Thousands of years ago, here was the largest and most prosperous city of the world —— Changan; after the millennium, the deep culture seems to let me return to the Tang. This ancient city has quietly waiting for a thousand years, let’s ride the time tunnel and cross back to Changan with me!
Shaanxi Cuisine, also known as Qin Cuisine, is the representative culinary achievement in the northwest China. In comparison to other Chinese cuisines, it is outstanding in three aspects. Firstly, due to Shaanxi’s geographical location in the center of China, various kinds of materials deriving from both north and south China are adopted by Shaanxi Cuisine. Second is the special cooking skills of the local chefs, including Tun (deep-fry), Qiang (fry quickly in hot oil, then cook with sauce and water), Chao (stir-fry), Zheng (cook by use of steam), Dun (braise) and so on. Finally is its frequently use of salt, vinegar, capsicum and garlic, making the savory flavor of sour, spicy and fragrant.
The history of Shaanxi Cuisine is said to be as long as the national’s civilization, retaining the table characteristics of the Qin, Han and Tang dynasties. At present, the Shaanxi Cuisine is divided into the Guanzhong (central Shaanxi), Shannan (south Shaanxi) and Shanbei (north Shaanxi) cuisines according to their geographical locations. Here, in Xian, the Guanzhong Cuisine plays the vital role in the citizens’ daily lives as well as the Shannan and Shanbei dishes supply the gastronomists with another choice.
Visitors to Xian must do two things: one is to see the clay figures of terra cotta warriors and horses. The other is to taste Yang Rou Pao Mo (a soup dish that involves breaking wheat flour flat bread into a bowl and adding a delicious mutton stock). Before dinner, you will be served one or two pieces of wheat flour flat bread which you into tiny chunks, the smaller the better.
The waiter or the waitress will then hand your bowl to the cook who mixes the bread and mutton soup with an appropriate relish. When the steaming hot meal is brought in, the waiter will also offer you sweet crisp pickled garlic, coriander, and hot pepper sauce.
In Xian, there is a must for travelers to try the delicious dumplings. While tasting those dumplings, customers will be astonished by the cooks’ smart cooking methods include steaming, boiling, pan-frying, deep frying, and roasting. It seems that all of the indigenous meat and vegetables can be used for the dumplings’ stuffing, such as pork, mutton, beef as well as celery, radish, cabbages, etc.
Nowadays, by the cooks’ continuously improving, the dumpling has been one of the best foods of Xian to entertain travelers from home and abroad. It must be a great pity if you miss tasting the Xian’s featured Dumpling Banquet. Usually, the Dumpling Banquet consists of a number of steamed dumplings as well as the family style dumplings are boiled which can be easily found in some chophouses distributed in Xian City.
It is hardly for any traveler to taste all of the Xian snacks in his short stay here. That is because no one could point out exactly how many kinds of snacks exist in this historic city. In fact, discovering and enjoying as many as local snack should be only next to visiting the Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses. If you are a gourmet longing for typical Chinese food, the various kinds of Xian snacks will give you as much personal satisfaction as possible, ranging from dim sum, candy, cracker to dried fruit and dessert.
When you ask locals for a place to find the featured Xian snacks, it is no doubt that you will be suggested to visit the Moslem Street firstly although this city’s main composition of population is Han. As a unique characteristic, the Moslem food occupies a vital role in the Xian Cuisine (also Shaanxi Cuisine), partly because the Hui people have inhabited here in a large number for many years.
Anyway, this narrow but prosperous street is the largest assembling place for all of the Moslem food over half of which are the Moslem snacks.
Alternatively, you can have some snack at the elegant Moslem restaurants which are distributed everywhere in the city area.
As the representative of Shaanxi Cuisine, Guanzhong dish is well know for cooking pork and mutton as well as in strong and heavy flavor.
In addition, the simplex but choice material in a course gives a pure taste to the Guanzhong dish. Shannan dish emphasizes on the use of pepper, having a spicy flavor.
Also using pork and mutton frequently, the Shanbei dish is usually cooked by steaming.
How Yang Rou Pau Mo is served. The custom is both unique and interesting. When you order the meal you will be given a large bowl and a quantity of round, flat unleavened bread (nan bread). The amount of bread depends entirely upon the size of your appetite! You have to break the bread into small pieces so that it can absorb the flavor of the liquid.
Be warned, the bread is hard and it will prove something of a test of strength for your fingers but the smaller you break the pieces, the better the result. Once you have prepared your bread, you pass your bowl to the chef who will stir it into a pot of hot mutton soup. After some five to ten minutes he will ladle the soup and bread back into your bowl with a quantity of mutton.