jiang 姜 
Ginger, or jiang, is one of the world’s oldest medicinal foods. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is considered a yang, or hot food, that can expel yin, or cold, from the body, and is used variously as an anti-inflammatory, digestive aid, and antiemetic. Anyone who has had a cold in China and been force-fed boiled Coca-Cola with ginger will know that this seemingly unorthodox remedy is actually surprisingly effective.

jiangcai 酱菜 
Jiangcai is a catch-all term for a variety of preserved vegetables marinated in soy or soy bean paste. The vegetables are usually lightly boiled before being left to cool in the marinade. This preparation is commonly used for vegetables like cucumber, radish or garlic, such as the popular jianggua (soy sauce cucumber). In Beijing, the undisputed market leader in jiangcai is the venerable chain Liubiju, branches of which can be found across Xicheng and Dongcheng Districts.  

jiaozi 饺子
The mainstay of many a cheap dinner, jiaozi are just one of a myriad of Chinese dumpling types. These oblate beauties may be prepared in a variety of ways: boiled (shuijiao, 水饺), steamed (zhengjiao, 蒸饺), or pan-fried (guotie, 锅贴). Each has its merits, but for our money there is nothing like a plate of fresh-out-of-the pan, perfectly crisp guotie. Chinese comfort food at its best.

jinyin mantou 金银馒头
Translated as gold and silver buns, this popular northern Chinese dessert or staple food consists of deep-fried (gold) and steamed (silver) wheat buns (mantou), served with a dip of sweetened condensed milk. Surprisingly, one of the best versions we’ve sampled can be found at Haidilao – proving that the chain is not just for hot pot after all.

Photo: Delphine Menard (Flickr)

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