Put Down Your Phone, Put on Your Gloves and Dig into 小龙虾 (Xiǎo lóngxiā)!

Chinese General xiaolongxia

Today I’m going to tell you about one of China’s most beloved summer time snacks. They are bright red when cooked. They come from the water. They have ten legs and two claws. Lobster, you might think? Guess again!
Over the past twenty years, the Chinese have gone crazy for the lobster’s tiny cousin. The Chinese call it 小龙虾 (xiǎo lóngxiā), but you may know it as “crawfish”. Although not as famous worldwide as lobster or crab, crawfish has become hugely popular on the streets of China over the past few years.
小 (xiǎo) = small

龙虾 (lóngxiā) = lobster

小龙虾 (xiǎo lóngxiā) = crawfish

I am a language student in Beijing and one of the most enjoyable parts of living here is having a late dinner “on the street” at one of the restaurants that Chinese consider 大排档 (dàpáidàng), or “street food”. Around dinner and late into the night, Chinese people like to sit out and watch the people and city go by while they relax and nibble on some food. Lately, more and more restaurants serving crawfish, or “小龙虾 (xiǎo lóngxiā)”, have become popular. After dark, you can find Chinese friends asking each other:
Nǐ xiǎng chī xiǎo lóngxiā ma?
你  想     吃  小   龙虾    吗?
Would you like to eat crawfish?

Chinese people like to eat as they socialize and 小龙虾 (xiǎo lóngxiā) offer a way to nibble as you hang out with friends without getting too full. Crawfish are inexpensive and available to Chinese of all ages and incomes. Also, 小龙虾 (xiǎo lóngxiā) come in a large bowl which is shared at the table, so you really need a group of friends to enjoy the dish. It’s rare to see someone eating crawfish in China alone! In addition, it gives friends a chance to put their smartphones away! The juices and oils found in the crawfish, along with the actual peeling of the crawfish shells, require finger full attention. 小龙虾 (xiǎo lóngxiā) force us to put down and ignore our smartphones and enjoy the real world with our friends!
Another reason the Chinese are eating 小龙虾 (xiǎo lóngxiā) is because they can be cooked in many different ways. Foodies can try them in the following ways:
辣的 ((là de) = spicy

甜的 (tián de) = sweet

油炸的 (yóu zhá de) = fried

榴莲口味 (liúlián kǒuwèi) = the infamous “stinky fruit” flavor- Durian!

If these dishes sound tempting, you may be able to say:
Wǒ hěn ài chī xiǎo lóngxiā
我   很  爱 吃  小     龙虾。
I’m a big fan of crawfish.

Eating 小龙虾 (xiǎo lóngxiā) is a wonderful way to experience local Chinese culture and street life. Put down your phone, gets your hands messy and dig in!

HSK 3 quiz

1. The Chinese word for “crawfish” is based on the Chinese word for lobster: 龙虾 (lóngxiā), and also includes the Chinese word for “small”, which is:
A) 大 (dà)
B) 小 (xiǎo)
C) 鱼 (yú)

―Written by Philip Reed―

Philip Reed is a Mandarin Chinese student in Beijing. He has been studying for one year in China
and before that had an interest in Chinese at university in the U.S. He loves Chinese music and culture
and can sing a few Mandarin songs at the KTV when he has free time!

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