Food of Yunnan 3: 乳饼 – Rubing Cheese

You don’t find a lot of dairy food in China. This is usually ascribed to the fact that many Chinese people are lactose intolerant, though there is some debate over whether this causes the lack of dairy in the diet or is caused by it.  There are also remarks upon the fact that dairy farming is a far less efficient use of land than growing rice or raising pork for meat.  But regardless of the cause, one thing you will almost never find anywhere in China is cheese.  The featured food in tonight’s post is the exception to that rule.

Rubing (乳饼 – rǔbǐng) is a cheese made by the local Bai and Sani minorities of Yunnan province, and is quite popular there.  It is a farmer cheese, which means that it is served fresh rather than aged, and is made from goats milk that has been soured with the extract of a local vine called 奶藤 (năiténg), or literally “milk cane”.

Rubing is similar to the Cypriot cheese called Halloumi in that it does not melt when heated.  And like Halloumi, Rubing is most commonly served fried.

Often is it served mixed with tomatoes and broccoli or other vegetables.

Sometimes it is just deep-fried and served with salty or sweet dipping sauces.

These are the most traditional ways of serving Rubing, but modern restaurants in the region have been experimenting with departures from the tradition.  Some serve it with a local cured ham called Xuanhua, while others are experimenting with chocolate or rose flavorings.

It is yet another local delight I will be keeping my eyes out in our coming visit.

Sources:

The photos and serving information come from gochengdoo.com

Information on the making of rubing comes from wisegeek.com

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3 thoughts on “Food of Yunnan 3: 乳饼 – Rubing Cheese

  1. Umm that looks sooo yummy.
    It’s making my mouth water.
    I bet that has a slightly rubbery texture when you bite into a fried square.
    Interesting about the lactose intolerane bit.
    I didn’t know that. :)

  2. I loved you post about Rubing. I live in Kunming and to my surprise I can buy it in my local farmer’s market. I always have it in the fridge as a better option than the Western cheeses. Since I love Halloumi, I too felt that they were in the same family of cheeses. I have been making it recently as a cold salad and once of twice as a meal in itself with halved grape tomatoes, XuanHua ham, fresh dill, oil, Chinese vinegar and sesame oil or with Italian spice and olive oil. Love to experiment with these awesome tastes!
    Regards, Roz
    http://www.rozw.wordpress.com
    http://www.pinterest.com/rozweitzman

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