25c 干海鲜 (gān hǎi xiān), Dried Seafood
In most markets and some supermarkets, there is a section which you can find by following your nose. The aroma of the dried seafood is not an unpleasant one, at least to my perception, but a distinct one.
Here you can find all the mysteries of the deep in dehydrated form. Some you may recognise; some you almost certainly won’t.
Seafood, including saltwater fish, has long been prized in China, but in the past was only really available near the coast. Transportation was just too difficult. Even today, the majority of fish consumed in most of China is freshwater fish, from lakes or rivers, both wild and farmed. Landlocked provinces such as Sichuan or Hunan serve very little fresh sea food, and what is available can be expensive. However they all prize certain preserved seafoods such as follows.
They are mainly used to add umami to other dishes, rather than being rehydrated and used to replicate their fresh equivalents.
The selection is a constantly changing one, but there are some staples. The following are all in my pantry now (unless stated otherwise).
Probably the most common is the large range of dried shrimp - 虾干 (xiā gān). These come in all sizes. (The local shrimp are often this naturally red variety.)
The smallest are known as 虾皮 (xiā pí) and measure about the size of an uncooked long grain rice.
Dried Scallops (Conpoy) - 干贝 (gān bèi) - In the supermarket
Rehydrated Dried Scallops (Conpoy) - 干贝 (gān bèi)
Dried Mussels - 干贻贝 (gān yí bèi)
Dried Squid - 干鱿鱼 (gān yóu yú)
Shredded Dried Squid
Dried Cuttlefish 墨鱼 (mò yú)
I'll deal with actual fish, separately in another post.