Peacock Chawanmushi, 2012

While I think that camel foot–served the day we went to Mingsha Shan–took the cake for weirdest delicacy served on the trip, peacock chawanmushi came in at a solid 2nd place. After visiting Jiayuguan, we were all taken to the Peacock Garden, “孔雀园” [kong que yuan] for a chance to use the hotel’s showers. Instead of the gross and mostly-broken ones on the New Orient Experss train. Score!

The Peacock Garden is a very small-scale, condo-styled resort in Jiayuguan. And beyond the giant swarm of flies in the room, it was really, really nice.

Once everyone was done showering, we feasted.

Le peacock egg. Ridiculously heavy.

So the giant yellow dish below is the peacock chawanmushi. Chawanmushi, if you’re unfamiliar with it, is basically scrambled eggs that are strained and then steamed in a water bath. Egg custard, if you will. I remember the director telling us that the giant, 10-inch-diameter bowl of peacock chawanmushi was over $30 USD. Crazy! My mom and I weren’t too comfortable with eating it, but the others said it was wonderfully tasty and smooth. There was also some beautifully-sliced braised pork belly, “東坡肉” [dong po rou]. We had this squishy vegetable roll dish: the wrapper was like an especially thin, spongy crepe that was made from potato. Inside were carrots, celery, some nagaimo, and chopped potatoes. Very light and refreshing dish.

Also served was a stir-fried vegetable plate, complete with crispy oyster mushrooms, other various fungi, black fungus/woodear, carrots, snow peas, and pumpkin. We also had fresh nagaimo sticks with 3 dipping sauces: blueberry, sweet & sour, and sweetened condensed milk. For those who don’t know what nagaimo is, it’s this really crispy and sweet type of yam that you can eat raw. If you’ve never had it before and get the chance to try it raw, it might be a bit off-putting because it oozes some gooey juices. But it’s very good! Especially good with blueberry sauce.

Egg drop soup with diced tofu and mustard greens. Yummy! Hand-shredded scallion pancakes. Even better. Purple yam–which is the sweeter brother of regular orange yams–, corn on the cob, brewed peanuts, more fresh nagaimo, and fresh pumpkin. Then a giant plate of mashed potato stewed in a light sauce, with bell peppers, hot peppers, bean sprouts, and mushrooms. That one went super quickly at our table. So good.

After dinner, we all shuffled back onto  the train as the sun was setting. My mom and I spent a good hour or so just taking in the beautiful scenery as dusk settled. Our train rolled past the snowy tops of the Qilian Mountains, which I hope I have the chance to visit someday! My photos don’t do them the justice they deserve.


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