#1: Bubble Milk Tea 珍珠奶茶This is one of THE most popular drinks in China. 珍珠means pearls and 奶茶 means milk tea. The pearls are chewy and made of tapioca starch. I think the Chinese slang word 'Q' (meaning chewy) might've been invented just to describe tapioca pearls.
Originally made popular in Taiwan, the best type is made with pearls stewed in brown sugar.
In English, this drink is also called Boba, Boba Tea, and Pearl Milk Tea. (It's popular in most of Asia as well as California, USA.)
I deconstructed this by making a brown sugar jelly 'mooncake' with milk tea cream filling.
-Bubble Tea Mooncake Recipe-
#2: Portuguese Egg Tarts 蛋挞As the name suggests, these 蛋挞 originally came from Portugal, and their popularity in China started in what used to be part of Portugal's trading empire: Macau. Today these can be found in any Chinese bakery, as well as in specialty shops. The crust is traditionally puff pastry style, but often you'll see short crust versions, and the filling is a very simple baked custard.
I deconstructed this by making a spoon out of pate brisee tart crust and filling it with custard "caviar".
-Egg Tart Spoons Recipe-
#3: Fried Sesame Mochi Balls w/ Sweet Bean Filling 芝麻球If you don't know what mochi is, educate yourself here (video).
These "sesame balls" are actually little balls of mochi, filled with sweet red bean paste (AKA anko or 豆沙), then rolled in sesame seeds and deep fried. Like anything fried, these are a million times better fresh, with a crunchy-crisp outer shell and chewy-sticky-sweet insides.
I deconstructed these by making sesame sponge cakes layered with sweet red bean paste and topped with crispy sesame tuile cookies.
-芝麻球 Sesame Red Bean Petits Fours Recipe-
#4: Black Sesame Tang-yuan Mochi Dumplings 黑芝麻汤圆These start out similar to the sesame balls above, but they're filled with sweet black sesame paste, and instead of being fried, they're boiled and served soft in a sweetened hot water.
These are traditionally eaten during 元宵节 Lantern Festival, but they're available frozen in supermarkets all year round.
If you're new to Chinese desserts and flavours, and don't have access to these original treats, try out these deconstructed versions and start eating your way across cultural borders.
Sesame Ball closeup photo credit: Fried sesame balls with sweet sesame filling AUD1.50 each - close-up - Mandarin Delights, Clayton via photopin (license)
via photopin (license)