China Jiangsu Cuisine – Delicate Food with Umami-rich Taste

Jiangsu cuisine, also called Su cuisine, one of the eight Chinese cuisines with over 2,000 years’ history, is famous for its beautiful and delicate appearance and the fresh, umami, natural, mild and lightly sweet taste. Most of the Jiangsu cuisine dishes well preserve the original flavor of food materials. The chefs are especially good at simmering, braising, and stewing. Famous Jiangsu dishes are Brine-Boiled Duck, Sweet and Sour Mandarin Fish, Braised Meat Balls in Brown Sauce, Beggar’s Chicken and so on.

Chinese Name: 江苏菜 jiāng sū cài; 苏菜, sū cài
English Names: Jiangsu cuisine, Su cuisine
Popular in: Jiangsu
Time of Origin: Qin Dynasty (221 - 207 BC)
Flavors: umami, fresh, slightly sweet, natural, mild and original
Famous Jiangsu Dishes: Nanjing Salted Duck, Sweet and Sour Mandarin Fish, Braised Meat Balls in Brown Sauce, Beggar’s Chicken
Famous Snacks and Desserts: Huangqiao Baked Cake, Jiangyan Flaky Pastry, Multiple Layer Oil Cake

Jiangsu Cuisine

Over 2,000 Years’ History of Jiangsu Cuisine

In Qin Dynasty and Han Dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD), Yangzhou in Jiangsu became an administrative region and the economy boomed and many exquisite and delicious food like Braised Meat Balls were created. In Sui Dynasty (581 - 618 AD), some northern cooking methods spread to Yangzhou since the Emperor of Sui built the Grand Canal which connected the North and South of China thus promoted the development of distinctive cooking techniques in the South. In Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD), Yangzhou had become the economic center of east China and Persia (the old name of Iran) and Arabic businessmen brought Muslim flavors and cooking methods to Jiangsu cuisine dishes. In Song Dynasty (960 - 1279 AD), Jiangsu food became sweeter. In later years, the communication between North and South helped improve the cooking skills of Jiangsu cuisine. Now it is one of the eight Chinese cuisines known for its pleasing appearance and umami, light, mild, fresh and natural taste.

Features of Jiangsu Cuisine

Jiangsu cuisine flavor is umami, natural, mild, and lightly sweet with rich original flavor of food materials. The dishes are served delicately like artworks. The ingredients are rich mainly including freshwater fishes, river fish and sea food like reeves shad, knife fish, balloon fish, silverfish, crab in Yangcheng Lake and crucian. Vegetables used include lotus root, Chinese chestnut, cane shoots, winter bamboo shoots and water chestnut. 

Special Cooking Techniques

Jiangsu cuisine chefs focus on the controlling of fire heat and the art of cutting. The food carvings and cuttings are extremely exquisite and changeful. Skillful Jiangsu chefs can even cut tofu 2cm wide into 30 slices, and the finished shredded tofu is like a single hair and can go through the needle eye. Besides, the chefs are especially good at simmering, braising, and stewing.

Notable Dishes in Jiangsu Cuisine


Nanjing Salted

Nanjing Salted Duck

The dish is also called osmanthus duck since it is often eaten when osmanthus bloom. The duck is first marinated with fried salt and then boiled in the brine made of ginger, scallion and other spices.


Sweet and Sour
Mandarin Fish

Sweet and Sour Mandarin Fish

The mandarin fish is shaped like the tail of squirrel by special cutting and frying cooking method. Sweet and sour sauce is topped on it. It is crispy outside and tender inside, and red or orange in color.


Braised Meat Balls in Brown Sauce

Braised Meat Balls in Brown Sauce

It is also known as Four-Joy Chinese Meatballs or Lion’s Head Meat Balls. This Jiangsu cuisine recipe is to mix fat and thin meat with glutinous mushrooms and other materials to make the meat balls, fried and then braised.


Stewed Tortoise and Chicken

Stewed Tortoise and Chicken

It is said that the festive dish was created by a famous beauty in ancient China named Yuji. The chicken and tortoise is stewed together with fresh soup-stock first and then steamed with other materials. The chicken and tortoise with high nutritive value taste tender and umami.


