Cheese fans in Kunming!

No, no, not that kind of cheese fan…

But let’s start from the beginning: I left Shenzhen this morning and am now in the southwestern city of Kunming. I didn’t have a particular reason to be in Kunming so early, but since it was in the high 90s in Shenzhen, did have a fairly strong desire to be anywhere else. Kunming being somewhere else, here I am.

The train ride was lovely. We passed through incredibly green rice fields, dramatic mountains and about two hundred tunnels. Someone sitting near me smelled pretty bad, and I spent much of the ride trying to figure out who it was. When I got to the hotel, I realized it was in fact me. Sorry about that, rest of the train.

After a rest and some impromptu laundry, I was out for dinner, and wisely settled on a really interesting flat noodle soup. Now goodness knows, I have eaten a lot of noodle sup in China, but this was unique. I think the ground pork was somehow smoked. I’ll go back and ask when I am not staggering-tired.

But I was not too tired for 乳扇子 (ru shanzi), which literally translates to cheese fans.

These are made by boiling fresh milk with a souring agent that separates out the milk solids. These are removed and pulled by hand until they become the consistency of fresh cheese. The sheets of cheese are then pulled around sticks of bamboo to resemble fans (aha!), and left to dry. Finally, the dried sheets are warmed over a low charcoal fire to soften. As a street food, they are spread with condensed milk and served wrapped around a stick. They can also be fried.

It’s a very nice taste, kind of like a dry or baked mozzarella. The sweetness of the condensed milk is a nice touch. Her other suggestion of chocolate seemed a bit much, but that’s not likely to stop me from trying it tomorrow.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sean JS Chen says:

    I tried doing this once and that citric acid does not work and will give you something more grainy in texture, forcing you to make paneer. They said lactic acid or papaya juice are the preferred coagulants for the milk but I have not tried them.

    1. Hi Sean, I went back and asked last night, and nobody knew. I have heard papaya juice, as well as the flower of a certain plant (related to belladonna, but I can’t remember right now). You’re definitely right that citric acid would not work — that’s how you make ricotta!

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