You might have heard of sheng jian bao, the most popular breakfast food in Shanghai. Shui jian bao (水煎包) is a similar type of fried bun that is popular across China.
Shui jian bao, which translates literally as ‘water-fried bun’ is a meat-filled bun that is first fried and then steamed in a mixture of flour and water, giving the bun a fluffy exterior, but a crunchy and flavourful crust at the base. The filling is also different from its Shanghai cousin. While sheng jian bao is mostly made with minced fatty pork and gelatin that melts into broth once heated, the shui jian bao is made with lean minced pork, vegetables, grated radish and dried shrimp.
In Fujian, shui jian bao is usually eaten in the morning and enjoyed with a soup of pig lung, peanuts and some local herbs to help lower the ‘heat’ that is trapped in the body.
According to traditional Chinese medicine principles, this heat is usually built up from eating too much greasy and spicy food, and from not getting enough rest. Pig lung is said to be a good source of protein and is said to have cooling properties.
Where to eat it?
Breakfast China, a food documentary that’s been a hit on Tencent Video, reckons that a small mom-and-pop store in Fu’an, a city in Fujian province, makes some of the best shui jian bao in the country. But be forewarned: the shop only opens from 5am to 10am and closes as soon as the bun supply runs out. Use the Chinese characters below to get there in a taxi.
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