comments!
This morning I returned to my local laoban to do a Chinese food video about breakfast. Today we had chang fen (肠粉) which is a common breakfast dish made with rice paste, eggs, vegetables, and ground pork covered in a pork fat broth with soy sauce and chopped garlic. I probably have chang fen at least once a week living here. I find it to be a relatively healthy option – as this is steamed and not fried, and I enjoy eating as healthy as I can.
To make chang fen, a large multi-layer steam rack is used. Generally they start by pouring rice paste and covering the tray with it, and then adding ground pork, a few vegetables and cracking an egg or two on top. The mixture is stirred around and sent into the steamer for less than a minute. When it comes out, it is scraped off and set onto a serving plate.
When it comes out, it is quite a pretty sight to behold. The taste of chang fen is interesting to say the least. The texture is sort of a thin jello-ey texture that without the sauce is not exactly bursting with flavor. Rice paste is of course made of white rice, and as we all know white rice has a fairly brand and neutral flavor. However when it is coupled with vegetables, meat, and a nice pork broth with garlic and some chili sauce on top, the flavors go a million ways! The pork broth gives a rich decadent flavor especially when you get those chunks of ground pork in the bite. Grasping some chopped chilis with your chopsticks in a bite adds a spicy aspect to this dish as well.
I also blogged about chang fen back in April, you can see that post here: Chang fen: A cheap, delicious and exotic breakfast in China. Don’t forget to check out the video from this morning’s breakfast which includes video of the cooking process and tasting, from my YouTube channel! Please like/subscribe if you enjoy the content!
Today I went to another local laoban that we frequent to order some pidan zhou – Which I have already written about in this blog before, a few weeks ago. Unfortunately they were sold out of the zhou, so we had some chaomian (炒面) instead. Chaomian are high heat wok fried noodles with eggs, pork, and vegetables added along with some spices.
These people are very nice and we frequent their establishment at least a few times a week. Today I asked if we could film them cooking and if they would do a little quick sit down interview with us. They agreed.
Chaomian can be hit or miss in China. I have had great chaomian, and totally lousy chaomian. Of course you can guess that this particularly lady does the chaomian just the way I like them – with 2 eggs, pork, and vegetables added. The end result is an absolutely delicious dish you would very rarely find back home in America, and no, Panda Express does not cut it. Check out the video below to see the cooking, tasting and interview with the laoban.
So today I thought I’d sample a bit of street food for you all out there. Today I decided to try some ya xin, duck hearts. (鸭心) Your heart may have skipped a beat. Duck hearts? Are you serious man! Are you some kind of vampire or something? No. The truth is, duck hearts a pretty normal part of cuisine here in South China. When I approached the street stall, here were some of the interesting foods before me:
The duck hearsts are in the bottom left corner but if you take a look you can see a couple other interesting things. There are also duck legs, tea eggs, lotus root, and seaweed amongst other things. Not your typical western cuisine to say the least!
Despite what it may sound like though, duck hearts are delicious. They are also very cheap, only 2RMB (~.32 cents USD) per skewer. However, though cheap, they are not exactly pleasing to the eye!
Upon eating this skewer of duck hearts, I have a few comments. Number one, yes they are actually very tasty. However the idea that you are eating the “heart” of something is a little bit disturbing and is kind of hard to get your head around. Once you bite into it you are thinking “Hey, not bad!” but your mind is also thinking..”I’m eating the f**king heart of something..” so your body is not exactly sure how to react. Anyway, to describe the taste, it does taste like duck meat somewhat but the texture is very different. Duck heart is very firm and slightly chewy, but not too chewy. The heart was also a bit salty, since it was likely a preserved heart that they salt beforehand. To be honest, I was a lot more afraid of eating the pi dan (The century old egg in a post from last week) than this one. I give this strange snack a thumbs up!
Please do have a look at the actual tasting video, which can be found on my YouTube channel here (Subscribe if you like the video!):
This morning I felt like going down the street to my local laoban (The boss of an establishment in China, in this case the boss of a restaurant) and ordering a bit of Chang fen.
Chang fen (肠粉) is a very common breakfast in China. It is made with rice paste (Rice ground up in a machine and mixed with water) eggs, meat, and vegetables. The way they cook it is by steaming it in a multirack steamer. They crack an egg on a cooking tray, mix in the rice paste, spoon in some ground pork, a couple vegetables and send it in the steamer for a very short time.
When it comes out of the steamer, they pour on top a sauce which is a mixture of soy sauce, oil and water and garlic. When served, I recommend adding a dash of chinese chilis, lajiao (辣椒) to give it a little more kick and flavor. When I came in the restaurant with my girlfriend this morning, the laoban gave us 2 complimentary drinks of dou jiang, 豆浆, or hot soybean milk!
The soybean milk is probably the most common drink at breakfast for Chinese people. It can be served hot and cold, and is very refreshing either way.
When you bite into chang fen for the first time, it might seem a bit plain. It is a breakfast food that can be done very poorly, or very graciously! I have had terrible chang fen, and mind blowing chang fen. This restaurant is up there with high quality, but not quite the best. However, the cost is just amazing. One order of chang fen at most places in the city runs for about 4 ￥, or ~.64 USD! I got two eggs with mine, so mine was 5￥, about .80 cents. For the two of us it was only 9￥ total, ~$1.50! The soybean milk was complimentary but normally costs around 2￥, .32 cents.
To describe the taste, think of rice. The base of this dish is a rice paste, so think of rice but in sheets instead of rice grains. The texture is different, but the flavor is a bit plain and the same as eating white rice. This is why they have the sauce served with it to give it more flavor, and also adding lajiao or cilantro on top is a good way to bring out the flavor.
Overall I definitely recommend trying chang fen if you are in China, or even recommend it as a daily breakfast if you live here. It is cheap, delicious, and relatively healthy compared to most foods on the street. I’ll leave you with a recipe for two bean spicy beef chili, which is episode 5 on my cooking show (The lighting in this episode is not very good, I apologize for that, but in all episodes after the lighting issue is fixed 🙂