I love my days in the streets of my motherland China because good food and social gathering are how we love in our country. Our creativity is depicted in the daily starters, main meal, desserts and even snacks. It’s no wonder, China has the world most famous cuisine.
Don’t even think that food is just the regular ones you eat because some of the meals are attached to deeply rooted beliefs. They have meaning only known to the natives. Additionally, there are foods eaten at specifically different times of the day or year.
Enough of those though because today we venture into the common Chinese snack. One thing about Chinese snacks is that they are mostly healthy and natural than regular sweets, chocolates and chips.
In the Chinese language, we refer to snack as Xiǎochī.
Is Candy A Snack?
I would say candy is a snack because of its mostly sweet nature that most snacks assume. They are also our in between meals that keep us filled. You can refer to candy as a snack because of its part of the many snacks available today.
The Chinese Snacks
The popular yet healthy snacks
- The sweet potatoes
Have you ever been to China during winter? You will find roasted sweet potatoes on the streets. It’s especially a favorite in the Northern part of China. In Beijing, taking a walk down the snack street means you must see snacks like the sweet potatoes on your way.
You can also find the famous sweet potato chips which you can buy by the roadside and sometimes in the supermarket. There’s no restriction as to the time you should eat the sweet potatoes. You can eat sweet potatoes at any time a day.
I think this makes them qualify as snacks
- Nuts and seeds
I think the common ones in this category are roasted chestnuts. They, like the sweet potato roasts above, are popular during winter and autumn.
Sunflower seeds are the other popular ones. I see people enjoy it while hanging out with friends, waiting for the train or even waiting for a seat at the restaurant. What’s even more fun is that people eat them fast and without even removing the husks.
You will also notice the pumpkin seed during summer. Unlike most other parts of the world where this is thrown away, here it’s a snack. Yes, we advocate for minimal to no food waste.
This fermented bean card has been in the market for way over 300 years. Walking in the streets at night you will find it from street vendors.
If you are visiting China and taking a walk in the evening you will most definitely notice a strong odor around the places where stinky tofu is cooked.
At first, most people shy away from eating it but the moment they do, they become addicted. Stinky tofu is deep fried and they assume a golden brown color.
- Rice rollers
This features the natural form of snacks that have fewer sweeteners and no excessive addition of unnecessary ingredients. These crunchy rice rollers are snacks that don’t discriminate by age. You will enjoy them whether you are a child or an adult.
The snacks are kosher certified and literary free of gluten. They are made using popped rice which you then roll with cane juice and a rice syrup. It contains not much salt nor sugar and it, therefore, doesn’t affect your appetite for the main meal.
- Watermelon seeds snack
During summer you will notice a lot of watermelon being eaten in the neighborhood. Watermelon is loved by most in almost every part of the globe. However, the seeds can easily irritate you. So, instead of throwing them away, when roasted they become a great snack.
They mostly assume the caramel flavor yet they are a pack of nutrients. You can decide to consume the whole thing or try to open it so that you can enjoy the tiny piece inside. If you have never tasted it then you should compare it to the small sunflower seeds.
They are mostly roasted and are loved in both Asia and Europe. The seeds will help you lower your cholesterol level.
- Haw flakes
This is a must-have in the snacks list. They are made using the Chinese fruit called haw and it’s from the hawthorn tree. This fruit is one of the most loved fruit in the country and for a reason.
It’s versatile since you could eat it the same way you eat regular fruits, used as a medicinal ingredient in Chinese medicine or added to your favorite soups and sweet treats.
Nevertheless, the candied version is very popular across Asia. Remember that these flakes will also help the little children in deworming. The little snacks you make using hawthorn fruit and sugar is meant to give you a sweet-tart taste. You will find them in a cylindrical shape.
- Rice Snack
The rice snack is basically the same as the rice cracker which is an Asian favorite snack. Although its common in Japan today, it was first invented in China where they were using flour to make the snacks.
When it was introduced to the Japan community in the 11th century, they began using rice instead of wheat flour to make it. You may have it in forms of senbei or okaki.
Another common piece though is oriental rice snack or crackers which is popular among the Chinese. It has this spicy oriental mix and it’s ready to eat. They are free of cholesterol and other saturated fat. They are tasty and tempting to almost everyone.
They are simply made using the rice and then flavored with soy sauce, chilli, seaweed and sugar. They are low in calories compared to most other snacks.
Savory Chinese Snacks
This is basically the mutton skewers which is popular among the Chinese people and mostly in Mandarin. It’s said to have originated in Xinjiang province of the North-western side of China.
Today, it’s common in the streets of Beijing and other cities across the world where you will find a large Chinese community.
It’s usually eaten alongside a cold Chinese beer as people are catching up on the latest updates. For most Chinese, these spicy morsels are best eaten in the evening. Once you taste them, you won’t make it resist the smoky flavor, spicy nature and savory taste.
We all love pancakes, right?
And like most other countries, this could act as the breakfast snack. It features a kind of savory crisp fried crepes which offers the bold flavors and rich texture. With this design, unlike the regular pancakes, the eggs are poured over the wheat and mung flour as it continues to cook.
You then add green onions and other kinds of vegetable spices but you eat it with the different sauces. This is mostly done on the cast iron plate. You see, its preparation is an art but wait until you take a bite. Chances are you will bid your bread breakfast farewell.
Chinese Packaged Snacks
These fried bread sticks are a breakfast delicacy that you may serve alongside the porridge, soymilk and scallion pancakes among others. They are eaten as snacks but you can also use them in part of your delicious recipes.
It features the two long sticks of fried dough that are stuck together. I find them chewy and sticky and what makes them addictive is the inviting aroma it’s also a form of oil snack.
