Breakfast Around the World, China

Chinese Breakfast – Breakfast Around the World #7

July 25, 2016

Hey there! When I started this blog, I set myself a mission to recreate as many traditional breakfasts from all around the world as possible. Many people skip the breakfast, but in my opinion it is the most important meal of the day. Your body and brain need some fuel to start moving for God’s sake! That’s why I find it insanely interesting to discover what people eat for breakfast in different countries across the globe. Let’s go!

Welcome to the #7 installment of the “Breakfast around the world” post series, and this time we are heading East, to the world’s most populous and one of the biggest countries – China. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word China? What do you know about this powerful country? My associations are: The Great Wall, many people, the words “Made in China” written on almost every single thing you buy nowadays, strange food (insects, bugs, scorpions), to name a few. These are only the things that come to my mind immediately, in a split of a second. So, do Chinese breakfast consists of one cockroach, two spiders, and a little scorpion for dessert? Let’s check it out!

A look at the traditional Chinese breakfast including dumplings, rice porridge, fried bread sticks, and amazing crepes! | cookingtheglobe.com

The answer to the last question about all kinds of bugs, that Chinese people supposedly love, is NO. NO, they don’t eat them for breakfast. They don’t even eat them every day. Or even every week. All these bugs, scorpions and other strange stuff is more like a tourist thing or a delicacy Chinese eat on rare occasions. You can breathe easier now. The real Chinese food, the one they have every single day, is really delicious (I’m not saying that all those little creatures are not tasty, I’ve never had a chance to try them). Most probably one of the most delicious in the whole world.

Now that we made it clear that people in this Asian country don’t start their day by munching on a worm or other insect, let’s talk about how the traditional Chinese breakfast looks like. Even without bugs it differs significantly from the morning meal we are used to. No cereal, no toasts, no fried eggs or other staple things people in many other countries all around the globe have. Chinese breakfast is more like our dinner actually. How so? Well, their first meal of the day often includes dumplings, porridge or soup containing meat, meat filled buns and other not-so-light meals. Unusual, right? Not for Chinese. That’s how they get the energy for the day!

Chinese breakfast varies from region to region. For example in Chinatowns all around the world, the special breakfast culture called Dim Sum is super popular. You might have heard this name already. The principal is very similar to Spanish tapas: all kinds of various dishes are prepared and served in small portions. It can be dumplings, buns, rice noodles or others. I won’t talk about this kind of breakfast here, because it deserves a separate post. If you want to know more about it, I highly recommend this fantastic Lucky Peach post.

A look at the traditional Chinese breakfast including dumplings, rice porridge, fried bread sticks, and amazing crepes! | cookingtheglobe.com

Now let’s see what I’ve prepared for my Chinese breakfast table!

Dumplings

Yes, dumplings for breakfast. It’s China baby. The most popular ones are called Jiaozi. Usually they are filled with ground meat, vegetables, mushrooms, shrimp. These delicious dumplings can be steamed, boiled or pan-fried. Plenty of options. The end result is soft, melt-in-your-mouth little guys, that you would eat with a huge pleasure. I guarantee you. Not for breakfast maybe, because it would still be unusual for many people out there.

A look at the traditional Chinese breakfast including dumplings, rice porridge, fried bread sticks, and amazing crepes! | cookingtheglobe.com

Talking about me, I would easily be able to eat dumplings for breakfast every day. Maybe that’s my roots talking: 20 years ago, after the collapse of USSR, it wasn’t so easy to get (or sometimes there wasn’t enough money) various fancy products for breakfast, so sometimes we were eating leftovers from the day before. That’s why I’m used to the heavy meal in the early morning.

Besides Jiaozi, there is another popular type of dumplings called Baozi; I wouldn’t call them dumplings, because it’s more like buns to me, but many people do call them like that so I am adding them here. These buns are filled once again with ground meat, veggies, anything you want actually, and steamed. I didn’t make them for my Chinese breakfast table, but you can check out very similar steamed Filipino buns I made a month ago. They are almost exactly the same, because the Filipinos “borrowed” them from the Chinese. The taste is divine. This was the first time I tried steamed buns, and I can say only good things about them.

Porridge

I can almost hear you clapping hands in joy from the other side of the screen. This is it! The oat porridge everybody loves is popular in China too! Let’s add some berries, honey, maple syrup and we are good to go! Hold your horses, my dear reader. Chinese porridge is nothing like that. First of all, it’s made with rice. You have two choices: a simple one (only rice and water) and the one with different toppings (meat, seafood and so on). That’s right, forget the berries or other sweet stuff, meat is the king here.

A look at the traditional Chinese breakfast including dumplings, rice porridge, fried bread sticks, and amazing crepes! | cookingtheglobe.com

I made my porridge with pork and shrimp. By the way, it is called Congee or Jook. Basically, it’s overcooked rice. You just cook it for about an hour or even more until rice grains break up. Once again, my roots help me a little bit here. My mom made me rice porridge quite frequently in my childhood. She didn’t cook it for such a long time though, and (obviously) it was sweet and didn’t contain any meat.

