Harbin, Heilongjiang Province
Mr Guo’s barbecue shop.
This big vat is used to grill potatoes.
Each vat is about waist-high, and was originally manufactured for making soup.
The barbecue chef’s tool is this arm-long iron poker.
Captain Hook, is that you?
Potatoes are strung up on short skewers and placed against the inner wall of the vat.
Over 1,600 potatoes are grilled each day.
The two potatoes have to be spaced apart on the skewer, to ensure fire can get to each part of the potatoes.
These beer bottle caps are used as a sort of stopper.
6 -7 pm every day is the rush hour for the barbecue restaurant.
It takes about forty to fifty minutes to grill the potatoes.
When they are cooked to about medium well, they are taken out of the vat and basted in soy sauce and grilled again.
烤土豆 grilled potato
No need for chopsticks or forks and spoons.
Crispy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside.
Best eaten with a special chilli sauce that’s sweet and spicy at the same time.
Jianshui, Yunnan Province
A giant water well.
Water fetched from this well is used to make the famous Jianshui tofu.
There’s only one (preferred) way of eating Jianshui tofu—grilling.
They look like chicken nuggets.
Little golden pillows.
Mr Li and his daughter run a barbecue restaurant together.
Residents at Jianshui live at a leisurely pace.
They do everything with a laid-back, “slow and steady” attitude, including barbecue.
Tofu is grilled over a small fire, until the outside is slightly burnt but the inside remains moist and gooey.
Keep turning each piece of tofu over and over, with a pair of chopsticks.
Once it’s ready, you squash the tofu with the palm of your hand, then dip it in a sauce.
Backpackers discover this barbecue shop.
They say grilled tofu tastes like fried ice cream??
Locals of Jianshui can sit here all day, talking, eating, drinking, and singing.
Yichang, Hubei Province
Late at night, members of a local rock band relax at a barbecue stand.
This is Ms Eggplant. (Now Mrs, since she’s married to the owner of the oyster barbecue stand next door.)
The specialty at her stand?
Grilled eggplant, of course.
The eggplant is cut open. Add egg and minced garlic.
Eggplants are bought locally. They are different from the purple-coloured eggplants from the north: thinner skin, fleshier, and contain less water.
Grilling eggplant is not as simple as just tossing it onto the grill.
They have to make the minced garlic.
And mix spices and condiments.
The exact recipe is a secret that only the wife knows about.
Garlic with various spices is deep-fried for ten to fifteen minutes.
Grilled eggplant tastes like meat.
This looks much better than the grilled eggplant I’ve ordered once from a local barbecue restaurant, which shall remain unnamed. It looks like this:
Can you see the eggplant? It’s smothered in a whole boatload of garlic, which has completely overwhelmed and covered up the taste of eggplant. If I wasn’t the one who ordered it, I wouldn’t even know what I was eating. And it cost 50 RMB per plate.
Eating veggies is good for your health, but don’t overdo it, or you’ll drive your dog crazy.