There is no other cuisine that is so varied as the Chinese. It knows no less than eight different kitchens, which all has their own characteristics. The Cantonese kitchen is the most well know, but the Zhejiang Cuisine – also known as Zhe Cai – is the runner up. Let’s spice it up and explore!
Paradise on earth
Zhejiang is located in the eastern part of China and has the longest coastline of all the provinces. Due to the different land shapes and the mild climate, Zhejiang is able to harvest various culinary ingredients. For example, the southwestern part of Zhejiang provides mushrooms and high-quality black fungus, the famous Longjing Tea comes from the center of Zhejiang, and nowadays they are taking advantage of the coastline and established a real fish culture. All these different culinary treats make Zhejiang’s nickname, “Paradise on earth”.
Harvesting the local ingredients, it’s no wonder that the citizens of the province value seasonal products, and these play an important part in the cuisine. Zhejiang food features raw and fresh ingredients which result in natural, fine, and tender dishes with rich flavors.
Try it yourself
Now you’ve got an introduction of the cuisine, it’s time to dive in some of the dishes the people of the Zhejiang love.
Stir-Fried Prawn with Longjing Tea
A great poet Su Tung Po, which quoted “To light a new fire and make new tea, it is fine: it is for the youth that fresh and wine tend”, inspired the Stir-Fried Prawn with Longjing Tea dish. Based on fresh river shrimp and Longjing tea, a perfect combination of sweetness and tenderness has been created. The taste and texture create a refreshing element and for a moment takes you to a spring drizzling afternoon at West Lake in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang.
Dongpo Braised Pork
Another dish, which is based on the same poet, is the Dongpo Braised Pork. Ages ago, Su was responsible for the dredging of the West Lake. To honour his employees, he asked for a delicious, but simple meal based on only two ingredients, pork and water. Due to the fact of miscommunication between Su and the cook, the water was misplaced for rice wine, which by accident created the perfect combination of sweet and salt. Over the years, some adjustments have been made for the perfect Dongpo BraisedPork. Adding a bit of sugar, Shaoxing rice wine, and some soybean sauce made the dish even better, creating a pork dish that melts on your tongue.
The Jinghua ham is one of the famous hams in China and has a high reputation due to the bright color and rich flavor. Fat but not greasy, salty but not too salty, and sweet but not too sweet. The perfect middle ground. The ham is sliced and served just like the pyramids in Egypt. The ingredients are quite simple, as it’s just ham, sugar and Shaoxing rice wine, but the taste surely isn’t.
Jiaxing Zongzi welcomes its 100th birthday this year. The dish contains only three basic ingredients. Fresh bamboo leaves, pork belly and glutinous rice, which together make for the perfect meal. The freshness and saltiness of the meat, combined with the texture of the rice and refreshing bamboo, creates a triangle of satisfaction. If you ask us, this natural and simple dish is the best representation of the Zhejiang cuisine.
Did you notice the key characteristics? It’s all about simplicity, natural ingredients, and honoring the produce given by the local environment. As long as the quality of the ingredients is excellent, there’s no need for anything else.