Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Lifestyle / News

Shaobing stack up as perfect treat even in sultry August

By Jocelyn Eikenburg | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-08-07 07:46
Share - WeChat

When I think of shaobing, the fried flatbread that has become a favorite treat of mine from my mother-in-law's kitchen in rural Zhejiang province, I often recall a sultry August afternoon a few years back, when, amid the drone of late-summer cicadas, she invited me to sit at a wooden stool beside her well-worn cutting board to teach me how to prepare it from scratch.

Making her shaobing involves frying with oil at a high temperature, which might seem an unsuitable thing for the month of August, especially when the "autumn tiger" pounces across the country with its ferocious summer heat that lingers around.

But if you had ever sank your teeth into a piece of my mother-in-law's shaobing just fresh from the pan-where the crispy, golden exterior gives way to a savory filling of onion mingled with salted bamboo shoot-you would understand that this irresistible delight inspires cravings that know no season or circumstances.

Besides, preparing her shaobing proved easier than expected-something welcome on those muggy days when you'd prefer to spend less time in the kitchen.

For the filling, mince onion and a pickled or salted vegetable of your choice (such as the salted bamboo shoot my mother-in-law uses), and then combine in equal proportion with just enough oil to bind them together.

The dough comes from a simple mixture of flour and water, adding the latter until you can handle the dough without having it stick to your fingers. You knead it until it becomes elastic, shiny, smooth and lump-free, and then roll into a log that gets cut into rounds. While cradling one of the rounds in the palm of your hand, use your fingers to shape a crater and then stuff it with the filling and seal the edges.

After placing a round on a cutting board, press down on it with your hands from the center on out, flipping it and repeating until you can roll it out with a rolling pin. Then use the pin instead of your hands to repeat the same process, until the edges become very thin.

Finally, heat up some oil in a wok or pan, and fry the flattened round for one to two minutes on each side, until it is crispy and slightly browned and no longer sticks to the pan.

Depending on how much flour and filling you have, your efforts can yield a significant stack of shaobing, the sight of which would surely draw me to the dinner table with a spring in my step at any time of the year.

Not surprisingly, my affection for the food hasn't gone unnoticed by my mother-in-law. After witnessing the many times I would sigh with much satisfaction over each crispy mouthful during visits, she started sending me and my husband Jun home with a heaping bag of her homemade shaobing to freeze and reheat later for lunches or a quick snack. Once, when Jun returned to Beijing after a business trip that included spending a few days at the family home, he lifted out of his suitcase a plastic bag stuffed to the brim with shaobing, and spoke of how his mother stayed up late the evening before to fry them before he left. I nearly shed a tear at the sight of this, her special-and delicious-way of saying "I love you".

Try your hands at shaobing sometime, and perhaps you too will find yourself swooning over this treat in your kitchen, even in the heat of summer.

Most Popular
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349