Xihe Rougao (Xihe Meat Cake) – A traditional sncak in Shijiazhuang

xihe rougao

Xihe Rougao or Xihe Meat Cake, also known as “西河肉糕” in Chinese, is a traditional local snack originating from Shenze County in Shijiazhuang City, Hebei Province, China. It is characterized by its vibrant red color, delightful aroma, and a flavor that is rich but not overwhelming. This beloved dish is enjoyed by people of all ages, and it is an indispensable delicacy when hosting guests in the region.

Xihe Rougao has its roots in Xihexiang Village in Shenze County, with its founder being Li Luoti, who lived during the late Qing Dynasty. Locally, it is simply referred to as “Rougao” and has gained fame not only in Shenze but also in more than 20 other counties and cities, including Hengshui, Baoding, Renqiu, Shijiazhuang, Tianjin, and Beijing. It proudly stands as the premier offering among Shenze’s “Three Culinary Wonders.”

According to Li Xiqun, the third-generation heir of Xihe Rougao, this delectable treat was invented by his grandfather, Li Luoti. Family records indicate that Li Luoti was born in 1871 during the late Qing Dynasty. As a young adult, he worked in a wealthy household’s butcher shop. At the end of the year, he received a piece of donkey meat as part of his compensation. Faced with limited meat and a large family, he decided to finely dice the donkey meat, season it with various spices, and cook it. He then added starch to shape it into slices, creating the delicious Xihe Rougao that we know today. The Li family has passed down the recipe through generations, keeping it a well-guarded secret. Over time, this culinary treasure has become a favorite on the dining tables of local residents and a top choice for gifting to friends and family.

The main ingredients of Xihe Rougao include green bean and sweet potato starch, with donkey meat, donkey oil, and sesame oil used as additional components. Various seasonings are added to enhance the flavor. The preparation involves finely dicing the donkey meat and mixing it with starch, oil, and seasonings. The mixture is then steamed to perfection, resulting in Xihe Rougao’s distinct characteristics: a bright red color, a delightful aroma, and a flavor that is savory without being greasy. Locals often enjoy it without the need for any additional condiments, making it an essential dish when entertaining guests.

Within the Li family in Xihexiang Village, there are 14 households engaged in Xihe Rougao production, with a daily output reaching up to 4,000 kilograms. This traditional snack continues to be a symbol of pride for the community and a testament to the culinary heritage of Shenze County. Xihe Rougao’s enduring popularity is a testament to its exceptional taste and the dedication of the Li family in preserving this cherished culinary tradition. Whether you’re a local resident or a visitor to Shenze County, Xihe Rougao is a must-try delicacy that will leave a lasting impression with its unique flavors and rich history.

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