Zhejiang Cuisine – Fresh Seafood Dishes with Light Taste
Chinese Name: 浙菜 zhè cài
English Names: Zhejiang cuisine, Zhe Cuisine, Zhejiang food
Popular in: China’s Zhejiang Province
Time of Origin: Neolithic Age
Flavors: light and fresh, tender
Famous Zhejiang Dishes: West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy, Fried Shrimps with Longjing Tea, Dongpo Pork, Braised Bamboo Shoot
Famous Snacks: Wushan Crisp Cake, Shallot Stuffed Pancake, West Lake Water Shield Soup, Ningbo Glutinous Rice Balls, Jiaxing Zongzi
Origin & History of Zhejiang Cuisine
Up to the late Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC), many famous dishes in Zhejiang cuisine had been invented. Since Northern and Southern Dynasties (420 - 589 AD), it became more and more mature. It formed its own primal system gradually as to Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD). In Southern Song Dynasty (1127 - 1279 AD), the cuisine absorbed not a few characteristics of northern dishes through the cultural exchange. During Ming (1368 - 1644 AD) and Qing (1644 - 1911 AD) Dynasties, the unique style of Zhejiang cuisine had already formed.
Ingredients of Zhejiang Cuisine – Strict Selected of Seasonal Foods
In general, the ingredients of Zhejiang cuisine are fresh and in season, which are selected strictly. Firstly, the ingredients used are from the best part of raw materials to make dishes superb. Secondly, local seasonal specialties are widely used. Thirdly, the ingredients must be fresh; seafood and fishes are usually killed just before cooking, to pursue the fresh and pure taste. Last, the ingredients should be tender, especially of meat.
Seasonings of Zhejiang Cuisine – Widely Use of Shaoxing Yellow Wine
To make the dishes have a better taste, some seasonings are used in Zhejiang cuisine recipes, like shallots, gingers, garlics, vinegar, and Shaoxing yellow wine, which can achieve the effect of reducing unwanted smell and promoting the flavor. In particular, Shaoxing yellow wine, the specialty in Shaoxing, is a unique condiment of Zhejiang food, making it have a style of its own. The famous Zhejiang food Dongpo Pork is cooked with Shaoxing yellow wine instead of water.
Flavors of Zhejiang Cuisine - Light & Fresh
Zhejiang cuisine has the light and fresh flavor as a whole, which focuses on maintaining the original taste of raw materials. In addition to condiments, the scientific arrangement of ingredients is also excellent. Fresh bamboo shoots, hams, mushrooms, winter mushrooms and green vegetables that have a light taste are usually added to dishes. To cook seafood and freshwater fishes, the ingredients and seasonings used are all to improve the fresh flavor. For example, the Stewed Yellow Croaker with Bamboo Shoots and Preserved Vegetables, is stewed with bamboo shoots and potherb mustard pickles, achieving its unique flavor with fresh soup.
Special Cooking Methods - Particular about Time and Fire
To cook Zhejiang cuisine dishes, the ingredients are usually cut with adept slicing skills to have an appealing appearance. Among more than 30 common cooking techniques of Zhe cuisine, there are six most frequently used ones: stir-frying, deep-frying, quick-frying, steaming and braising.
Frying is the one of the best cooking method in Zhejiang cuisine, especially moist stir frying. The process is fast and the cooked food would be tender and tasty with little oil. The deep-fired materials are often shaped into rolls, which are crisp outside and tender inside. Steamed food are fresh and tender, too. The food braised are generally crisp with a strong flavor. The quick-frying, steaming and braising are particular about cooking time and temperature of fire, which is not easy to control.
The Most Famous Dishes in Zhejiang Cuisine
Sweet and sour with a bright brown color, the fish is fresh and tender. As no oil are used to cook the fresh fish, the dish keeps the original flavor of fish.
Fried Shrimps with Longjing Tea
It is a typical Zhejiang food cooked with shrimps and fresh Longjing Tea leaves. Looking like white jades, it has a light enticing smell with tender and fresh taste.
Dongpo Pork is braised with Shaoxing wine, soft and oily but not greasy. It was named after its inventor, the famous poet Su Shi, also called Su Dongpo.
