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Guangxi Gastronomy


liuzhou
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43. 快餐 (kuài cān)

 

The pervasive arm of American fast food reached China way back in 1990, when McDonald's, known locally as 麦当劳 (mài dāng láo), opened their first store in Shenzhen in 1990. Soon after their Tian'anmen branch was the largest McD's in the world. By 2020, the company had 3,300 outlets and was planning to double that by today. Covid prevented that rise although new stores did open.

 

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McDonald's first store in Liuzhou - there are now several

肯德基 (kěn dé jī), followed along, opening its first Chinese store in Beijing on Tian’anmen Square in 1993. Today they are everywhere with over 4,000 outlets in almost 800 cities, as it opens a new restaurant almost every day.

 

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One of many KFCs in Liuzhou

 

It has not however been a smooth ride for either company. KFC had to apologise for including a carcinogenic dye in one product and McD’s had issues with not-for-human-consumption meats. Yet they both remain successful. They mainly cater to children in China, offering birthday parties to the middle classes and awarding toys with every meal, so much so that KFC has recently been criticised by the state for promoting food waste, as parents were buying meals just to get the toys for their brats then throwing them away – the meals. Not the brats or the toys, unfortunately!

 

YumFoods (terrible name) owners of KFC, also own Pizza Hut (必胜客 - bì shèng kè) which has a presence here serving fake Italian-style food and god-awful pizzas and they even bought out the originally Inner Mongolian hotpot chain, Little Sheep (known in China as 小肥羊 (xiǎo féi yáng) or ‘Little Fat Sheep’. The ‘Fat’ was dropped for the American market. I wonder why.)

 

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One of the Pizza Huts in Liuzhou

 

All these chains have adapted their menus to local tastes, especially KFC, selling congee for breakfast for example and McDs was laughed out of town by offering what it called Sichuan sauce with its fries. It was as Sichuanese as maple syrup.

 

But, of course, China has replied with its own versions, often just copying the menus and even decoration of the originals. 开心吧 (kāi xīn bā, Happy Bar), a Liuzhou chain, is the most successful local version, mimicking everything KFC does, but at a slightly lower price.

 

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Happy Bar with Dishonest Slogan. I don't like it!

 

One street in the city centre, popular with young people in the evenings, is lined with fast food stalls selling grease on sticks. There are two kinds food on sticks here. The first is made over charcoal, mainly by people from Xinjiang, and is wonderful. The second is made by anyone over a metal hotplate swimming in grease and is horrible. Yet they get busy selling bad chicken, overcooked squid and mechanically recovered meat sausage in batter and grease.

 

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Beats me.

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44. 钦州海鸭蛋 (qīn zhōu hǎi yā dàn)

 

When they are not busy waxing apples and skinning cucumbers as mentioned here, the people of 钦州 (qīn zhōu) are more occupied with raising oysters. In fact, the city is known as China’s oyster capital. Raised on ropes in Qinzhou’s natural harbour of the 135 square kilometre / 52 square mile, 茅尾海岛 (máo wěi hǎi dǎo), Maoweihai Island which forms the largest oyster  breeding base in south China. A few years ago, they sold around 32,000 pounds of oysters a day, but now that has risen to 100s of thousands and is still rising. Regular oysters are a year old, but they also raise some for up to two and a half years by which time they are a man’s palm size or larger. Qinzhou oysters are noted for their pure white flesh. Whie you're in thearea you may get sight of the rare white dolphins that live in the off-lying waters.

 

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Qinzhou Oysters

 

But I’ve already talked about Guangxi and oysters. This time I want to mention something different which I’ve been buying regularly for years. Qinzhou’s mangroves are home to a variety of free-range sea ducks. Their eggs are larger than the average duck egg, ranging up to 80 grams each as opposed to the 60 to 70 which is more common. They are also richly flavoured with deep yellow yolks.

 

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Newly gathered sea duck eggs

 

These are often in my breakfast boiled, fried or scrambled. make good omelettes, too

 

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Boiled Sea Duck Eggs

 

The eggs are sold fresh as well as being salted by steeping in salt water for between 30 and 50 days. Method here.

 

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Salted Sea Duck Eggs

 

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Qinzhou Salted Sea Duck Eggs

 

In addition, the eggs are made into a type of century egg and are marinated in a red mud then roasted.

 

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Red Mud Roasted Sea Duck Eggs

 

I mainly buy the fresh eggs, but have happily tried all varieties. Incidentally, supermarkets and markets here routinely carry a much wider range of eggs than I was used to in the west. In descending order of size, goose (鹅蛋 - é dàn), duck (鸭蛋 -yā dàn), chicken (鸡蛋 -jī dàn), pigeon (鸽蛋 - gē dàn) and quail (鹌鹑蛋 - ān chún dàn). I very occasionally see ostrich eggs (驼蛋 - tuó dàn).

 

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My favourite egg dish (with duck or chicken eggs) is scrambled eggs with Tonkin jasmine. I can hear som eof you asking "What's that?

Tonkin jasmine (Telosma cordata) goes under many names such as pakalana vine, Tonkinese creeper, Chinese violet, cowslip creeper, telosoma etc. In Chinese it is 夜香花 - yè xiāng huā or 夜来香 - yè lái xiāng.

