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Ten Must-Try Foods in Shandong 山东美食探险


Insect eating alert! Do not proceed past Number 8 if you’d prefer not to think about deep-fried crunchy things. Keep going all the way to Number 10 if you’re OK with that.

Insects aside, we survived our first week of camping and from the beaches of Qingdao to the rocky mountain of Tai Shan and Qufu, birthplace of Confucius, Shandong Province has some great eats and is considered one of China’s Great Eight Cuisines, also known as lu cai. I’ve eaten some incredibly delicious and some incredibly challenging dishes this week, yours to share. 


Restaurant dishes 餐厅菜肴


1. Seafood 海鲜 hǎixiān

Since Shandong forms part of China’s east coast, fresh seafood is in overwhelming abundance. In Qingdao you can eat at a seafood restaurant, choosing your fish, clams or shrimp with care from the rows of tanks outside, or you can get an impressive choice at the fish market and take it to a nearby restaurant for cooking in any style.
Shandong seafood dishes tend to bring out the sweet clean flavour of the seafood without overpowering sauces, as in these shrimp fried with garlic and a little chili, and these tiny clams.

海鲜

由于山东省地处中国的东海岸,新鲜的海产资源很丰富。在青岛你可以选择去一家海鲜餐厅就餐,从餐厅外的水箱里选择自己喜爱的鱼、蛤蜊和虾,或者可以去水产市场进行一次难忘的购物然后拿到附近的餐馆让他们加工。

山东海鲜菜肴通常不使用呛人的,如蒜爆大虾和蛤蜊中的调料,就烹调出海鲜纯净的甜味,



2. Slow-Braised Fragrant Spiced Pork 香辣肉丝 xiāng là ròu sī 
With meat literally falling off the pork bones, we tried a tiny neighbourhood restaurant full of hungry diners for our first lunch in Qingdao, and this was their specialty dish. Slow cooked, fragrant, tender and so, so delicious with star anise and specks of numbing sichuan peppers in the juices. Bones were being sucked clean at tables all around us.



香辣肉丝  四川辣味猪肉条

这是一道我们在青岛一家很小的家常菜饭馆吃的超人气菜肴,用的食材是去骨猪肉,饭馆里挤满了饥饿的食客。香气四溢,口感嫩滑,太太太好吃了!



3.  Three Fresh Flavours Tendon 三鲜烧蹄筋sān xiān shāo tí jīn 

As foreigners who don’t read Chinese that well this dish was very unfamiliar to us and we spent the whole dinner trying to identify the long white pieces with the slightly chewy, spongy texture.

“It’s some kind of mushroom” said one daughter, not very confidently.
“I think it’s squid…or something…” said the second.
I thought the pieces were made of slightly chewy sticky rice.

The other components of the dish were easy to see – plump shrimp, squid, and clams. Finally we asked the waitress to tell us what the mystery ingredient was.

“Beef tendon!” she said. Well, that was certainly a surprise to us.


三鲜烧蹄筋

作为外国人,阅读中文的能力有限,所以这道菜对我们来说有点难懂,我们花了整个晚餐的时间试图确认,那白白的有点海绵质感的长条究竟是什么。

“它是一种蘑菇.”我的一个女儿如是说。

“我觉得它是鱿鱼……或者类似的……”第二个女儿说。

我觉得那些长条是用稍许耐嚼的糯米做的。

这道菜的其他原料很容易辨别——虾仁,鱿鱼,蛤蜊。最后我们向服务员求证这个神秘的原料。

“牛筋!”她告诉了我们。好吧,真是一个惊喜!



4. Confucius Tofu: 孔夫子豆腐 Kǒngfūzi Dòufu 

Like many things in the overcrowded, overpriced and over-touristed town of Qufu, the food has only very tangential and suspect connections to Confucius – Kongfu. There was Confucius Duck, Confucius Soup and Confucius Fruit Platter.

 We did try the Confucius Tofu – cubes of smoked tofu stir-fried with mushrooms and green peppers, and it was very passable too. But worthy of the world’s greatest sage? I don’t think so.
 

