Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chinese cuisine----Zhejiang cuisine

Derived from the native cooking styles of the Zhejiang region in China, Zhejiang cuisine (Zhe cai) is one of the most famous types of cooking.

Zhejiang, as a famous coastal province, is rich in produce and has long been known as "the land of fish and rices". Naturally, therefore, it has always been a great place for eating. Especially after 1127 when Hangzhou become the capital of the Song Dynasty, moved from Kaifeng in the north. Some of the best chefs from both these cities were brought together, and as a result northern methods of cooking were introduced to the south. Now, taking in Hangzhou's fineness and diversification, Ningbo's softness and originality, and Shaoxing's pastoral interests, Zhejiang cuisine is not greasy, having instead a fresh and soft flavor with a mellow fragrance.

The cuisine consists of four styles, each originating from a city in the province: the Hangzhou style, the most well-known one, is characterized by rich variations and the utilization of bamboo shoots. Some of its representative dishes include Dongpo Pork, Jiaohua ji (beggar's chicken) and Xi Hu cu yu (West Lake fish in vinegar), Shelled shrimps cooked in Longjing tea, Fried Eel Slices and Steamed Pork in Lotus Leaves. About half the dishes on a Hangzhou menu contain bamboo shoots, which add a tender element to the food. The Shaoxing style specializes in poultry and freshwater fish, and the Ningbo style specializing in seafood, with emphasis on freshness and salty dishes. Some sources also include the Wenzhou style as a separate subdivision, characterized as the greatest source of seafood as well as poultry and livestock.

Some of the most popular dishes include:

Dongpo Pork - First created by Su Dongpo, a well-known writer and poet of the Song Dynasty, when he served as a local official of Hangzhou, Dongpo Pork is red and bright in color, oily but not greasy, crisp but not smashed, plus mellow juice.

West-lake braised fish in vinegar - is a traditional delicacy in Hangzhou. It is said that there was once a boy who made his living by fishing. When he fell ill, his sister-in-law fished for him and braised the fish she caught with a marinade of vinegar and sugar. He was said to have made an immediate recovery after eating it. The boy's story aroused the attention of the emperor and the recipe has been used ever since.

Jiaohua Young Chicken - Select fat and young Yue chicken, clean the chicken thoroughly, add seasonings to the chicken, wrap it with special materials, and bake it over a low fire. Jiaohua Young Chicken is aromatic, tasty, and soft, with tender meat.

Shelled shrimps cooked in Longjing tea - as the Longjing tea is taken from the best tea in Hangzhou, which is recognized for greenness, fragrance, pure taste and elegant looks, when the living shrimps are stir-fried in the Long tea, the dish sends an artistic aroma and is quite delicious.

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