Zhe(浙) Cuisine – One of The Eight Chinese Regional Cuisines
Zhe Cuisine is the native culinary style of Zhejiang Province. Zhejiang has always been the land of fish and rice with abundant aquatic Products, the exclusive natural conditions have greatly helped the development of Zhe Cuisine. It originated from the Hemudu Culture of the Neolithic Period, matured in the Han (206 B.C.-220 A.D.) and Tang (618-907) Dynasties, prospered in the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1279-1368) Dynasties. Particularly after the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) moved to Hangzhou, it was shaped by the Central China culture. The northern cooking method with the southern material is its distinctive feature.
Zhe Cuisine consists of four major styles, namely Hangzhou style, Ningbo style, Shaoxing style and Wenzhou style. Hangzhou style pays attention to the freshness of the ingredients, mainly freshwater fish and shrimps and in-season vegetables. The cooking techniques are quick frying, stir-frying, and stewing. Expertise in fine cutting is required. It features clearness, freshness, and purity. Ningbo style is moderate in freshness and saltiness and specializing in seafood with the emphasis on purity. Shaoxing style specializes in poultry and freshwater fish. The dish looks for original-flavored soup and broth, prefers light oil and no spices. Wenzhou style as a separate subdivision is characterized by cooking seafood which tastes light and fresh. The small amount of oil and starch and fine cutting skills are highly valued in the cooking process.
With the rich assortment of local ingredients, Zhe Cuisine is strict with the selection of materials. Emphasis is placed on the season and variety of main ingredients, mainly, seafood, river delicacies, and vegetables. Cooking methods are varied, especially known for their deep-frying, stir-frying, braising, stewing and steaming. The cooking and seasonings are aimed to retain the original flavor of the ingredients, and keep it fresh, tender and crisp. It’s expertise in seasoning with rice wine, scallion, ginger, garlic, and sugar help to get rid of the smell of fish and greasiness and arise aroma and good taste.
Zhe Cuisine tends to have a delicate and refreshing appearance. It requires expertise in the cutting techniques, in matching the color of ingredients and the arrangement of the food. So the finished dish looks exquisite and pleasing. Take Splendid Fish for example. The fish is cut neatly in nine-centimeter slices and decorated with red and green bell pepper. The colors match beautifully.
Zhe Cuisine prefers to name their dishes after scenery spots, legends or celebrities, like Steamed grass carp in vinegar gravy, Dongpo Pork, and Madam Song’s Thick Fish Soup, all having strong local flavor and cultural imprint.
Fried Shrimps with Longjing Tea
Longjing is one of the Four Great Teas in China, famous for its fresh green color, aroma, sweet taste and delicate appearance. The dish is made with the in-season river shrimps with fresh Longjing tea. It looks like white jade with emerald and smells fragrant. It is a Hangzhou tradition with unique local characteristics.
Madam Song’s Thick Fish Soup
A celebrated dish in Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), it has a history over 800 years. Legend says that it was invented by a lady called Madam Song in Lin’an at the time. Mandarin fish with little bones and delicious taste is chosen as the primary ingredient. Steam the fish and take out the bones, add ginger, rice wine, pepper, and vinegar and make it a thick soup. It looks bright and tastes like crab meat. It is also called Saixie Geng.
Fried Cuttlefish Rolls
A well-known dish of Wenzhou. Cut the fresh cuttlefish and deep fry it with high heat to turn the fish into rolls, and then stir-fry it with rice wine, pepper powder, white soup, salt, and starch. The finished dish looks beautiful and tastes crisp and refreshing.
China is a nation of food and drinks, world-renowned for a broad array of superb cuisine and exquisite culinary skills. For the Chinese, food is not just three meals a day, but also a culture, an art. an essentially social activity.
In the vast area of China, every region has not only distinctive dishes, but many delicious snacks. They are mainly served at breakfast or deep night. From the snacks one can not only taste the local flavor but sense the regional culture, local manners, and customs.
Chuan Cuisine is also known as Sichuan style dishes, As one of the eight culinary traditions, it is an important part of Chinese food culture. It originated in the ancient State Ba and State Shu, which is now Sichuan Province
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).