孔夫子豆腐

在人潮汹涌,价格虚高,游客集中的曲阜市,食物就像很多别的事物一样,与孔老夫子有着十分牵强和令人怀疑的联系。我们的确尝试了“孔夫子豆腐”——几片油炸腌豆腐和蘑菇及青椒,味道差强人意。但是否配得上世界上最伟大的圣人呢?我可不同意。



5. Nine Coil Large Intestine 九曲大肠 jiǔqū dàcháng

Sometimes, though not often, I wish I didn’t feel compelled to eat something I’d really rather not eat just for the sake of being able to write about it afterwards. Intestine is not high on my list of favorite foods but in Shandong they love it. So I had them cook some up for me in a street market last night in Qufu, and it was really very good with a strong taste of sausage – I guess that tells you a lot about what goes into making sausages.




Street Food 路边小吃

6. Corn Cakes With Fried fish 玉米糕 Yùmǐ Gāo 

Corn grows in every single field in Shandong, and freshly steamed corn cobs are a popular street snack.  This was a little different though – soft corn cakes made from either yellow or black corn fried on a griddle, and served with tiny crispy fried fish.  Winning combination!

玉米糕

山东的农田到处都生长着玉米,热腾腾的玉米面满馒头是人气很高的路边小吃。但是这里有点不同,平锅里炸着松软的玉米糕,配以炸得松脆的很小的鱼。美妙的组合!



7. Boiled Peanuts 水煮花生 shuǐzhǔ huāshēng

Peanuts are plentiful in Shandong and most meals are accompanied by a plate of boiled or fried peanuts. Here they’re mixed with boiled edamame and served as a cold appetiser. I love the texture of these – soft but still with some bite.

水煮花生

花生在山东也很常见,很多时候人们用一盘水煮花生或油炸花生佐餐。这里的人们将花生和盐水毛豆同煮,当成一道冷盘开胃菜。


8. Crisp-fried Cakes 煎包 jiān bāo 

Little fried parcels filled with chopped scallions and vermicelli noodles, these are just the right size for when mid-morning hunger hits.


煎包

包着葱末和粉丝的油炸小团。



9. Fried Grasshoppers  炸蚂蚱 zhá màzhà

I just closed my eyes and popped one gingerly into my mouth. There was some salt, and a deal of lightweight crunch with very little substance and no aftertaste. And an audience of several interested fellow diners crowded around the table, who really wanted to know what I thought of their local specialty. 

I’d eaten insects before, but never grasshoppers, so it was a bit early to form a considered opinion – although when the waitress asked if I’d like to take the remainder of the plate away with me I politely declined. One of the grasshoppers escaped during the cooking and sat on the table watching us eat his cooked friends, which was distasteful and insensitive of him.


炸蝗虫

我是闭着眼睛迅速把它丢进嘴里的。我人生中第一只蝗虫!有点咸,在嘴里嘎吱嘎吱作响。有一只蝗虫在烹调时逃开了,就坐在桌子上看着我们吃它被烹调好的朋友。




10. Deep-fried Golden Cicadas   zhá jīnchán

This local Shandong specialty is hugely popular. My husband loves eating them every time he comes to Jin’an on business and he was keen for me to try them too. I managed one, mostly by imagining I was eating eating deep-fried shrimp instead of cicada nymphs and that helped, but I didn’t have seconds. 


炸金蝉

这种山东当地特色人气超旺。蝉蛹快速炸后十分松脆。


Home Cooked Dishes 家常菜


After just over a week on the road I’m slowly getting into a rhythm with cooking. Part of the process has been getting to know what food I can buy fresh in the small villages we pass through, many without shops. This always turns out to be whatever is in peak season – long snake beans, juicy red tomatoes, and some things completely new to me like these broad flat hairy beans.

I just asked the farmer I bought them from how to cook them – “sliced finely and fried with garlic and lots of lajiao!” she told me, and she was right – they were delicious.




经过一周的旅途,我渐渐适应了烹调的节奏。我获得了一些窍门,哪些食物可以在小村庄现买新鲜的,时令季蔬果都可以买到新鲜的。长豇豆,多汁的红番茄和一些我完全不知道的东西比如这些宽宽平平又多毛的豆类(扁豆)。

我向一位农民请教如何烧这些菜——“切成均匀的薄片,和大蒜,许多辣椒一起炒!”她是这样告诉我的,她是对的——这些菜非常好吃!




Eaten any other memorable Shandong dishes? Tonight I tried Dezhou’s famous roast chicken, which falls tenderly off the bone at the slightest tremble. 
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