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19 Jul 2016

Roasted Sweet Potatoes in Beijing

Many Chinese love the baked sweet potato stalls on the street side. Especially during the winter, cold wind you can hardly resist the fragrance and radiant warmth from a heated tin barrel on top of which lay the delicious sweet potatoes. 

The vendor calls out to you, “烤红薯了,又香又甜的烤红薯!” (Kǎo hóngshǔ le, yòu xiāng yòu tián de kǎo hóngshǔ!), and before you know it, you are holding one of the delicious snacks on your hand, breaking it into halves to enjoy the steam rising up to your cold cheeks. Bite into the golden sweetness, and you will love every bite of it. 

Its a traditional winter street snack favourites. Baked sweet potatoes are enjoyed across the country, but with different type of names. It is generally called “红薯” (hóngshǔ) because of its red skin, but if people refer to it as “白薯” (báishǔ), “地瓜” (dìguā) or 甘薯(gānshǔ), they are talking about the same thing. It is a common snack that everybody can afford to enjoy — for only 3 to 4 kuai, you can get a big piece of the sweet delight. Sometimes, it is so inexpensive that people suspect the sweet potato vendors are in constant poverty, and use the term “卖红薯” (mài hóngshǔ, sell sweet potatoes) to refer to job positions that do not pay much. 

Rich in starch, protein cellulose and vitamins, sweet potato has been awarded the title of “longevity food.” Not only served on the tables of North Americans during the holiday seasons, the sweet potato has also incorporated in Chinese cuisine as follows:

Sweet Potato Porridge (红薯粥 Hóngshǔ Zhōu)
Popular among women who want to loose weight or keep their figures, sweet potato porridge is also believed to have positive effects on an irregular digestive system. It is easy to make with a stew pot. Ingredients include one sweet potato,80g rice and two teaspoons of sugar. The cooking instructions are as follows: pick a plump sweet potato, peel it and dice it into small chunks. Immerse the rice for half an hour and put it into a stew pot with the sweet potato chunks. Pour in approximately three times the amount of water as the ingredients and turn on medium heat. After the water has started to boil, lower the heat and keep boiling for 20 minutes. Add the sugar in the final stage and stir evenly before serving. Now you have a bowl of hot, sweet porridge in front of you.

Not only do you enjoy a fine warm snack, but you also get to stand next to the hot burning oven on which it is cooked. If you are there try the baked sweet potatoes.


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