A Canal Town, South of the Yangtze
Zhe cuisine, originated in Zhejiang province which is famous for the beautiful scenery and rich resource, as a proverbs says, There is heaven, Suzhou and Hangzhou. Zhejiang, knowned as the Land of Plenty, is located along the East China Sea whose North waterway forms a fine network.
Coastal fisheries are densely covered, providing quality aquatic resources with a total output value topping the country. The Zhejiang cuisine system consists of four local schools, represented by Hangzhou, Ningbo, Shaoxing and Wenzhou.
Hangzhou, with a beautiful West Lake, is a well-known brand city with plenty of famous cuisine. The dishes are elaborately produced in a large variety, characterizing by refreshing crispness and moderate lightness, regarded as the mainstream of Zhe cuisine.
Steamed Grass Carp in Vinegar Gravy
With strict selection, a half-kilo weight of grass carp is adopted in the dish. Precision heating is required that only three or four minutes is allowed to cook right. When the dish is served, sprinkle a sauce of sweet and sour. With a brightly red, the fish is tender in texture with a crab-like taste, sour sweet and delicious.
Although the dish enjoys a wide popularity among different cuisines all over the country, the main ingredients and styles are similar to each other. Pork with half fat and half thin are used in the dish, finishing in neatly-coded block with translucently red, tasting tender but not mashed, fatty and not greasy.
Braised Shrimps with Longjing Tea
In the fine selection of material, the Longjing tea should be during Ching Ming period, tasting fresh and sweet, without astringent nor bitter mouthfeel. The shrimp from rivers are fried with lard in the dish, providing a taste of elastic smoothness and fragrant palatability. When dishing up, an sense of elegance and quietness, with light color combination of white and green, are presented, characterizing by a refreshing tea fragrance.
Braised Bamboo Shoots: The bamboos shoots born during Ching Ming are braised with cooking oil and sugar, appealing glowing red with a taste of salty crispness.
Steamed Jinhua Ham: Jinhua ham is the main material in the popular dish which is considered as a tonic according to traditional Chinese medicine.The thick fragrance of the ham is tempting the appetite with a salty sweet taste.
West Lake Water Shield Soup: The dish is more an art piece with bright colors collision, in which the water shield is emerald green, the chicken white and the ham red.
Stewed Yellow Croaker with Bamboo Shoots and Potherb Mustard
Ningbo dishes are featured in its salty umami of cooking seafood, with steaming, roasting and stewing as its main culinary technique. Tenderness and slipperiness are stressed in the cuisine, as well as the authenticity of raw material. The fatty and tight body of yellow croaker are selected to ensure the soup milky and thick. With a combination of umami and nutrition, the dish is regarded as a dietary therapy, especially for those who are in disease or just give birth.
Shaoxing cuisine is good at cooking river products and poultry, with a mouthfeel of meltingly crisp. The dishes usually dress in fragrant thick soup which is filled with country style.
Shao Shrimp Ball: The shrimp balls are coated in deep-fried egg crepes, looking lenitive and golden in a texture of cracking crisp, which would be an unforgettable pleasure to be paired with scallion and sweet soy paste.
Stewed Pork with Preserved Vegetable: The dish is characterized by the visual collision of red pork and black dried vegetables, with a thick fragrance and lenitive appearance, tasting glutinous but not greasy, salty umami in a slightly sweet.
Stewed Chicken with Broth
Ham, mushrooms and bamboo shoots as ingredients, the dish presents more palatable. Take a whole tender hen, simmering with ham slices, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, wine and other condiments in the broth. In the refreshing soup, the chicken tastes fair and tender with the bones crisp.
Wenzhou is located in the coastal area of southern Zhejiang, whose dialect, customs and dietary aspects are self-contained. Common material on the table are mainly seafood with a refreshing taste, light but not thin. The cuisine focuses on the light use in oil and sauce and stresses cutting work.
Stewed Fish with Black Mushroom and Chicken
This dish chooses inshore fish or fresh yellow croaker as main material. What’s critical is the using of wooden mallet which could slowly knocks the fish meat into the thin fillets. After blanching, the fillets are stewed with spices and ingredients, coupled with chicken slices, ham shreds, mushrooms and cabbage. The fish, rich local flavor, tastes tender in the clear decoction,
Braised Fish Skin with Garlic: Thick glutinous fish skin are selected in the dish, paired with plump garlic.
Quick-fried Cuttlefish: The dish is a test for cutting work and heat control which can hardly be achieved without profound expertise.
Overview of Zhejiang Cuisine
Zhejiang cuisine is based on the above four schools. On the whole, more obvious characteristics of style can be seen. Fineness, freshness and tenderness are strictly required in the selection of materials. Take the essence of a material in order to achieve the elegant superiority of dishes. Specialty are preferred to make the dish distinguishably localized. Freshness and tenderness of materials provide the dishes with palatability and authenticity.
Many culinary skills are adopted in the cuisine, such as stir-frying, deep-frying, quick-frying, braising, steaming and braising. Products from sea and river are cooked uniquely which is significantly different from the northern. Take fish cooking for example. In Zhe cuisine, the fish are mostly blanched, to maintain the original umami of fish, using water as a transferrer of heating source.
Freshness is attached with much value in the selection of raw material, pairing with fresh bamboo shoots, ham, mushrooms and greens. Shaoxing wine, scallion, ginger, vinegar, sugar are frequently used as seasoning in order to remove unpleasant smell, and greasiness, as well as enhance the flavor.
The appearance of Zhe cuisine are comparatively exquisite and delicate, along with a realm of quite elegance. Dish utensils are carefully chosen to be clean and elaborate with beautiful shapes, many of which are named after the famous scenic spots.