Eating in Dunhuang
Famous Local Food
Dunhuang food revolves around wheat flour noodles as the main staple of the local diet. Noodles are served with lamb, chicken, or beef. On the other hand, Dunhuang Rang Pizi has long been one of the most popular dishes in the city. These noodles are actually made from pea flour and are clear, white, cool and slippery. The noodles are seasoned with hot peppers for a cool, yet spicy feel that is just perfect for desert weather (as least that's what the locals would say!).
Shazhou Night Market is one of the best places in Dunhuang to try authentic Dunhuang specialties. Virtually all of the very best of Dunhuang's northwestern cuisine can be found here: Saozi Noodle, stuffed bread and even mutton kebabs. In addition, you will also have opportunity to sample Huanghe sweet melons, grapes and Hami melons.
Famous Local Dishes
Camel Hooves on Silk Road
Since ancient times, camels have been the most efficient and cost-effective mode of transportation on the Silk Road. Their strong hooves make it possible to trudge through the Gobi desert and are highly prized for tendon (thought to be highly nutritious by Chinese). However, since camels generally live long lives and are most valuable as modes of transportation, camel hooves (tuozhang) for use in cooking are quite hard to find. In fact, camel hooves are almost as hard to find as another Chinese rare gourmet dish, Bear claws (Xiongzhang), which is actually illegal in recent times (the bears are nearly extinct).
To prepare camel hooves, the hoof is first soaked in water and softened. After that, it is stewed for as long as eight hours. By that time, the tendon can be detached from the bone. After steaming for another two or three hours, the tendon is then cut into small pieces and placed on a serving platter with other ingredients for decoration. Generally, egg whites are added to the tendon at some point, so the hooves not only have a unique, hearty flavor, but also make a great presentation as well.
Stir-fried Hump with Five Shredding
Stir-fried Hump with Five Shredding was a favorite of high-ranking imperial concubine Yang Yuhuan of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The primary ingredient is camel hump, accompanied with five shredding consists of Yulan (dryed bamboo shoot), Dongru (a type of mushroom), leek shoots, ham and chicken breast. It is featured in fat and the soft meat.
Cut the camel hump into regular pieces or shredding and quick-fry them. Flavor with seasonings, and voila the finished fresh, soft and tasteful Quick-frying Hump.
The above dishes usually use camels that die naturally, or are old and infirm as the ingredient. They are delicacies, and you should expect to pay accordingly. If tourists wanted to try such dishes, you should visit some famous hotels in Dunhuang City.
Dunhuang Rangpi (Rangpi) is a famous local snack food made of flour. Some varieties are yellowish while others are white. With special seasonings, this dish tastes slightly spicy. This noodle-like dish is typically served cold.
Unlike Dunhuang yellow noodles, Rangpi is fairly easy to make. First boil some flour in water and stir until the starch and protein separate. Then remove the starch and boil it again. After all the water evaporates, cut the solidified starch into thin strips and add seasoning. While it may sound strange, it's not really. In fact, Dunhuang Rangpi is quite tasty.
Dunhuang Yellow Noodle
Some say that from a distance, Dunhuang yellow noodles (Huangmian) resemble threads of gold. While this is somewhat of an exaggeration, these noodles are by no means simple to make. Only the expert chef can properly pull the heavy dough into noodles. The fine thread-like noodles are then boiled in water until they float, however the noodles are typically eaten cold or at room temperature. Yellow noodles are often eaten with other dishes as a staple (like rice in other parts of China).
On certain murals and frescoes in the Mogao Grottoes, there are vivid portrayals of people make yellow noodles. Convincing proof of the long history and popularity of Dunhuang Yellow Noodles.
Handmade Saozi noodles (Saozimian) are known far and wide in China. Saozi noodles are generally thin and have an accompanying soup that is made with meat and/or vegetables.
Famous Local Snacks
Three Treasures of Anxi - Suoyang Wine, Guazhou Melon and Shuangta Fish, is source of Anxi dining culture. Tourists should try them; otherwise your Dunhuang trip will be not complete.
Fry Oil Cake
Stuffed sugar candy, rose-essence, walnut and sesame in an oil flour skin that are rounded, and then fried. The fry oil cake tastes fragrant, sweet and crisp.
It is a kind of Lamian (dough stretched to form fine noodles). Yellow Noodles look like golden threads, tastes delicious and have a soft texture. They can be added to soups, or mixed with cooked vegetable dishes, and being savory, makes a good appetitive. From the vivid painting in the Mogao Caves, we may know Lamian is a traditional food with long history.
Niang Pi Zi
It is a kind of traditional popular fast food that is both a little spicy and vinegary. Mix flour and water together into a bowl, then ladle the mixture onto an iron plate, after steaming one minute, the mixture become a wafer thin cake. Cut the cake into strips, leave until cool and flavor with mustard, garlic, capsicum, sauce and vinegar. Niang Pi Zi is similar to the tasteful Liang Pi of Xi’an.
Apricot Peel Water
It is a popular drink in Dunhuang City, with a sweet and sour taste like syrup of Plum. It is the cooled boiling water of dry apricot, which is very refreshing, especially for tourists.