Beggar’s Chicken

Beggar’s Chicken

A traditional dish in Changshu, Jiangsu. It is said that this Jiangsu cuisine recipe is invented by a beggar who got a chicken occasionally and then wrapped it with mud and burnt it in the fire. Now the chicken is often wrapped with lotus leaves and then mud.


Yangzhou Fried Rice

Yangzhou Fried Rice

A Yangzhou staple food popular throughout China. The left rice are fried with eggs, carrots, green onion, corn, ham and so on, seasoned with a little soy sauce and salt. It is a convenient and easy staple food for beginners.

Jiangsu Cuisine Menu

English Chinese Pinyin
Nanjing Salted Duck                                  盐水鸭 yán shuǐ yā                             
Sweet and Sour Mandarin Fish 松鼠桂鱼 song shǔ guì yú
Braised Meat Balls in Brown Sauce 红烧狮子头 hóng shāo shī zi tóu
Stewed Tortoise and Chicken 霸王别姬 bà wáng bié jī
Beggar’s Chicken 叫花鸡 jiào huā jī
Yangzhou Fried Rice 扬州炒饭 yáng zhōu chǎo fàn
Boiled Shredded Dry Bean Curd        煮干丝          zhǔ gān sī
Pine Nuts with Sweet Corn 松仁玉米 sōng rén yù mǐ
Pork Trotter Aspic Jiangsu Style 水晶肴蹄 shuǐ jīng yáo tí
Braised Chickens like Mandarin Duck 鸳鸯鸡 yuān yāng jī
Mutton in Fish Maw 鱼腹藏羊肉 yú fù cáng yang ròu
Pressed Salted Duck 板鸭 bǎn yā
Duck Wrapped in Shark Fins 鸭包鱼翅 yā bāo yú chì
Double Skin Knife Fish 双皮刀鱼 shuāng pí dāo yú
Shrimp Cake 金钱虾饼 jīn qián xiā bǐng

Best Jiangsu Cuisine Restaurants in China

 Xiehe Restaurant
Chinese name: 协和菜馆
Address: No. 15, Fenghuang Street, Gusu, Suzhou, Jiangsu

 Huaiyang Restaurant
Chinese name: 淮扬小馆
Address: No. 199, Yongkang Road, Wujiang District, Suzhou, Jiangsu
See also List of Top 10 Suzhou Restaurants

 Jinling 12 Dishes
Chinese name: 金陵十二菜
Address: Laomen East, Qinhuai District, Nanjing, Jiangsu
See also Top 10 Nanjing Restaurants

 Huaiyang Fu
Chinese name: 淮扬府
Address: No. 198, Andingmen Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing
See more Jiangsu Restaurants in Beijing

Chinese name: 鼎泰丰
Address: No. 1515, Nanjing North, Jingan District, Shanghai
See more Jiangsu Restaurants in Shanghai

Major Styles of Jiangsu Cuisine

Jiangsu cuisine is mainly composed of four local styles include Nanjing cuisine formerly known as Jinling cuisine, Huaiyang cuisine, Suxi cuisine, and Xuhai cuisine.

Nanjing cuisine chefs are good at stewing, simmering and roasting, pursuing 14 flavors such as sour, sweet, bitter, spicy, salty, fragrant, stinky, fresh, crisp, tender and so on. Nanjing cuisine is especially famous for its duck dishes. Representatives of Nanjing duck dishes include Jinling Roasted Duck, Nanjing Salted Duck and Duck Soup.

Huaiyang cuisine has the characteristics of fresh, crisp and tender taste and forms a salty and slightly sweet flavor. Huaiyang cutting technique is the best. It was once selected as royal cuisine.

Suxi refers to Suzhou, Wuxi, and Changzhou. Suxi dishes are rich in snacks and focus on the appearance of dishes.

Xuhai dish is popular in Xuzhou and Lianyungang, and the main cooking materials are sea food and the chefs are particularly good at boiling, frying and decocting.

- Last updated on Mar. 22, 2021 -
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