In a tiny village deep in the Taihang Mountains, family members gather in the open-air front yard to share a meal, celebrating the autumn harvest.
In villagers’ homes, simple wood-burning stoves are still used.
小凹馍 “little concave buns”
Made with maize flour and Chinese chives
莜面凉皮 naked oat glass noodles
荞麦碗托 buckwheat starch jelly
茴香烧饼 sesame flatbread with fennel
In Shanxi, to prepare for the newlywed couple’s visit to the bride’s family home, her parents and relatives will make these flower buns by hand. The jujubes represent the parents’ wish that their daughter’s new life will be just as sweet.
枣花馍 flower buns with jujube
In Shanghai, while daughter is at practice in school, mother prepares her favourite dishes in a tiny kitchen shared with three other families.
红烧肉 “red braised pork belly”. The red colour comes from caramel, dark soy sauce, red yeast rice, or fermented bean curd.
抻面 hand-pulled noodles
In Sichuan, a son visits his father who works as a security guard. He’s brought homemade dishes. Father and son share a meal in the small guard booth.
泡菜 “paocai” pickled vegetables
There are a thousand Hamlets in a thousand people’s eyes. In Sichuan, there are a thousand types of paocai in a thousand people’s homes. There’s paocai made from carrots, radish, lantern peppers, ginger, garlic, cabbage, bok choy, cucumber, and long beans. There’s paocai fermented over a couple of days, and then there’s paocai fermented over months. There’s paocai used for stewed carp, fried pork slices, and for soup. There’s paocai in glass jars, earthen jars, or waist-high vats. Paocai went as far back as the Three Kingdoms period.
泡菜鱼 stewed fish in pickled vegetables
泡椒凤爪 chicken feet with pickled peppers
芽菜 pickled Chinese mustard
燃面 “burning noodles”
Named as such because there’s a lot of oil in the noodles and they can, supposedly, start burning if lit. I like the version where the noodles are submerged in a thick layer of oil and entirely blanketed by chopped peppers.
In Shandong, a 70-year-old grandma looks after her grandchildren alone in this farmhouse.
西瓜酱 watermelon jam
Made from watermelon, soybean, ginger slices, Sichuan peppercorn, star anise, and chilli powder.
In Liaoning, a housewife gathers ingredients for food near the river.
野茭白 stems of Manchurian wild rice
虾子焖茭白 shrimp roe stewed with Manchurian wild rice
In Yangzhou, a farmer wades into the river to find another type of vegetable—cattail.
蒲菜涨蛋 cattail omelette
蒲菜水饺 cattail dumplings
奶汤蒲菜 cattail in milky soup
In a home in Macau, a father prepares dessert soup for his daughter and future son-in-law.
陈皮红豆沙 red bean paste with tangerine peels
红豆姜撞奶 ginger milk with red bean paste
莲子龟苓膏 grass jelly with lotus seeds
黑芝麻糊汤圆 black sesame with glutinous rice balls
木瓜雪耳羹 soup with snow ear and papaya
鹌鹑蛋白果糖水 dessert sop with quail eggs and gingko fruit
In a marriage home in Zhuhai, two sets of parents compete to feed the mother of their granddaughter.
黄糖糍粑 glutinous rice cake with brown sugar
猪脚姜 stewed pig’s trotter with ginger
冬瓜荷叶煲老鸭 old duck stewed with winter melon and lotus leaf
霸王花煲猪腱 pork shank soup with pitahaya flower
I started this post series to understand more about Chinese cuisine (there’re so many dishes I’ve never even heard of before), but it might have been a bad idea to do this while trying to go on a diet.
When you’re hungry and you don’t know how to cook: