Yuanxiao and tangyuan – glutinous rice balls stuffed with a range of fillings – are a must for the Lantern Festival (Yuanxiao Jie 元宵节) on the 15th of the first lunar month, or the first full moon of the new year. But since my family never gets tired of anything involving glutinous rice, we’ve already [...]
Posts Tagged ‘sticky rice’
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, [...]
When the ginkgo trees turn golden, when the flower seller has seas of long-tendriled chrysanthemums and the vegetable seller has pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, then we know that fall has arrived. Beijing’s autumn is its most beautiful season, but also its most fleeting. Thinking of autumnal treats back home, Thanksgiving feasts and pumpkin [...]
Even after five years in Beijing, my boyfriend can never stop reminiscing about the incredible, unbeatable mochi he ate in Taiwan. None of the specimens we tried in Beijing met his lofty expectations – for they were prepackaged, out of a box, while those from Taiwan were made and sold fresh, from the street. Then one day we ate some mochi at Shin Yeh (欣葉) – not surprisingly, a Taiwanese restaurant, and one of the finest in Beijing, too.
Last year in April, my intrepid companion and I were walking the hills of Guizhou province, in southwestern China. We wandered through villages of the Dong and Miao minority, traipsed through tea fields and orchards of “tea oil nuts”, befriended ducklings, and became acquainted with every pothole on National Road 321. And we ate some amazing food, too, unlike that of anywhere else in China.
Dianke Dianlai might be my favorite new Yunnan restaurant, always excepting those unshakeable classics Yunteng Shifu and Baoqin Daiwei of course. The chefs are from Yunnan, and so is the owner – a decided rarity in Beijing. The food is creative and modern while staying true to the province’s bold, sassy spice melangé. It even manages to capture some of the diversity of Yunnan food – with 24 different ethnic groups, there’s perhaps as much variety here as in a small country. The innovations, like touches of rosemary and thyme, are subtle; everything works together.
One of my favorite Yunnan restaurants is Bao Qin Dai Wei (宝琴傣味), run by a Dai minority family, with Dai chefs and Dai waitstaff. Very nearly as good is its neighbor, two doors down, Golden Peacock (Jin Kongque 金孔雀), operated by another Dai family. Related to the Thai, the Dai people live in the Xishuangbanna region of Yunnan province, on the border with Myanmar and Laos. Their food owes more to Southeast Asia than China: lemongrass, papaya, limes, bananas, and pineapples all make frequent appearances, mellowing the more assertive spicy and sour flavors in Dai cookery.
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.