Monday, January 14, 2013


Americans visiting China for the first time might be surprised to find cornbread sold in the streets of some Northern Chinese cities. For these visitors, it's easy to forget that cornbread is not endemic to the Southern United States. And yet there's no reason why it should be so limited. The ingredients are few and widely available around the world. And China is no exception. Naturally, Chinese street vendors incorporate their own local flavors into the mix. This example from Chengde in Hebei Province is a great showcase of those local twists.

It is known locally as 棒子面窝头 (Bàng Zĭ Miàn Wō Tóu). Think of it as a hybrid between cornbread and the ubiquitous Chinese baozi. Stuffed inside of the cornbread bun you will find moist cabbage, both salty and sour. If it weren't for the radish taste thrown in as well, you might mistake the filling for sauerkraut. The cornbread itself has the traditional grainy cornbread texture and flavor. It is perhaps a bit less dry than American cornbread because it has been steamed in the Chinese fashion. This is a tasty little snack, well worth a try. Especially for any U.S. folks looking for a little taste of home.


Stephen said...

Hi Frank, Interesting stuff. Is a plain mantou-like bun made from cornmeal? Can you tell me the name in Chinese?


Frank Kasell said...

Actually, mantou are typically made of wheat--no cornmeal there. The Chinese name for the cornbread--at least in Hebei--is 棒子面窝头 (Bàng Zĭ Miàn Wō Tóu).

Frank Kasell said...

And thanks for reading!

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