Dunhuang Dining -- What to Eat
Located in Western China and bordering Xinjiang Province, Dunhuangs cuisine is influenced much by the nomads, Grilled Mutton being the most popular dish in both restaurants and hotels in this vibrant city. The cultural taste of Dunhuang dining though is far deeper. They draw on four distinct catering styles; including the Awe-inspiring Han Dynasty (206BC-220) (primarily barbecue based.), Atmospheric Tang Dynasty (618-907) (mouthwatering, aromatic and visual perfection.), The modern New Wave of Dunhuang (stressed in the special appearance of the dishes.) and the Various Snacks from Street vendors, local flavors that will satisfy any tourists' hunger pangs.
Developed and improved by Zhao Chang'an (master chef and restaurateur), Dunhuang Dishes are recognized as one of the New Eight Cuisines of China. Firstly, we will introduce some traditional dishes.
Camel Hoof on Silk Road
A dish, also known as Camel Hoof on Jokul, gained its name for the shape that is like camel prints on the Jokul. It is a known fact that the camel is the most important means of transportation along the ancient Silk Road. They can travel across the arid desert for great distances, aided by their four broad feet. Camel Hoof is actually tendon, and is highly nutritious. People hardly ever kill camels, and with its long life span, the hoof is difficult to find, and is almost as precious as bear palm. To prepare the hoof, clean and marinate it in water until soft, then flavor with some seasoning and steam it together with a chicken for seven or eight hours till the bones can be easily removed. Cut the hoof into pieces, add flavors braised in bamboo steamer for two or three hours. Finally, use egg white to make the jokul, put them together and make a shape of camel hoof on Jokul.
Stir-fried Hump with Five Shredding
This traditional Dunhuang dish was a favorite of high-ranking imperial concubine Yang Yuhuan of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The primary ingredient is Camel hump, accompanied with five shredding consists of Yulan (dryed bamboo shoot), Dongru (a type of mushroom), leek shoots, ham and chicken breast. It is featured in fat and the soft meat.
Cut the Camel hump into regular pieces or shredding and quick-fry them. Flavor with seasonings, and voila the finished fresh, soft and tasteful Quick-frying Hump.
The above dishes usually use Camels that die naturally, or are old and infirm as the ingredient. They are delicacies, and you should expect to pay accordingly. If tourists wanted to try such dishes, you should visit some famous hotels in Dunhuang City.
The local snacks are also attractive; here we have some recommended local flavors with simple introduction.
Three Treasures of Anxi - Suoyang Wine, Guazhou Melon and Shuangta Fish, is source of Anxi dining culture. Tourists should try them; otherwise your Dunhuang trip will be not complete.
Fry Oil Cake
Stuffed sugar candy, rose-essence, walnut and sesame in an oil flour skin that are rounded, and then fried. The cake tastes fragrant, sweet and crisp.
It is a kind of Lamian (dough stretched to form fine noodles). Yellow Noodles look like golden threads, tastes delicious and have a soft texture. They can be added to soups, or mixed with cooked vegetable dishes, and being savoury, makes a good appetitive. From the vivid painting in the Mogao Caves, we may know Lamian is a traditional food with long history.
Niang Pi Zi
It is a kind of traditional popular fast food that is both a little spicy and vinegary. Mix flour and water together into a bowl, then ladle the mixture onto an iron plate, after steaming one minute, the mixture become a wafer thin cake. Cut the cake into strips, leave until cool and flavor with mustard, garlic, capsicum, sauce and vinegar. It is similar to the tasteful Cold Noodles (Liang Pi) of Xian.
Apricot Peel Water
It is a popular drink in Dunhuang City, with a sweet and sour taste like syrup of Plum. It is the cooled boiling water of dry apricot, which is very refreshing, especially for tourists.