The Chinese variety, the spice of life: taste the hidden treasures of China

Shanghai is a megalopolis with a rich mix of culinary opportunities. Not only can you find all kinds of international cuisines with various flavors, but also discover the hidden treasures of Chinese regional cuisines.

In the past, restaurants serving regional cuisines in Shanghai were more of a broad concept, such as focusing on the strengths of the eight main Chinese cuisines and the most dominant street food cultures (such as the large number of kebab restaurants). spicy Sichuan-style chuanchuan). It was easy to try regional cuisines every now and then, authentic or not so authentic, but not too easy to delve deeply into the most interesting and exciting aspects – when ordering Sichuan cuisine, it was is often a choice between a spicy hotpot and boiled fish.

It is in the last couple of years that the city has started to see lesser-known specialties from the more popular regional cuisines. Restaurants and eateries began to specialize in dishes characteristic of a small branch of regional cuisine, a more elaborate trend that has introduced many great specialties to Shanghai.

Sichuan beef

Qiaojiaoniurou, which translates directly to ‘foot-lift’ beef, is now one of the city’s hottest culinary trends, drawing diners happy to queue for hours. The Xiaosinv Leshan Qiaojiaoniurou Restaurant (around 90 yuan per person on average) that opened in early April near Jing’an Temple once registered more than 200 tables waiting at dinner time.

Special specialties from Leshan, Sichuan Province are great news for people who cannot handle the spicy side of Sichuan cuisine. It is 100% non-spicy and without chili.

Leshan is one of the must-see destinations for foodies, besides seeing the amazing Leshan Giant Buddha (a 71-meter-tall statue of Maitreya), the town is famous for its snack-style Szechuan delicacies, such as duck soft-skinned, soft Tofu, ye’erba (rice wrapped in foil) and, more representatively, the qiaojiaoniurou.

The delicacy is a tasty, slowly cooked beef soup that highlights the original flavors of the different parts of the cow. It is usually served as a hotpot to conserve heat and also to cook different ingredients in a convenient way.

It is said to have been born in the 1930s when a traditional Chinese medicine doctor picked up some of the beef offal thrown away by the rich and added it to the medicinal soup he was making by the river. The flavor was great and the additional herbs also increased the health benefits. He started selling the soup and drew large crowds, so when there were no seats, some would stand with one foot placed on the beam under the table, hence the name “raised foot”. .

Beef bone broth for qiaojiaoniurou contains over a dozen herbs and spices, such as angelica root, star anise, long pepper, amome fruit (sharen, warm in nature) and more. The meat cooked and served in the broth includes both fresh hand-sliced ​​beef and an assortment of offal that has been prepared ahead of time to remove unwanted taste and smell – beef tripe, tendon, tongue. and more.

For people who want stronger flavors, qiaojiaoniurou is usually served with seasoned chili flakes to coat tender meat with a little heat. The soup can also get extra rich and a little fat after long cooking,

After tasting the meat and giblets in the pot of qiaojiaoniurou, many people would then cook seasonal greens and tofu to finish the meal.

In addition, restaurants specializing in qiaojiaoniurou would serve other Leshan delicacies as well, such as soft skin duck, a dish of marinated duck with shiny skin.

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Qiaojiaoniurou, or “foot-lift,” is a Szechuan-style beef soup and stew known for showcasing original flavors.

Lanzhou’s famous beef noodles

Beef noodles originating in the northwest of Lanzhou City, Gansu Province, are one of the best lunch options and can be found in all parts of China, whether at a small restaurant around the corner. from a street or in standardized franchised restaurants.

First of all, the dish is never called Lanzhou hand drawn noodles in its original place, it is always called Lanzhou beef noodles.

The dish is no less well known, but more authentic versions were hard to find in Shanghai. Restaurants that sell the simplified version of beef noodles at a cheaper price present only a general idea without any details.

Beef noodles, while modest, have a long list of rules to follow. To begin with, the noodles are hand drawn and specific diameters need to be set for diners to choose from, such as Erxi, Sanxi, maoxi and more, which require different printing techniques.

The soup is a clear beef broth with a rich flavor, and other standards to follow include thin slices of white radish (also of a specific thickness) for the white, cilantro or garlic for the green, chili oil for the red. Beef is usually ordered separately, each serving weighs about 50 grams, or liang in Chinese measures.

Major franchises that now serve more authentic versions of Lanzhou Beef Noodles include Golden Waterside (Xi Ma Xiang), Ma Ji Yong, Chen Xiang Gui, and Xibu Handmade Noodles.

Lanzhou’s emerging beef noodle restaurants also sell other local specialties such as Tianpeizi, a sweet and sour soup made from fermented oats. The oatmeal in its original form is soaked in water and then pounded to remove the husk, then steamed, cooled and mixed with water and Jiuqu, the fermentation starter. Tianpeizi is served by adding water to create a sweet and sour drink with chewy pieces of oats. A very popular dessert or snack after a heavy meal.

Another nourishing dessert often found in Lanzhou beef noodle restaurants is egg and Laozao milk soup, a nourishing classic with sweet fermented rice, milk, egg drops and toppings such as toasted nuts and sesame seeds.

Varied China Spice of Life: Taste China's Hidden Gems

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Lanzhou Beef Noodles

Slices of fuding pork

Fuding roupian, or pork slices, is a more special traditional snack dish named after a town in Ningde County, Fujian Province. This comforting dish is served in an aromatic and hot soup.

Pork slices have to go through a series of hand procedures before they are cooked in a large pot of water like meatballs and served in the broth. Two ingredients are needed to prepare the special meat slices: lean pork, preferably a cut of the hind leg, and starch (sweet potato starch is best). The meat / starch ratio is around 1 to 0.7, and additional seasonings are green onions and salt.

The fresh lean pork is first cut into small strips so that they can be easily ground into mince. Green onions and salt are added to enhance the flavor. The second step is to rub the meat with both hands, while adding a little baking soda and water until the meat paste is sticky.

Then the appropriate amount of starch is added to the minced pork for another round of rubbing, until all the starch is completely fused into the meat. With a large pot of boiling water, pull out small pieces of minced meat to cook them for a few minutes until they come to the surface. The soup is flavored with ginger, vinegar, chili, white pepper, nori and cilantro.

Restaurants specializing in Fuding rupian often sell other typical Fujian dishes such as rouyan, a kind of huntun that uses pork skin and sweet potato starch, as well as tiny meat buns, pancakes. nori and handmade Fuzhou fish balls.

Lu Ding Ji, which has outlets on Hunan Road and Fumin Road, is a leading franchise serving the Fuding Rupee in Shanghai.

Varied China Spice of Life: Taste China's Hidden Gems

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Fuding pork slices made from lean meat and starch are served in a hot broth.

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