A Bite of China- Transformation from Milk to Dried Milk Cake
In Chinese food, many a dainty is provided with special full-bodied flavor, which is the positive result of fermentation. To transform a raw material to a delicious taste, the intelligent ancestors of Chinese people had created all possible conditions and attempted continuously with their distinctive understanding of food. In the wide stretches of prairie in North China, a kind of fluid tasty nourishes the strong Mongolian herdsmen- it is the Dried Milk Cake transformed from milk.
In the breakfast table of Mongolians, milky tea is the eternal staple, which is made of brick tea, butter, stir-fried millet and fresh milk. Equally, the dried milk cake is the other food that people in grassland cannot live without. Livestock is the property of a family as well as a part of the herdsman; they are too precious and the meat is a luxury to be presented in the table. As a consequence, kinds of dairy food become the main course offering the vitamins and mineral substances that people can not easily get in grassland without abundant vegetables and fruits.
The Ujumqin Grassland of Inner Mongolia takes off its green from the later of September. The Mongolian herdsmen have to seize the days for the last grazing before the severe winter arrives, while the homemakers have to hurry up for making dried yoghourt cakes for the long winter though the fresh milk is not easily fermented as in warm summer. Fetch the fresh milk and lay aside for several days for natural fermentation; after fully fermented, the sour milk become nubbly curd, and the sour cream in the surface, which is the most precious part, will be spooned up; boil the milk to separate the albumen and sour whey. The whey will be reserved for domestic animals, while the albumen is the part to make dried milk cake. When boiling, it is necessary to stir the milk unceasingly so as not to stick to the pan bottom; when the whey is thoroughly boiled away, the hot milk condenses to a roll and is scooped up in a wooden mould. After days, when the air-dried milk is stout, the dried milk cake is done. This kind of cake can be eaten directly, or fried, cooked, and kept for a long time.
In many large cities today, there are restaurants specializing in Mongolian dishes, among which the roast lamb back is customers’ preference because the dish in people’s mind is always connecting with the straightforward lifestyle in the grassland; however, for people live in the interior of the grassland, the diary food, which provides them with adequate calories even in severe winter, is exactly the original of their life.
In Dali of Yunnan Province, thousands of miles to the south of Inner Mongolia, people use the identical way to transform the milk to Rushan (乳扇, literally a fan made of milk, a particular flaky diary food, and one of the 18 weirdest things of Yunnan). The difference is the making of milk roll is cooperated with hands; when a milk roll is done, it is pulled to a large slice and reeled up to a bamboo for air-drying hanging in the courtyards- numerous bamboos wrapped with Rushan constitute an image as a huge wind bells. The typical way to enjoy Rushan is to fry it.
This tacit understanding of transformation of milk between these two far apart areas may go back to 800 years ago during the flourishing era of the Mongolians, who founded Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). When the Hublai (1215-1294, the founding emperor of Yuan Dynasty) expedited to Yunnan, some Mongolians from his troops had settled down and introduced in their dairy food, the making skills of which hereupon had been handed down.
As a matter of fact, the wisdom of transformation had shined in remote ancient times in China, and all the imaginative transformation had created special flavors and a sublimation of nutrition, a part of which had been taken shape as a kind of culture, inherited by generations to generations.
--- By April (VisitOurChina)