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Xinjiang-Style Cuisine
article selected from Travel China weekly

Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is inhabited by many ethnic groups, and Xinjiang-style food is characterized by roast mutton, kebabs, roast fish and rice to be eaten with the hand.

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Roast Meat

Xinjiang roast mutton is as famous as roast duck is in Beijing and crispy suckling pig is in Guangzhou. A two-year-old sheep is slaughtered and skinned, daubed with salt inside and outside, and then coated with a mixture of eggs, chopped ginger and scallions, and pepper. The sheep is put into a stove to roast for about an hour until it turns golden brown.

Xinjiang kebabs are a snack which is popular nationwide in China, Kebabs can be found in the streets and bazaars throughout Xinjiang. Chunks of mutton are strung on a skewer and roasted over charcoal. The kebabs are turned continually, and when they are almost done, salt, pepper and other seasonings are sprinkled on them. Kebabs are crispy outside and tender inside, slightly salty and hot. They are not greasy and have no unpleasant smell.

Meat is also roasted in an oven pit 120-150 degrees Centigrade. Cubes of mutton coated with a mixture of eggs, ginger, pepper, salt and flour are placed in the pit, and the firewood is removed. The mutton is left for 30 minutes.

Stewed Mutton Cubes

This is a Xinjiang dish prepared especially for festivals. Cut mutton into cubes of 500 grams apiece and boil them in a big pot. When they are half done, remove the foam; and when they are 80 percent done, ass onions, pepper, ginger slices, carrots, turnips and tomatoes. Then remove and place on a big plate. Put some salt in the stock and remove to a bowl. Before eating the mutton, dip it in the stock.

Roast Dumplings

First chop the mutton, beef and sheep's-tail fat into small cubes. Add chopped onions, salt and pepper to make the stuffing. Wrap the stuffing in dough, and put in an oven to roast for 20 minutes. The dumplings are thin-skinned, with tender meat stuffing and very delicious. The Uygurs often eat these together with nang (crusty pancakes) and rice to be eaten with the hands.

Rice Eaten with the Hands

The materials are fresh mutton, carrots, onions, vegetable oil, melted sheep's fat and rice. There are more than 10 kinds of this rice dish, mainly mutton, chicken and vegetarian, but the most common is the one using mutton. This food is soft, delicious and nutritious. It is a feature of festivals, funerals and weddings.

Pulled noodles are liked very much by people of various ethnic groups. To go with the noodles, deep-fried mutton, stir-fried eggs and tomatoes, and stir-fried chillies and mutton are prepared. The noodles are pliable and tough, smooth and delicious. Another method is to cut the noodles into four-cm sections after boiling, and then stir fry together with fat, mutton, tomatoes and chillies. The taste is totally different from that of boiled noodles.

Oily Pyramids

This food is a favorite of the Uygurs. First, add lukewarm water to flour to make dough, and mix in a little yeast. After one hour, add some water, knead the dough and let it stand for a while. Then divide the dough into several pieces, daub some vegetable oil on the outside, and roll it out piece by piece. Then daub some sheep's tail fat and sprinkle a little salt and pepper on it, and roll the dough. Cut it into sections, and twist the sections into pyramid shapes. Steam the pyramids are eaten together with soup or noodles in soup.

Nang (Pancake)

Nang is a staple food for the Uygurs, just like steamed buns in northern China, rice in southern China and bread in Western counties. Making a nang is similar to making a pancake. The materials include wheat flour, corn flour or sorghum flour, with such seasoning as sesame seeds, onions, eggs, vegetable oil, butter, milk, salt and sugar. With a golden yellow surface, nang are crispy and delicious.

Sanzi (Deep-Fried Dough Twists)

Sanzi is one of traditional snacks of the Moslems. To make sanzi, use wheat flour mixed with vegetable oil and juice of the Chinese prickly ash. Knead the dough repeatedly, and then divide it into several pieces. Pull the dough into thin noodles and deep-fry in oil until golden yellow. During festivals, every Uygur family makes sanzi to treat guests.

Ququ (Boiled Dumplings)

Ququ is similar to huntun, but is unique in materials. First, chop up the mutton. Then mix onion, salt, pepper and a little stock to make the stuffing. Wrap the stuffing in dough wrappers in the shape of squares. After boiling, add some coriander. Ququ have thin skins and tender stuffing. They are delicious and nutritious.

Roast Fish

Remove the internal organs and cut the fish into two halves. Use several wooden skewers to penetrate the fish horizonatally, and then use a wooden skewer slightly longer than the fish to penetrate the fish vertically. Roast the fish in a semi-circle over firewood. While they are roasting, sprinkle them with salty water, pepper, and other seasonings. When one side is done, turn them around to roast the other side. Then put the fish on a plate and eat them with the fingers.

Flour-Filled Lungs and Rice-Filled Sausages

These are traditional snacks of the Uygurs, using sheep's internal organs as raw materials. Since the materials are uncommon and the cooking is time-consuming, this dish is a rare delicacy.

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