|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 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 14 Bao Mi Hua – exploding rice flowers
Number 16 Bing Tang Shan Zha – crystal sugar hawthorns
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 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