稀豆粉 pea jelly
Made by boiling peas in water until they thicken and congeal, turning into a paste (kind of like how you would make vegetable glue).
You can add chilli oil, ginger sauce, garlic sauce, or any one of half a dozen condiments.
Or, you can add youtiao—fried breadsticks.
潮汕鱼丸 fishball soup, made from freshly caught fish right off the sea
三大炮 glutinous rice balls, made with brown sugar, sesame, and soybeans.
The Chinese name translates into “three cannon balls” because of the “crump-crump” sound the rice balls make when they are bounced off a metal plate where the sesame and soybean flour are kept.
熟梨膏 rice flour and glutinous rice flour steamed with sugar, sesame, and topped with fruit jam.
炸糕 fried rice cakes with red bean paste
芋泥 taro paste, made from pureed taro, lard, and topped with black sesame, red dates, or melon seeds
夹丝豆腐 dried tofu stuffed with radish slices, powdered peanut, and seasoning.
串串香 “fragrant sticks”
Basically any food that’s skewered on a bamboo stick, doused in chilli oil, and then dipped into a sauce dish with half a dozen condiments (garlic, pepper, Sichuan peppercorn, coriander, star anise, fennel, etc.)
Each stick is about fifty cents to one yuan now.
About twenty years ago, the price was way cheaper. A stick of meat cost thirty cents. A stick of vegetable cost ten cents. Sticks for meat and vegetable are marked by different colours. You take as much as you want, and put the empty sticks in a bin for your table. The stall owner would only come and count the number of sticks when you finish.
If you have good friends who are gluttons like you, you’ll have a pile with close to a hundred sticks in just ten to twenty minutes. And that’s if you’re not drinking.
Shirtless workmen who have just gotten off work would order a case of beer (12 bottles), and by the time they’re done, the bins around them would be overflowing.
凉糕 rice pudding
Put it in the fridge, then add a big spoonful of brown sugar, and it becomes the best summer dessert.
胡辣汤 hot pepper soup
Created in Henan Province but became popular in Shaanxi.
There are so many version of the recipe now that its exact ingredients are a matter of personal choice. Common ingredients include red pepper, black pepper, flour, glass noodles and mutton or beef.
煎饼馃子 Chinese crepe
Pancake made with mung bean flour and millet flour, stuffed with eggs, chopped scallions, chilli sauce, and fried breadsticks.
石花膏 agar jelly
Made with agar, red beans, grass jelly, taro paste, honey, and topped with fruits
This post is short because it’s impossible to list all the street food in China. Even listing one representative street food from each province would lead to a document as thick as a graduate thesis.
One of my childhood dreams was to taste every dish in China. Two decades later, I’m not even ten percent done.
This summary is not bad.