Xianghe Meat Pie – a unique regional specialty

xianghe meat pie

Xianghe Meat Pie, known as “香河肉饼” in Chinese, is a unique regional specialty hailing from Xianghe County in Langfang City, Hebei Province, China. This culinary delight is characterized by its thin, crispy crust, generous meat filling, rich oiliness, and a texture that offers a delightful softness when savored. It is a beloved dish that caters to the tastes of northern Chinese people, serving both as a side dish and a main course. With a history spanning over two hundred years, Xianghe Meat Pie is a testament to the culinary traditions of the region.

Origin of Xinghe Meat Pie

The origins of Xianghe Meat Pie can be traced back to a type of bread made by the Turkic people over a thousand years ago. Legend has it that during the time when nomadic Turkic tribes roamed the vast northern plains and deserts of China, meat, particularly beef and lamb, was abundant, but grain-based food was relatively scarce. As a result, serving wheat-based food to guests was considered a generous and gracious gesture. When hosting guests, the hosts would prepare special meat-filled pastries with exceptionally thin crusts to show their hospitality. This method of pastry-making eventually made its way to regions inhabited by other ancient ethnic groups, including the Uighurs and Hui people.

Development of Xianghe Meat Pie

During the early Ming Dynasty, when Zhu Di moved the capital to Beijing, a large number of Hui people were relocated to the eastern part of Hebei, near Xianghe. Among them was a family with the surname Ha, who opened a small restaurant shortly after their arrival and named it “Ha Jia Dian.” With them, they brought the ancestral pastry-making techniques. Over the course of centuries, through a process of inheritance, experimentation, and refinement, Mr. Ha and his descendants developed the distinctive flavor of Xianghe Meat Pie.

Preparation

Xianghe Meat Pie is renowned for its unique proportions of a thin crust and a generous meat filling. Each large pie consists of one jin (500g) of wheat flour for the crust, two jin (1kg) of meat, and one jin (500g) of scallions, yielding a pie with a diameter of about two feet. The preparation process, from dough mixing to meat filling, is highly meticulous. The dough must be kneaded to just the right temperature, neither too cold nor too hot, and it should be smooth and pliable, making it easy to roll out thin, paper-like crusts with elasticity. The meat filling, made from either beef or lamb, is carefully processed, minced, and mixed with various seasonings like scallions, ginger, garlic, and fragrant spices, all stirred together with fragrant sesame oil. Xianghe Meat Pie is a true embodiment of perfection with its three layers: two paper-thin crusts embracing a central layer of cohesive, cake-like meat filling, finely-textured, and devoid of any gaps or imperfections.

Recent Development

In recent years, the variety of Xianghe Meat Pies has expanded. Han Chinese have started using pork as the meat filling and incorporating a small quantity of pungent ingredients like chives and fennel to create distinctive flavor profiles. Today, Xianghe boasts over 200 restaurants and eateries, each offering their take on this local delicacy, with “Xianghe Meat Pie” being a common sight on every menu. The rich history and unique craftsmanship behind Xianghe Meat Pie make it not only a favorite regional specialty but also a delectable testament to the culinary heritage of Hebei Province, drawing both locals and visitors alike to savor its delicious flavors.

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