Bite with a bang

Updated: 2011-06-04 08:11

By Tan Zongyang (China Daily)

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Bite with a bang

A street vendor prepares to throw a ball of glutinous rice paste into a bamboo basket full of bean flour to make sandapao - a snack of Chengdu, Sichuan province. Provided to China Daily


Chengdu's 'cannonball' glutinous rice ball snack is all about sight, sound and taste

If you ever go to Jingli Street - an ancient alley in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan province, do not miss one of the city's most distinctive snacks - sandapao, or "three cannonballs".

Made mostly of glutinous rice, sandapao tastes similar to a famous snack in Beijing - ludagun or "rolling donkey", which is cooked from glutinous rice paste rolls with sweet bean flour. But the southerners prefer their dishes a bit sweeter and the red syrup poured on the snack makes this local cake special.

Unlike other glutinous rice cakes that merely taste good, sandapao can also mobilize the eater's sense of hearing through an interesting and enjoyable preparation.

First, the pastry chef makes three balls from glutinous rice paste. Then he throws the balls with great force against a flat surface where 12 copper disks are placed. The disks overlap each other and function as small cymbals that can clang loudly after the hits.

"Bang, bang, bang!"

Bite with a bang

The balls bounce one after another into a bamboo basket full of bean flour - like miniature cannonballs blasted into the sand.

After the disks stop vibrating and the sounds end, the chef will place the rice balls into a bowl and dress them with hot syrup and sesame seeds.

Recipe | Sandapao

You can prepare the snack at home, minus the sound and fury.


1kg glutinous rice

150g brown sugar

50g sesame seeds

250g soy beans


Wash the glutinous rice, immerse in water for 12 hours and steam it.

Pour hot water into the rice; after the water and rice mix, pound them into a paste.

Add 300g water into the brown sugar; boil the mixture into a sweet sauce.

Stir-fry the soy beans and sesame seeds and grind them into flour.

Knead a small dough piece from the paste, roll it in the soy beans and sesame mix.

Pour on the syrup.


The rice should be immersed in water until soft. It should also be sprinkled with water during the steaming process.

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