Fried dough sticks

Spaniards have Churros, Chinese have Youtiao. Asian dough sticks are pretty similar to their European colleagues, but they are very different at the same time. The main similarity is the cooking method. You make dough sticks from the simple dough and throw them in a hot sizzling oil. But that’s where similarities end. Spanish version is supposed to be sweet: Churros are covered with sugar and cinnamon mixture and dipped in a hot chocolate. Chinese version is not sweet at all, and instead of chocolate some people love to dip their Youtiao in warm soy milk. You can still call it some kind of a dessert, I guess. Personally, I enjoyed the hell out of Youtiao. Especially, when dipped in a warm soy milk. Pure heaven!

A look at the traditional Chinese breakfast including dumplings, rice porridge, fried bread sticks, and amazing crepes! | cookingtheglobe.com

If you want to compare Youtiao to Churros, you can find my recipe for this Spanish delicacy here. Oh and keeping in mind that Churros are usually eaten for breakfast, you might want to check out my comprehensive guide on Spanish breakfast.

Crepes

The last (but not in any way least) item on my Chinese breakfast table is the famous savory Chinese crepe called Jian Bing. Basically, it’s a very thin crepe filled with meat, scallions, a bunch of other ingredients, and a spicy sauce. The taste is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. I also love how awesome they look, marbled with beaten egg on one side. It’s a favorite Chinese breakfast on the run, as it’s usually sold in the streets. However, it’s perfectly possible to make them at home. I did that and I am hooked. So GOOD!

A look at the traditional Chinese breakfast including dumplings, rice porridge, fried bread sticks, and amazing crepes! | cookingtheglobe.com

Tea

Everyone knows that China is a tea country (if you haven’t, well you know it now), so it would be strange not to serve it on my breakfast table. Keeping in mind that I have some authentic Chinese tea at home, which I bought not so long time ago from one Chinese website. See that round tea brick in the first few pictures? That’s how they pack their famous Pu-erh tea. I am going crazy over it. But that’s another story.

And that’s a wrap. I enjoyed this breakfast a lot actually. Maybe I would love to have some parts of it for lunch or dinner more than for breakfast, but hey, the most important thing is that it was tasty. It was really really GOOD. Of course I didn’t explore all the breakfast dishes available in China, because this country is huge and every region has their own traditions, but I tried to pick the most popular ones. As always, please let me know in the comments section below if I said or did something wrong or if you want to add something. I love the input my readers provide. See you in other Breakfast Around the World” installments!

4.89 from 9 votes
A look at the traditional Chinese breakfast including dumplings, rice porridge, fried bread sticks, and amazing crepes! | cookingtheglobe.com
Print
Chinese Breakfast – Breakfast Around the World #7

Chinese Breakfast is really filling and includes dumplings, rice porridge with pork and shrimp, crepes with meat filling, and more!

Cuisine: Chinese
Author: CookingTheGlobe
Ingredients
  • Jiaozi dumplings
  • Pork and shrimp rice porridge (Jook or Congee)
  • Crepes with meat filling (Jian Bing)
  • Fried dough sticks (Youtiao)
  • Soy milk
  • Tea
Instructions
  1. Serve all the ingredients and enjoy your authentic Chinese breakfast!

 

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32 Comments

  • Reply Tina Dawson | Love is in my Tummy July 25, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    What a LOVELY post Igor!!!! I have been dreading to making dumplings, the folding frightens me so much, I just hope mine looks as pretty as yours! Compared to our daily cereal / toast, doesn’t this look a treat!!!! Oh you made me hungry for some Chinese now!

    • Reply Igor July 27, 2016 at 7:05 am

      Tina, dumplings are my favorites for sure. Yes, the folding can be a tricky part the first time, but you will get used to it 🙂 It’s the taste that matters!

  • Reply Kushi July 26, 2016 at 1:17 am

    Great post. Enjoyed reading it. I love chinese food and dumplings are my favorite. I prepare them often 🙂

    • Reply Igor July 27, 2016 at 7:05 am

      Kushi, dumplings are my favorites too! But I loved all the other food I made for this post too 🙂

  • Reply Krysten July 26, 2016 at 5:09 am

    Oh man, I really want every thing that this breakfast has to offer.
    My best friend took me to China Town in San Francisco for my birthday for Dim Sum and it was pretty much the best thing ever.
    Plus I got to buy a lot of wonderful spices and meats that I can’t get anywhere else.
    Thank you for a look into a new culture!

    • Reply Igor July 27, 2016 at 7:06 am

      Krysten, I have never tried Dim Sum in any restaurant yet. I am one hundred percent sure it’s awesome!

