As a country with a vast territory and a large population, China is a nation with 55 ethnic minorities. In the areas where ethnic minorities live in a compact community, there are rich and unique ethnic catering cultures. distinctively reflecting the characteristics of each ethnic minority. In the Hundred Flowers Garden of Chinese Cooking, ethnic minority cuisine styles enjoy a high prestige all over the country with their unique cooking techniques and famous dishes.
The Zhuang has the largest population among China's ethnic minorities. The Zhuang people are good at preparing various dishes, which have special Zhuang flavors. During festivals and celebrations, various kinds of ethnic dishes are prepared, including famous ones, such as Torch Pork, Zijiang Hare Meat, Fried Pseudo-Ginseng and Spotted Frogs, etc,
With the largest population among all ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, the Uygur people believe in Islam and follow many taboos. As for food, they are forbidden to eat pork, donkey and mule meat, dog meat, blood of various kinds of animals, and the meat of animals that died of illness. Wheat, corn and rice are their staple food, and their daily food includes nang (a kind of crusty pancake), rice cooked with mutton, carrots and raisins and eaten with fingers, tea with milk, kehabs, steamed buns with stuffing and thin skin, melons and fruits.
The staple foods of the Mongolian people include flour, rice, meat and milk products, in addition to the snacks of butter and meat eaten with fingers.
The Manchu people follow the similar customs with the Han. In the past the Manchu people liked to eat millets, glutinous millet rice and buns. Their unique foods include boiled pork, hot pork and saqima (a kind of candied fritter). The Manchu people love to eat boiled, steamed and instant-boiled meat, and various kinds of chafing dishes. They are forbidden to eat dog meat.
The Bai people are good at making salted ham, sausage, fish, fried pork liver, oily chicken and snail sauce. Bai women excel in preparing preserved fruits, such as candied plums. The Bai people are especially hospitable. Whenever a guest comes, he or she will be invited to take the seat of honor and be entertained with tea, eight bowls of dishes and three plates of fruits.
Located on the plateau, Tibet has mystical natural scenic spots. Thanks to the accumulations over the past several thousand years, the Tibetan people have formed their unique customs and catering culture. The most famous Tibetan dishes are: Fried Walnuts and Fresh Mushroom, Fried Lamb Chop, Tibetan Meatballs, Roast Whole Sheep, Stewed Mushrooms and Mutton, etc.
The Chinese people have a tradition of eating dishes prepared with seasonal vegetables, bean products, edible funguses and fruits. Vegetarian dishes are light, delicious and refreshing. Some of them look as if they were made of meat. All of them are nutritious, showing the combination of colors, tastes, smells and shapes.
Many vegetarian restaurants are good at preparing bean products and imitated meat dishes. Temples in many famous mountains are known for their vegetarian dishes, such as Mount Emei in Sichuan, Jiuhua Mountain in Anhui, Putuo Mountain in Zhejiang, Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai, Baoguang Temple in Chengdu, Guiyuan Temple in Wuhan, South Putuo Mountain in Xiamen, Darning Temple in Yangzhou and Kaiyuan Temple in Quanzhou. Famous vegetarian restaurants in China are: Shanghai Gongdelin, Beijing Quansuzhai, Guangzhou Caigenxiang, Hangzhou Daodelin and Nanjing Luliuju.
Famous vegetarian dishes: Ham, Fried Kidney, Sour Yellow Croaker, Thick Soup of Osmanthus Flowers and chesnuts, Braised Bamboo Shoots with Distillers' Grains, Sourp Carp, Dinghu Lake Excellent Vegetables, Fried Mushrooms and White Gourd, Shark's Fin, Chicken, Duck, Sweet and Sour Fish, Crab Meat, Sea Cucumbers and Wensi Bean Curd, which are all made of bean products and vegetables.
The Hui people believe in Islam and excel in preparing beef, mutton and fowl dishes. The Huis are keen on drinking tea, and mainly eat food prepared with flour. Famous Hui dishes include Roast Whole Sheep, Hot Pot and Roast Mutton, in addition to some local flavours such as handpulled wide noodles, cakes made of mixed flour, steamed twisted rolls, deep-fried flour dough twists, etc. Famous Islamic restaurants include Donglaishun Restaurant in Beijing and Islamic Ma Xiangxing Restaurant.
In addition, Islamic snacks of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, which originated from Islamic dishes, mainly serve people in northwest China. Thanks to constant absorption of quintessence of other culinary cultures, Ningxia Islamic snacks have become an important component part of Chinese snacks.
Ningxia Islamic Snacks
Noodles with Wild Mushrooms from Helan Mountain
It is a famous snack, popular in Yinchuan City at the eastern foot of Helan Mountain. Noodles are prepared with wild mushrooms grown in the forests of Helan Mountain, hence the name. Such noodles are smooth and refreshing, with mushroom fragrance.
Mutton Eaten with Fingers
Mutton eaten with fingers is a famous traditional snack. Almost all places in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region can prepare such mutton. Wuzhong City has a history of nearly 100 years of producing this snack. Hence it is also known as Wuzhong mutton eaten with fingers. In the past stalls by the street sold mutton, and customers picked up and ate it with fingers. Though now customers no longer eat mutton with fingers, this snack is still called Mutton Eaten with fingers.
Guozi is a famous flour food, which is very popular in Wuzhong, Yinchuan and Tongxin. On traditional festivals and when entertaining friends and guests, guozi is served.
Daba Dough Twist
Daba dough twists are a popular flour food prepared by the people of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region to present to friends on traditional festivals or entertain honored guests. Usually, when tasting dough twists, guests are also served with tea, full of local ethnic flavor.
Fried Huahua (flour dough twists)
As a folk local snack, many places in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region can make Fried Huahua. Fried huahua made by Yinchuan City is the most famous. With an elegant shape, fried huahua is soft and crispy, often served at the banquet.
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