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Six Nanjing foods you must not miss


The cuisine of Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, is more famous for its "small eats" than its main courses. These streetside snacks are about as famous as the city itself, which was the center of government for six ancient dynasties, the earliest dating back to the Three Kingdoms era from 220-280 AD.

Popular dishes include pan-fried dumplings, shredded tofu in chicken soup, duck blood soup and steamed buns with crab roe presented in a bamboo steamer.

For one’s daily quota of greens, the locals usually order a plate of tender and fresh luhao, a river reed. Nanjing is famous for using a variety of wild vegetables in its cuisine.

Finally, you have to try Nanjing's signature dish - salted duck, brined to perfection in a sauce that chefs would protect with their lives.

1. Duck blood soup

Cubes of duck blood come with duck-bone stock with deep-fried firm tofu, vermicelli and bits of duck organs, such as liver. The texture of the cubes resembles bean curd: succulent, watery and tender.

2. Yanshuiya, or salted and baked duck

Autumn in Nanjing is a season of scented osmanthus blossom and the best time to make delicious Salted Soup Duck because ducks at this time of year are fat. The chef chooses well-bred ducks and smears salt and spice on them to add flavor. Then the spiced ducks are marinated in a sauce for two hours. Just before eating, the ducks are steamed. It should taste fragrant, crisp and tender.

3. Pan-fried beef dumplings

These doughy purses, packed with minced beef mixed with diced ginger and spring onions, are fried until golden and crispy.

The fragrant crescents provide a contrasting taste sensation: the outside is crunchy while the inside is moist and soft.

4. Gansi

Gansi, or finely shredded tofu, is a bowl of chicken stock with scores of goodies, such as ham, bamboo shoots and shelled shrimp.

The firm tofu slices, which can be as thin as 1mm, absorb the broth’s meaty flavor.

5. Steamed buns

Under an extremely thin layer of dough hides the delectable broth and a ball of tender pork.

To eat these meat pockets, take a small bite on the skin, drink up the broth, and then dip the rest in vinegar.

6. Five fragrance eggs

Whole shelled eggs are slow-simmered in a spiced broth of anise, ginger, cinnamon and tea leaves. The spices infuse the eggs with a strong, sweet, earthy aftertaste.