BEIJING DISHES

1. Thousand-year-old Eggs

These raw duck eggs are put into mud, chalk, and ammonia and left, not for 1,000 years, but several weeks. When retrieved, the yolk and white both appear darker in color. The eggs are either sprinkled with soy sauce and sesame oil, or served in rice porridge.

2. Hot Pot

Introduced to Beijing in the 13th century by the Mongols, hot pot is a much-loved staple. Hundreds of restaurants across the city sell this dish. Everybody sits around a large bubbling pot of broth dropping in their own shavings of meat, noodles, and vegetables to cook.

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Mongolian fire hot pot

3. Zha Jiang Mian

The name means “clanging dish noodles” – like hot pot, ingredients are added at the table to a central tureen of noodles, and the bowls are loudly clanged together as each dish goes in, hence the name.

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Zha jiang mian

4. Beijing Duck

This is arguably one of the best-known dishes in north Chinese cuisine. The duck, a local Beijing variety, is dried and brushed with a sweet marinade before being roasted over fragrant wood chips. It is carved by the chef and then eaten wrapped in pancakes with slivered scallions (spring onions) and cucumber.

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Whole roasted Beijing duck

5. La Mian

Watching a cook make la mian (hand-pulled noodles) is almost as enjoyable as eating them. First the dough is stretched and then swung like a skipping rope, so that it becomes plaited. The process is repeated several times, until the strands of dough are as thin as string.

6. Sweet and Sour Carp

Beijing cooking is heavily influenced by the cuisine of Shandong Province, generally regarded as the oldest and best in China. Sweet and sour carp is a quintessential Shandong dish traditionally made with fish from the Yellow River.

7. Stir-fried Kidney Flowers

These are pork kidneys cut in a criss-cross fashion and stir-fried, during which they open out like “flowers.” The kidneys are typically prepared with bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and edible black fungus.

8. Drunken Empress Chicken

This dish is supposedly named for Yang Guifei, an imperial concubine who was overly fond of her alcohol. The dish is prepared using Chinese wine and is served cold.

9. Jiaozi

Traditional Beijing dumplings are filled with pork, bai cai (Chinese leaf), and ginger but, in fact, fillings are endless. You can find jiaozi at snack shops all over the city. They are also sold on the street, either steamed or fried on a giant hot plate over a brazier.

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Steamer stacked with various dumplings

10. Lamb and Scallions

Scallions (spring onions) are a common Beijing ingredient and in this dish they are rapidly stir-fried along with sliced lamb, garlic, and a sweet-bean paste.

TOP 10 BEIJING STREET FOODS

1. Lu da gun’r

Literally “donkeys rolling in dirt”: sweet red-bean paste in a rice dough dusted with peanut powder.

2. Jian bing

A Chinese crêpe often sold off the back of tricycles. It is a typical Beijing breakfast dish.

3. Shao bing

Hot bread roll sometimes filled with a fried egg and often sprinkled with aniseed for flavoring.

4. Tang chao lizi

Chestnuts, roasted in sugar and hot sand and served in a paper bag. A seasonal snack appearing in autumn.

5. Hong shu

A winter specialty, these are baked sweet potatoes, often heated in ovens made from oil drums.

6. Chuan’r

In any area with lots of bars and clubs you’ll find street vendors selling chuan’r (kebabs). They cost just a few yuan per skewer.

7. Baozi

These delicious steamed dumplings are cooked in bamboo baskets. Typical fillings include pork, chicken, beef, or vegetables and tofu.

8. Rou bing

Cooked bread filled with finely chopped and spiced pork. A variant is rou jiamo, which is a bun packed with finely diced lamb.

9. You tiao

Deep-fried dough sticks, often dipped in warm congee (a rice porridge).

10. Tang hu lu

A kebab of candied hawthorn berries.

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Skewered berries in a tang hu lu

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