Located in the hinterland of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau on the border between Sichuan Province and Yunnan Province and in the upper reaches of the Jinsha River, Batang County in Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province is an ethnic minority inhabited county of mostly Tibetans.
Batang “unity steamed stuffed buns” are a special snack in the county. They are far from traditional buns. These ones are especially large and require one steamer per bun. A single large steamed stuffed bun can be shared by more than 10 people.
When the 18th Army past here to entered Tibet, their discipline was strict and there was no crime wherever it went. The common people had never seen such a good army. In order to express their deep affection for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the local people welcomed them and, in accordance with their custom of serving steamed meat buns to welcome distinguished guests, they steamed meat buns filled with ribs, fatty meat, flour, corn flour, potatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, pepper, watercress, and star anise to welcome the army.
Household steamers are small, and they only steam a little food. People borrowed a large steamer from a monastery, and wrapped the buns in a large round or pentagonal shape.
In order to express the unity of the military and the people and the unity of all ethnic groups, the local people called these big buns “unity steamed stuffed buns”. The 18th Army passed through Batang around the time of the Dragon Boat Festival. Since then, every year during the Dragon Boat Festival, each household in Batang town eats “unity steamed stuffed buns” to commemorate the 18th Army’s march into Tibet. They also signify that the whole family will be content and harmonious. Since then, Batang’s “unity steamed stuffed buns” have not only become a famous snack, but also a delicious dish for each family to celebrate the holidays and welcome guests.