Braised Bamboo Shoot
It is cooked with spring bamboo shoots sprouting around Qingming Festival in early April with large amount of oil and sugar, tasting tender, salty and sweet, with a red color.
Deep-Fried Beancurd Rolls Stuffed with Minced Tenderloin
This is crispy cooked with bean curd and pork fillet. It tastes better if eat with sweet sauce, pepper and scallion. When biting, it gives the sound of small bells.
The dish takes lotus root, glutinous rice and osmanthus as the materials, sweet and soft with osmanthus fragrance. The main cooking method is boiling.
Menu of Zhejiang Cuisine
|West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy||西湖醋鱼||xī hú cù yú|
|Fried Shrimps with Longjing Tea||龙井虾仁||lóng jǐng xiā rén|
|Dongpo Pork||东坡肉||dōng pō ròu|
|Braised Bamboo Shoot||油焖春笋||yóu mèn chūn sǔn|
|Deep-Fried Beancurd Rolls Stuffed with Minced Tenderloin||干炸响铃||gàn zhà xiǎng líng|
|Sliced Lotus Root with Sweet Sauce||桂花糖藕||guì huā táng ǒu|
|Beggar's Chicken||叫化童鸡||jiào huā tóng jī|
|West Lake Beef Soup||西湖牛肉羹||xī hú niú ròu gēng|
|Steamed Pork with Rice Flour in Lotus Leaves||荷叶粉蒸肉||hé yè fěn zhēng ròu|
|Braised Ham in Honey Sauce||蜜汁火方||mì zhī huǒ fāng|
Best Zhejiang Cuisine Restaurants in China
No. 10-12, Yanggong Dike, Xihu District, Hangzhou
No. 83, Renhe Road, Shangcheng District, Hangzhou
No. 386, Zijinghua Road, Xihu District, Hangzhou
No. 30, Gushan Road, Xihu District, Hangzhou
No. 93, Middle Zhongshan Road, Shangcheng District, Hangzhou
No. 40, Lingyin Road, Xihu District, Hangzhou
See more Zhejiang Restaurants in Hangzhou
8th Floor, Joy City, No.166 North Tibet Road, Zhabei District, Shanghai
5B08, Expo Source 5, Shangnan Road, Pudong New District, Shanghai
818 Square, No. 818, West Nanjing Road, Jing'an District, Shanghai
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No. 19, Gaoliangqiao Street, Outer Xizhimen, Haidian District, Beijing
3rd Floor, Liaoning Building, Western North Fourth Ring Road, Haidian District, Beijing
Building 102, Area B, Huizhongli, Datun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing
See more Zhejiang Restaurants in Beijing
4 Subgroups of Zhejiang cuisine
There are 4 main types of Zhejiang cuisine, including Hangzhou cuisine, Ningbo cuisine, Shaoxing cuisine and Wenzhou cuisine. They have their own style and strong local features.
Hangzhou cuisine plays a very important role in Zhejiang cuisine with various dishes. The main cooking methods of Hangzhou cuisine are stir-frying, flash-frying, braising, deep-frying and so on. West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy, Fried Shrimps with Longjing Tea, and Dongpo Pork are all Hangzhou cuisine dishes.
See more about Hangzhou Dining
Ningbo cuisine focus on keeping the original flavor of ingredients, seafood are often steamed, braised and simmered with the fresh salty flavor. The famous dishes include Stewed Yellow Croaker with Bamboo Shoots and Preserved Vegetables, Steamed Turtle in Crystal Sugar Soup, and Ningbo Roast Goose, etc.
Shaoxing cuisine takes shrimps, fishes, chicken, duck, beans and bamboo shoots as its main materials, having a mellow taste with light oil. Featured on original thick soup, Shaoxing dishes are usually cooked with Shaoxing yellow wine. Thus the dishes have a strong aroma, and they are not spicy at all. Steamed Mandarin Fish is the best-known dish of Shaoxing cuisine.
With seafood as the main ingredients, Wenzhou cuisine have a light flavor. It takes slicing skills seriously, and uses less oil and starchy water. Fried Fish with Three Shreds is the most famous Wenzhou dish.