Xian, known as the Eternal City and called Chang’an in ancient times, is one of the world’s four ancient capitals. Once you step into Xian, you can immediately observe the cultures and stories that were left behind by the different dynasties. The long stretching defensive walls reflect the ancient history of this old capital, which played an influential role in ancient China.
This Eternal City is also known as a “culinary capital” because of Xian’s distinctive food culture and its unique flavors and textures. A wide variety of Xian food can impress you with unexpected surprise, and part of its charm can be identified by three main characteristics: First, ingredients used are derived from both Southern and Northern China due to Shaanxi’s geographical location in the center of China. Second, the local chefs typically use a few special cooking techniques, which include Zha (deep-fry), Jian (fry quickly in hot oil, then cook with sauce and water), Chao (stir-fry), Zheng (steam), and Dun (braise). Lastly, salt, vinegar, capsicum and garlic are frequently used providing strong savory flavors to the food.
A few of Xian’s signature dishes include cold noodles, dumplings, and crumbled unleavened bread in beef and mutton stew. Tourists from all over the world can enjoy the beautiful scenery in Xian as well as its historical relics such as the Terracotta Warriors while satisfying their appetites.
As Mid-Autumn Festival approaches, Sheraton Hotel Xian, a highly-regarded five-star hotel in China, tells Asian Palate about the feast of Xian dishes they are offering this year for their guests to celebrate this traditional Chinese festival. Also, see below to find out what wines Jeannie recommends to pair with each Xian dish.
Appetizer: Cold Noodles
Cold noodle is a traditional snack in Shan Xi. There are two main types of cold noodles; one is made of wheat and the other that is more popular in Xian is made of rice and it is famous for being “pure, thin, soft, appetizing and chewy”. It is usually served mixed with chili oil.
Jeannie’s Wine Recommendation: 2010 Fillaboa – Seleccion Finca Monte Alto
Main Course: Calabash Chicken
Calabash Chicken is Xian’s traditional dish with a long-standing reputation. The chicken is cooked by a combination of two cooking techniques: first, it is marinated with salt and Sichuan pepper, then steamed with anise, bay leaves and cooking wine before it is deep-fried. This dish is praised by guests from all over the world for its freshness, tender texture and delicious flavor.
Jeannie’s Wine Recommendation: 2009 Anne Gros & Jean-Paul Tollot – Les Fontanilles
Moon Cake: Crystal Moon Cake
This year, Sheraton Hotel Xian launches a new line of crystal moon cakes that are created under a unique process. These moon cakes have a beautiful appearance, featuring a golden surface with silvery white sides. On the palate, it provides a crispy texture with balanced sweetness. Unlike the traditional crystal cakes, these crystal moon cakes are sweet with a bit of salty flavor derived from the green bean fillings.
Jeannie’s Wine Recommendation: 1988 Chateau Guiraud