Chinese snacks may not yet be too well-known in the West, but when you visit the country and follow your nose, you are sure to find some Heavenly treats on the streets! Here are a dozen of my absolute favourites!
Youtiao is often known as the “Chinese Doughnut” and is a long, deep-fried strip of dough. Conventionally, youtiao are lightly salted and made so they can be torn lengthwise in two. Youtiao can be eaten at breakfast but they are increasingly eaten as street food across China.
For something a little different, why not try some of China’s famous Fried Ice Cream? Although fried ice cream did not originate in China, it is still eaten voraciously, especially in the south, and it is easy to find vendors selling it from their food carts in larger cities.
You Danzi are amazing radish fritters that originated on the streets of Shanghai. You cannot walk around the city without seeing these being fried on the sidewalk, and the added bonus is that often these fritters are additionally filled with chili paste!
Tanghulu is a traditional Chinese snack of candied fruit. It originated from northern China, but it is now commonly available in most Chinese cities. It consists of fruits covered in hard candy on bamboo skewers that make for a nice change to some of the more “exotic” skewered foods found in Chinese markets!
A prominent part of Shanghainese cuisine, Shengjianbao are small steamed buns that are usually filled with pork and gelatin that melts into soup when cooked. They are cooked in a different way to normal Baozi. It is normal to order a good handful of Shengjianbao buns with every purchase.
A trip to Hong Kong wouldn’t be the same without trying some of the readily available Egg Waffles that you will see being cooked up on the streets. These waffles are a Hong Kong speciality!
Jianbing is a kind of wrap and is known as the Chinese version of a doner kebab. Often eaten as street food, the jianbing can also be made at home to wrap leftovers from a previous meal.
Rou Jia Mo is a street food originating from Shaanxi Province and now widely consumed all over China. The meat is most commonly pork, stewed for hours in a soup containing over 20 spices and seasonings. Although it is possible to use only a few spices (which many vendors do), the resulting meat is less flavourful. The meat is minced or chopped, then mixed with coriander and mild peppers, and stuffed in “mo”, which is a type of flatbread.
Put Chai Ko is a soft pudding famous in Hong Kong. Traditionally, street food vendors insert two bamboo skewers into the pudding to turn it out and the eater holds the skewers to consume. Nowadays, however, Put Chai Ko are mostly sold in plastic bags.
Measuring about 10cm in diameter, Baozi is a type of filled bun (similar to Korean Mandu or Japanese Gyoza). Baozi can be filled with almost anything, but lamb, chicken, and fish are the most common fillings. As street food, baozi are served individually, and usually purchased for take-away, although in restaurants orders can consist of a ‘bamboo basket’ containing up to 10 pieces. Most street vendors in China will offer a small dish of vinegar and soy sauce, for dipping.
Originating from Fujian Province, Popiah is a soft spring roll made with a pancake. It is also eaten a lot in Taiwan and across South East Asia. It is eaten in accompaniment with hoisin sauce or shrimp paste sauce. The Popiah filling contains stir-fried turnip, bean sprouts, lettuce leaves, slices of Chinese sausage, fried tofu, and shredded omelette.
Chuan Chuan Xiang is a Sichuan speciality that often comes in tandem with the traditional Sichuan Hotpot. These skewers of meat are dipped and coated in fiery spices and sold piping hot from street food vendors.
And of course, whatever street food you’ve just snacked on in China, be sure to wash it down with some of Hong Kong’s traditional milk tea!