Chinese food and cheese are not necessarily happy bedfellows. Asian flavors do not lend themselves to cheesiness and for good reason. My main experience of cheese in China consisted of hotel cheese platters on their buffets.
But I had heard that some regions in China, namely Yunnan, used goat cheese in their cooking.
There will be a longer exposition of my recent trip to Shanghai in future posts (you have been warned) but I was determined to find this elusive fusion. Actually I didn’t have to search too far. One of the best known restaurants in Shanghai, Lost Heaven specializes in Yunnan cuisine.
I found one item on the menu – a ham and cheese “pie”, made from Rubing cheese.
Rubing is produced in the Yunnan Province of southwestern China by descendants of the Yi minority, who refer to themselves as the Bai or Sani people.
Rubing is a firm, acid-set, non-melting, fresh goat cheese and it is is made by mixing heated goat’s milk and a souring agent, traditionally a mixture called “milk cane” which is made from fermented vine leaves or vinegar. Raw it looks a lot like tofu but tastes similar to paneer. It cooks a little like halloumi.
It’s used in stir -frys with broccoli and also like this, in a pie. A common method of serving the cheese locally is as Shuijian Rubing, which involves frying it and providing salty, spicy, or sugar-based dipping sauces for it as an appetizer. It often replaces tofu.
Unlike many goats cheeses, the one I tried didn’t have a pungent smell or flavor. It did however provide texture in this crispy pie.
I had to travel a long way, but I finally ate cheese that was made in China.