A Touch of Tranquillity
Huaiyang cuisine is derived from the native cooking styles of the region surrounding the lower reaches of the Huai and Yangtze rivers, and centered upon the cities of Huai'an, Yangzhou and Zhenjiang in Jiangsu Province. Huaiyang cuisine is widely seen as the most popular and prestigious style of Jiangsu cuisine, being considered as one of the Four Major Cuisine of China, along with Cantonese cuisine, Shandong cuisine and Sichuan cuisine.
Huaiyang dishes are widely known for its delicacy and exquisiteness with an elegant style, expressing a unique concept of mildness and refinement. The representatives are Stewed Meatballs with Crab Powder, Huai ' an Fried Dough Twists, Braised Shredded Chicken with Ham and Dried Tofu, Ducks Triplets and Crystal Meat.
Generally, Huaiyang cuisine tastes refreshingly mild with slightly sweet, not a least spicy, suitable for elder and young. River products, fresh and lively, are usually selected to be the main material. Supported by excellent cooking skills and superior material, the dishes pursue a realm of mildness and originality, resulting in a focus on the modulation of broth to achieve natural umami.
Fine cutting works
Among Chinese Four Major Cuisines, the cutting work of Huai Yang excels all the others. Cutting skills is emphasized in Huaiyang cuisine which is famous for its refining melon carving. And the appearance of dishes, such as pleasing shapes or matching hues, is also highlighted. For example, a 2cm-thick hard bean curd square can be cut into 30 thin slices. In the preparation of cold dishes, proper matching and composition of different materials are extremely difficult.
An expert chef, with superb cutting skills, good sense of display and color matching, would make Huaiyang cuisine much like an exquisite and adorable art.
Huai yang cuisine covers a wide range of dishes in several systems. One of them is Huai 'an cuisine, which requires strict selection of seasonal material, meticulous cooking skills and fresh moderation, as well as the duration of heating. Good at stewing, simmering, steaming and braising. Another is Yangzhou cuisine which is famous for delicious pastry snacks and dim sums.
Fresh Raw Materials
Water network, including rivers and lakes, crisscross inside the city of Huaian, and Yangzhou is located along the Yangtze River, inlaying numerous small and medium-sized lakes. Due to the geological feature, aquatic products and vegetables supply constantly all year around. Therefore, Huaiyang cuisine mainly takes fresh raw materials for cooking, usually stewing, providing a foundation of its naturalness-oriented seasoning. Raw material of every dish are required strict selection in order to fully display their characteristics while cooking.
Focus on the Nature
There is an integration, of tenderness of Southern dishes and thickness of the Northern, in Huaiyang cuisine which forms a unique taste of sweet saltiness. As mentioned, freshness is stressed in the selection of main material. Thus, seasonings in Huaiyang cuisine prefer lightness to highlight the natural tastes of material.
Expertise in Heating
The duration of heating has been insisted on since ancient times in Huaiyang cuisine. Even a tiny change of heating results in a huge difference in the flavor of dishes. Braising and stewing are preferred in Huaiyang cuisine for their benefits in highlighting the natural flavors.
The process of making dishes in Huaiyang cuisine is performed with variousness and imagination. Delicacies are seldom used as material in the cuisine. Instead those complimentary dishes are mostly made by ordinary local production, with no condescending style, but carefulness with stringent standards, whether in selection of materials, cutting skills or seasoning. Huaiyang cuisine resembles poetry composition or painting creation which are carefully deliberate with implied ubiquity of Chinese tradition.
Steamed Meatballs with Crab Powder
Meatballs taste soft and oily but not greasy, with the greens refreshing and mushy. The crab powder smells a pleasing scent with a mouthfeel of extraordinary tenderness.
Ingredients: Pork Ribs 800g, Starch 50g.
Crab Powder 100g,cooking wine 10g,
Salt 20g, Scallion and Ginger Juice 15g
Seasonal Green Vegetable 12 pieces
Practice: Debone and peel pork.
Spare the fat and lean and dice small, marinating with cooking wine, salt, ginger
and garlic juice, starch and 75g crab powder.
Round the meat into 6 meatballs, coating them with the remaining crab powder evenly.
Steam the meatballs in broth for 50 minutes.
Stir-fry the greens to half cooked.
Take a casserole, placing a piece of cooked pigskin at the bottom.
Put the cooked greens and meatballs in order, as well as the steamed soup.
Heat to boil and continue simmering at low for 20 minutes.
Tips: The proportion of fat and lean pork differ according to seasons, usually in cold days increasing the fat portion and in warm days the lean.
The dish tastes salty umami with a melting texture. What’s glittering is that the Tofu shreds better be as thin as a hair, a real test and presentation of cutting skill.
Ingredients: Tofu 450g bamboo shoots 10g
chicken breast meat 50g ham 25g
fresh mushrooms 25g lettuce 15g
salt 4g cornstarch 5g
Practices： Peel bean curd and shred, blanching to remove unpleasant smell;
Shred mushrooms and bamboo shoots, as well as the chicken chest, lettuce and ham.
Steam mushroom shreds with 50ml broth to well cooked.
Boil 200ml broth in a pot, add in vegetable above with a little salt and drain.
Boil 500ml broth in another pot and put Tofu shreds, stewing to float above.
Add salt and thicken the soup with liquid starch.
Braised Shredded Chicken with Ham and Dried Tofu
The dish seems quite easy but on the contrary it is a signature dish in Huaiyang cuisine.
This dish is refreshingly fragrant, with the umami of ham and dried shrimps meat fully infiltrating into the very fine tofu shreds, without a drop of oil been seen nor the scent of beans been smelled. The masterpiece is among one of the Yangzhou Intangible cultural heritages, earning a foreign reputation as a famous dish in East Asia.