Vacation is about sightseeing as well as delightful food. When you have returned from the picturesque views of Jiangnan, an area south of the Yangtze River, be sure to check out local desserts and snacks. A folk song has it: “Suzhou snacks are plentiful, savory, sweet, tender, crispy and glutinous you have them all, there are pan-fried steamed buns and crab shell cakes, and don’t forget sweet baked bread and fried dough twist”. Situated to the East of Suzhou, the Kunshan Tourism Resort offers fine and exquisite cuisine, snacks and desserts. Once you have had a taste of them, you will want to come back for more.
Of all varieties of Aozao Noodles, the most popular are Aozao Noodles with fried fish and Aozao Noodles with spiced duck. Aozao with fried fish has thin and white noodles in red soup while Aozao with spiced duck comes in white soup.
“Bottom of Socks” Crispy Cake
It is said that people in Jinxi make the “Bottom of Socks” Crispy Cake in imitation of a similar snack in the royal palace during the reign of Emperor Xiaozong of the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Shaped as the bottom of socks, the cake has on it crisps so thin that they are almost transparent. Take a bite and you will taste the perfect mingle of sweetness and saltiness. The popularity of this traditional cake has never waned in the South of the Yangtze River.
The “Bottom of Socks” is finely crafted with a careful selection of premium ingredients. Dough needs to be kneaded up to five or six times to ensure the even distribution of oil. This is the key to making tasty cakes with layers of thin crisp. The same rigid standard is upheld in the preparation of fillings. For example, during the making of spiced salt flavored-cake, salt first needs to be heated in the cooker before being ground. Scallion needs to be shredded to avoid the leaking of fillings. Baking the cake is highly demanding, too. A baker has to remain close by all the time until the cake exudes a pleasant aroma and its crisp takes on a gloss. This is when the cake becomes ready. On top of the traditional “Bottom of Socks” Crispy Cake, Jinxi food industry has innovated in the manufacturing process and expanded its operation. They have launched new products in improved packaging, which not only has an eye-catching appearance, but is also easy to preserve and to give as gifts.
Green Rice Balls
Green rice balls are a specialty snack in Kunshan, named after its color. To make this snack, you will need to mix the juice from wormwood, which grows around April, into sticky rice, rice flour and wheat flour. Blend them well. Add in the fillings that you like and steam them. With its soft and sticky feel as well as the refreshing sweetness of red bean paste, it surely has both the taste and the colors of spring.
Wansan Cake is a specialty snack in Zhouzhuang that has hundreds of years of history already. Whenever a festival came up, Shen Wansan, an ultra-rich man in the area, would prepare a large number of cakes for his friends and family. Later, the cake became known as “Wansan Cake”.
Fu’an Bridge Flatbread
Legend has it that Zhu Yuanzhang, the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), adored Fu’an Bridge Flatbreads when he visited Shen Wansan. Later, it was often served as snacks in the royal palace. Liu Bowen, a key advisor to Zhu, even wrote a poem about it. Fu’an Bridge Flatbreads are thin and crispy, with an appetizing smell of sesame. Now tourists can still taste this traditionally hand-made delicacy.
Suzhou-style Mooncake with Pork Fillings
Few Chinese people from the South can refuse a Suzhou-style mooncake. Take a bite of the golden mooncake. Savor its crispy layers and the sweet or salty fillings within. Sweet fillings are usually made from pine nuts, walnuts, rose petals and red beans, while the ingredients for salty fillings include ham, shrimps and spring onion. But to most tourists, the most unforgettable of all is the mooncake with pork fillings.
Qiandeng Pork Rice Dumplings Wrapped in Bamboo Leaves
For each Dragon Boat Festival over the past 2,000 years, rural families in Jiangnan have been making and eating rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves. This tradition is said to be in honor of Qu Yuan, a patriotic Chinese poet during the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.). Having enjoyed a good reputation for thousands of years, the Qiandeng pork rice dumpling wraps a moderately rich taste and pleasant aroma in a beautiful shape.
The making of Qiandeng rice dumplings: wash 1-2 kg sticky rice with a sieve. Prepare dozens of bamboo leaves, which can be found on the market, and rinse them with warm water. Make sure that you also have several long straws. Plastic packaging tapes will also do. With all these, we can now wrap up the rice dumplings, which in fact is not difficult at all. There are a variety of rice dumplings to choose from, including the pillow-shaped ones and quadrangle-shaped ones, large and small; the plain rice dumplings and rice dumplings with meat, dates, or red bean paste as fillings. Wrapped up rice dumplings need to be cooked for 1-2 hours first. When they are being cooked, remember to stir and pour in enough water to go over the dumplings. Turn off the fire and patiently wait for 2-3 hours before taking them out and serving them.