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Shao Kao (Street Barbecue)

Shao Kao NN-1

Chris and I are packing our bags and heading back to North America for the Spring Festival holidays.  In China, the Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese New Year Festival, is a time for people to travel back to their hometowns and spend time with friends and family they may not have seen in many months.  Many people in China work or study far from their homes not by choice, but by necessity.  Whether they are migrant workers, university students, or employees of large companies, pretty much anyone who can afford it will try to go back to their hometown.  Sometimes this takes several days on packed, standing-room only trains, especially for those who must travel to the far reaches of the west, or hours on buses.

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Chris and I are going to be visiting our families in California and Toronto during this trip.  I thought that I would leave you with a little glimpse of our life in China, as we may not get a chance to post a recipe for a few days.

Shao Kao is a kind of Chinese barbecue where skewers of meat and vegetables are seasoned heavily with cumin and Chinese five-spice powder, among other spices, and grilled over long and narrow charcoal grills.  They are especially popular at night, where crowds of people will order a bunch of bbq, sit on little plastic stools in the middle of the alley, and regale themselves with bbq and beer.  Things can get pretty rowdy at shao kao in some places, but we like it because it’s a fun way to hang out with friends.  And I particularly like the grilled veggies.  Oh, not to mislead you…this isn’t healthy by any means.  But sometimes it’s fun to indulge.

8 comments to Shao Kao (Street Barbecue)

  • Mmmm… meat on a stick – my favorite. Actually, just about anything they skewer tastes great after they put that powder on it! Probably not too healthy…

  • koree

    Hope to see you guys soon.
    You really should stay in China during the Spring Festival.

  • [...] secretly hoping to become a pastry apprentice.  We wandered our fair city, ate lots of tasty shao kao, taste-tested a few beers for the non-drinking Buddha at his bar, (a story for another time), and [...]

  • Leo

    awesome! i ran across this in a google search “shao kao” while researching cities to visit/study-in in China… thanks for the info!

    crazy how as i come to learn you are not in China anymore, but now in the Central Coast – where I am from! Salinas Valley baby!SLO is pretty cool too.
    also funny cuz i’ll be going the other way—>China!

  • Camilla

    Leo, what a coincidence! I am really starting to miss Chinese food somethin’ fierce! Do you know any good Chinese restaurants on the Central Coast? Good luck on your trip, I’m sure it’ll be an amazing experience!

  • [...] meat – late night shao kao is among the greatest pleasures in life, just make sure you trust your cook and tell them to leave [...]

  • [...] Shilin Night Market – I love street food.  It has been a long time since I have been able to enjoy eating shaokao. [...]

  • Jon

    I spent 3 years living in various parts of China and what I miss the most is the bbq. My friends and I would always stop and order an obscene amount of food on our way home from the bar/playing pool/any excuse for bbq. I’m pretty sure we paid the bbq family outside my apartment enough to put their kid through a few years of college.