The Most Difficult Chinese Recipes

Which elaborate banquet dish takes two days to make? And what popular Chinese cookie can cause endless problems if the instructions aren’t followed exactly? Learn about these and more of the most difficult Chinese dishes to make.

  • 01 of 07

    Thousand-Year-Old Eggs

    Century egg with tofu
    Getty Images/Brian Yarvin

    If the thought of eating food that could have been served during the Song dynasty offends your culinary sensibilities, relax. Thousand-year-old eggs are not really one-thousand years old—but they actually take about three months to make. The eggs (usually duck eggs) are preserved in a mixture of lime, ash, tea, and salt for 100 days. The shells are removed, and the sliced eggs (which have turned a blackish color) are served with pickled vegetables or a soy sauce-based dressing.

  • 02 of 07

    Buddha Jumps Over the Wall (Fat Tiu Cheung)

    Ingredients for Chinese Buddha Jumps Over the Wall Dish
    Sam+Yvonne / Getty Images

    According to legend, this dish got its name when Buddha smelled the dish being prepared and literally jumped over a wall to find out where the delicious aroma was coming from. Buddha Jumps Over the Wall takes two days to prepare and can contain up to thirty ingredients, including shark’s fin, dried scallops, and quail eggs.

  • 03 of 07

    Beggar's Chicken (Qi Gai Ji)

    Beggar's Chicken
    Flickr CC 2.0

    According to legend, this delicious dish was created by a starving beggar who stole a chicken and then wrapped it in mud to hide it. Later, he cooked the mud-covered chicken over an open fire. More elaborate versions of this recipe call for stuffing the chicken and covering it with lotus leaves, then encasing it in a dough wrapping and baking. In this simpler recipe for Beggar’s Chicken, the stuffed chicken is wrapped in aluminum foil before roasting.

  • 04 of 07

    Winter Melon Soup (Dong Gua Tang)

    winter melon soup
    thongchaipeun / Getty Images

    This star of this showy banquet dish is the winter melon—a sweet tasting melon with white flesh and seeds. The soup, a flavorful mixture of chopped winter melon, chicken stock, meats such as duck and seasonings, is served inside the shell of the intricately carved winter melon. 

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Hand-Pulled Noodles (La Mian)

    La Mian
    Flickr CC 2.0

    As the name implies, hand-pulled noodles are made entirely by hand, without the use of a noodle making machine. The chef repeatedly folds and twists a lengthy rope of dough until, as if by magic, it separates into thin strands. Chefs spend years perfecting their noodle-pulling technique. However, they also have a bit of help—the ratio of water to flour in the dough is greater than a standard noodle recipe, making the dough more “stretchy.”

  • 06 of 07

    Sesame Seed Balls (Ma T’uan)

    Sweet pastry balls coated in sesame seeds - some of the vegetarian foods on offer during the annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival. Phuket, Ko Phuket, Thailand
    Andrew Watson / Getty Images

    Who hasn’t tried these delicious deep-fried balls of glutinous rice dough that are filled with sweet red bean paste and coated with sesame seeds? The tricky part of making sesame balls comes when it's time to deep-fry. The balls of dough need to be pressed down and rolled continually in order for them to expand properly, and this can take a bit of practice. However, even if homemade sesame seed balls aren’t the perfectly formed treats you’ll find in Chinese bakeries, they’re still fun to...MORE make.

  • 07 of 07

    Fortune Cookie

    The hands of a middle aged women opening a fortune cookie.
    Aaron Black / Getty Images

    Who would have guessed that a simple cookie could pose so many problems? You’ll find loads of complaints about fortune cookies that broke when they were folded on recipe Web sites. The trick to fortune cookies is making sure the batter is even and removing the cookies from the oven at just the right moment.