What’s Eating China: Fujian Cuisine

福建

Most notable from the Fuzhou region, Fujian-style cuisine is renowned for being tender and light, yet flavorful, with a particular emphasis on umami (savory) taste. Known in Chinese cooking as xiānwèi (鲜味), it attempts to retain the original flavor of the main ingredients, instead of masking them. Extending from mountainous, inland territory down to the coast, many woodland delicacies and diverse seafood are used. The variety includes everything from local fish, turtles and shellfish to indigenous edible mushrooms and bamboo shoots.

In Fuzhou, the flavor is the lightest compared to other provinces, often containing a mixture of sweet and sour. The region is also known for its soups and use of fermented fish sauce. The famous red yeast rice (红麴 / 红糟酱: hóngqū / hóngzāojiàng) imparts a pleasant aroma with a slightly sweet taste and also adds a rosy hue to food.

Southern Fujian is a bit bolder than Fuzhou, bringing influences from other Asian cuisines. Use of sugar and spices such as shacha sauce and five-spice powder is more common. Different kinds of slow-cooked soups are found and many dishes come with dipping sauces. Pork—offal in particular—is considered a delicacy. Other main ingredients include beef, chicken, duck, seafood and various vegetables with rice.

Legend has it that after the dish was originally cooked, the aroma was so irresistible that a Buddhist monk forgot his vow of vegetarianism and leapt over a wall to have a taste.

In western Fujian, dishes are often slightly spicier due to mustard and pepper. Cooking methods vary among steaming, frying and stir-frying. Food is saltier and oilier compared to other parts of Fujian and usually focuses on livestock meat, rather than seafood.

Across the region, particular attention is paid to the knife skills and cooking technique of chefs, which is used to enhance the flavor, aroma and texture of various foods. The cuisine is also acclaimed for the quality of its soup stocks and bases that are used to flavor dishes, soups and stews. There are even various sayings relating to the region’s cuisine such as: “One broth can be changed into numerous (ten) forms” (一汤十变; yī tāng shí biàn) and “It is unacceptable for a meal to not have soup” (不汤不行; bù tāng bù xíng).

Fermented fish sauce, known locally as “shrimp oil” (虾油; xiā yóu), is also commonly used, along with oysters, crab, and prawns. Peanuts are also quite prevalent and can be boiled, fried, roasted, crushed, ground or even turned into a paste. Peanuts can also be used as a garnish, are featured in soups and may even be added to braised or stir-fried dishes. Fujian is also known for its “drunken” (wine marinated) dishes that use wine lees—sediment from the storage barrel.

Fujian is also notable for (燕皮; yànpí), or “swallow skin,” which is a thin wrapper made with large proportions of lean, minced pork. This wrapper has a unique texture, due to the incorporation of meat and has a “bite” that’s similar to things made with surimi (meat paste). Yanpi is used to make (肉燕; ròuyàn), a type
of wonton.

The most notorious dish in Fujian cuisine is surely (佛跳墙; fótiàoqiáng) “Buddha Jumps Over the Wall,” which is a complex dish that uses up to thirty ingredients, including Shaoxing wine, shark’s fin, abalone, sea cucumber, dried scallops, duck, chicken breast, pig’s trotters and pigeon eggs, among others. Legend has it that after the dish was originally cooked, the aroma was so irresistible that a Buddhist monk forgot his vow of vegetarianism and leapt over a wall to have a taste.

Chef’s Specials
蚵仔煎 / hézǎijiān / Omlette with oyster filling
五香 / wǔxiāng / Fried roll in five-spice powder filled with minced pork and vegetables
东壁龙珠 / dōngbì lóngzhū / Dragon fruit with meat filling

Where to find it
Minnan Seafood Steam Hotpot
闽南海鲜蒸汽火锅
Phone: 13712940058
Address: No. 27, Jinghai West Rd, Shatou, Chang’an
长安镇沙头靖海西路27号

Minyue Private Kitchen 闽悅私房菜
Phone: 13527908856
Address: Shop A25, Fumin Commercial St., Nanhuan Rd, Houjie
厚街镇南环路富民商业街A25铺

See Guangdong cuisine here
See Hunan cuisine here
See Jiangsu cuisine here
See Zhejiang cuisine here
See Anhui cuisine here
See Sichuan cuisine here
See Shandong cuisine here

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