I am a devotee of google. Gone are the days of being on a first name basis with my library team and having ‘my spot’ to sit & bury my nerdy head in Asterix books. All hail solo OCD information gathering pursuits! Besides, I can’t find any library books or written material about Chinese cheese. Many a cheese book largely ignores China, dismissing this HUGE population as lactose intolerant cheese surrender monkeys that don’t like the smell of cheese. That & it’s highly unlikely I’ll get to visit China anytime soon, reckon they can (and will) visit me instead. Guess I could pay for the trip smuggling infant milk formula in there to trade for traditional Chinese cheese? I’d love a Chinese cheese mule. This is both another contribution in English to setting the Chinese cheese record straight, and a scrapbook of my Chinese itchy travel feet using my google skills as my guide.
The internets say…
Cheeses made in northern China generally have a heavy, rich flavor, where those from the south are milker and have some similarities with Italian cheeses.
In the old Chinese days, cheese was associated with barbarian cultures so it was avoided.
Chinese tend to avoid uncooked foods, so alot of traditional Chinese cheeses are eaten cooked.
LE FROMAGER de PEKIN -The Cheese Maker of Beijing – gets a notable mention here as a new world cheesemaker. This is about the traditional old world Chinese cheeses that have been made & enjoyed by the Chinese since ages ago…
Ru shan – The Mozzarella of the East
A cow milk cheese made in the grasslands of Yunnan by the Bai people. Ru shan means milk fan, referring to the shape of a fan. It is eaten either raw with sugar or grilled or deep-fried. To make it, fresh cow milk is warmed in a wok, then the curdling agent suan jiang is added. The curds are then removed, worked with the fingers and finally stretched over a bamboo frame to dry. See the video below to see it being made!
Imperial Court Cheese
A pudding served in a bowl made from cow milk & rice wine, it’s reported to have a balanced, sweet & sour taste. Is sometimes topped with raisins and melon seeds.
There was no herding in the plains around Beijing, so starting in the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) Mongol emperors in Beijing introduced cheese from Mongolia. During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), imperial chefs changed the recipe by adding wine made from glutinous rice to cows’ milk. The milk is mixed with wine, baked in an oven and cooled until it curdles.
Daliang Buffalo Cheese
The cheese’s origins date back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), when an Italian missionary who could not bear to see people throwing away extra buffalo milk showed locals how to make Italian cheese. The Chinese later adapted the recipe, adding white vinegar. To make Daliang buffalo cheese - maintain milk temperature, pour 1/3 cup white vinegar in a cup with a spoon, scoop a spoonful of heated milk into the cup, the milk immediately solidifies into lumps, mold and smooth curd with your fingers, squeeze out whey and residual vinegar, soak in brine for 4 hours. The mild, sweet-and-salty cheese comes in thin, round flakes that are sold in a jar. WATCH Daliang buffalo cheese being made below!
Xinjiang Milk Knot
Made using cow or goat milk that is fermented, boiled and dried, Xinjiang milk knot’s are a dry cheese with a rough skin. Seems the more it’s chewed, the more sweet and sour flavours it releases. The sweet type contains more fat and is more fragrant, the sour type is made with less fat & is less aromatic. The Kazkh nomadswho make it usually soak their milk knots in hot tea to soften it before eating, or chew it slowly. Less authentic milk knots are available in Shanghai, as pictured below.
Raw cow milk, usually colostrum, is coagulated, fermented and formed into blocks. A chese from Inner Mongolia, it is often steamed or grilled, soaked in tea, and served with fried millet and braised mutton. Mongolians say it’s flavor and texture changes when it is cut into different sizes; thick slices are soft, milky, slightly sweet and sour; thin slices taste sweeter and melt in the mouth. Some make with caramelised milk.