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Mianwo (round and thin fried dough with a crispy center)


Mianwo is a famous Wuhan snack and got its name for there is a thick circle with a concave center. This concave part is formed for being too crisp and thin and Wuhan citizens prefer to call this snack mianwo instead of mian』ao.

Mianwo, together with hot braised noodles, is one of the most favored breakfast food for Wuhan people. It is simple to prepare thus quite popular across all the districts of Wuhan, most of which is sold by vendors or at eating-houses. There is no snack bar specializing in selling it and the mianwo of Xie’s style in Wuchang Hubu Alley is the most famous compared with other kinds.

As a specialty of Wuhan, Mianwo can date back to Guangxu Period in Qing Dynasty (1875-1909 A.D.). At that time, there was a vendor named Chang Zhiren selling sesame seed cakes in the vicinity of Jijiazui in Hanzheng Street of Hankou District. Due to gloomy business, he tried every means to find new breakfast varieties. After beating his brains out, he asked an ironsmith to cast for him an iron scoop in shape of a nest with center protuberant. Then he put onto the scoop rice slurry ground by the mixture of rice and soybeans, sprinkle on it black sesames and fry it in oil. Several delicious and crisp round rice cakes with thick brim and a hole in the center appeared soon. They were quite special and tasted soft at the thick part and crisp at the thin part. Chang Zhiren called it mianwo, which has become a delicious and cheap characteristic breakfast over the hundred years of development.

Actually it’s not very appropriate to say that mianwo is dough because there is only a little flour in its ingredients, most of which are rice slurry ground by polished round-grained rice as well certain proportion of soybean slurry with chopped green onion and salt. The iron scoop used for frying is 5-cun in diameter, concave around and center protuberant. Ladle with another scoop the mixed slurry into mianwo scoop, scrape at the center and then put the slurry into wok. Since the concave thick part includes large amount of slurry, it is like a circle after being fried and tastes savory, crisp and soft.

In addition to rice mianwo, there are other varieties of mianwo, such as fried pea mianwo, sweet potato mianwo (also called shaowowo in Wuhan) and shrimp mianwo. Mianwo, one of the snacks favored by Wuhan citizens, is a characteristic breakfast just like hot braised noodles.