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What Is Shaobing?

By Lakshmi Sandhana
Updated Feb 22, 2024
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Shaobing is a baked type of layered flatbread that may be topped with sesame seeds. A traditional Chinese food, this flatbread mostly comes in a round cake form and is a very popular snack that's eaten for breakfast. It is one of the oldest known traditional foods with a history dating as far back as the Han Dynasty, around 200 years before the birth of Christ. Mostly famous in northern China, shaobing comes with a variety of stuffings, which may be either savory or sweet. The most famous ones are made in the Shandong province, located on the east coast of China.

This snack is sold by many street vendors who may sell it in either a filled or unfilled form. Some of the stuffings used to fill shaobing include red bean paste, stir-friend mung beans, and spring onions. Tofu, egg, and black sesame paste are some of the other stuffings used. Vendors may sell them as little sandwiches with slices of ham, fried egg, and a little lettuce. The filled ones are typically eaten with soy milk and tea, while the unfilled shaobing come with servings of steamed eggs or varieties of breakfast meats. In winter, this snack is served with a hot pot or soy milk.

Considered to be a type of croissant-bagel hybrid, this flatbread has a number of delicate, crunchy layers with a crisp surface. While they look like flat hamburger buns, they taste a little salty and are eaten in different parts of China with various types of food. In the northern parts, the savory ones are eaten with soup, while in the South, people consume it with soy milk for breakfast. The sweet type of this flatbread is sometimes eaten by itself as a side dish.

They have the aroma of sesame when eaten hot and are very easy to make. The most basic type of shaobing is the one made with sesame seeds. It is possible to make around 10 of them in less than half an hour with dough prepared beforehand.

The major ingredients required are sesame paste, flour, yeast, and salt. Approximately a dozen shaobing can be obtained from 4.5 cup (about 612 grams) of flour and a little yeast, water, and salt. The dough is divided into small portions and rolled out on a flat sheet. It is then coated with the sesame paste, rolled firmly, and twisted multiple times in a standing-up position.

The cook then uses the palm of the hand to press down on the dough from the top until it becomes flat; this creates layers that become crunchy when baked. Sesame seeds are pressed onto the top of the bread, and it is baked in an oven until it turns a light brown color. The approximate cooking time for a batch is around 15 to 20 minutes. Not only is it quick to make, but it is quite inexpensive too and can be found in many restaurants that serve authentic or traditional Chinese cuisine.

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