I’m not big on non-perishables that are loaded with chemicals and preservatives. I really appreciate fresh ingredients and the time taken to produce a beautiful stew. That said, I couldn’t resist this very unusual find today at a local market in Chinatown (the meat market next to Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant on Cherry St. called “Grocery Market” or 永順內食食品市場) [Update 25Nov2018: That meat market/grocery is now a warehouse and is no longer a store to the public].
It’s an instant spice pack for a well-known Xinjiang specialty called dapanji 大盘鸡, or “big plate chicken”. Here is a nice image found in the wiki commons for this dish:
“Big plate chicken” is a chicken stew that is much loved in western China. It was supposedly invented by a migrant from Sichuan to Xinjiang, and it is popular among Han and Uyghurs (and Americans). The spices vary from something that closely resembles Chinese 5-spice to something more like traditional Uyghur qordaq (a meat and root vegetable stew native to Xinjiang).
This dish is often served with a plate of flat handmade wheat noodles, that can be dumped into the stew.
The reason I bought this (and hey, it was only $1.95) was the packaging. This is the first product I’ve noticed in a store in the US with Uyghur writing on it. You may notice the bag is written in three languages, Chinese, Uyghur, and Russian. It is a halal product of Urumchi.
Inside there is a red package of paste. Spices and oil. It closely resembles the look and aroma of Kang shifu brand instant beef noodles (complete with meat packet). For a detailed post on that popular food item, see here.
If you would like to try a non-instant, decent version of this dish, Xi’an Sizzling Woks on Arch and 9th does it pretty well, a spiced chicken and potato stew complete with handmade noodles. Here is an image of that, courtesy of La: