Doing A Silk Road Tour? Check out These Tasty Foods Made of Flour

Many foreigners fall in love with China for various delicious foods. Do you know that the people in the northern part of China like food made of flour and the people in the southern part prefer food made of rice? Wonder why? Actually, rice is grown in the south of China, while wheat is grown in the north of China, which makes the difference. This all started about 4,000 years ago when wheat was brought to China from western Asia. Archaeologists found a large number of remains of wheat in the Hexi Corridor region, a must-stop on the famous ancient Silk Road. The discovery has shown that the Hexi Corridor is an important route of wheat entering China. Over time, wheat even surpassed millet as the staple food in the Yellow River Basin. Although the Silk Road is not the same link between China and the outside world as it was before, no more camels carrying goods through the endless desert, the delicious foods made of flour have been retained and loved by generation after generation. Are you ready for a Silk Road food journey with us? This will make you drool on your keyboard.

  1. Biang Biang Noodles

Biang biang noodle, one of “Ten Oddities in Middle Shaanxi”, is very wide and thick like a belt. Garnished with some green vegetables, mixed with a special sauce, and then flash-seared with hot vegetable oil on chili powder with a sizzle, a big bowl of hearty noodles is done.

This dish is not only delicious but also very interesting. It got the name “biang biang” from the sound of the noodle being smashed against the board, and the Chinese character “biang” in the picture below is one of the most complex Chinese characters with 56 strokes. If you are interested in learning Chinese, you can try to write this Chinese character. Most Chinese people don’t know how to write it. Xian is the best place for you to try the authentic Biang Biang noodles, don’t forget to put it on your list of “Top Things to Do in Xian“!

Biang Biang Noodles
  1. Qishan Noodles with Minced Pork

Noodle with minced meat is a traditional dish in the eastern Gansu and middle Shaanxi, and Qishan County’s noodle is the best-known. Authentic Qishan noodles with minced pork should meet a few requirements. The noodles must be thin, chewy, and glossy, and the soup must be sour, spicy, and savory. Usually there are ingredients such as diced carrots, wood-ear mushroom, tofu, and sliced thin omelet. You will feel very warm if you have a bowl of steaming hot noodles in winter.

Qishan Noodles with Pork
  1. Lanzhou Steamed Cold Noodles

In addition to the famous Lanzhou hand-pulled beef noodle, steamed cold noodle is also well worth a try. Yummy and inexpensive, it is very popular on hot summer days. It seems simple to make this dish, but it takes a lot of time and energy. The first step is to knead a dough. Then put the dough into water and start washing starch out of the dough until the dough is slightly gray with tiny holes (replace water several times and collect water). After letting the collected water sit for a few hours, it’s time to steam. Seasoned with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic juice, chili oil, salt, and of course, sesame paste, it is so refreshing. You can’t go wrong with it.

Lanzhou Steamed Cold Noodles
  1. Tianshui Noodles with Pickled Vegetable Soup

The key to this special Tianshui noodle is the pickled vegetable soup which is very easy to make. Just put vegetables like alfalfa in a sealed porcelain pot for 3 days. Tianshui people like it very much. It tastes sour, spicy, and very delicious. It can even help relieve summer heat and fatigue. This noodle was once the main food of Tianshui people in difficult times. Although people live a good life now, they still love this plain and simple noodle.

Tianshui Noodles with Pickled Vegetable Soup
  1. Wuwei Set Meal

If you ask what is the most classic food in Wuwei, the answer is the set meal including a bowl of noodles, a cup of tea, and a plate of stewed meat. It’s said that the ancient Wuwei people combined the three different things for a Qing Dynasty general called Zuo Zongtang on his way to Xinjiang to put down a rebellion. The general and his soldiers enjoyed the meal very much.

The noodle served with the thick marinade and a generous amount of vegetables is rich in flavor. The tea concocted from up to 6 ingredients (rock candy, longan, walnut, red date, wolfberry, and Fuzhuan tea) is a nourishing drink and tastes sweet. The meat simmered gently for a long time is thoroughly cooked but not mushy, fat but not greasy. This set meal will greatly satisfy your taste buds.

Wuwei Set Meal
  1. Zhangye Fried “Firecrackers”

The firecracker here is not a firework that makes several loud bangs when it is lit. The noodle is just pinched into the shape of a firecracker, 2.5 to 3 cm long. This dish is a traditional food in Zhangye. The soft smooth small “firecrackers” are easy to digest and leave a lingering aftertaste in your mouth. You can add some chili oil and soy sauce if you like. Remember to ask for a bowl of water in which the noodles have been boiled like the locals do.

Zhangye Fried “Firecrackers”
  1. Qinghai Patches

The patch is the most common home-cooked meal in Qinghai. The patch is not rolled out by using a rolling pin but pulled by hand. You may not know that it was once a kind of “fast food” of Qinghai people on a long trip. Because Qinghai is a vast and sparsely populated province, it was not easy to find a proper place to spend the night on the way, let alone something to eat. So people just put up a tent and made this simple food which only needed some flour, a bowl, water, and a pot. As time went by, it gradually went into kitchens, and Qinghai people came up with versions of various ingredients.

Qinghai Patches
  1. Yellow Noodles with Donkey Meat

Yellow noodle with donkey meat is a famous Dunhuang dish and has a long history. If you ever visit Mogao Grottoes, you may have chance to see the vivid murals about making yellow noodles in Cave 156. And it’s not easy to make the noodles. Can you imagine a cook has to pull a dough, about 2.5 to 3 kg, into very thin noodles with his hands? Cooks definitely need a lot of practice and must be physically strong. Topped with mushroom, tofu, and donkey meat, the noodles are so tasty and can work up your appetite. BTW, donkey meat of high protein, low fat, and low cholesterol has higher nutritional value than beef and pork.

Yellow Noodles with Donkey Meat

These are only a small part of the delicious foods made of flour along the Silk Road. You can seek out the hidden gems on your Silk Road tour and share with us the foods you like most. Then we will share them with the world and inspire more people to try something new and different.