When we think about Chinese food, we automatically refer to stir-fry, dumplings, and dim sum. Although these dishes are part of the classic, Chinese food experience, they are predominantly eaten in the southern most parts of China.
Northern Chinese cuisine, however, is very distinct due to its emphasis on noodles, heavy spices, meats and abundances of chili oil.
1. Chinese Hamburger (Roa Jia Mao)
A common street food in Northern China, these meat-filled sandwiches are a Northern-Chinese take on what we know to be an American hamburger.
The bread to these fragrant sandwiches is similar to a pita bread, but with a plain taste and a char-grilled exterior that adds a smoky flavor. The meat is seasoned with a variety of aromatic spices, such as cumin, that give the sandwich a strong, spicy taste.
2. Knife Cut Noodles
Chewy and bouncy, knife-cut noodles are a common delicacy in Northern China cuisine. A large block of dough is sliced into strips of noodles with a knife, leaving behind the perfect noodle base for soups and sauces.
3. Liang Pi
This classic Northern Chinese recipe consists of green bean jelly that is sliced into strips to make a savory, cold dish. The green bean jelly comes in a large, clear block, and is sliced similarly to the technique used for knife cut noodles. The bean jelly is then dressed in chili oil, peanuts, and cilantro.
4. Black Bean Sauce Noodles
A Northern Chinese take on spaghetti, this dish comes with a sauce made of ground meats and black bean sauce on top of a bed of noodles. You'll often find that traditional black bean sauce noodles come with a mountain of shaved cucumbers on top.
5. Biang Biang Noodles
Another technique the Northern Chinese use to make their noodles is by taking strips of dough and slapping it to stretch out the dough, making belt-like noodles.
Therefore the name "biang biang" noodles comes from the sound made when the dough hits the counter of a kitchen table. These noodles are thick and hardy, and often topped with a spicy sauce.
6. Chili Oil Cucumbers
Finally, under all the heavy carbs and meats, we see a vegetable dish, but of course, with more heat. This chilled dish is made with sesame seeds, chili oil, garlic, and a dash of sesame oil.
7. Steamed Bun (Mantou)
Fluffy, steamy, and simple, Northern Chinese mantou is a staple for breakfast. These buns have no filling in them, but have a soft texture and a slightly sweet flavor.
8. Cumin Stir-Fried Lamb
The aroma of this dish fills the room whenever it is brought to the table. Prepared with dried peppers and aromatics, such as cumin and five-spice, cumin stir-fried lamb is a spicy and fragrant dish.
9. Lamb Soup
A hearty and warm stew, perfect for beating the biting cold of any winter weather, lamb soup is a meaty stew of lamb bones, carrots, onions, and clear noodles. The soup is traditionally eaten by soaking cubed pieces of char-grilled, pita-like bread in the soup.
10. Skewered Meats
Skewered meats are one of the most common street foods that you can find in any Northern Chinese city. These meats are grilled on skewers and marinated in chilis, cumin, and other spices.
11. Candied Hawthorne Berries (Tang Hulu)
Street vendors in Northern China line their carts with these shiny, red gems on a skewer. This sweet treat is made from a sour berry, called a hawthorne berry, that is coated in a sticky honey that leaves a crackly sugar coat.
When biting into one of these red jewels, you get an explosion of sour and sweet as well as a chewy texture from the candy coating.
So the next time you find yourself craving Chinese food, give one of these Northern dishes a try.