dishes when he came to work for the mayor of Harbin 100 years ago.
The city at the time was one of the most prosperous places in Asia that housed dozens of foreign consulates and financial institutions.
The then-mayor often entertained foreign guests and asked Zheng, his main chef, to improvise on some local dishes. It remains unclear as to how many attempts the chef made before he got something that could please local and westerner palate. The combination of crispy pork cubes in a sweetand-sour sauce proved just rightandmadethis dish a star.
Dumplings are probably the most representative food of the region, and one of the most famous names in the business is Shenyang Laobian. The brand has been listed as a local intangible cultural heritage and is an attraction for tourists from home and abroad.
Bianfu, its founder, is said to have walked thousand of kilometers from the nearby Hebei province to Liaoning in search of gold during the late Qing Dynasty and opened a small restaurant in Shenyang. His son, Bian Degui, improved the process of stuffing in 1870 and eventually people flocked to buy their dumplings.
The birth of Laobian dumplings was possible with the opening up of Northeast China between the late Qing Dynasty and the Republic of China ages, was mostly known for its forest and ranches.
The ingredients for a Laobian dumpling vary according to the season. It uses leek and shrimp in early spring, prawn with pumpkin in summer, pepper and cucumber in fall and cabbage in winter.
Today, Shenyang Laobian is a chain, with stores in cities such as Shijiazhuang, Xi’an, Changchun, Dalian and Beijing. In addition, it runs an outlet in the Japanese city of Sapporo.
The name of this classic dessert comes from a Manchu term that means “rice cake with nuts”. It is produced by first frying rice noodles and then mixing them with sugar and nuts before stirring them to form a thick pie and cutting them into pieces for eating.
Nurhachi, the first emperor of theQingDynasty, is said to have invented the food as military provision during a war with a neighboring kingdom. Experts said that Sachimais rich in calories and easy to preserve, which is in line with the needs of troops at war. After conquering the hearts of the residents of Beijing, the dessert spread to the country’s south and evolved into variants.
Ge Xin in Shenyang contributed to the story.
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