|article selected from Travel China weekly|
Nanjing's snacks have a long history, and the Temple of Confucius is the origin of Nanjing's snacks and also the place where most of the snacks with a district local flavor are to be found.
During the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-479) the Temple of Confucius was the place where merchants concentrated, and during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911) life at the Temple of Confucius became more brisk. Restaurants, teahouses, wine taverns and small eateries could be found everywhere. There were restaurants and street venders as well as snack dealers, but most were small businesses with limited capital. To survive, they have to constantly improve their technology, and their skills he been handed down from generation to generation. Over time different specialties have been deveploped.
Now some larger snack restaurants, such as Qifangge, Yongheyuan, Qinhuai Renjia, and Kuiguangge also, offer snack feasts for tourist groups.
Yongheyuan's Huangqiao Sesame Seed Cake and Kaiyang Dried Vermicelli
Yongheyuan Restaurant is 100 years old, and it provides more than 100 kinds of snacks.
To make the sesame cake there are 10 steps which have to be followed, including kneading dough, making a crispy base, mixing in oil, adding scallions, making a coating of malt sugar, and sprinkling with sesame seeds. The cake is made in the shape of a crab shell, and each layer is as thin as paper with a crispy texture.
Kaiyang Dried Vermicelli is made from fine quality soy bean. First, soy beans are ground and made into sheets. After being boiled, it is shredded into vermicelli, then boiled again. The next step is to boil it in a chicken soup together with rice. When serving, shredded ginger is added. The vermicelli id delicious and has the fragrance of chicken soup.
Jiangyouji's Beef Soup and Beef-stuffed Guotie ( Lightly Fried Dumplings)
Jiangyouji is a 100-year-old restaurant. To make beef soup, the chef selects some prime beef, soaks it in water to remove the blood, then stews it after adding scallions, ginger and salt. When the beef is done, remove the beef, let if cool and then slices it into thin slices. To eat, add beef slices to the boiling beef soup. The soup and beef are both delicious and non-greasy.
To cook beef-stuffed guotie the first thing to do is to get some minced fresh beef. Next ass some MSG, sugar,soy sauce, vegetable oil, sesame oil, chopped scallions, ginger and a little bit of water. After mixing well, knead the dough. To make dough stronger you should add flour mixed with water that is 80 degrees centigrade. When the dough is tenacious, make round shins, and put the mixture in the center of the round skin and wrap into the shape of a boat. To finish lightly fry them in a frying pan.
Liufengjy's Jellied Beancurd and Fried Scallion Pancake
When founded in 1939, both Liufengju and Deshunju restaurants sold jellied beancurd and scallion pancakes. In a fierce battle, Liufengju got the upper hand, and in 1956 the two merged into one, though it till calling itself Liufengju Restaurant.
Qifangge's vegetable-stuffed steamed buns.
To make jellied beancurd, use good soy bean as the raw material. First, grind the soy beans together with water and sift it through a gauze. Pour the soy bean milk into a bucket and add gypsum which will make it coagulate, To serve, put the jellied beancurd in a bowl and sprinkle with diced edible fungus, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, pork, and hot pickled mustard tuber. Finally add seasonings such as sesame oil, soy sauce, MSG, sugar, and chopped scallion. The beancurd is as white as jade and if the seasonings are properly matched, the snack is simply delicious.
The key to cooking a good fried scallion pancake lies in the kneading of dough. The temperature of the water which is mixed with the flour should be decided according to the season. Salt and chopped scallions are added to the dough, and round pancakes are lightly fried in a frying pan until it turns a golden color.
Qifangge's Duck-Oil Crispy Sesame Seed Cake, Steamed Assorted Vegetable-Stuffed Buns, Sesame Oil Vegetarian Dried Vermicelli, and Shredded Chicken Gravy Noodle.
Qifangge, founded during Emperor Guanxi's reign (1862-1875) in the Qing Dynasty, is the oldest Nuslim restaurant in the Temple of Confucius. Duck-Oil Crisy Sesame Seed Cake is plump, has many layers, is golden brown, crispy and most importantly, is delicious.
To make steamed assorted vegetable-stuffed buns, mince green-leafed vegetables, add minced edible fungus, mushrooms, dried day lily flowers, shrimp, dried bamboo shoots, roasted sesame deeds, and salt. Mix them all together. Next wrap small potions of the mixture in the dough skins, The steamed vegetable-stuffed buns are called "jadeite buns."
The sesame oil vegetarian dried vermicelli id not bitter, but slightly sweet and salty. It is also delightfully soft, which makes it pleasant to chew. Delicious!
Osmanthus Flower-Stuffed Small Yuanxiao and Five-Colored Small Cakes from the Lianhu Cake and Dumpling Restaurant
The shredded chicken gravy noodle has a clear stock and thin noodle. It is fragrant, delicious and pleasant on the eye.
Stuffed small yuanxiao is one of Nanjing's traditional sweet foods. The filling is made by mixing five kinds of kernels, ground sesame seeds, minced osmanthus flowers and sugar. After mixing well it is pressed into a cake, then cut into cubes. These cubes are put into a square-bottomed bamboo basket, sprinkled with a little water, before flour is added made of a glutinous rice. The basket is rocked so that the four evenly coats the cubes, which should become small stuffed balls. Next, boil the balls in water, adding sugar and osmanthus flowers. The yuanxiao will become as white as jade, and the fragrance of osmanthus flower will make your mouth water.
Five-colored small rice cakes come in five shapes and five varieties. The cakes are small and exquisite, soft and sweet, as well as being suitable for both adults and children.
Zhanyuan Noodle Restaurant's Smoked Fish Silver Thread Noodle and Thin-Skinned Steamed Dumplings
In cooking smoked fish noodle, the restaurant has introduced the cooking method of the Aozao noodle of Kunshan, Sunshan, and has combined it with its own traditional cooking methods. The noodles are red in color, and as well as a plump and juicy filling and tender meat. They are slightly salty and sweet, and are oily but not greasy.
Kuiguangge's Spiced Broad Beans and Spiced Eggs
To make spiced broad beans, first soak the beans in clear water. When they swell up, put them in a pot, add seasonings and boil on a high heat. Next put them on a low heat and stew them until the juice thickens. Remove and sprinkle with powdered spices.
Spiced eggs are specialty of the Temple of Confucius. Boil the eggs, remove the shells, and boil again in a pot with more than 10 kinds of species, including aniseeds, cassia bark and cloves, plus soy sauce and sugar. Stew on a low heat. When the eggs turn purple, remove and serve. The eggs are slightly salty and sweet, tender, fragrant and delicious.