Three Big Cannons
Chengdu: City of Gastronomy #7
三大炮 -- Sān dàpào
Sweetened glutinous rice balls dusted in toasted soy and ground sesame, then coated in a sweet melted brown sugar syrup. All that, and it comes with a show!
This Chengdu snack is a favourite of tourists, mainly because it’s exciting to watch them make it.
Watching these being prepared makes it obvious to where the name comes from -- the rice is shaped into three little balls and quickly bounced off a gong -- “clang, clang, clang!” -- into the ground up toasted soy and sesame. They’re then tossed in a container and sweet molasses-like melted brown sugar is poured over it.
It’s suppose to go really well with “Eagle Tea” (Laoying Cha). Which is convenient because the snack is often sold at or around tea houses.
Where Find 3 Big Cannons in Chengdu
Some places won’t bother putting on the performance with the brass gongs and the throwing. Chances are you’ll save money ordering them without the show, but you’re also missing out on half the fun.
If you find yourself in People’s Park and the stand is closed (like it was in my video), you can buy the snack in the Heming Tea House (鹤鸣茶社) building.
In Chinese the dish is called 三大泡 or san da pao. You can get it with or without the liquid brown sugar. Of course, if you have the option your answer should be “with”.