Hello you lovely people, welcome to another episode of the 8 great cuisines of Chinese culinary world, today I am joined by my great friend Rocco and we are exploring Zhe Cai- Zhejiang cuisine! Zhejiang a eastern coastal city bordered by Shanghai and Jiangsu, so Zhejiang and Jiangsu have very similar climates, culture, architecture and its capital, Hangzhou which is truly beautiful city, this region very similar to Jiangsu, has produced some of China’s greatest poets, artists, musicians and romance stories. Today we are exploring the food of Zhejiang, its known to be thick sauces, very rich and sweet! Top 6 Zhejiang dishes let’s go!
4) 东坡肉- Dong Po Pork
Its obviously very fatty, but its not greasy, I think the alcohol cuts the fattiness very well. It’s just a mouthful delight, it’s delicious, it’s slightly sweet, its meaty, its got the umami factor. If you come to Hangzhou, this is must try dish, its honestly so good, a little bit of warning though, when you eat something as fatty as pork belly, you really have to balance it right, eat it with vegetables and maybe have some citrus to cut the fat, otherwise if you finish a plate of this, it could be very heavy, and you won’t feel very good. But the texture, the taste is very well balanced, its really delicious!
3) 龙井虾仁- Long Jing tea prawns
This dish was created in the Qing Dynasty when the emperor visited Hangzhou and he fell in love with the local tea, Hangzhou tea by the way, is supposed to some of the best in the country, the kitchen staff recognized the emperor’s robes and in panic accidently used tea instead of spring onions, and the accidental dish won over the emperor! The prawns they taste so delicate, really nice and soft, with a hint of tea coming through, I quite like that, it works almost like mint, very subtle flavour, this whole dish is subtle and light, great texture, but not bold on flavour! Certainly an interesting dish, I would recommend if you are going to Hangzhou!
2) 西湖醋鱼- West Lake Vinegar Fish
We have a Hangzhou classic, a rich syrupy sweet and sour fish coming from west lake. Hangzhou West lake is truly magnificent and beautiful, let’s see what the fish taste like! I love all things sweet and sour, but this is slightly too much for me, its overly sweet, its quite nice still, but the flavour is a little bit too overpowering for me, moving on!
1) 叫花鸡- Beggar’s Chicken
At number 2 we have the beggar’s chicken, I love Chinese food and their names and their origins! Ok various stories regarding its origin, but I like to believe this one, a beggar stole a chicken, because presume he was hungry and had no money, to avoid the imperial guards catching him, he wrapped the chicken in a lotus leaf and dug a hole and hid it in the mud. When he eventually decided to dig up, it formed hard clay around it, once he knocked it open, the natural heat of the ground cooked the chicken and it was tender and aromatic. Till this day! They still wrap it around in the lotus leaf, and try to cook it in a clay oven! The chicken is definitely soft and tender, the taste is a bit too medicinally for me, perhaps due to the lotus leaf, but this way of cooking chicken is definitely tender and juicy! Fun fact Richard Nixon liked this on his state visit in 1972!
There you have it guys, the must order dishes in Zhejiang cuisine, mainly formed of Hangzhou dishes, with a lot of history and culture in the dishes, beautifully presented, intricate and delicate. If you enjoyed today’s episode, be sure to check out the other parts of the 8 cuisines right here.
Let me know in the comment section, which your favourite pork belly dish. Until next time, peace!
1:03 Information about Zhejiang Cuisine
2:40 Dong Po Pork Belly
4:13 Longjing Prawns
6:46 West Lake Vinegar Fish
11:14 Beggar’s Chicken
15:40 Final Takeaways