Local Snacks - Yangshuo Mugwort Cake

Chinese mugwort is a herb which has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. It is believed to clean the blood, but pregnant women are advised not to consume it unless under medical supervision as it was also used in the past to induce terminations. In ancient times, mugwort was used as a magical herb. It was used to repel insects, especially moths, from gardens and was used as a remedy against fatigue and to protect travelers against ghosts and wild animals. Roman soldiers put mugwort in their sandals to protect their feet against fatigue.

But in the Yangshuo area, mugwort is also used in one very special food. In spring and early summer, little green cakes are sold on street corners and in small snack restaurants. The cakes are flat and round and very, very green. Bright green.

They are made from a mixture of mugwort, which supplies the color and flavor, and rice which supplies the bulk. The manufacturing process is complicated but involves washing then boiling the mugwort leaves. These are then processed with lye to remove the bitterness and make them softer. They are then sweetened with sugar and mixed with a 50-50 mixture of rice flour and sticky rice flour to make a dough. After being formed into little cakes two to three inches in diameter they are then steamed for around 30 minutes.

They can be served hot or cold and the taste is very refreshing and a little sweet.


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