Haw Berries & Kumquats

Posts Tagged ‘Beijing’

My favorite hot pot

bronze hot pots

Forget Ding Ding Xiang. Forget Donglaishun. When real Beijingers want a good mutton hot pot in the middle of winter, they head to Jubaoyuan, in Niu Jie. Why Jubaoyuan? The mutton and beef are fresh and delicious, the prices are reasonable, the traditional bronze hot pots are steaming and atmospheric, and the shaobing are the [...]

It’s yuanxiao season!

Black sesame yuanxiao from Huguosi Xiaochidian

Happy year of the rabbit, everyone! (In Vietnam, it’s the year of the cat, incidentally.) If you’re looking for special Chinese New Year (or Spring Festival) treats, you can’t really do better than the niangao (年糕) from Mr Bai of Bai Ji Niangao. His glutinous rice cakes are perfectly textured, generously layered with red bean paste, [...]

A deep-fried trifecta: the “fried look-back” and more

tangmian zhagao, kylin pastry, and the fried huitou

It isn’t often that I’m surprised with a trio of Beijing snacks I’ve never tried before. But the Longfusi Snack Shop (隆福寺小吃店 Longfusi Xiaochi Dian) lives up to its reputation as one of the best places to sample traditional Beijing foods, with everything from flash-boiled tripe (baodu) to more kinds of fried treats than anyone can reasonably eat in a day. Here’s a very small sample:

Sweet, sesame buns


Tanghuoshao (糖火烧) are sweet brown-sugar buns generously swirled with roasted sesame paste. Baked in an oven, they have a crunchy, nutty outer shell, and a warm, soft interior melting with sugar and buttery sesame. A cousin of the savory roasted sesame buns (shaobing 烧饼 ), they make a fine afternoon snack or breakfast – for me, they were part of the weekly breakfast rotation during the summers at my grandparents’ house.

Hitting the sesame paste

bagel with sesame paste

“Hitting the sesame paste” (da majiang 打麻酱) is what we Beijingers say when we go and buy sesame paste. We also hit our soy sauce, vinegar, oil, and even sometimes the hard liquor. No, we’re not abusive toward our condiments; just resourceful and unwilling to waste a single container. The mark of an old Beijinger [...]

Beijing’s Best Rice Cakes: Bai Ji Niangao 白记年糕

Purple rice cake from Bai Ji Niangao (白记年糕 紫米切糕)

Bai Family Rice Cakes (白记年糕) makes not only Beijing’s best glutinous rice cakes, but also quite possibly the healthiest. This is because Mr. Bai is Hui Muslim, and his shop is entirely halal, located in the heart of Niujie (牛街), Beijing’s oldest Muslim neighborhood. He is also passionate about his raw ingredients, and each of his products, from purple glutinous rice qiegao to the “rolling donkey,” is crafted from the finest of rice, haw berries, and red azuki beans.

Hawthorn Berry Kumquat Jam 山楂酱

haw berry jam on ciabatta integrale

Haw berries (shanzha; 山楂), or hawthorn berries, are near and dear to the heart of every Beijinger. So lusciously red, they ripen just in time for winter, adding the perfect dash of color to busy streets and gray, sunless skies. There’s no better way to preserve their tart, bright flavor than a thick haw berry jam, with a few kumquats for color and contrast. Ruby red, citrus-y, sweet, and tangy, it goes beautifully well with bread or sourdough english muffins, or in a linzer tart.

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