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The Story of Hangzhou Cuisine Ⅰ

By Pan Jiangtao| ezhejiang.gov.cn| Updated: September 27, 2022 L M S

Zhejiang cuisine is famously known as one of the eight traditional Chinese cuisines, featuring Hangzhou, Ningbo, Shaoxing and Wenzhou flavors. And among the four flavors, Hangzhou flavor is fused with China's northern and southern flavors. The cooking methods of boiling, stewing, and simmering are widely utilized in Hangzhou cuisine, and the components and their liquids typically have a light seasoning.

Traditional Hangzhou foods are the first thing that come to mind when thinking about Jiangnan (the region south of the Yangtze River).

Liangzhu Culture is where the traditions of Hangzhou cuisine originated. Experts claim that the original type of Hangzhou cuisine dates back over 5,000 years, when locals of Hangzhou began using paddies to cook rice and fish meat for soup.

The fact that Hangzhou cuisine stands out from Zhejiang cuisine is attributed to the opening of the Grand Canal and the southward movement of the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

Money from southern China rushed into Hangzhou, a center of economy, culture, politics, transportation, and gastronomy, during the Sui Dynasty (581-618). Many neighborhood restaurants hired top-notch chefs from Beijing, who introduced opulent Beijing foods like shark's fin, sea cucumbers, crab, and fish maw into the Hangzhou cuisine after slightly altering the flavors to suit southern people's palates.

The ruling class of the Song Dynasty were originally northerners living in the Yellow River Basin, habitually living on noodles and mutton. When they were forced to move to Hangzhou (formerly known as Lin'an), they also brought along their eating habits. Gradually a complete set of Hangzhou cuisine mixing northern and southern flavors was created. In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Hangzhou cuisine became more developed, and evidence of this change can be traced back to the well-preserved recipes of the imperial residence at West Lake for Emperor Qianlong (1711-99).

A good dish is always expected to excel in color, aroma, taste, and presentation. Hangzhou cuisine has more to offer as it is hearty and unique.

Behind the Hangzhou cuisine are chefs who are adept at using culinary techniques and aesthetic principles. Their excellent knife and plating skills make the dishes visually pleasing.

It is said that for every Hangzhou dish there is a story behind them, which makes them tastier and more interesting, and the names of the traditional Hangzhou dishes are also easy and smooth to read out loud.