Qingming mixed vegetable rolls pay homage to ancestors
According to legend, after China’s Yu the Great (“Dayu” 2200–2100 BC) tamed a flood, the expression “qingming” (“clear and bright”) came to commemorate that success. It later evolved to encompass the concept of “universal peace and prosperity.” Qingming became one of the 24 solar terms, the juncture of mid and late spring, coinciding with blossoming flowers, revival and “a clear sky and bright earth.” Qingming Festival celebrates all this. Tang Emperor Xuanzong (712–756 BC) decreed Qingming as the day to honor one’s ancestors.
The Hanshi Festival (Cold Food Festival) also originated with April’s changing seasons, as the year’s new fires were lit with seasonal woods. Many tales exist about Hanshi observances. The most widely known concerns Duke Wen of Jin (697–628 BC) and his minister Jie Zitui. When Duke Wen’s father threatened to kill him, he ran for his life. Jie ran with him and refused to leave his side through every travail, even sacrificing parts of his own body to ensure the Duke returned safely and resumed his rightful place. The day the Duke became a prince, Jie felt he had served his purpose completely and retreated into the mountains with his mother on his back. Wanting to shower him with gifts and thanks, Prince Wen furtively sent people in search of Jie, even setting fire to the mountains to force Jie out. The mountain burned for three days and nights, eventually killing Jie and his mother. A remorseful Prince declared Cold Food Day, banning fire, and the entire kingdom ate cold food.
These two festivals were integrated as Qingming, retaining cold foods and tomb-sweeping. Koreans still eat cold dishes during this time while most other Asian cultures observe the holiday with recipes like “Qingming mixed vegetable rolls” or run ping: delicate, mouth-wateringly chewy wraps bursting with seasonal vegetables and more than a dozen variations of fillings.
Qingming Mixed Vegetable Rolls, Taiwanese style
Filling (for 4 persons):
100g cabbage, 50g celery, 50g lima beans, 80g bean sprouts, 4 eggs, 50g tenderloin, 80g marinated, baked tofu, 4 sausages, 30g of other fresh vegetables of your choice, 20g powdered sugar, 20g peanut powder, 8 pieces of spring roll rice paper, onions, garlic and cilantro to taste
1. Wash ingredients. Shred cabbage, slice dried tofu, chop cilantro and dice celery.
2. Fry vegetables, cabbage and dried tofu respectively with a little bit of oil. Add diced celery, fry more. Put aside for later use.
3. Blanch lima beans. Cook bean sprouts. Grill and slice sausages.
4. Blanch tenderloin and cut into strips. Fry and shred eggs.
5. Spread powdered sugar and peanut powder evenly on a piece of rice paper. Add any combination of filling ingredients you like. Roll up and serve.
Photography by Hsuyi Shih