A Spicy Chinese Course 夫妻肺片 (Fū Qī Fèi Piàn )

May 18, 2016
By Chen ChenEditor: Rong Chen

A tasty but spicy Chinese dish of "Beef and Ox Tripe in Chili Sauce" or fu qi fei pian [Xinhua]


A tasty but spicy Chinese dish of fu qi fei pian, which appears as "Beef and Ox Tripe in Chili Sauce" on most English menus, has become one of the favorite choices for local chili lovers. It has gained a high reputation for its sharp contrast of taste and colors with beautiful presentation.

The origin of "Beef and Ox Tripe in Chili Sauce"

Early in the Qing Dynasty (1616–1912), there were street vendors selling snacks made of pot-stewed beef entrails leftover from the butcher shop with added spices and ingredients. The dish soon became popular among locals.

In the 30s, a Chinese couple from southwest China's Sichuan Province named Guo Chaohua and his wife Zhang Tianzheng made a living through selling such street snacks.

They turned their hand to the so-called "leftover beef entrails" and reformulated the recipe with local unique ingredients, including Szechuan pepper, chili oil and sesame, to refine the taste and make it appealing to the appetite of locals in Sichuan.

Correspondingly, this course re-gained its fame bearing the name of "the couple" or fu qi among local people.

In terms of the name of the course, it was called fu qi fei pian at first. The symbol's meaning was of waste from a butcher shop. Some people decided that the Chinese character of "fei" with the English translation of "waste" did not fit the name of such a delicious course.

Therefore, a homophony Chinese character of lungs was used to replace the word for "waste".  Beef lung was one of the ingredients used in the course. Later, though, beef lung fell out of favor. It was taken out from the actual course but has remained in the name ever since.

The overseas journey of the Chinese spicy course fu qi fei pian (pinyin)

Obstructions used to occur in the understanding and communication of foreign visitors to Chinese cuisine due to the terrible translations on the menus of some Chinese restaurants.

Undoubtedly, fu qi fei pian has been among such victims. The literal translation is "Husband and Wife's Lung Slice". A tamer version is "Beef and Ox Tripe in Chili Sauce".

Similarly, Lao Po Bing is known as "wife-made cookies", instead of "turning wife into cookies". Ji Zai Bing is "baked pork cake" to the replacement of "bake the baby chicken into cakes".

Meanwhile, one dish appears on the menu as "Mapo Tofu", to show that it originally comes from the story of an elderly lady who was good at cooking dishes of tofu. Other meanings specified that whoever ate it would have a pockmarked face.

Chef Huang Guiping, a master of Szechuan cuisine from Chengdu to New York

Chengdu is the capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province and also the place of origin for Szechuan cuisine, one of the eight major schools of cuisine in China.

Huang Guiping was one of the early immigrants from China to the U.S. He started to sell Chinese snacks when he arrived fresh off the boat.

"There was one misunderstanding about the Chinese people and their cuisines. Some people said that the only thing with four legs that could be saved from the mouths of Chinese is the table", remarked Huang.

At that time, Huang recalled that fu qi fei pian was the best-selling dish. Usually it alone could sell over 100 pieces a day among the majority of customers who were also immigrants from China. Later the course became popular among locals, too.

According to Huang's experience, a reason for the initial unpopularity of the dish – aside from the name – is that people in overseas countries are not accustomed to eating livestock entrails.

Once in a while, a foreigner claimed that he lost the sense of taste after eating this course in a Chinese restaurant. Then the chef explained that it was due to the unique effect of the Szechuan pepper.

Nowadays, people start to accept or even fall in love with the spicy course and "Beef and Ox Tripe in Chili Sauce" has become a must-order dish in any overseas Chinese restaurant.


Fu qi fei pian or "Beef and Ox Tripe in Chili Sauce" and side courses in a Chinese restaurant in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province [Xinhua]


(Source: chinaqw.com / Translated and edited by Women of China)

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