Beijing food refers to the various specialties prepared using the unique cooking styles, techniques and locally available ingredients as per the Mandarin cuisine followed in Beijing city, China, which bears the strong influence of the Shandong culinary arts and the Chinese Imperial cuisine. Some common recipes from the cuisine of the city include boiled mutton, pecking duck, watermelon jelly and noodles. The food of the region also incorporates many elements from the past as the cuisine of Beijing majorly evolved during the period of the historical Qing Dynasty.
Historical Influence on Beijing Cuisine
The cuisine of Beijing underwent a dramatic change during the Qing dynasty, which was also famous by the name Manchu Dynasty. The dynasty was the last ruling dynasty of the country during the period 1644-1912. There were several foodservice establishments in the country during the Qing Empire catering to different segments of the country from the royal class to the extremely poor class. Throughout the period, this culinary cultural trend prevailed in the country and was only changed a little after the rule was over, when a person having good amount of money in hand could buy the food from the foodservice establishment which was earlier only serving the royal class and aristocrats. Further, the freedom given to chefs with respect to changing jobs enabled them to spread their innovative techniques and skills in the culinary field all over Beijing, hence helping in the development of cuisine of Beijing in a considerable way.
Popular Foods from Beijing Cuisine
The Beijing food is popularly categorized into three categories, as given below:
- Peking Duck– this refers to a duck based dish where the seasoned duck is roasted in a hung or closed oven and served with spring onions, pan cakes and bean sauce (sweet). This popular non vegetarian Beijing dish is served notably in Bianyifang and Quanjude restaurants of Beijing.
- Instant boiled mutton– the lamb is cut into pieces, put in boiled water and served with a sauce made up of chili oil, sesame sauce and leek as the vital ingredients.
- Hot and sour soup- this is considered to be regional sour and spicy dish of Beijing, which is normally meat based and contains ingredients like day lily buds, bamboo shoots, wood ear fungus, and tofu, where pork blood is sometimes added to broth for flavor.
- Xi Gua Lao(Watermelon jelly) – This is a Beijing dish of cherries, sugar, watermelon, vanilla powder and agar (a gelatinous substance).
- Fuling jiabing– this is a Beijing food famous as snack item, which is similar to pancake, where sugar, flour, and fuling (Poria) are rolled around honey, nuts and several other kinds of ingredients.
Several other vegetarian dishes like Mustardy Chinese cabbage, Beijing candied fruit, pancake etc are also popular in the city.
The cuisine of Beijing is considered to be incomplete without noodles, where both vegetarian and non vegetarian types of noodles are immensely popular, with “noodles with thick gravy” and “naked oats noodles” being the two widely served among various Beijing food items.