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November 24, 2011

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Using the old bean to create tidbits

WU xiang dou (five taste bean) is a Shanghai snack that's creamy, salty and a little bit sweet.

The savory beans - also known as horse beans and broad beans - was developed during the 1930s by Guo Yingzhou, a farmer from Jiangsu Province who ran a small eatery in the City God Temple area.

He served dried bean curd and spiced beef but decided to expand the menu using broad beans from Shanghai's suburban Jiading District. He cooked them with sugar, salt and vanilla.

He then named his creation wu xiang dou, or beans with different layers of taste, and they soon became very popular. People were eating them in teahouses and cinemas, at train and bus stations and just about everywhere.

In 1956, the bean was officially renamed City God Temple wu xiang dou and stalls were set up throughout the temple area market.

Today there are a dozen kinds of wu xiang dou, including deep-fried, sautéed, spicy, creamy, curry and onion.

Cooking is easy. Wash the beans and soak them in a pot of brine. Add fennel and cassia and bring to a boil.

Add rice wine and sugar. Simmer and stew until the beans become plump and the skin gets rough.

Add licorice, pepper and prickly ash. Eat when cool.


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