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Shaanxi noodle grandee

By Li Yingxue | China Daily | Updated: 2019-07-26 08:06
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Kang Jian, executive chef of restaurant chain Chang An'G in Beijing, brings signature dishes from Shaanxi cuisine to Beijing diners and at the same time tries to replicate traditional Xi'an delicacies that originated in the Tang Dynasty. [Photo provided to China Daily]

From calabash chicken to hotpot handled with care, one Beijing eatery is specializing in serving up the authentic tastes of old Xi'an, Li Yingxue reports.

Youku's currently streaming hit thriller The Longest Day in Chang'an starring singer-actor Yi Yangqianxi and actor Lei Jiayin has generated more than 10 million comments on Sina Weibo.

Set in Chang'an, today's Xi'an and the capital of Shaanxi province, during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the series has piqued viewer interest, not only with its cliff-hanger plotlines, but also its delicious local gastronomy-from stewed mutton in a basin down to the local persimmons-eaten by character Zhang Xiaojing, played by Lei.

According to Kang Jian, a Shaanxi cuisine chef from Weinan, Shaanxi province, the authentic way to eat the stewed mutton is to pair it with two crispy pancakes-using chopsticks to open one and fill it with mutton and some chili oil and eat with soup; and then tearing up the other one into small cubes and put them in the soup, which should be eaten once the cubes soak up the flavor of the soup.

"In Shaanxi, we don't separate a bowl from a basin, as both vessels can be used to hold food," says Kang.

Kang, 40, started his culinary journey 20 years ago. After learning and practicing Cantonese cuisine, Sichuan cuisine and Beijing cuisine, two years ago he decided to focus on cooking up the flavors of his hometown for foodies in Beijing.

"Unlike other popular Chinese cuisines which have thousands of restaurants in Beijing, Shaanxi cuisine is still rare, so I wanted to introduce Shaanxi delicacies to more people," says Kang.

He is now the executive chef of restaurant chain Chang An'G in Beijing, which has just opened its fourth branch at Chaoyang Joy City.

According to Kang, Chang'an cuisine flourished during the Tang Dynasty, but these dishes are now difficult to find, even in Xi'an. But at Chang An'G, Kang specializes in replicating traditional main courses that originated in the Tang Dynasty-Chang'an calabash chicken.

The chicken is a special kind raised only in Xi'an, and Kang selects most that weigh about 1.3 kilograms and are around 1 year old. First, the chicken has to be thoroughly washed and quickly boiled to remove any traces of blood before it's steamed over chicken stock for three hours.

The chicken is then hung up to cool for an hour after steaming.

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