Popular Chinese Breakfast Items

A bowl of food sitting on top of a wooden table

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day and when it comes to understanding the food and culture of a country that is certainly true. Breakfast in China may be different to what you are used to but if you throw yourself into it you will be amazed at how many different options there are – if you’re on a longer trip to China, you may even find you miss the breakfasts there when you go home. Here we have listed 10 of our favorite Chinese breakfast foods. Most of these dishes can be found throughout China, although some are specific to certain cities and regions.

Steamed stuffed buns (baozi)

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If you are walking around in the morning and see cloud of steam billowing out of a shopfront filled with large bamboo steamers, then chances are you’ve found a steamed bun shop! These stuffed wheat buns are one of the most ubiquitous breakfast foods in China. Baozi come in all shapes and sizes with literally hundreds of varieties of fillings, from simple ones like pork and cabbage to more complicated vegetarian ones filled with finely-sliced vegetables. A filling breakfast of a couple of baozi should only set you back a few CNY. You can also find plain, unfilled steamed bread buns, which are called mántou (馒头).

Congee (zhōu) 

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Congee is just one name (the name used in Guangdong, in fact) for a type of thin rice porridge that is popular across China and the rest of Asia. To make congee, rice is cooked in water or stock until the grains break down. By itself congee is pretty plain (and for that reason it is often served to the young, the old, and the sick) but it is usually augmented with various toppings, designed to add flavour and texture. in northern China, congee may be made with other grains, such as millet, cornmeal or sorghum.

Hot and dry noodles (règānmiàn)

This noodle dish is a specialty of the central Chinese city of Wuhan. Said to have been invented in the 1930s, hot and dry noodles differs from other noodles dishes in that the fresh noodles are first coated in sesame oil and cooked until tender, then reheated with a short bath in boiling water just before serving. The noodles are served without soup (the “dry” part of the name), topped with condiments like sesame past, garlic chives, pickled vegetables, and chili sauce (the “hot” part of the name). Although this is traditionally a Wuhan dish, it can now be found all over China and was even rated number one on a list of China’s top ten noodle dishes by People’s Daily in 2013.

Jianbing (jianbing)

Although it originates in Shandong Province, jianbing is one of the most popular breakfasts across China and with good reason. A delicious combination of flavors and textures, a jianbing consists of a crepe made of grain flour topped with an egg, chopped scallions, cilantro, sweet soy bean paste, and chili sauce, all wrapped around either a crispy wonton wrapper or a youtiao, depending on the style of the jianbing. Today, many stalls in China are getting creative with their jianbing fillings, adding things like cheese and ham.

These are some popular Chinese breakfast dishes.

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