Welcome to another post from my Xizhou Food Guide series, where I highlight different specialty foods from Xizhou, Dali, Yunnan.
This is another Chinese food that has no decent translation. Most places translate baba as “Chinese pizza,” but that is such a terrible way to describe it. Babas have no cheese or tomatoes; they are just delicious, round pieces of dough. I can’t bring myself to refer to them by their “English name,” so I am just going to call them baba!
Baba come in two types, sweet and salty. Sweet baba are stuffed with brown sugar and rose jam or red bean paste, while salty baba are topped with scallions, ground pork, and sometimes a fried egg.
While traveling through other parts of Yunnan, I was surprised to see that a lot of other places also sold baba. Although this type of baba is specific to Xizhou, a lot of other minorities sell a diverse range of bing (Chinese pancakes), all of which they call baba.
The dough itself is crispy on the outside, and full of layers of soft dough on the inside. They are cooked on stovetops like below that are covered with a heavy, coal top, which essentially serve as an oven. Throughout baking, the vendors frequently lift up the top to check on the baba, and coat it with more oil.
Baba are very filling, mostly due to the amount of oil they use. The secret to the flaky layers is rolling the dough with pork lard.
Hot and fresh off of the stove, it is like eating a donut (or actually, any type of fried dough); so decadent, but so good.