When I’m far from my favorite Asian snack shops, I make the noshes myself. Last week on Lunar New Year, I took the day off and tinkered in the kitchen, preparing traditional Viet eats and these northern Chinese dumplings. I was replicating panfried savory pastries that we’d enjoyed at the Beijing Pie House in the San Gabriel Valley, a mega-hub for excellent Chinese food in America located east of Los Angeles. Since it’s a good 6-hour drive from my house to the café, I figured I should make the meat pies!
These kinds of filled pastries are called xian bing (“she-ann bing”) in Mandarin Chinese. Bing is the Chinese term for a broad category of cakes, dumplings, and other doughstuffs – much like the term banh in Vietnamese. A moon cake is a classified as a bing; long ago, a national food publication translated moon cake as “moon pie” in a story that I’d written for it.
Banh and bing are difficult to translate into English, which is why these panfried dumplings are often times translated as meat pie. Made of chewy, thin dough and filled with a savory filling, they are on the large side. You can eat them with chopsticks or as finger food. When you bite into a hot one, it should be a little juicy. I forgot to warn my husband, and his first bite was a mess.