All over the world, food preferences vary greatly. Some prefer spices, some sauces, some sweet and sour, some salty and tangy. But one thing that is common to all cuisines is a sweet ending – desserts!
Much like most other Asian cuisines, desserts are a staple to Chinese cuisine as well. Most desserts in authentic Chinese cuisine are made out of some form of rice. Authentic Chinese restaurants all over the world serve different forms of these desserts. Here are some of the most popular Chinese desserts that are a must try!
Dragon’s Beard Candy – This is perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Chinese desserts. It is mainly found in street markets and is a street-food staple. Quite similar in texture and appearance to cotton candy, there are major differences between the two. Dragon’s beard candy is hand woven and only experts can make them perfectly. They also have visible strands and are much less fluffy compared to cotton candy. Finally, they are rolled and stuffed with a filling of toasted nuts and cut up into bite sized pieces for serving.
Tanghulu – This is a candied fruit snack. It is another popular street-food which can be easily found in markets and is very popular amongst tourists. The most common fruits which are candied include Chinese hawthorns, apples, strawberries, bananas, grapes. They are coated in hardened sugar syrup and usually served on skewers. Many authentic Chinese restaurants all over the world also serve more luxurious version of this.
Mooncake – Their shape resembles the moon, hence the name. They are round pastries with a thick filling. Traditionally, they are filled with lotus seed paste, which is considered the most authentic, and other things like sweet bean paste or mixed nuts. Mooncakes also have a no-bake, chilled variety called ‘snow skin mooncakes’ which are made of jelly-like things such as glutinous rice or gelatine. These are more modern and have filings like icecream, jelly, and the like.
Sweet Rice Balls – Also called Tangyuan, this is commonly found in traditional Chinese restaurants. They are like savoury rice balls made of glutinous rice flour and stuffed with a sweet bean filling. They are then cooked and served in either boiling water, or sweet syrup, or even deep fried, though the latter is least common. It is a very popular wedding dessert. The rice balls are often made colourful to appeal to kids.
Egg Tart– It is a signature dish that finds its origins in the Portuguese custard tart. Chinese egg tarts have a tender, crispy and buttery crust with a sweet, creamy, egg custard filling which is firm in texture and has a glossy surface. This dessert can be found in some Chinese restaurants in Kolkata.