Rolling Donkey 驴打滚
Florida has keylime pies, Maryland has crab cakes, Philadelphia has Philly cheesesteaks and Beijing has Rolling Donkeys. Out of the many Beijing desserts, Rolling Donkey is one of the most traditional and popular dessert snack. It is the quintessential snack that any Beijing-er would recommend a foreigner try. I’ve never had Rolling Donkeys (and I can’t wait to try them!) but the locals’ can testify that the texture is chewy and sticky from the glutinous powder that the dough is made with, and is sweet from the red bean paste filling. Imagine Japanese mochi with bean paste, except added with roasted soybean flour.
But where did it get its interesting name? There are two versions of how Rolling Donkey got its name. But this version I found from food dragon is the more interesting. As the story goes, one day the Empress Dowager Cixi asked her chef for a new snack. After a lot of thinking he came up with the se rolls but just as he finished making them a young boy named 小驴 (little donkey) came and accidentally drop them into a bowl of soybean flour. There was no time to make new ones and so the chef served the rolls covered in flour. When he was asked for the name of this snack he improvised and said rolling donkey. Whether this is true or not, rolling the rolls in soybean flour is part of the recipe and how the snack got its name. Another version of the story is that because the yellow soybean flour its rolled into is like the yellow dust that the donkey turns up when he is playing and rolling around the countryside.
For anyone looking to try Rolling Donkey and other traditional Beijing snacks, Huguosi Street is a must to visit. In particular, visit which offers the most traditional array of selections. Huguosi Street is named after the no-longer-existing Huguosi Temple. During the Qing dynasty, the Huguosi Temple Fair was held on the eighth day of every month of the lunar calendar and these snacks were sold to temple visitors over 800 years ago. Today, the snacks are still served at Huguosi Street gives a feel and look of old Beijing. Shanti shares more on other yummy snacks found in Huguosi Street.
Now while we may not be ready to travel to Beijing yet, there’s a simple version to make this sweet snack that is quite easy. One of these days, I will make it!