  • Reply Brian Jones July 26, 2016 at 5:27 am

    I had to have a read through the rest of your recipes on Breakfast, for me it is a typically light meal with boiled eggs (fresh from the chickens or ducks) with a little toast but it is amazing to see how much effort some go to cook breakfast. I love cooking but definitely not first thing in the morning 😉

    • Reply Igor July 30, 2016 at 5:56 pm

      Brian, different countries – different traditions 🙂 I love tasting all kinds of breakfasts: light and not so light ones 🙂

  • Reply Sara | Belly Rumbles July 26, 2016 at 7:01 am

    I must admit I would never attempt to make all that for breakfast. It all looks so wonderful! Probably why Sunday breakfast yum cha at my local is a staple. Love love love dumplings and congee to start my morning.

    • Reply Igor July 30, 2016 at 5:58 pm

      Sara, all that would be surely too much 🙂 You can pick one dish and make it 😉

  • Reply J@BlessHerHeartYall July 26, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Now that looks like a breakfast that I could get used to! Wow! the colors and flavors must be amazing! Yay for dumplings!

    • Reply Igor July 30, 2016 at 5:58 pm

      Dumplings are the best! 🙂

  • Reply Neli @ Delicious Meets Healthy July 26, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    I love breakfast and I can’t start the day without eating something. All of this food looks amazing!

    • Reply Igor July 30, 2016 at 6:00 pm

      Neli, me too. I just don’t have energy even to move if I don’t put something in my mouth 🙂

  • Reply Anne Murphy July 26, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    I enjoy reading about breakfast all over the world! And it certainly doesn’t have to be sweet… I’ve tried a few versions, maybe this is next!

    Congee doesn’t take long if you already soaked last night’s leftover cooked rice, and I know a Chinese American friend routinely makes dumplings in quantity for the freezer – so it can be ready fairly quickly.

    • Reply Igor July 30, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      Anne, thanks for the tips about the leftover rice 🙂

  • Reply Roy (at Poc) July 27, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Omg! That was lovely. I am from Calcutta, India and it has the largest chinese community in India. So Chinese breakfast is something people from all over India come here to try..I know it sounds weird but the Indp-chinese food here has a history.
    Love Love your post! 🙂

    • Reply Igor July 30, 2016 at 6:03 pm

      Thanks you for the kind words, Roy!

  • Reply Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine July 27, 2016 at 10:59 am

    I would totally dig that for a savory breakfast spread of food!

    • Reply Igor July 30, 2016 at 6:04 pm

      It’s really good, Rebecca!

  • Reply Kate July 27, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    What an amazing Chinese breakfast spread! So many incredible dishes.

    • Reply Igor July 30, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      They are really fantastic, Kate!

  • Reply Jean August 4, 2016 at 12:32 am

    Looks great! Seems pretty accurate. The congee is a bit thick, and shrimp is a bit fancy for breakfast 😛 but everything looks delicious. I can imagine my family in Shanghai eating that stuff. Cool blog!

    • Reply Igor August 7, 2016 at 7:01 am

      Thank you, Jean! So nice to hear from a local 🙂

  • Reply Bintu - Recipes From A Pantry August 14, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Chinese food is so fresh and flavourful. I think I could eat dumplings all the time

    • Reply Igor August 14, 2016 at 10:12 pm

      Bintu, I would be able to live on dumplings alone. Easily! 🙂

  • Reply Nancy He January 22, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Actually, you can make the congee slightly sweet if you want. Some varieties will have dried Chinese dates added, or even nuts! Personally, I still like the savoury ones the best.
    I think baozi are much more common for breakfast than dumplings. There are sweet ones too, filled with sweet black sesame, or red bean paste.
    Steamed eggs are great too, with a bit of soy sauce.

    • Reply Igor January 23, 2017 at 2:35 pm

      Thanks for the info, Nancy! I think I would like the sweet congee more. Dried dates and nuts sound awesome for breakfast!

  • Reply Fabiana January 24, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    I lived in China for over an year and I can say you did an awesome job! Many chinese on a rush would grab a pork baozi or youtiao with a cup of soy milk on the way.

    • Reply Igor February 2, 2017 at 10:30 am

      I am happy that I got it right without visiting the country itself 🙂 Thanks for the comment, Fabiana!

  • Reply Godfrey Buquet March 5, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    I enjoyed your post. I like to eat food from all countries, especially Chinese food. My favorite? Fried Rice and Lemon Chicken, but most recipes don’t include the lettuce leaves beneath the chicken and I enjoy the lettuce as much as the chicken itself. I do a lot of Cajun cooking as I am from south Louisiana, U S A. Of course Jambalaya is my most staple food. Then comes the gumbos, and stews, especially seafood dishes. Thank you for your posts.

    • Reply Igor March 26, 2017 at 10:41 am

      Thanks for the comment!

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