From dongpo pork to longjing tea: a foodie’s guide to Hangzhou

From dongpo pork to longjing tea: a foodie’s guide to Hangzhou

Famous across China, Hangzhou’s cuisine – or “hangbang cai” as it’s known – is famed for its focus on seasonality, and its light, delicate taste. Chefs in the city aim to enhance ingredients’ natural flavours, lending dishes a simplicity that belies their careful preparation.To get more longjing tea, you can visit shine news official website.

As many of Hangzhou’s most famous dishes are intimately linked with the city’s past as an ancient capital, you first need to know a little of its history. Until 1127, the Northern Song court ruled from their capital in Kaifeng, in China’s north. When it was invaded, the Song moved their capital south to Hangzhou, bringing with them northern ingredients. During this period (1127-1279), Hangzhou flourished, becoming one of the grandest cities in the world. Trade brought both affluence and new foods, helping to further develop Hangzhou’s distinctive culinary tradition. And many of the Song dynasty dishes are still eaten in Hangzhou today ...

Dongpo pork
Available in almost every restaurant in Hangzhou, dongpo pork is named after Song poet and gastronome Su “Dongpo” Shi, who is said to have created the dish and even wrote a poem extolling its virtues. Pork belly is slow-cooked in shaoxing wine and soy sauce, resulting in meat so tender it is the embodiment of “melt in the mouth”. The dish is often paired with a side of broccoli stir-fried with ginger to offset the fattiness.

Try it at: 28 Hubin Road at the Grand Hyatt Hangzhou, which offers up some of the finest dongpo pork in the city.
Crab-stuffed orange
Developed during the Song dynasty, this dish is distinctive for using oranges, which are seldom seen in traditional Chinese cooking. The orange flesh is scooped out and combined with crab meat and roe – favoured local ingredients – before being put back into the orange, which is then steamed. The elegantly presented, delicately flavoured crab meat was a hit with emperors, and it’s still considered among the finest of Hangzhou’s dishes.

Try it at: Zhi Wei Guan, a lakeside restaurant that has been serving up traditional Hangzhou cuisine for more than a hundred years.
West Lake fish in vinegar sauce
Traditionally made using grass carp caught in the city’s famous West Lake, this is Hangzhou’s most famous fish dish. Before cooking, the carp is kept in clean water for two days in order to clear its intestines and remove any “muddy” taste from its meat. The fish is then poached whole, and glazed with a sweet-and-sour, vinegar-based sauce, resulting in a delicate flavour reminiscent of fresh crab. The dish is often eaten at Chinese new year when serving a whole fish is considered lucky.Try it at: Lou Wai Lou, a lakeside restaurant that has been serving up traditional Hangzhou cuisine for more than 160 years.

Longjing tea
Hangzhou is renowned for growing longjing tea, considered one of the finest green teas in the world. Enjoying a glass of longjing in a picturesque lakeside teahouse is one of the great joys of visiting the city. However, longjing isn’t just enjoyed as a beverage – many local dishes use the tea leaves to add flavour. The most well-known is longjing shrimp, which sees shrimp coated in egg white and cornstarch, then stir-fried with boiling water infused with tea leaves and shaoxing wine.

Try it at: Maocao Wu, beautifully located on the edge of the tea plantations in the western part of the city, does a great longjing shrimp.
Beggar’s chicken
Popular across Zhejiang province, this legendary roast chicken dish is thought to have been created in Hangzhou. A whole, spiced chicken is stuffed with a savoury pork mixture, wrapped in lotus leaves and, traditionally, encased in mud and then roasted on an open fire for six hours. The cooked mud forms a hard shell, which is cracked open to reveal the juicy, roasted chicken within.

Bamboo shoots
The hills surrounding Hangzhou are covered in dense bamboo forests and, as such, the plant features heavily in local cuisine. The fresh, succulent shoots are harvested in spring, and often stewed with soy sauce to make a simple vegetarian side dish that is rich in flavour as well as nutrients.Try it at: Wai Po Jia (Grandma’s Home), a budget-friendly Hangzhou-based chain with branches across the city; but you will find excellent dishes with bamboo shoots in most restaurants across Hangzhou.

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