Guide to Snacking and Snack food in Xiamen

Updated: 12 Oct 2008
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For many who come to Xiamen for the first time and for those who never venture into Xiamen’s corner streets, it is unlikely that they will be familiar with the folksy good things that are happening in Xiamen alleyways.


These visitors or expats may be missing part of Xiamen action and food culture. These snacks are commonly found at the food courts, snack bars, little restaurants and hawkers’ centres tucked away in the corner streets.


In fact, Xiamen Xiaochi, South Fujian snacks or Mannan Xiaochi can be found in many parts of the world. Thanks to the Southern Fujianese migrants who have brought these cooking skills to many parts of the world. Though the snacks may vary from place to place as they morphosize under different local conditions, the essence of this uniquely Minnan cooking is still the key factor in making it so popular where ever they are.


From Sydney to Perth, from Penang to Singapore, from Manila to Bangkok, from Taiwan to Xiamen and from Quanzhou to Zhangzhou, you can locate and enjoy some of these snacks.


However, where ever you enjoy some of these snacks, you can’t beat the one you get in the heart land, South Fujian itself. This is because the most original ingredients of this folksy cuisine can only be found none other than Xiamen and its adjacent areas.


As a famous city surrounded by mountains, farmlands, fishing, seaport and culture, Xiamen has a time-honoured history of producing some of these special snacks, which also contain rich historical and Minnan cultural connotations. There are many stories and celebration about the creation of this "snack" culture and snacks.


Minnan has many cultural events in creating this food for festivals, births and birthday, wedding or funeral ceremonies, offering sacrifices to fairies, Gods or ancestors, special give-away for friends and relatives on some special occasions.


South Fujian food, popular in Xiamen, Quanzhou, Zhangzhou and the golden triangle of South Fujian, are sweet and hot. They use hot sauces, chilies and citrus juices as flavorings.


As Fujian people emigrate overseas, their cuisine become popular in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and some western countries. Generally speaking, Minnan dishes are slightly sweet and sour, less salty, and often use the red distiller's grain for flavoring. When a dish is less salty, it tastes more delicious. Sweetness makes a dish tastier, while sourness helps remove the fishy smell.


1) Mianxianhu (Gluey Noodles) 线糊




Uniquely Minnan, this is a very popular sanack amomh South Fujian people. The stock is prepared by boiling shrimps, oysters, razor clams and other seafood together, and finally add thread-like noodles to the soup, and boil the mixture again until it becomes thicken


2) Er-ah jian (oyster omelette) 海蛎煎




Using the freshest oyster, mixed with egg, sweet potato powder and garlic powder, and then fried in oil. Before eating, dip in garlic sauce, shacha sauce, it's really delicious. 


3) Fish Ball 门鱼丸




Fish balls are a famous traditional snack in southern Fujian, in the shape of a golf ball. It is made from fish paste mixed with flour flavoured with special ingredients. Bright and snow white, such balls are soft, refined and delicious. The fish balls come in many sizes. Some are stuffed and others solid balls.


4) Tusun Dong (Tusun Jelly) 土笋




Tusun Jelly's main material is a kind of worm found in muddy seabed. It contains gelatin, after cooking the gelatin is mixed with the water, and form to jelly after getting cold. Eating with soy, vinegar, sugar sauce, pepper sauce, garlic sauce, mustard, radish etc, it's really good to taste and very high in protein.


5) Shacha Noodle 沙茶面




This is a very common dish. The specialness of Shacha noodle is that its soup is made by Shacha sauce and pork or chicken bones soup , you can add any food materials you like in the noodle like pig's liver, pig's kidney, duck's tendon, and dried tofu etc.


6} Shrimp Noodle Soup 虾面




The main material of shrimp noodles are fresh shrimp and noodles, its soup is one of the the most delicious.


7) Spring Roll or Chunjuan 春卷




Chunjuan is also called Bobin in Xiamen. It's containing many food stuffs like bamboo shoots, peas, bean sprouts, dried tofu, fish, shrimp diced meat, oyster and carrot etc, and all these food ingredients are wrapped with a piece of thin flour skin.


8) Xiamen Glutinous Rice Wrap 门烧肉粽




Its main ingredients are glutinous rice, mushrooms, shrimp, chestnuts and pork; all these ingredients are wrapped in bamboo leaves, and cooked in the boiling water. Just before consuming, unwrap and dip it in shacha sauce, garlic sauce, pepper sauce etc, it's really delicious.


9) Peanut soup 花生




One of the Xiamen famous deserts, the snack is prepared by cooking peanut in water until soft. Simply add sugar and consume. The most famous peanut soup is in Huang Zehe at Zhongshan Lu, a famous snacks store in Xiamen.


10) Chinese chives bun 韭菜盒




Its skin is made by flour and pig fat, the stuffing are pork, shrimp meat, chufa, Chinese chives, carrot and dried tofu etc. All the ingredients are wrapped in the skin and fried in the oil, it's very crisp.


11) Jihong cake 红糕




It's made of glutinous rice, with a thin layer of special powder outside each cake. It is a popular desert snack. It's known both at home and abroad.


12) Glutinous rice cake or Maci 麻糍




It's made of glutinous rice, inside the maci is peanut powder, black and white sesame seeds powder and sugar. Outside the maci is wrapped with a layer of black sesame seeds powder.


13) Crab porridge 蟹米粥




Crab rice porridge is cooked by fresh crab and glutinous rice, the rice is cooked with crab soup till is soft enough, then add crab meat, ginger and celery etc, eat it when it's still hot, it's really delicious.


14) Jiangmu Duck (Braised Duck with Ginger) 姜母




The ducks are all raised naturally. Cut duck into pieces, and fry with ginger, then braise for about 2 hours. It can dispel cold and dampness. Very good for stomach and spleen.


15) Bianshi Soup (wonton soup) 扁食





Bianshi is commonly known as Wonton in Guangdong and Hong Kong; it's liked by the Fujian people for its thin skin and fresh pork stuffing. The clear soup is made from boiled pork bones.



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