Imagine being a member of the imperial kitchen in the Forbidden City during the Qing Dynasty serving no-less than Empress Dowager Ci Xi. And you one day find yourself desperately needing to come up with a fresh idea for a tasty snack. Well, according to legend, that was the predicament that the imperial chef had to go through, but luckily, they came up with a bright idea that will delight the taste buds of future generations.

Their creation was a concoction of green Chinese onions and beef wrapped into the dough and shaped into cylindrical pies and cooked to “crispy-outside, tender-inside” perfection. To the empress’ delight, the tasty dish resembling the giant metal door-nail of the palace’s gates impressed her so much that she asked for the name of the meat pie. And so, it came to be known as Mending or “Door Nail Meat Pie”, Beijing’s beloved traditional snack.

Today’s meat pies differ quite a bit from the traditional “Door Nail” meat pies. The traditional Mending meat pies are cylindrical in shape with 3 cm in height and 5 cm in diameter while the common meat pies are oblate in shape.  The meat is mixed with green onions, sesame oil, fresh ginger, and pepper. The mixture is stuffed in the dough, shaped like the palace wooden gate’s door-nails. Ideally, the dough should be 4 cm in diameter and 2 cm in height.

The final product should be a crunchy shell with soft meat inside. This appetizing dish should be served hot and poured with a little bit of rice vinegar, not only to remove excess grease but to enhance its taste. Enjoy it with your favorite soup or millet porridge for that memorable gastronomic experience.