Friday, June 4, 2010

The Best Dessert Chaobing 炒冰

This is my favorite dessert hands down.  I first found out about this dessert when I went to study abroad in China for the first time in Hainan province.  This was a local favorite for the university students near Hainan University.  The street next to the southern gate of the campus was always vibrant and full of delicious and interesting things to eat.  As far as dessert goes though, this one was special.  It is called Chaobing and literally means 'fried ice'.  Of course it does not mean fry in the hot sense but actually in the cold sense.  It is perfect way to cool down on a hot summer night in China.  You won't find this being served in the day time though.   I thought they could make lots more money that way, but it was no exception.  China has a 'night market' culture where all the treats come out at around 7 pm and go on until late at night. 

You eat this special dessert by choosing fruits of your choice.  The fruits that were chosen for the Chaobing in the picture above were grape, papaya, and apple.  Yummy combination.  Usually the vendors will allow you to choose three fruits.  After that they will blend the fruits into juice and add some condensed milk.  Then they will proceed to add the juice+milk  onto an evaporator.  This machine makes the blended juice+milk very cold.  They will keep flipping the juice+milk until it begins to harden and become an ice cream like consistency.  Add raisins and crushed peanuts to the top and there you have it.  The best dessert on the planet.

Take a look at this video to see what it looks like when they flip the Chaobing.   

I hope one day you will be able to try Chaobing.  Unfortunately I have never seen this dessert being sold anywhere except for Hainan province.  My friends from the north actually didn't know what Chǎobīng was and would always think I am pronouncing it wrong and actually referring to Chǎobǐng 炒饼.  A dish pronounced the same way with different tones.  This light and refreshing dessert should be on the to-eat list of anyone visiting Hainan.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Szechuan Food

I made a short video on some of the foods I have come across in Sichuan province.  Sichuanese food otherwise known as Szechuan food is known for being very flavorful and spicy.  Actually the famous Kung Pao Chicken is a Szechuan food which is featured in the short video I made.  The foods in the video were eaten when we were in Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan province.  In China there are basically two types of fast food, western and Chinese.  If it is Chinese fast food there is a 90% chance that it will be related to Szechuan food.  Take a look at the video and let me know what you think.

In the video we ate deep fried string beans (干煸四季豆), Kung Pao chicken (宫保鸡丁), twice cooked pork slices (回锅肉), and Szechuan hotpot (四川火锅) .  My favorite was the hotpot.  It had a spicy-sour taste that was so good after a long day without eating.  The deep fried string beans were alright.  Kung Pao chicken is what the Chinese always think foreigners will love and sure enough, as foreigners,we did.  As for the twice cooked pork slices, you can't go wrong ordering that.   

Monday, May 31, 2010

Leshan Giant Buddha

One of the things to do when you are in Sichuan province, especially when you are near the vicinity of Chengdu, is to see the Giant Buddha of Leshan.

Leshan is a city located near Chengdu (the provincial capital of Sichuan).  To be honest we weren't very impressed by Chengdu itself where we saw lots of police officers and exiled Russian students with no money trying to find their way back to their country.  Not to worry though, we quickly got out of there and made our way to see the Leshan Giant Buddha!

The Buddha itself is very large, and cannot be seen entirely from land.  This is due to the fact that it is right up against a river.  Because of that, the best views are offered from a boat.

Yes, the Buddha is large and it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.  But we went there, saw the Buddha, and that was pretty much it.  Not much else to see, plus there were TONS of tourists.  So in the end, it was more like a 'been there done that' kind of thing.  Did you notice in the picture my friend Yeonchang standing next to the head?  This gives you an idea of just how giant the Buddha is.  AND the history of this Buddha spans over 1000 years!  I am surprised it is still standing, or sitting to be more accurate.  Of course restoration projects on it have begun, but still it is quite impressive.

To avoid spending lots of money don't eat in the park.  Either bring your own food in or wait until you leave.  I would recommend bringing your own food as the whole affair will take at least half of your day.  To find out more about the Buddha itself read the Wikipedia or Wikitravel article, those links will take you to see more info.

All the information I found about how to get there and what not was provided by the Lonely Planet guide on China which I highly recommend. 

Lonely Planet:  China

Below is the Lonely Planet Guidebook for China.  I would highly recommend this as I often used this as a reference for a wide range of things from finding places to sleep to transportation to eating, and more.  The important thing about traveling in China and most of Asia in general if you are on a budget is to get to know the prices of things.  Guidebooks like Lonely Planet do a pretty good job at telling you approximately what price things should be so that you don't get ripped off.  Click on the image and it will take you to where you can purchase your own copy of the book.