Cuisines in Dunhuang
Dunhuang food revolves around wheat flour noodles as the main staple of the local diet. Noodles are served with lamb, chicken, or beef. On the other hand, Dunhuang Rang Pizi has long been one of the most popular dishes in the city. These noodles are actually made from pea flour and are clear, white, cool and slippery . The noodles are seasoned with hot peppers for a cool, yet spicy feel that is just perfect for desert weather (as least that's what the locals would say!).
Shazhou Night Market is one of the best places in Dunhuang to try authentic Dunhuang specialties. Virtually all of the very best of Dunhuang's northwestern cuisine can be found here: Saozi Noodle, stuffed bread and even mutton kebabs. In addition, you will also have opportunity to sample Huanghe sweet melons, grapes and Hami melons.
Since ancient times, camels have been the most efficient and cost-effective mode of transportation on the Silk Road. Their strong hooves make it possible to trudge through the Gobi desert and are highly prized for tendon (thought to be highly nutritious by Chinese). However, since camels generally live long lives and are most valuable as modes of transportation, camel hooves (tuozhang) for use in cooking are quite hard to find. In fact, camel hooves are almost as hard to find as another Chinese rare gourmet dish, Bear claws (Xiongzhang), which is actually illegal in recent times (the bears are nearly extinct).
To prepare camel hooves, the hoof is first soaked in water and softened. After that, it is stewed for as long as eight hours. By that time, the tendon can be detached from the bone. After steaming for another two or three hours, the tendon is then cut into small pieces and placed on a serving platter with other ingredients for decoration. Generally, egg whites are added to the tendon at some point, so the hooves not only have a unique, hearty flavor, but also make a great presentation as well.
Deep-fried camel hump (Youbaotuofeng)
has been a cherished delicacy in the northwest for over 1500 years.
Local chefs cut the hump into uniformly slices or shreds and deep-fry
them. The finished dish is both tender and crispy and has a purplish
color. Since camel is an extremely important mode of transportation in
Dunhuang and nearby desert regions, camel is fairly rare and it may be
difficult to find a restaurant that serves this dish. If you happen to
see it on a menu, give it a try!
Dunhuang Rangpi (Rangpi) is a famous
local snack food made of flour. Some varieties are yellowish while
others are white. With special seasonings, this dish tastes slightly
spicy. This noodle-like dish is typically served cold.
Unlike Dunhuang yellow noodles, Rangpi is
fairly easy to make. First boil some flour in water and stir until the
starch and protein separate. Then remove the starch and boil it again.
After all the water evaporates, cut the solidified starch into thin
strips and add seasoning. While it may sound strange, it's not really.
In fact, it is quite tasty.
Some say that from a distance, Dunhuang
yellow noodles (Huangmian) resemble threads of gold. While this
is somewhat of an exaggeration, these noodles are by no means simple to
make. Only the expert chef can properly pull the heavy dough into
noodles. The fine thread-like noodles are then boiled in water until
they float, however the noodles are typically eaten cold or at room
temperature. Yellow noodles are often eaten with other dishes as a
staple (like rice in other parts of China).
On certain murals and frescoes in the Mogao
Grottoes, there are vivid portrayals of people make yellow noodles.
Convincing proof of the long history and popularity of Dunhuang Yellow
Handmade Saozi noodles (Saozimian)
are known far and wide in China. Saozi noodles are generally thin and
have an accompanying soup that is made with meat and/or vegetables.