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Snack Banquet
in Nanjing

1 August 2006
 

Nanjing was the capital of the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD – 1644 AD) before the third Ming emperor relocated his "dragon seat" to Beijing.

Historically, the region around the ancient city of Suzhou had always been one of the major sources and centres of the Chinese civilisation, and more so after China was invaded by the Tartars, which forced the Northern Song Dynasty (960 AD – 1127 AD) to flee to the area south of the Yangtze River and became Southern Song Dynasty (1127 AD – 1279 AD). When the Ming’s administration moved to Beijing - by then a city surrounded with bleak landscape and backward economy - Jiangnan (the Yangtze delta area between Nanjing and Hangzhou) had continually been China’s economic and cultural centre. And it still is today, with Shanghai replaced Suzhou as the heart of the region.

The districts along the Qinhuai River have formed Nanjing’s commercial corridor. As the old saying has it, that in the spring, willows by the river were so lush looked as though two streams of smoke, while on the Moon Day night (15th day of the eighth lunar month), thousands of lanterns in all imaginable colours floated on the water, making the river shine like a fire dragon. And of course, the shops, restaurants and sing-song girl houses, that were so densely lining up along the shores, spreading in the air the inviting perfume of lady’s cosmetics and the soft sound of bamboo music and the tempting aroma of the local snacks.

Nanjing style snacks have long been famous, and the snacks created by the chefs at Confucian Temple (Fuzimiao夫子庙) were especially unique - the flavours change according to the weather and the season of the year.

Night scene of Nanjing

Today the snacks have become, arguably, the trademark of the Nanjing cuisine. At the Terrace with Late Afternoon Sun restaurant (Wanqinglou 晚晴楼) in the Confucian Temple you can even order a snack-only banquet.

A snack banquet

Below is the menu of a snack banquet:

Entree:

1, Hawthorn kebab – a kebab features five hawthorns, each of them filled with either a green plum, red jujube, walnut kernel or peanut;

2, Prawn balls with tomato sauce;

3, Steamed chicken fillet;

4, Salad.

Main Course:

1, Eggs slow cooked in tea and five spices (五香蛋) and broad beans seasoned with five spices (五香豆);

2, Fried radish pie (油炸萝卜丝饼) and spiced hot tofu (豆腐脑);

3, Steamed mixed vegetable buns (什锦菜包)

4, Bean sprouts braised with spiced dry tofu (烩卤干);

5, Fried beef dumpling (牛肉锅贴) and a stew of black dry fungus, dry mushrooms, chicken shreds and sliced bamboo shorts;

6, Steamed buns filled with sweet red bean paste (细沙包) and rice porridge stewed with lotus roots (糖藕粥).

Finish: a long banana, meaning see you again (长香蕉=常相交)

 
 
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