Min(闽) Cuisine – One of The Eight Chinese Regional Cuisines
Min Cuisine is the local flavor of Fujian Province. It dated back to the Jin Dynasty and Southern and Northern Dynasties (265-589), prospered in the Tang and Song Dynasties (618-589). It excels in cooking delicacies from the mountains and sea. The color, aroma, taste, and texture of the cuisine being balanced, the aroma is the most notable, Min Cuisine has borrowed from the best of other cuisines, got rid of the greasy part and developed its own style of a light, fine and fresh taste.
It consists of three styles, namely Fuzhou, Southern Fujian, and Western Fujian styles. The dominating one is Fuzhou style, which usually tastes light compared with other styles, often with a mixed sweet and sour taste. Fuzhou Cuisine is famous for its soups. Brown sugar is often used to add color, aroma, and flavor, and to reduce odor. Southern Fujian style is featured by Xiamen (Amoy) cuisine, which uses pepper sauce, barbecue sauce, and mustard paste as the seasoning. It is famous for cooking seafood. medicine cuisine and vegetarian cuisine. The most notable thing of the medicine cuisine in southern Fujian is the use of seafood as the main ingredient, and cook restorative cuisine according to the changes of the season. The most famous vegetarian cuisine comes from the celebrated Southern Putuo Temple of over a thousand years of history. It is a typical Buddhism cuisine. Rice, wheat, bean products, vegetables, konjak and black fungus are the common ingredients to make over 40 delicacies. Western Fujian is located at the cross-boundary of Fujian, Guangdong, and Jiangxi, and its food is of Hakka flavor. Western Fujian style uses mountain delicacies as the ingredients and cooks light, healthy food with many types of soup.
Min Cuisine pays particular attention to the finesse of knife skills. The most commonly employed cooking techniques include stir-frying, steaming and simmering. The taste is sweet, sour and light. A mixture of sugar and vinegar is favored to create a sweet, sour flavor, like the litchi pork and drunken spare rib. The seasoning style is related to the ingredients it uses, seafood and woodland delicacies: sugar can help to reduce the greasy odor; the mixture of sugar and vinegar creates a pleasing taste. The other particular seasonings are red yeast rice. shrimp oil, pepper sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
There are many soup dishes in Min Cuisine because it seeks after the original and pure flavor of the ingredients. Among all the cooking methods, soup cooking will best serve the purpose. Therefore, strong emphasis is put on the making and utilizing of broth and soup with different combinations of the ingredients and seasoning. There is a saying in the region: ” One broth can be changed into ten forms.”
Min Cuisine is also unique in its small and exquisite containers. Different sizes of bowls with fitted covers are arranged on the table to achieve simple but elegant looking.
Fotiaoqiang (Steamed Abalone with Shak’s Fin and Fish Maw in Broth)
It is a complex dish making use of many precious ingredients. Shark’s fin, abalones, sea slugs, dried scallops, pigeon eggs and others are stewed with great care. A legend says that smelling the lingering aroma of the dish, a monk forgot his vegetarian vows and could not help but leaped over the wall to acquire some, hence the name of the dish.
Banzhi Ganbei (Dry Scallops in the Ring)
Banzhi is the jade ring worn by storytellers in Fuzhou. It is thicker and bigger than the ordinary rings and used to hit the gong to create a special sound when telling a story. Banzhi Ganbei is white turnip made in the shape of rings and stuffed with dry scallop, which looks white with yellow and tastes light and delicious.
Youxi Buya (Smoked Duck of Youxi)
Youxi Buya is of over 100 years of history in Youxi, Fujian. Youxi people smoke ducks to entertain the guests at special occasions like festivals, holidays and weddings. Buya is the duck smoked with rice and tea leaves which is shiny ivory with special smoked fragrance. Served with garlic vinegar ( mashed garlic, fragrant vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and MSG mixed together), it makes a superb drink delight.