In North America, we tend to start the day with a bowl of cereal, yogurt or a smoothie. In China, breakfast is a whole other affair.
As with almost all other food traditions in China, what people eat tends to vary by region says Matt Reichel, one of the co-founders of Chopstick Fest. In Beijing, he says breakfast might consist of jianbing — a fried pancake akin to a French crepe, filled with egg or a choice of other fillings, especially popular with those on the run, and street food at its finest.
Elsewhere in China, fermented bean soup might be the breakfast of champions. Other breakfast favourites include soybean milk and youtiao, steamed buns*, noodles (rice or wheat), rice, congee, wontons, dumplings and more. Sweet or savoury, the choice is yours.
*Chinese donuts, known as youtiao (YEW-TI-OW), or oil-fried ghosts, come in salted and sweet varieties (cinnamon and sugar), and are also known as fried bread or dough sticks or Chinese crullers. Though they’re largely considered breakfast food, Chinese donuts can be enjoyed any time. Ingredients used to make youtiao include milk, baking sugar, salt, flour, water and oil for frying. Some add an ingredient called alum to the batter, which helps the doughy bites expand to several times their size.