Sanzi, Uyghur Fried Noodles: Xinjiang’s Best Food

March 17 | 4 Comments

Local Name:  “Sangza”
Chinese Name: 馓子 (sǎn zi)
Alternate Names: Fried Dough Twists, Sanzi
Description:  A fried noodle snack usually served as a twisted pyramid.

A Uyghur snack called Sanzi

A Local Uyghur Snack

If you ever have the chance to join a Uyghur celebration or be invited to a Uyghur home, chances are you’re going to run into a beautiful pyramid of fried, twisted noodles.  Don’t be ashamed…go snap off a piece!  It’s not like a wedding cake where you’re only supposed to admire it.  It’s there to be eaten and Uyghur hosts are happy to see you enjoy yourself.

Like most anything that is deep-fried it has a crunchy taste with a light flavor.  Throughout Xinjiang you can find this for sale in Uyghur supermarkets or the local bakery.

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What is Sanzi, Exactly?

Sanzi is a snack made of wheat-flour dough and pulled into thin noodles.  These noodles are then deep-fried and arranged in a circular pattern and stacked to form a pyramid.  It’s a simple food, really, and very quick to make for the experienced cook.

A street vendor making Uyghur Sanzi

Sanzi isn’t strictly a Uyghur food.  As a matter of fact you’ll probably see this snack all over China, wherever the Hui minority live (Hui are loosely referred to as the “Chinese Muslims”).  According to the Chinese Wikipedia you can eat this snack in Shanxi, Shandong, Jiangsu, Henan, Hunan, and Sichuan provinces.  Oddly, they never mention Xinjiang in this list and I guarantee it isn’t hard to find it here.

You probably won’t be blown away by the taste of this snack but I can tell you from experience that it is incredible to see a pile of these noodles that is 3-4 feet high.

About Josh Summers

Josh is the author of Xinjiang | A Traveler's Guide to Far West China, the most highly-reviewed and comprehensive travel guide on China's western region of Xinjiang. He lived, studied and run a business in Xinjiang, China for more than 10 years, earning recognition for his work from CCTV, BBC, Lonely Planet and many others.

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  1. “纤手搓来玉色匀,碧油煎出嫩黄深。夜来春睡知轻重?压扁佳人缠臂金。”


  2. @George – They offered me stuff to dip it in but I declined. I knew a lot of people that would dip the snack before they ate it but personally I just liked it plain.

    @Anon – It is very likely not a food that is indigenous to the Uyghur people but they have taken it and made it their own. The sangza (the pronunciation is somewhere between "sangza" and "songza") that you eat in Xinjiang is made by Uyghurs in their own distinctive way. I can almost promise you that none of it is imported…it's far too fragile to survive any long trip.