World Cup snacks: crayfish, duck necks and chicken feet among the top Chinese match-day treats

China’s soccer fans love to snack when they watch the beautiful game. They’ve shared one of their favourites, spicy garlic crayfish, with the world – sending a trainload to Russia. Here are five more of their most favourite match munchies

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 June, 2018, 4:42pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 June, 2018, 7:00pm

Chinese fans are some of the most passionate at the World Cup even though their national team is absent from the games.

They are also among the hungriest, so the country sent a trainload of their favourite snacks for soccer watching to Moscow for the world to savour – some 100,000 crayfish precooked in garlic and spices, according to China’s Xinhua news agency.

The 2.5 tonnes of red freshwater crustaceans embarked on a 17-day journey in late May from Hubei province in central China, where over half of the 1.1 million tonnes of crayfish farmed in the country were harvested last year.

Crayfish in numbing, spicy sauce, washed down with a cold beer, has taken China by storm over the past decade.

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More than 1.5 million crayfish were sold through food delivery app Meituan Waimai within the first three hours of the first World Cup game on June 14.

Here are five other popular Chinese match-day snacks to binge on.

Duck necks

Another traditional delicacy from Hubei province, spicy duck neck is a favourite among Chinese soccer fans.

Duck necks are flavourful and chewy, and are usually braised in a range of spices including Sichuan peppercorn, red peppers and cinnamon.

Chain retailer of braised duck Zhou Hei Ya went public in Hong Kong two years ago on the back of the rise in popularity of duck necks. The brand now sells more than a dozen kinds of products, including all duck parts from tongues to wings.

Chicken feet 

Chicken feet with pickled peppers are a must-have snack. They may sound bizarre to those who have never tried them, but the combination of sweet and sour flavour and chewy-crunchy texture is popular in China.

As well as being served at Sichuan restaurants, chicken feet also come in small vacuumed packages at online shops and supermarkets.

More than 600 brands are competing for the massive domestic market currently, according to a report by Shenzhen consultancy Limu Information.

Spicy gluten sticks

These chewy spicy gluten sticks, known as latiao, made with wheat flour and spices, are another classic. Invented by farmers in central China’s Hunan province 20 years ago, the sticks have a mix of sweet, spicy and meaty flavours that many find addictive.  

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Make sure they come from a credible producer before you buy them; unlicensed family workshops proliferated in the 2000s.

Boiled peanuts and steamed soybeans

Go for this more traditional and healthy option if those above are too adventurous. Boiled peanuts and steamed soybeans are a perfect pair and can be easily prepared at home. They are full of protein and vitamins and high in fibre.

Lamb skewers

Lamb skewers are widely popular in northern China. The meat is marinated in salt, cumin, white pepper and chilli and then chargrilled, resulting in tender and juicy meat.