When traveling in China, you should definitely make sure you go on a Xian tour as not only does Xian city have a fascinating history, but it also has exquisite Shaanxi food. Shaanxi food is said to be the tastiest way to get transported back to ancient China, and we couldn’t agree more.
Shaanxi food characterizes in aromatic, tasty, and spicy dishes, with heavy ingredients such as lamb, beef, garlic, onion, vinegar, and is strongly influenced by Islamic cuisine, thanks to the large Muslim community in the area.
For those on a Xian tour for the first time, exploring Chinese cuisines, Shaanxi food is a good entry point. The wide array of noodles, bread, and dumplings are a culinary delight for locals and tourists alike.
Wondering which Shaanxi food you must try on your multi-day China tour? Keep reading, and find out all about the old and new of Shaanxi cuisine.
Shaanxi cuisine, a rich culinary history
The culinary history of Shaanxi cuisine is one of the world’s longest, and one of the richest too. According to written materials, the first major features of Shaanxi cuisine, such as its diverse ingredients, refined cutting and cooking techniques, and rich flavors, could be traced back to as early as the West Zhou Dynasty, a few thousand years ago.
Shaanxi cooking took on more of a scientific approach from the early Qin Dynasty onwards. Especially Master Lu’s Spring and Autumn Annals, one of the core Chinese classics, had a profound influence on the further development of Shaanxi cuisine. In that time, Xian became China’s very first capital, giving Shaanxi cuisine an enormous popularity boost.
Once the starting point of the Silk Road, Shaanxi cuisine has been shaped by a range of cultures and religions, with Islamic influence being particularly strong. In fact, the consumption of beef and lamb in Shaanxi is much higher than in any other place in China.
The strong and heavy flavors of Shaanxi food
Compared to other Chinese cuisines, Shaanxi dishes have strong and heavy flavors. Shaanxi cooks love to spice things up, with ingredients such as garlic, onion, chili, ginger, and cumin. Vinegar is also a Shaanxi favorite, while sugar is only used sparingly to improve a dish’s umami taste.
Rain isn’t abundant on the Guanzhong Plain, which makes wheat the main crop in the Shaanxi region. That’s why Shaanxi people go crazy for noodles, especially the hand-pulled Biang Biang Mian (or trouser belt noodles). When it comes to noodles, the motto in Shaanxi is: the bigger, the better! In fact, many Shaanxi signature dishes are characterized by colossal noodles, the size of a belt, however no less delicious than their smaller counterparts.
Another notable Shaanxi dishes is Calabash chicken (or Huluji), a lightly breaded and fried chicken dish and an absolute local’s favorite. You might also want to try sour and spicy pork sauce noodles (Saozi Mian), famous for its five features: thin, chewy, hot, sour, and fragrant.
Or how about a Chinese hamburger (or Roujiamo)? It’s like a regular hamburger, but with a much longer history. The perfect Roujiamo is made with traditionally baked leavened bread, pocketed with shredded meat that has been braised for hours. Locals usually have Roujiamo with Liangpi (or cold noodles). The most basic way to serve cold noodles is drizzled with a sauce of chili oil, pepper, vinegar, garlic, and topped with bean sprouts and sliced cucumber.
When in Xian, do as the Xianese do
One typically Shaanxi street food that’s worth trying is Chuan’r, or kebab. Though common throughout China, the best way to enjoy Chuan’r is by sharing them with friends, while drinking a beer late at night, at an outdoor night stall in Xian.
Since you’re in Xian already, why not try an aromatic, tasty, and spicy bowl of Yangrou Paomo? Yangrou Paomo is Xian’s signature dish of shredded flatbread soaked in mutton broth. Eating it can be a uniquely relaxing experience. That is if you do it the right way.
Here’s how to do it:
You’ll be served two pieces of flatbread in a bowl, and it’s your job to tear the bread into small pieces. A tiresome task, but totally worth it according to the locals. Next, you sit down with the locals and trade gossip, while your flatbread crumbles are being cooked in mutton soup with rice noodles. Once the bits of bread a fully soaked in soup and flavor, the stew will be topped with slices of lamb or beef of your choice. Finally, pickled sweet garlic is added to complete the dish.
Is your mouth is watering already? Why not book one of our many Xian tours. Discover the ancient former capital of China, with its melting pot of cultures, and experience the richly cultural Shaanxi cuisine that comes with it. Book online or talk to one of our China tour experts today.
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