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Fujian Cuisine and Food

Fujian cuisine was a latecomer in southeast China along the coast. The cuisine emphasizes seafood, river fish, and shrimp. The Fujian coastal area produces 167 varieties of fish and 90 kinds of turtles and shellfish. It also produces edible bird's nest, cuttlefish, and sturgeon. These special products are all used in Fujian cuisine.

The Fujian economy and culture began to flouring after the Southern Song Dynasty. During the middle Qing Dynasty famous Fujian officials and literati promoted the Fujian cuisine so it gradually became known to other parts of China.

The most characteristic aspect of Fujian cuisine is that its dishes are served in soup. Its cooking methods are stewing, boiling, braising, quick-boiling, and steaming, The most famous dish is Buddha Jumps Over the Wall. The name implies the dish is so delicious that even the Buddha would jump over a wall to eat it once he smelled it. A mixture of seafood, chicken, duck, and pork is put into a rice-wine jar and simmered over a low fire. Sea mussel quick-boiled in chicken soup is another Fujian delicacy.

Cutting is important in the Fujian cuisine. Most dishes are made of seafood, and if the seafood is not cut well the dishes will fail to have their true flavor. Fujian dishes are slightly sweet and sour, and less salty. For example, litchi pork, sweet and sour pork, soft fish with onion flavor, and razor clams stir-fried with fresh bamboo shoots without soy sauce all have this taste. When a dish is less salty, it tastes more delicious. Sweetness makes a dish more tasty, while sourness helps remove the seafood smell.

In the Fujian cuisine, an important flavoring and coloring material is red distiller's grain. It is a glutinous rice fermented with red yeast. After being kept in a sealed vessel for one year, the grain acquires a sweet and sour flavor and a rose-red color. Chicken, duck, fish, and pork can be flavored with the red grain as well as spiral shells, clams, mussels, bamboo shoots, and even vegetables. When the red distiller's grain is used for flavoring, the fishes can be cooked in many ways, including quick-frying, frying, quick-boiling, and pickling.

Fujian cuisine comprises three branches ¨C Fuzhou, southern Fujian, and western Fujian. There are slight differences among them. Fuzhou dishes are more fresh, delicious, and less salty, sweet, and sour. Southern Fujian dishes are sweet and hot and use hot sauces, custard, and orange juice as flavorings. Western Fujian dishes are salty and hot. As Fujian people emigrate overseas, their cuisine has become popular in Taiwan and abroad.

Cuisines  in  Xiamen
Xiamen cuisine, the most representative one of Fujian cuisine, is characterized by its similarity to Canton food; sweet, light and very popular with western taste buds! The food is certainly one of the best things about Xiamen- particularly the seafood which is exceptionally fresh. Dishes here use copious amounts of oysters, crabs, prawn and peanuts. Xiamen peanut soup is served up with everything. The Sweet Peanut Shop (Huangzehe Huashengtang Dian) on Zhongshan Lu is the best place to sample Xiamen's favorite nutty goodies.

Local specialties here include fish ball soup, shrimp noodles and oyster soup. There are some great seafood restaurants around town. On Gulangyu Island there are a wealth of places to choose from, particularly around the Lujiang Hotel. The hotel itself also serves good Chinese food including an impressive medicinal banquet- the properties of the food are apparently good for the soul and body!

Those tired with seafood should seek out the Marco Polo Hotel on Jianye Road and tuck into their authentic Peking Duck. There are also a couple of good vegetarian restaurants in Xiamen; one in the Nanputo Temple and the other, the Hao Qing Xiang Restaurant on Hubin Zhong Lu.

The Holiday Inn also do a good western style buffet for those craving something non-Chinese and Pizza Hut has magnificent views over to Gulangyu Island (aside from the usual pizzas!).

Muslim food is also popular here. Tasty lamb dishes, kebabs and Xinjiang bread are all available from the street vendors and in the little Muslim cafes dotted about town.

Seafood - Cuisines in XiamenSeafood (haixian) is all over the place in Xiamen, and especially in Gulangyu, and is a great introduction to the culinary delights of the town. It has a long history here, locally the seafood has been around forever, but as early on as the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD), grouper, yellow croaker, red crab, lobster and sleeve-fish were already frequently ordered dishes in local hotels.

The Chinese in Xiamen do have the strangest taste in their selection of edible fruits of the deep, with tendancies to select the most formidable, and horrific looking of the days catch. Having got over this, however, the seafood here is always fresh (you normally get a swim by preview outside most of the restaurants) and, once cooked, is delicious. Oysters (Muli), Crabs (Pangxie) and Prawns (Xia) are the best of the batch.

One final warning: the Chinese have an amazing ability to place the most armoured of food into their mouths and, after a bit of teeth grinding and spitting, to end up with a plateful of bones and a bellyful of flesh. Attempt to follow with caution.

Peanut Soup - Cuisines in XiamenPeanut soup (huasheng tang) is by no means easy to make despite the fact that it is made of only one ingredient--peanut. First, carefully selected peanuts are dipped in boiling water for deshelling.

Then they are stewed with mild flame until they totally soften. Last add sugar and continue stewing the soup for half an hour.

Local people always have this soup with youtiao (deep-fried twist dough sticks), fried dates or buns.

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