Dongbei La Pi (Cold Potato Noodle 东北拉皮)
What is it?
Dongbei la pi – a popular appetiser dish in the northeast (Dongbei) region – is cold potato noodle (known as la pi in Mandarin) served with a range of vegetables like carrots and cucumber mixed with shredded pork in a peanut sauce. Sometimes, mung bean grass noodle is used in the dish. But traditionally, potato is the main ingredient in the famous appetiser.
Why is it famous?
The region of Dongbei – known historically, and somewhat more evocatively, as Manchuria – produces the largest crop of potatoes in the country. One of the most famous Dongbei cuisines is di san xian – loosely translated as “three delights from the earth” – which is made of potatoes, peppers and eggplants stir-fried together with garlic and doused in a vinegary, sweet brown sauce. The dish is especially filling – which was considered key to helping Manchurians endure the long harsh winter in the region.
Thanks to the popularity of potatoes, noodles made with potato starch are used frequently in the region. Potato noodles, which turn translucent after they are cooked, readily absorb the flavours from the cooking liquid while retaining a lovely chewy texture. Another famous Dongbei dish is braised pork with noodles, which sees fatty pork simmered in soy sauce and rock sugar for a long time before it is served with potato noodles to soak up the robust flavours of the sauce.
Where to eat it?
For those who want to get a taste of Dongbei, Culiang Home is a restaurant in Beijing that specialises in this regional cuisine. Address: Majiapu East Road, Fengtai District, Beijing; Tel: 86-10-8726-1660
Another popular Dongbei restaurant is Dongbei Tiger Homecooking. Address: Wai Guan Xie Street, An Ding Men, Beijing; Tel: 86-10-6421-1679.
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