Zeng Cake, a specialty food from Shaanxi once loved by Tang Dynasty emperors

Zeng Cake (the first character of whose Chinese name is pronounced "zèng" while it may be pronounced "zìng," or erroneously "jìng," by the locals in the central Shaanxi plain) is a typical local snack in Xi'an and in the central Shaanxi plain, prepared by mixing polished glutinous rice, red Chinese dates or candied dates, and red beans together and steaming the mixture in an iron steamer.

Zeng Cake as a popular snack has a long history. Zeng refers to a steamer used in ancient China, which was once made of pottery, copper, wood, iron, or any other suitable material. Zeng made of iron became more popular among the people and has been passed down over the centuries to this day for steaming glutinous cakes because the vessel can give a special flavor to the cakes.

The first character of the Chinese name for Zeng Cake should be pronounced "zēng," but the locals in Shaanxi usually pronounce it "jìng." Zeng Cake, after it is properly steamed, gives off a rich fragrance of the date, feels pleasantly soft and sticky, and tastes sweet. At the lower layer of Zeng Cake, the cooked rice looks like date in color and vividly crimson as well, while the layer of kidney beans scattered on top of the upper layer gives a brown coffee-like color to the cake, which is then topped first with a layer of dark-red date paste and then with a layer of dark-green raisins. The cake looks very attractive.

It is said that during the Tang Dynasty some emperors enjoyed Zeng Cake very much and referred to it as crystal dragon-phoenix cake.

From December 30, 2017 to January 2, 2018, zeng cake attracted large numbers of gourmet food enthusiasts from around the world as a specialty food from Shaanxi at Hainan International Tourism Food Expo.