Chinese Dessert in Food Culture

What is the history of Chinese Dessert?

What are the special characteristics of Chinese Dessert?

What are the cooking methods of traditional Chinese desserts?

What are the main ingredients to make traditional Chinese desserts?

Classifications and famous examples of traditional Chinese Desserts.

What is the history of Chinese Dessert?

 

The eating of maltose, honey, and ice had been documented in the Classic of Poetry (or Book of Songs) that contains poems of the Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC — 771 BC) and Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC — 476 BC). 

 

This is the earliest written record of using sugar to make sweet taste dessert. 

Bronze Container (Jian) that Could Place Ice Cubes to Cool Wine and Food, Unearthed from Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng (about 475 BC — 433 BC) — National Museum of China

But dessert had been only popular among royals. Until the Tang Dynasty (618 — 907) and Song Dynasty (960 — 1279), the production of sugar dramatically increased, due to the development of technology and the economy. 

 

Since then, dessert has come into the civilians' world. More ingredients were added, and more types were invented. 

Unearthed Food (Dumplings and Desserts) and Utensils from the Tang Dynasty — National Museum of China (Photo by Kanjianji)

What are the special characteristics of Chinese Dessert?

 

  • Not standardized.

 

Most of the normal Chinese desserts have public recipes, but because of complicated ingredients and cooking methods, they are still not standardized, nor industrialized. Therefore, a dessert would not taste the same in different places and shops. 

 

  • Less milky and sugary. 

 

  • Stuffing varied geographically. One type of dessert may have many different types of stuffings, according to geographical differences. 

For example, stuffings of Mooncake for the Mid Autumn Festival varied from sugar, nuts, fruits, to egg yolk and meat. 

  • Some types of Chinese desserts, especially those made of flour and rice, could be served as staple foods. 

 

  • Sweet flavor soup and paste are considered desserts too.

What are the cooking methods of traditional Chinese desserts?

Throughout history, traditional Chinese desserts could be made by steaming, baking, roasting, boiling, frying, and so on.

What are the main ingredients to make Chinese desserts?

Rice, flour, flowers, bean, fruit, milk, vegetable, meat, eggs, sugar, oil, and ice are all important ingredients for making dessert.