Flatbreads can be found all over the world, and in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu, there’s a grandma who’s been making them for the last 10 years.
Her shop, Grandma Yan’s, always has lines out the door. Her secret? She stuffs the flatbread with spicy bean starch jelly noodles.
The speciality is called liangfen guokui 凉粉锅盔. The dish has traditional roots in Nanchong, a city that’s about 140 miles east of Chengdu in Sichuan Province.
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Guokui refers to the flatbread, which is pan-fried to give it a crispy outside and soft inside.
Liangfen refers to the jelly noodles, which are made from mung bean starch. The noodles are seasoned with a liberal dose of aromatics and black vinegar to give it a spicy kick.
“It’s a cold dish, so it needs a bit of vinegar,” Yan says. “Just a little bit. This is the taste of Sichuan.”
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Ten years ago, Yan taught herself how to make the pies by watching another vendor.
“A lot of people don’t know how to make it,” Yan says.
Now, the snack is the best-seller at Yan’s shop.
“Every day, we sell about 2,000,” she says. “On holidays, we sell about 3,000.”
Yan still makes everything by hand, rolling the dough and mixing the starch herself. She wakes up at 6 in the morning every day to buy meat and vegetables.
“It’s been 10 years now, so I have the experience,” Yan says. “My dream is to turn this into a franchise.”