Roujiamo (Chinese: 肉夹馍; pinyin: ròujiamó), also known as rougamo or rou jia mo, meaning “meat burger” or “meat sandwich,” is a street food originating from Shaanxi Province and now widely consumed all over China. The meat is most commonly pork, stewed for hours in a soup containing over 20 spices and seasonings. Although it is possible to use only a few spices (which many vendors do), the resulting meat is less flavourful.
Many alternative fillings are available. For example, in Muslim areas in Xi’an, the meat is usually beef (prepared kabob-style and seasoned with cumin and pepper), and in Gansu it is often lamb. The meat is then minced or chopped, then mixed with chopped coriander and capsicums, and stuffed in “mo”, a type of flatbread. An authentic mo is made from a wheat flour batter and then baked in a clay or mud oven, but now in many parts of China, mo is made in a frying pan or a pressure cooker (some even substitute a steamed bun), and the resulting taste diverges significantly from the authentic clay oven-baked version. Depending on the types of spices used to cook the meat and the way the bread is made, the taste of roujiamo can vary greatly from vendor to vendor.
Roujiamo costs around 6 yuan in most parts of China and is considered the Chinese equivalent to the Western hamburger and meat sandwiches. In fact, roujiamo could be the world’s oldest sandwich or hamburger, since this bread dates back to the Qin Dynasty (221 BC – 206 BC) and the meat to the Zhou Dynasty (1045 BC to 256 BC). Contrary to popular misconceptions, roujiamo is not a street food unique to Muslims. It was invented first by the Han Chinese, while Muslims simply substituted pork with barbecued beef or lamb due to Islamic restrictions on eating pork.
Roujiamo can be found in many street food vendor stalls or near Chinese mosques. Some vendors also call it la zhi roujiamo (or lazhi roujiamo, Chinese: 腊汁肉夹馍), which simply means roujiamo with special gravy. Others call it bai ji la zhi roujiamo (or baiji lazhi roujiamo), which means roujiamo with special gravy in a bread (bai ji refers to the type of bread).
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1 tablespoon dried yeast dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
- For pulled pork!
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 100 g lard
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, bruised
- 5 cm knob ginger, sliced (about 25 g)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 piece cassia bark (Chinese cinnamon)
- 1 star anise
- 2 pieces dried mandarin peel
- 1.5 kg pickled pork belly , soaked overnight in cold water, drained and cut in half
- To serve!
- coarsely chopped coriander
- roasted chilli oil
- soy sauce
- Chinkiang vinegar
- For pulled pork, preheat oven to 150°C. Combine ingredients and pork in a casserole dish, then cover and braise until meat falls apart (4-4½ hours). Keep warm in braising liquid, then drain and pull meat into rough pieces before serving.
- Combine flour and yeast in a bowl with a good pinch of salt, add 150ml-170ml water and mix to combine, then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Cover and set aside in a lightly greased bowl until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
- Divide dough into 6 pieces and, using your hands, shape each on a lightly floured surface into an 10cm round. Heat a frying pan over low-medium heat and cook bread until golden and cooked through (2-3 minutes each side).
- To serve, split bread through the middle, but not all the way through, stuff with pulled pork and top with coriander, roasted chilli oil, soy sauce and chinkiang vinegar to taste.