Food festival in Beijing offers treat to fans of Yangzhou cuisine
Yangzhou is the birthplace of Huaiyang cuisine — one of China’s four major cooking styles — that is famous for its light, fresh taste and exquisite knife work.
But you don’t have to visit to enjoy the cuisine.
The ongoing Yangzhou Food Festival at the Beijing Minzu Hotel lets you enjoy a Yangzhou feast in Beijing through July 31.
The festival menu includes signature dishes cooked by chefs from the Yangzhou State Guesthouse, one of the most celebrated hotels in Yangzhou.
One of the must-haves is wensi tofu, a dish which represents the knife skills of Yangzhou fare.
It is said that the dish was created by a monk called Wensi during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
To prepare the dish, a small block of soft and tender tofu is shredded into more than 5,000 pieces.
Chefs feel rather than see what is being cut, especially because when they cut the tofu, they must do it with same frequency and at a fast speed, so that the cuts sound like a monk using a wooden fish during Buddhist rituals.
The shredded tofu, which can pass through the eye of a needle, is placed in water to fan out like a flow- er, and then poached in chicken stock before being served.
Another must-have is a giant meatball known as shizitou, or the Lion’s Head.
The dish is made with fatty and lean pork.
The pork is hand cut, not minced, and then shaped into meatballs and simmered in stock for at least four hours.
Squirrel fish is also a must-have. Here, chefs fillet a whole mandarin fish, and then fry it in boiling oil so that it curls up like a squirrel’s tail.
The crispy fish is served with a homemade sauce.
Jicai tangyuan, or shepherd’s purse rice dumpling, is also very delicious.
The rice dumpling is soft and tender, with a strong fragrance.
The city’s famed baozi (steamed buns with stuffing), and its namesake fried rice are also on the festival menu.
Salt-water goose; squirrel fish; wensi tofu.