Shanghai Street Food id filter
January 25, 2010 10:42 AM   Subscribe

I was in Shanghai in February 2006 and encountered a food stand in some side street off the eastern half of Fuzhou Lu that sold freshly baked crusty things vaguely similar to pizza bread. What was it?

Sadly, none of my sinologist friends know what to make of this.

More information: It was brushed with an oil/spice combination that tasted absolutely delicious in a way I can't describe specifically (something between coriander and umami is the closest I can get). It cost either one or two kuai and came in a little brown paper bag for each piece. Area was about two handfuls, thickness a couple of millimeters.

I think the people selling it were somewhat darker looking than the average Han Chinese, so I had them pegged as Uyghurs, but then I'm just a tourist.

More specifically, I'm not so much interested in the bread itself as in the reproduction of the spice mix, because I never found anything like it since.

Any help, Hivemind?
posted by themel to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Pound to a penny it was "Tujia pizza." the craze seems to have passed now, here in Beijing at least.
posted by Abiezer at 10:46 AM on January 25, 2010

Best answer: And here's a recipe in Chinese which I'm a bit too lazy to translate but will if you can't get your sinologist friends to do it. The Chinese name is 土家烧饼 if they want to search for better or more detailed instructions.
posted by Abiezer at 10:51 AM on January 25, 2010

Another possibility is Uyghur people selling nan. As you can see I'm guessing a bit here!
posted by Abiezer at 10:55 AM on January 25, 2010

This sounds very, very similar to za'atar bread that I've had in Saudi Arabia, which in turn has regional variations that are widespread throughout the middle east (and no doubt, beyond). Here's a relevant description (Wikipedia):

Traditionally, za'atar is made by drying the wild herb the sun, which is then blended with salt, sesame seeds and sumac.[32] It is consumed principally with unleavened Arabic bread (pita) dipped in olive oil and then the za'atar.

It's my only slightly educated guess that the Uyghurs may have such a dish.
posted by empyrean at 12:00 PM on January 25, 2010

I was in Nanjing in late 2005, and a couple of those "pizza" places popped up. It definitely isn't Uighur nan, I am inclined to go with Abiezer on this one.
posted by BobbyDigital at 12:14 PM on January 25, 2010

Best answer: Just popped in from my RSS reader to mention 土家烧饼 but it looks like Abiezer got it right off the bat. They were huge about 3-4 years ago, and the market got waaaay oversaturated with cookie-cutter shaobing shops. Now they're harder to find but I suppose there's still a little demand. Googling for "土家烧饼 调料" (tujia shaobing spices) gives a bunch of relevant results in Chinese, like detailed instructions on making and selling the snack.
posted by msittig at 5:01 PM on January 25, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks guys! I'm so looking forward to reviving a Chinese fast food fad from the past in my kitchen :)
posted by themel at 12:02 AM on January 26, 2010

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