Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dou Hua Mian

As much as I hate to admit it, not everybody is interested in eating delicacies like pigs' brains or stinky tofu. Perhaps you're one of them...I don't know. For people like this, travelling through China can be a daunting prospect. China is full of foods that are unusual to folks accustomed to Western food, and some of the less intrepid among us, in their hesitance to dive whole hog (in a manner of speaking) into the Chinese experience, survive in China on McDonald's and KFC. This post is for those people.

Chinese food--even Chinese street food--has some great gateway options for people who are reluctant to eat the more adventurous foods. A classic foreigner dish in restaurants, for example, is the Xihongshi Chao Dan (西红柿炒蛋), or tomatoes and eggs. It tastes great, and all of the ingredients are completely recognizable to a foreign palate. In the realm of street food, one great gateway option I recently tried is called Dou Hua Mian (豆花面), and I had the great pleasure to eat it in Zunyi. Dou hua is basically very soft tofu. Sometimes it's translated as tofu pudding. Mian just means noodles. Here's a picture of the dish as it was prepared for me in Zunyi:


The ingredients are as follows: flat, fettuccine-shaped noodles; dou hua; mint leaves; chives; pork; peanuts; a bit of spicy sauce (optional). Reader, it tasted just like an Italian noodle dish. The dou hua tasted almost identically to ricotta cheese (which, I suppose, is why vegans use tofu in their lasagnas). The taste was so familiar to my Western palate, it almost didn't seem like Chinese food. But Chinese food it was. And street food, at that.

To you, oh timid-stomached foreign tourists, I say that you needn't be afraid of Chinese street food. Judicious, yes, but afraid? Certainly not. The Dou Hua Mian in Zunyi is a perfect example of a nice gateway between Western food and Chinese street food. It can be yours for the low price of 8 yuan.

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