Original qingtuan flavors for the coming Qingming Festival
An innovative East-meets-West approach is featured for this year's seasonal delicacy – qingtuan – by Shanghai's oldest Cantonese-style eatery. This year, Ovaltine is being used as stuffing for the first time, drawing in younger customers.
The Xing Hua Lou restaurant dates back to 1851 during the reign of Emperor Xianfeng (1831-61). They announced on Monday, that they've teamed up with Swiss brand Ovaltine, a popular nutritional supplement drink, jointly developing recipes for seasonal foods. Qingtuan will be the first to hit shelves.
Qingtuan is a traditional snack for the Qingming Festival, which falls on April 5 this year.
The green dumplings are made of glutinous rice that has been tinted with the hue of barley grass, which is only available in the spring.
For a unique touch with wanghong (online celebrity) food sensation, Ovaltine has been used to make the qingtuan stuffing, which is wrapped in red bean paste.
"We trying to appeal to everyone with a mix of the mellow fragrance of chocolate, light aroma of red bean paste, glutinous flour wrappings and crumbly granules, enriching the flavors of the little green rice dumpling, with the hope of bringing sweet joy to diners," said Zhi Jing, Xing Hua Lou's deputy general manager.
Two flavors are launched under the collaboration, one blending cocoa powder and the other matcha. They're sold both online and offline.
"They cater to people seeking the fresh flavor of traditional food. As a time-honored brand we also need to keep up with the times," said Zhi. "Innovation from time to time is the soul."
More seasonal foods under the collaboration will be developed, according to Zhi.
"Ovaltine is a part of my childhood memory as my mother often brewed me a cup to enhance my nutrition when I was a child," said Shanghai resident Lu Ming, in her 30s. "It delivers a sweet memory and strikes a nostalgic feeling when I sink my teeth into this rice dumpling. I'll buy some for my parent as well."
Catching on the innovation trend, this year, the 97-year-old Sunya Cantonese Restaurant on the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall added Sichuan-flavored beef for the filling of their qingtuan.
Yanduxian-stuffed qingtuan is also popular with locals. Yanduxian is a classic Shanghai spring soup made with pork and bamboo shoots.
De Xing Guan, a restaurant founded in 1878, has put two new flavors – black truffle and abalone – for their seasonal delicacies.
One qingtuan contains a whole abalone and 10-year-old chenpi (aged tangerine peel) from Xinhui, creating a unique flavor.
Xinhui in southern Guangdong Province produces the best chenpi, where the people use traditional processing techniques passed down for centuries.
Wang Bao He, another time-honored restaurant in the city known for its hairy crab cuisine, has innovatively stuffed qingtuan with xiefen, or crab powder and shrimp, and roast pork, with the idea originating from its signature cuisine.