Shaokao (street stall barbecue) outside Chengdu University in Sichuan, China

Shaokao (traditional Chinese: 燒烤; simplified Chinese: 烧烤; pinyin: shāo kǎo), also romanized as shao kao, is the Chinese translation of "barbecue". Chinese variants of the practice constitute a significant aspect of Chinese cuisine.[1] In China, it is predominantly found on busy Chinese streets and night markets as a street food sold in food stalls[2][3][4] and is a type of xiaochi. In China and elsewhere, such as in the United States, diners sometimes also order beer as an accompaniment.[2]

Shaokao typically consists of heavily spiced, barbecued foods on skewers. It is available in almost all of the cities in China, and is a prominent dish in Beijing, China, where some restaurants set up food stalls outdoors to purvey the product. Concerns about air pollution generated from shaokao vendors associated with increased smog levels in Beijing have prompted restrictions.[5]

Kaochuan or yangrouchuan

Teriyaki Beef Skewers - Chocolate Buddha

The main part of shaokao are "Yangrouchuan" or "kaochuan".

In Chinese contexts, yangrouchuan may refer to other forms of barbecue as well.

(yangrouchaun is 羊肉串, this refers to lamb skewers only)

Yangrouchuan typically consists of heavily spiced, barbecued foods on skewers. In China, mutton skewers (Chinese pinyin: kǎochuàn; Uighur: كاۋاپ, kawap), or grilled skewers, skewers, have a long history, from April to July 2012, Ningxia Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology. When the fourth archaeological excavation was carried out in the Lehan cemetery, meat skewers were found in the M17 tomb.[6] In the archaeological finds of the Liao Dynasty, it was found that an unearthed mural on the Aohan Banner in Inner Mongolia was painted with three Khitan people in the coffin, sitting around the hot pot and eating skewers and clams. But in modern times, the popularity of skewers spread from Xinjiang to various places around 1980.[7]

In China, skewers often sell other types of grilled foods at the same time, so skewers are often referred to as grills, and kebabs are often used as a synonym for skewers as the most common skewer. The behavior of eating skewers is called eating barbecues, skewers, and the like. Due to the different eating habits of different localities and ethnic groups, the style of skewers varies from region to region.[7]


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The origin of the kebabs or shaokao is generally considered to be related to the nomadic people, but when it appears and flourishes, the text is unknown. As early as 1800 years ago, there was a kebab in China. The "Portrait of the Han Dynasty" has a stone carving image of the kebab. The Mawangdui No. 1 Han Tomb also unearthed a barbecue fan. In the 1980s, archaeologists discovered two stone carvings of kebabs in a tomb of the late Eastern Han Dynasty, which was unearthed in Wulibao Village, Linyi City, Lunan. The study found the two paintings. The characters are Han Chinese, and the skewers they grilled are beef and mutton. These two kitchen drawings reflect the folk customs of Lunan in 1800 years. Both of these stone sculptures have the image of kebabs. In addition to that, both of them have special tools for using two forks. They are placed on the diners and grilled, and the fans are bonfired like the kebabs of Xinjiang today. The characters in both paintings are Han Chinese. Therefore, these two kitchen drawings reflect the folk customs of the South Han Lunan. This shows that the statement that the kebabs originated in Xinjiang can be denied. Most people only believe that the Xinjiang kebabs are authentic. However, according to the situation above, the folk food of the Eastern Han Lunan is the source of the kebab. In the early Ming Dynasty, the beef was cut into cubes, soaked with chopped green onion, salt and tartar sauce for a while. In the late Ming and early Qing dynasties, the Mongolian people cooked the large pieces of beef and mutton for a while, then cooked them with cow dung. Later, after continuous improvement and development, the barbecue technology became more and more perfect. In the twenty-five years of Qing Daoguang (AD 1845), the poet Yang Jingting praised in the Department Department: "The harsh winter barbecue tastes great. The front of the wine cellar is awkward. Fire moxibustion is best for tenderness and tenderness. This barbecue has almost reached a fascinating situation.[7]


Shaokao can be found in almost all of the cities in China.[2] They are often located along streets that have a strip of bars.[8] In China, some shaokao food stalls also purvey other goods such as produce that are displayed hanging on sticks.[2] There are also restaurants that specialize in shaokao dishes.[2][9]

Due to the increase of emigration from mainland China in the 1990s and beyond, shaokao restaurants are also appearing in the United States, Canada, Australia and other countries with large Chinese diasporas.

In Beijing

In Beijing, shaokao is a very common and popular food,[10] and some restaurants in Beijing set-up shaokao barbecues outside of the restaurants to purvey them to people walking on the streets.[2] Shaokao stands are sometimes operated by migrant workers in Beijing.[10] Shaokao stand operators are sometimes reported to the police in Beijing by neighbors who complain about the smoke and aroma that gets into homes, as well as about concerns about food poisoning that can occur from improper meat handling and cooking.[10] In 2013, outdoor barbecue stands were banned due to heavy smog conditions.[10] Chinese authorities have stated that shaokao operations and Chunjie fireworks are a significant cause of smog in Beijing.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Chen, E. (1976). Introductory Traditional Chinese Regional Cuisine. Esther Chen. p. 28. Retrieved May 23, 2016. (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c d e f Kauffman, Jonathan (September 14, 2015). "The Chinese street food that's showing up in local restaurants". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  3. ^ Kepnes, M. (2015). How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Revised: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter. Penguin Publishing Group. p. pt148. ISBN 978-0-698-40495-3. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  4. ^ Mayhew, B.; Miller, K.; English, A. (2002). South-West China. Lonely Planet Southwest China. Lonely Planet. p. 469. ISBN 978-1-86450-370-8. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  5. ^ Associated Press (27 November 2013). "Beijing confiscates barbecues in drive to cut air pollution". The Guardian.
  6. ^ 百科, 百度. "Yangrouchuan". Sohu. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  7. ^ a b c 左绘, 右史. "左绘右史". Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  8. ^ Barys, Jamie (June 4, 2013). "Shanghai's best street foods and stalls". The Guardian. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  9. ^ Network, M.; Miller, D.S. (2014). 101 Places to Get F*cked Up Before You Die: The Ultimate Travel Guide to Partying Around the World. St. Martin's Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-1-250-03559-2. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  10. ^ a b c d e Wolf, Daniel (December 5, 2014). "Healthcare hell in smog-filled China". Financial Review. Retrieved May 24, 2016.

Further reading