Hui(徽) Cuisine – One of The Eight Chinese Regional Cuisines
Hui Cuisine is the local flavor of Huizhou area. Its development was intertwined with the Anhui merchants. The story of Anhui merchants dated back to the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420). They developed in the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-279) Dynasties and reached the prime time in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. Anhui merchants not only brought their home delicacies to the outside world, but also contributed to the development of Hui Cuisine. It assimilated a variety of local cuisine, eventually evolving into its own style which appeals to both refined and popular taste and suits both the northern and the southern people.
Anhui Cuisine mainly consists of three styles representing three regions: Yangtze River region, Huai River region, Southern Anhui region. Among them, the South Anhui style is the most notable. It is popular in Shexian, Tunxi and western Zhejiang Province. Braising and stewing are common techniques and it is particular about controlling cooking time and temperature. Ham is widely used to enhance the flavor and crystal sugar to bring out the freshness. The original flavor of the ingredients is retained. Yangtze River region style is best represented by Wuhu and Anqing cuisines, which specialize in river products and poultry. Attentions are given to fine cutting skills and color and appearance of the finished dish. Common cooking techniques are red cooking. steaming and smoking with sugar the staple seasoning. Huai River region style features in Bengbu, Suxian, and Fuyang cuisines, and is popular in northern and central Anhui. It is good at frying and stewing. Coriander and peppers are used to add color and flavor and taste salty and spicy hot.
Hui Cuisine is particular with fine ingredients and excels at stewing, braising, steaming and stir-frying. It has three features: heavy oil, deep color and particular with cooking time and temperature. The local people inclined to oily food because they drink spring and brook water which is full of minerals and drink tea a lot because Anhui is a big tea producer, so they need the grease to moisten their intestines. The deep color is achieved with seasonings. There are many red cooked dishes in the local cuisine. The red color comes from the mixture of soy sauce and sugar so the dish looks appealing and tastes savory. Hui Cuisine is particular about cooking time and temperature: high, medium or slow heat is applied according to the quality and characteristics of the different materials and the flavor requirements of finished dishes. Small charcoal ovens with slow heat are common. With one oven cooking one dish, the original flavor is kept.
Ham is also often added to enhance the taste. It is a household practice in Huizhou to make ham, and Huizhou ham wins the appraisal of epicures. Another notable feature of Hui cuisine is seasoning the food with naturally fermented ingredients with a smelly odor, such as the famous stinky Mandarin fish and stinky bean curd. They smell stinky but taste extremely delicious.
Stewed Turtle with Ham
The primary ingredient is the turtle exclusive in the mountainous region of
Huizhou, added with ham and bones inside the ham. The finished soup Is clear: the meat is soft, savory and free of smelly odor.
Hairy Tofu with Tiger Strips
Hairy tofu is a specialty of Tunxi and Xiuning. It got the name for the white fungi growing on the tofu when it is fermented, which looks like white hair. Deep fry the hairy tofu and stew it with peppers and other seasonings. the tofu looks like yellow tiger strips and smells good. This Huizhou delicacy appeals to the appetite.
Stewed Phoenix with Peony (Stewed Chicken with Porcine Stomach)
Take the chicken to Phoenix and arrange the porcine stomach into the shape of peony and decorate with ham slices as the flower bud. Stew the ingredients over slow charcoal heat. The dish looks beautiful with creamy soup and soft and delicious meat. It is a major Huizhou dish best representing its local feature.