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Local Flavors

(People's Daily Online)

17:15, May 23, 2013

Delicacies in Shaanxi are commonly acknowledged by many gourmets as “sour, spicy and aromatic.” Thanks to regional differences, southern Shaanxi, tastes in central Shaanxi and northern Shaanxi all have their own distinct identities. Generally people from southern Shaanxi attach great importance to “robust flavors” and “spicy aroma.” Local foods, brand-name dishes, specialty food, exotic food from mountains and plains, medicinal meals, Oolong tea and farmer wine are famous both at home and abroad. On the other hand, people from northern Shaanxi have always been valuing simple and frugal ways of cooking such as steaming, boiling, stewing and braising. Since both refined and coarse grains grow well on this soil, people here are partial to food made with those grains including buckwheat noodles, date cake, fried cake, glutinous millet porridge, glutinous millet buns, rice wine, black soy bean and millet porridge, sour rice, rice in goat’s milk, lentil soup, potato shreds steamed with flour, lamb guts, and minced lamb soup, whereas the often-mentioned eight treasures of Shaanxi features diets in central Shaanxi. The so-called waistband-like noodles, cauldron-cover-big flour pancakes and oil-sprinkled chili as a dish are all typical representations of diets in central Shaanxi.

Qishan Shaozi Noodles
A traditional cooked wheaten food in central Shaanxi, Qishan Shaozi Noodles is held high regard for its thin and smooth texture, savory fried minced pork, oily soup, sour and spicy taste. Featuring long, thin and evenly hand-made noodles with chili oil floating on the soup surface, this traditional local delicacy is suitable for people of all ages.

Qinzhen Cold Rice Noodles
Qinzhen cold rice noodles are made from the slurry of long-grained rice, a local produce of Qiinzhen in Huxian County, Xi’an. The chef, in the presence of customers, cut the whole rice sheet into thin threads with a kitchen knife weighing dozens of jin, mix them with purpose-made chili oil, vinegar and salt along with cucumber slices and bean sprouts. When ready to be served on the table, Qinzhen cold rice noodles looking translucently red and tasting softly refreshing.

Four Delicacies of Qianxian County
Local food in Qianxian, west part of of central Shaanxi, is of unique flavors. Among them Guokui (Helmet Bread), Guamian (dried noodles), Zhasu (crisp fried pastry) and Toufu pudding have won the awards of “Top Chinese Local Dishes” and “Top Shaanxi Local Dishes.” It has also been registered as “Lao Qianzhou” by China Trademark Bureau.

Cold Noodles in Baoji
Evolved from the Tang dynasty Lengtao Mian (by dipping the boiled noodles into cold water), cold noodles made from wheat starch taste soft, sour and spicy. Renowned as “white, thin, smooth, soft and savory”, it is now a brand-name delicacy of the west part of central Shaanxi that is suitable for all seasons.

1. Shaozi Noodles
2. Cold rice Noodles
3. Guokui (Helmet Bread)
4. Toufu Pudding
5. Zhasu

Golden Set Meal in Hanzhong—hot rice noodles + vegetable Toufu + peanut porridge
Delicacies in Hanzhong area are a representation of food in southern Shaanxi, the most representative being hot rice noodles, vegetable Toufu and peanut porridge. The soft and smooth hot rice noodles with chili aroma taste heaven together with a bowl of peanut porridge. What cannot be missed when having hot rice noodles is vegetable Toufu made with pickled cabbage soup that brings out the very best in the vegetable Toufu, hence the saying: “better to have vegetable Toufu in Hanzhong than to have a feast of the choicest delicacies of sea and land.”

Ziyang Zheng Penzi (Steamed Jambalaya)
A local flavor of Ziyang in Ankang area, this dish has good color, taste and smell with robust soup and juicy meat. The cooking process is rather particular: an assortment of raw materials including whole cage-free chicken, pork knuckles, lotus roots, carrots, radishes, day lilies, tree fungi, mushrooms, egg dumplings, soaked dry cuttlefish and other dried vegetables are placed in a pot which is then placed in a big steamer to be steamed before adding in the spices. No less than four hours must be spent steaming the jambalaya.

Lamb in Northern Shaanxi
As a fine breed, goats in northern Shaanxi grow pretty big. Having been grazing on a wild grass called Mongolian thyme, they smell no offensive odor. The lamb contains little fat but rich vitamins. When cooked, it is so tasty and pleasing to the nose that it tops lambs of all regions and kinds in China. Dishes made with mutton from northern Shaanxi are extremely juicy and savory, among which stewed lamb, barbecued lamb legs and lamb noodles are quite common.

Lamb Sweetbread in Northern Shaanxi
This dish is made with entrails, tripe, heart, lung, head, hoof and tail of the lamb. First chopped, they are then parboiled, quick fried and then simmered till they taste soft. After that glass noodles are added in to be stewed together. What it is with the dish is the varied materials and great health benefits it offers. It tastes perfectly good with some fresh chili (or chili oil), leek threads and garlic cloves and some lamb brains on the side.

Buckwheat Noodles
A unique taste of northern Shaanxi and made with buckwheat flour, the buckwheat noodles taste delicate and refreshing with its savory soup, delicious fried vegetables and aromatic chili oil. It is highly hailed for its lingering aftertaste, brilliant color, palatable taste and good nutrition.

Potato Chacha (potato shreds steamed with flour)
A unique taste of northern Shaanxi, Potato Chacha is made with shredded potatoes and seasoned with wild pepper, leek threads, ginger powder and salt. It is then mixed well with flour and steamed. It tastes so deliciously soft that the diner will want to try it again and again and won’t grow sick of it. It is both a staple and a nutritious side dish.

1. Hot Rice Noodles
2. Vegetable Toufu
3. Peanut Porridge
4. Zheng Penzi
5. Stewed Lamb
6. Northern Shaanxi Lamb Sweetbread

Qianxian Helmet Bread
Shaanxi Glass Noodles
Zhen’an Preserved Ham
Oil-Fried Chili
Crystal Cake
Dried Beef in Xixiang
Tree Fungus
Date from Northern Shaanxi
Qin Pepper
Dahongpao Wild Pepper

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