Top 10 Chinese Breakfast - What the Chinese Eat in the Morning

Chinese breakfast is various in ingredients and tastes in different places. In northern China, a serving of breakfast is generous and the food is often highly seasoned while breakfast in southern regions is usually exquisite and light. The followings list the top 10 foods for Chinese breakfasts:

1. Steamed Stuffed Buns

Steamed Stuffed Buns
Steamed Stuffed Buns

For most Chinese, eating a basket of steaming stuffed buns and a bowl of porridge marks the most satisfying beginning of a day. If you walk along the streets in the morning, it is common to find people queuing in front of bamboo steamers of the breakfast stands or shops for a few buns. Chef often uses minced meat or vegetables to fill dough wrappers and then put these buns in a steamer for heating. The fillings vary from region to region. The most popular ones in northern areas are the mixture of ground pork and green onions, secondly mutton, leeks, sweetened bean paste, mushrooms, and cabbage, while people in southern cities prefer to use crab meat and roe to make the steamed buns. Among them, Tianjin Goubuli Steamed buns and Shanghai Nanxiang buns win great popularity throughout the country.

2. Pancake Rolled With Crisp Fritter

The authentic pancake can be bought at roadside booths and workshops as well as snack streets. Lettuce, eggs, hams, and crispy fritter are common ingredients and are usually wrapped in a thin layer of bean flour pancake. Special sauce, as well as chopped green onions and pickled cowpeas, are also added to enhance the flavor. Usually, a complete set of pancake only takes less than 3 minutes to finish, which makes it the first-choice Chinese breakfast for most people.

3. Soybean Milk

For breakfast, soybean milk is to Chinese as coffee is to westerners. It is a very nourishing beverage, especially high in calcium, and is well liked by people of all ages. In addition to its original flavor, people in northern regions like to pour some sugar into the soybean milk and drink it with fried bread sticks, but southerners, especially old Shanghainese, have a preference for salty taste and usually add dried shrimps, nori, and pickles in it.

4. Fried Bread Sticks

As one of the frequent Chinese breakfasts, the fried bread stick tastes crispy when eating alone. Deep-fried in the scalding oil, each bread stick becomes fluffy and is colored golden yellow on the surface. However, it is not the best way to taste alone for most Chinese.

Fried Bread Sticks & Soybean Milk
In most Chinese people’s minds, the fried bread stick is the gold partner of soybean milk. Some people also like to dip it in the soybean milk for a few seconds to enjoy the magical mixed flavor of the two kinds of food. The fried bread stick will become softer with a fragrant and sweet flavor of the soybean milk.

5. Milk and Soymilk

A carton of milk and some pieces of bread have become a typical Chinese breakfast for young people, especially students, to replenish nutrition for it is convenient to take to the workplace or classroom. There is also a large proportion of people like to drink soymilk which is proved to better meet the physical characteristics of Chinese and protein contained in it can be better absorbed by their body.

6. Bread

With the pace of life speeding up, healthier and more convenient breakfast is preferred by people especially office workers, and bread can definitely meet their demands as it can be easily bought in bakeries, convenient stores, supermarkets, and breakfast stands and there are various flavors for choice. Since bread doesn’t give out strong smells in the air like other traditional Chinese breakfasts such as steamed buns and pancakes, a lot of people would like to take it to the office.


7. Porridge

To most Chinese, there is nothing more comfortable than having a bowl of warm porridge after waking up. Cooking porridge has been a tradition in the whole country for thousands of years, but the northern and southern regions have a disagreement in its taste. Porridge in northern areas is of sweet flavor and the recipe is quite simple that only includes cereals while people in the south would like to add meat, seafood, and preserved eggs when cooking to make it tastes a little salty and fresh.

8. Eggs

Eating an egg in the morning is an accepted way in China to replenish energy and nutrition for the whole morning. It is easy to cook at home. The most common way is to put eggs directly in boiling water and they will be cooked after less than 5 minutes. To add more flavors, spices, such as tea, star anises, and Sichuan Pepper, will be poured in the water. In this way, the water will turn puce and even color the egg whites brown. This kind of tea egg is very popular for Chinese breakfast.

Steamed Egg Custard
Steamed Egg Custard

9. Wonton

Wonton has a similar appearance with dumplings but uses thinner dough skins to wrap minced meat and is smaller in size. Cooked in a light broth with dried shrimps, nori and chopped green onions for a few minutes, wrappers of wonton will become a little transparent and would melt in the mouth when you take a bite. Southerners also like to add noodles in the broth to eat along with the wonton.

10. Bean Curd Jelly

Another popular food of Chinese breakfast is bean curd jelly. As its name indicates, the bean curd jelly has conquered the stomach of Chinese with its tender and smooth texture. Just like porridge, the taste is also different in northern and southern China but to the contrary. People in the northern areas prefer to eat bean curd jelly of salt flavor serving with chili oil, soy sauce, and pickles, but in the south, it is sweetened with sugar.

- Last updated on Apr. 21, 2021 -
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