In summer, the happiest thing for a foodie is having a barbecue at night in the breeze.
Where can you find the best Chinese barbecue? That would be…
I think Jinzhou has the best barbecue! If you come to Jinzhou, I highly recommend the lamb skewers, rib skewers, chicken heads, chicken feet, oysters, scallops, saltwater fish, capelins… In Jinzhou, everything in the sky, on the ground, or in the water could be barbecued. There is an idiom: “Jinzhou barbecue, a barbecue of everything.”
Recently a Chinese barbecue has gone viral, and that is Zibo barbecue from Shandong. In Zibo, diners have their own stove; after the cook serves the half-cooked skewers, you can DIY the rest — the flavor and tenderness of the skewers are up to you. The trick of Zibo BBQ lies in the pancakes. Baked unfermented, these pancakes are very chewy. You grasp the roasted meat with a pancake and pull them off the stick, add some scallion with garlic chili sauce, then wrap them all in the pancake — just imagine the taste!
Now let’s have a look at the barbecue from northwestern China, including Xinjiang, Ningxia, Gansu, Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia. In these places, people prefer barbecued beef or mutton with pure meaty flavor; the taste is rich but not greasy.
I’m from Xinjiang, so of course, I think Xinjiang BBQ is super amazing. Because, first, the meat we roast is from very young lambs, so, very fresh; then we have special sticks — hong liu (salt cedar) sticks that are typical of Xinjiang. We sharpen hong liu branches, thread lamb on them, and sprinkle our local cumin. At last, we would wrap the roasted meat with Xinjiang’s specialty nang (a kind of roasted flatbread). That taste, is just fabulous.
We Xi’an people don’t actually call it barbecue; we often say, “Let’s go roast meat!” That’s what we call it, roast meat. In Xi’an, the meat is neither marinated in advance nor brushed with sauce after roasting; we only have three seasonings: Salt, chili and cumin. The original flavor of the meat with just simple seasonings tastes like heaven. We also barbecue “you mo,” and probably they don’t have it outside Xi’an. We brush oil on “mo,” or steamed bun, then roast it, and sprinkle salt, chili and cumin on it. Very tasty.
Inner Mongolia boasts vast grasslands with quality grass, and because of that, the mutton from Inner Mongolia is especially savory. We use the freshest mutton (for barbecue); sometimes a whole sheep is placed outside the restaurant for people to pick. You could roast a mutton leg, skewers, or roast the whole mutton, whatever you want. In Inner Mongolia, barbecues are just gallant.
So much about northwestern China BBQ. Let’s take a look at the BBQ genres in southwestern China. The most typical ones are Sichuan BBQ and Yunnan BBQ.
In Sichuan, our barbecue is small portioned, so it’s more challenging for cooks to control the heat and timing. Sichuan BBQ is spicy and savory, super tasty.
Barbecues in Yunnan are famous for their dipping sauce and raw materials. We roast things that seem quite weird, sometimes even dark, like pork tendons, chicken hamstrings, pig teeth ridges, and insects such as bamboo worms, grasshoppers and dragonfly larvae. We also roast mushrooms. If you come to Yunnan and have a barbecue, you will gain a whole new definition of it. It’s quite nice though!
I think roasted pig eyes are very typical of Guangxi BBQ. When you put the whole roasted eye in your mouth, the juice will burst out inside your mouth, which is thrilling.
In Guangdong, we pursue the umami of food in barbecue; most of the time we roast seafood. It’s somewhat a southeastern genre of BBQ. After all, Guangdong is a seaside province. We roast shrimp, oysters, calamari, scallops and so on. Dip the roasted seafood in the sauce, and it’s just delicious! Plus, Guangdong people eat everything!
Chinese people love barbecue, because they love the feel of the hustle-and-bustle happiness of life. What type of BBQ do you like? Leave us a comment!