Today, unlike the past, they are packaged and you can even buy them in packs. They are easy to prepare at home though where you can enjoy them in the company of soy sauce, hot chili oil and vinegar.
- Wang wang snow cookies
This cookie will fall into your best sweets and savory kind of cookie. A single pack of wang wang contains two cookies that are the same size. You expect the savory taste at fast then the sweet one comes in later after you finish eating.
These cookies are easy to eat yet readily accessible in most shops. It features a blend of sweet, salty and creamy taste. For me, this is a reminder of my childhood days but I do enjoy them to date.
- Dried squid
For most people, the fact that we enjoy the squid as a snack is not understood. But this is something we love especially in the evening along the streets of various cities.
Thankfully, different companies have discovered a way to make the squid dried so that we can all enjoy it through the day.
The packaged squid assumes a beige color. It’s shredded to edible pieces and it looks something close to cheese. They are chewy in texture yet sweet spicy and salty. You may also sense some creamy finish in the end.
Chinese Snacks for Kids
If there’s something that you will never grow short of, is the Chinese snacks for kids. There is a list of several must-haves. One thing about them though is that unlike the regular snacks from various other parts of the world, they aren’t about sugar.
You will find them spicy and filling most being close to your regular meal.
- White rabbit candy
Every child who grew up or is growing up in China must know about this candy. I used to enjoy that I didn’t have to remove the paper wrap as it’s edible. Fast forward today and I’ve not come across anything like that.
This is a kind of milk candy that is popular around the Chinese New Year. It’s the role of the parents to place the candies in the candy boxes together with other sweets and let the kids and adults alike enjoy. They are a symbol of good fortune.
It has vanilla taste and you must be aware that in chewing it, you will most likely have it stick on your teeth. So, suck it instead or just let it melt in your mouth.
- Pineapple buns
Most of the Chinese snacks are cooked in the streets and homes. With these buns, you don’t have any pineapple in the recipe although its surface assumes the cracked and golden brown color. The cracking forms a texture close to that of the pineapple exterior.
They are often made during breakfast as well as to accompany the afternoon tea. You will find it in Hong Kong predominantly but it has also spread across other Chinatowns in the world.
It’s loved by children and adults alike because of the sweetness, crunchiness and eye-catching nature.
- Curry fish balls
This is often eaten with radish. It’s another kids’ favorite street food. They are further easy to make at home. Our street vendors just take the deep-fried fish balls and cook them in a curry sauce that is delicious and spicy.
I have found that my kids who don’t enjoy eating fish always love the curry fish balls. They are a great way to get your kids to eat fish.
- Gem biscuits
The biscuits are colorful which is eye-catching to kids. They aren’t originally from China but can be spotted in most shops in the country. I think children like them because they are colorful
Other kids’ snacks include:
- Haw flakes
- Orion fish crackers
- Put chai ko
- Egg tarts among others.
Chinese Popular Snacks
There are definitely many popular Chinese snacks some of which are more popular in their region of origin than others.
- Turnip cake- lo bak go
I start with this because it’s my all-time favorite. It’s made by mashing your turnip that is seasoned heavily and then mixing with corn-starch, spring onions and sausages. You then must steam it until it’s cooked then panfry it to become golden brown.
Unlike your regular cakes that are mostly sweet, this one is salty, slightly sweet and so delicious.
- Steamed bao buns
I don’t think you can pass by our streets and not see a few pieces of steamed bao buns being cooked.
You will have varying fillings depending on the part of China you are at or what you would like to eat for that day. They act as snacks because they are served as a take away in most countries. These ones are easy to eat on the way as they don’t make you mess up your clothing.
Other popular snacks:
- Stinky tofu
- Tofu pudding
- Soybean milk
- Shrimp rolls
- Savory pancakes
- Egg puff waffles among others
Chinese New Year snacks
The new year festival happened to be the most important holiday for the Chinese. There is, however, special food that must be used during that time. Today we are interested in the snacks that are eaten during Chinese New Year festive.
I can’t stress enough how much this is a must-have snack during the new year festival. The snack that has its origin from Beijing is one of the traditional snacks that is made using the haw fruit.
Today, however, the snack features a candied fruit with the fruit being either the haw, strawberry, orange, or dates. Another feature is that you have the candied fruit skewered on the bamboo stick. The snack is a blend of both sweet and sour taste.
- Nian gao
This is my other favorite new year snack. You can have the snack in yellow or white color to symbolize gold and silver. It’s a delicious glutinous rice cake that is auspicious to eat. The name means a higher year and this is interpreted as you having a promising year.
- Fried dough twist
Although you can enjoy them at any time of the year today, the fried dough twist was initially a new year snack. You can have the dough twist as both sweet and savory. They are fried to assume the golden brown color.
You will find them commonly in the Tianjin city-China. There’s are sweet big and thick with other delicious ingredients to enhance the flavour.
Other Chinese New Year snacks:
- Peanut candy
- Tang gua-malt sugar candy
- Steamed buns
- Zi dou tang-bean candy
- Popped rice
- Ox tongue pastry
- Persimmon cakes
- Dried longans just to mention a few.
Note that, there are tons of Chinese New Year snacks the above ones are just a few of them.
Chinese Snack Box
For those who would love to have a taste of Asia here is the classic snack box that has a few of snacks from China, Japan and Korea. You get to sample both the sweet and savory snacks with the 20 different packs in the snack box.
It will work as the best gift for your loved ones as it suits the young and old. This is your package to show them that you care about them. It has candies, cookies, chocolates among other sweet and savory treats.
Chinese Snack Recipes
With all that said, you should know that you could also cook your own snacks at home. Below are some recipes to try when you want to try your creativity skills.