Chinese bread refers to the different kinds of breads typcial of the Chinese cuisine. Chinese breads are not relatively different from the breads popular in other cuisine, but the sweetness of the bread dough in China is much higher than that of the western cuisines.
The shape, size and ingredients of Chinese breads vary according to the recipe, but the unique feature that makes them stand apart from other breads is their fluffiness and softness. Flatbreads are extremely liked by Chinese and there are several variations of flatbreads that are commonly referred to by the term ‘Bing’ in Chinese culture.
History of Chinese Bread
In Chinese cuisine, no bread baking was practised till late 1200 AD after which the wheat flour, and most commonly the rice flour, began to be used in Chinese breads.
Types of Chinese Bread
A wide range of Chinese breads are available in local Chinese supermarkets and they can also be baked at home easily. The most common include:
- Mantou – Popularly known as Chinese steamed bread or bun, Mantou has its origin in China. Wheat flour is particularly used to make this bread that is kneaded with water and leavening agent. This bun can be made with or without any filling and it is most appropriately called as ‘working man’s lunch’ in China. Mantau is also available frozen in Asian supermarkets and can be readied for consumption by either heating or steaming in oven. Authentic Chinese restaurants even deep fry the mantao and serve it dipped in condensed milk.
- Bing – This is the Chinese term collectively used to refer flatbreads in Chinese cuisine. They are usually disc-shaped and relatively similar to western pancakes and French ‘Galette’. These breads are generally made with unleavened dough and particularly eaten during lunch. Ground meat is often filled in these flatbreads to add flavor and they are commonly cooked on griddle, though baked versions are equally favorable.
- Hua Juan – This is a unique Chinese Bread recipe that is famous for its shape as a flower. Due to its shape, Hua Juan is also known as ‘flower roll’. The ingredients, as usual, are all-purpose flour, yeast, baking powder, sesame oil, sugar, salt and water; expertise is needed to give the shape of flower to the dough. Steaming is particularly done to finish cooking the rolls or buns.
Health Facts Related to Chinese Bread
Chinese bread recipe generally include white flour either alone or mixed with rice flour. The rice flour adds the fiber to the bread dough that makes it gluten-free and light on palate. High-fiber helps in easy digestion and also wards off any intestinal disorders. Sesame oil or vegetable oil is generally used as shortening in Chinese bread, providing nutrition, and helps in reducing cholesterol level in blood.