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Huaiyang cuisine

Huaiyang cuisine (simplified Chinese: 淮扬菜; traditional Chinese: 淮揚菜; pinyin: Huáiyáng cài) is one of the traditions in Chinese cuisine. It 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. Although it is one of several sub-regional styles within Jiangsu cuisine, Huaiyang cuisine is widely seen in Chinese culinary circles[1] as the most popular and prestigious style of Jiangsu cuisine - to a point where it is considered to be amongst one of the Four Great Traditions (四大菜系) that dominate the culinary heritage of China, along with Cantonese cuisine, Shandong cuisine and Sichuan cuisine.

Typical features

Huaiyang cuisine characteristically founds each dish on its main ingredient, and the way that ingredient is cut is pivotal to its cooking and its final taste. The cuisine is also known for employing its Chinkiang vinegar, which is produced in the Zhenjiang region. Huaiyang cuisine tends to have a slightly sweet side to it and is almost never spicy, in contrast to some cuisines of China (like Sichuan or Hunan). Pork, freshwater fish, and other aquatic creatures serve as the meat base in most dishes, which are usually more meticulous and light compared to the more “brash” eating styles of northern China.

Notable dishes

Huaiyang cuisine also includes several breakfast choices such as crab soup dumplings (simplified Chinese: 蟹黄汤包; traditional Chinese: 蟹黃湯包; pinyin: xìehúang tāngbāo), thousand-layered cake (simplified Chinese: 千层糕; traditional Chinese: 千層糕; pinyin: qiāncéng gāo), steamed dumplings (simplified Chinese: 蒸饺; traditional Chinese: 蒸餃; pinyin: zhēngjiǎo), tofu noodles (simplified Chinese: 大煮干丝; traditional Chinese: 大煮乾絲; pinyin: dàzhǔ gānsī), and wild vegetable steamed buns (Chinese: 野菜包子; pinyin: yěcài bāozi).

Other standard dishes in Huaiyang cuisine include:

English Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Pinyin Notes
Congee with century egg and lean pork 皮蛋瘦肉粥 皮蛋瘦肉粥 pídàn shòuròu zhōu
Fish with sour vegetables 酸菜魚 酸菜鱼 suāncài yú
Pot stickers 鮮肉鍋貼 鲜肉锅贴 xiānròu gūotīe
Noodles with shrimp and pork dumplings 蝦子餃麵 虾子饺面 xīazi jǐaomiàn
Lion's head 獅子頭 狮子头 shīzi tóu Braised pork meatballs in brown sauce
Jade shaomai 翡翠燒賣 翡翠烧卖 fěicùi shāomài
Yangzhou fried rice 揚州炒飯 扬州炒饭 Yángzhōu chǎofàn
Sliced fatty pork slices 厚皮香豬 厚皮香猪 hòupí xīangzhū

Others include Yangzhou pickles, baozi, gansi (sliced tofu), sticky candy, ginkgo, Qionghuayu liquor, Nanshan green tea, baoying lotus root starch, and Jiangdu short pastry.

Baozi is a type of steamed bun with meat or paste fillings. It is sometimes served for breakfast and is best eaten hot.

There is also a dish called "beggar's chicken" (simplified Chinese: 叫化鸡; traditional Chinese: 叫化雞; pinyin: jiàohuā jī), which is a whole chicken marinated with spices and wrapped in aluminium foil. Contrary to its name, it is not the food for the homeless. Traditionally, beggar's chicken is wrapped in leaves or sometimes even in mud, allowing the full flavour of the chicken to be preserved.

Because Yangzhou is close to Nanjing, people will be able to enjoy the mix of northern and southern cuisines. When in Nanjing, one unusual local dish is duck blood and vermicelli soup, consisting of congealed duck's blood in noodle soup. For the more health-conscious, Nanjing is best known for its stinky tofu.

Use in official dining

Huaiyang cuisine has been employed in official occasions by the Chinese government. Some examples include:

  • In 1949, for the first state banquet of the People's Republic of China.
  • In 1999, for China's 50th anniversary state banquet.
  • In 2002, for the visiting United States President George W. Bush, hosted by Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

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