Xishuangbanna BBQ

Discover China’s Many Forms of Barbecue

From fresh oysters in Guangdong to lamb skewers in Xinjiang, China’s barbecues come in countless sumptuous varieties

The summer is barbecue season for much of China, with patrons at popular restaurants spilling onto stools and tables on the streets to eat their fill with ice cold beers. But the art of the barbecue (烧烤) varies significantly across the country, from the oysters of coastal Guangzhou, to the famous lamb skewers of China’s northwest, and the banana leaf-wrapped morsels of Yunnan province.

In northeast China (known as Dongbei), for example, barbecue is so loved that people jokingly refer to the Dongbei diet as “three little barbecues a day.” In Jinzhou, Liaoning province, the municipal government has even designated barbecue an intangible cultural heritage since 2010. From crabs to silkworm pupae, Jinzhou barbecue menus can have over a hundred choices. Some dishes are seasoned with herbs such as liquorice root (甘草) and dried tangerine peel (陈皮) to bring out the delicate flavors.

No Jinzhou barbecue menu is complete without tofu-skin rolls. The dried tofu is stuffed with cilantro and grilled on skewers until soft and tender. The chef completes their offering by brushing chili sauce on the rolls and sprinkling over cumin and sesame seeds. The crunchy fragrance of the cilantro and the rich flavor of the seasoned tofu skin soothes the stomach in between sizzling meat kebabs.

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author Wang Lin (王琳)

Wang Lin is a contributing writer at The World of Chinese who aspires to tell fresh stories about life, arts and culture in China—no prejudice, no clichés. Her writing has appeared on Nikkei Asia, the South China Morning Post, RADII, and elsewhere. She was born in Ningbo, a bustling port known for its dumplings and seafood.

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