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Shanghai Street Food #26 Sesame Breakfast Pastries: Dà Bǐng 大饼, Shāo Bing 烧饼

Da bing breakfast pastry

The overwhelming choice of breakfast street foods in China means a morning smorgasbord of flavours every day. The most difficult thing is choosing what you want to eat. Should it be savoury or sweet today? Crispy or soft? Bready or cake-y? With or without soy milk?

It’s pretty hard to go wrong with bing, a kind of all encompassing term which means any food which is flattish, roundish and like a bread or pancake. The bing family of breakfast foods includes the perenially popular folded pancake jiān bing 煎饼, and my personal love, the scallion oil pancake cong you bing 葱油饼 made by the vendor on Nanchang Lu. 

Most little breakfast shops also sell dà bǐng 大饼 (big bing) or shāo bing  烧饼 (baked bing), both names referring to small (not big) sesame sprinkled breakfast pastries. Crispy, warm and flaky, they lie somewhere between a flatbread and a pastry and are very inexpensive – usually 1 yuan each. 

The vendor may ask if you want sweet or savory bing (tián de háishì xián de 甜的还是咸的) – I like the salty ones, finding the sweet ones a little plain. 

It’s great to watch them being cooked – the bread dough is sprinkled with either a little sugar, or salt and scallions, before being shaped and then pasted, Indian naan style, onto the inside wall of a 44 gallon drum ‘oven’ to get nice and crispy, then rested on the circular oven shelf to keep warm.
The Shanghai Street Food Series
Now in its third year!

Number 1   Roast Sweet Potatoes
Number 2   Snack-on-a-stick 
Number 3   Liangpi – a spicy cold noodle dish
Number 4   Langzhou Lamian – hand-pulled noodles
Number 5   Cong You Bing – fried shallot pancakes
Number 6   Baozi – steamed buns, Shanghai style
Number 7   Jian Bing – the famous egg pancake
Number 8   Dan Gao – street cakes
Number 9   Shao mai – sticky rice treats
Number 10  Summer on a Stick – fresh fruits

Number 11  You Tiao – deep-fried breadsticks
Number 12  Dan Juan – egg rolls
Number 13  Shao Kao – street barbecue
Number 14  Bao Mi Hua – exploding rice flowers
Number 15  Chou Doufu – stinky tofu
Number 16  Bing Tang Shan Zha – crystal sugar hawthorns
Number 17  Mutton Polo
Number 18  Yumi Bang – puffed corn sticks
Number 19  Mian Hua Tang – cotton candy
Number 20  You Dunzi – fried radish cakes

Number 21  Suzhou Shi Yue Bing – homestyle mooncakes 
Number 22  Gui Hua Lian’ou – honeyed lotus root stuffed with sticky rice
Number 23  Cong You Ban Mian – scallion oil noodles
Number 24  Guotie – potsticker dumplings
Number 25  Nuomi Cai Tou – fried clover pancakes
Number 26  Da Bing, Shao Bing – sesame breakfast pastries
Number 27  Ci Fan – sticky rice breakfast balls
Number 28  Gui Hua Gao – steamed osmanthus cake
Number 29  Zongzi – bamboo leaf wrapped sticky rice
Number 30  Shengjianbao – pan-fried dumplings

Number 31  Mala Tang – DIY spicy soup