 

It is a flowering plant native to Guangdong and Guangxi of China and also cultivated in Vietnam (on the Gulf of Tonkin, hence the name.)

 

It has a delicate lemony scent and is used in both southern Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine (where it is known as bông thiên lý.)

 

It is usually stir fried, often with eggs, with which it has a particular affinity, or is boiled in soups, often with fish. It is also added to many noodle dishes in Vietnam.

 

scrambled eggs with Tonkin jasmine.jpg

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45. 火锅 (huǒ guō)

 

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Hotpot Advertisement - Mala Fish Hotpot, Organic Chicken Hotpot, Lamb Hotpot, Dog Hotpot.

 

Eating out in China is nearly always a communal event and by far the most popular way to do so is by getting stuck into some 火锅 (huǒ guō), literally ‘fire pot’, but known in English, of course, as hot pot or hotpot. This is especially so as we get into autumnal weather and winter.

 

Of course, hot pots are not confined to Guangxi; they are popular all over China. The two most famous are Mongolian and Sichuan/Chongqing* hotpots and these are both available here with the latter being the more popular. However, both in restaurants and in the home, the locals like to include many of the foodstuffs I have already mentioned here, as the part of the meal.

 

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Liuzhou Hopot Restaurant

 

For anyone who doesn’t know how Chinese hot pots work a quick summary. A pot of boiling broth is placed in the centre of the table (nearly always circular) and various food items are cooked by the diners therein. The list of possible ingredients is virtually limitless. Sichuan style hotpot often uses a 鸳鸯锅 (yuān yang guō), a two compartment pot and utilises a ‘red’ and a ‘white’ broth side by side. The ‘red’ is fiery hot from chillies and Sichuan peppercorn whereas the ’white’ is more or less chilli free. Take your pick.

 

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Yuanyang - Two Chamber Hotpot Dish

 

Liuzhou hotpot is closer to the Sichuan style than to Mongolian, but has its own twists in the choice of ingredients. Here is a partial list of available vegetables from one such local hot point joint. I have excluded the major proteins as they tend to be universal: beef, lamb / mutton, shrimp, fish, seafood, duck, chicken, frog, rabbit, dog etc. Surprisingly rarely pork,although offal is common.

 

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Sliced Mutton for Hotpot - It cooks in seconds.

 

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Not all hot pots come in a full broth; many are in a more dry format, such as this frog hotpot.

 

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* It is disputed but many say that Sichuan hotpot originated in Chongqing. It is kind of irrelevant because at that time, Chongqing was part of Sichuananyway. It was separated in 1987. The hotpot does, however also get called Chengdu hotpot after Sichuan's capital.

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46. 早饭 (zǎo fàn)

 

Breakfast,  早饭 (zǎo fàn), we are told, is the most important meal of the day. Maybe, but it’s also when people tend to be most conservative. When travelling in foreign parts, many of us are excited to get down with the locals over lunch and dinner. Breakfast, maybe not so much.

 

My breakfast instincts run to bread (toasted) and eggs. Real bacon (i.e. British or Irish). A good sausage, perhaps. Black pudding. In China, I have had to overcome my instincts. I’ve tried ersatz versions of western breakfasts with mixed results.

 

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Chinese Soy Cured Bacon with Eggs and Mushrooms - Home Made Bread

 

Tourists can usually find poor imitations of western breakfasts in their hotel buffets. Your fried egg may have been cooked the night before and the bacon is sure to be limp and cold, but hey ho! It’s proper breakfast. The toast will be cake and the butter rock hard. The coffee will be straight from Mr Nestlé’s jar.

 

In the meantime, Chinese guests will be enjoying something very different. So, the question is what? What do the Guangxi people eat for breakfast if it isn’t bacon and eggs?

 

The most popular round here is probably 油条 (yóu tiáo) with 豆奶 (dòu nǎi). 油条 (yóu tiáo), dough sticks are a simple batter formed into long batons and deep fried in very hot oil. It is served warm, often cut into pieces with scissors. The accompanying 豆奶 (dòu nǎi) is soy bean milk, served warm. Very popular with the locals. I don’t mind the sticks of dough, but you can keep the milk.

 

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Youtiao (Doughstick) and Dounai (Soy Milk)

 

The dough sticks are also sometimes served with (zhōu), aka 稀饭 (xī fàn). This is grain porridge – most often rice porridge. At its most basic, it is 白粥 (bái zhōu) which is simply plain rice cooked down to porridge consistency in water. Some people like this, but most pep their porridge up with additional items: minced lean pork, chicken, seafood, century eggs, green vegetables, pumpkin, etc.

 

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Century Egg and Minced Pork Rice Porridge

 

Black rice may be used or the grains could be millet or mung beans (not technically a grain, I know). Other grains and combinations of grains are possible. See here.

 

Also, popular are 包子 (bāo zi) or steamed stuffed buns. This is as near to bread as you are likely to get.  Unstuffed buns, called 馒头 (mán tou) are also popular, if slightly less so. Over the years I’ve become quite partial to 包子 (bāo zi) for breakfast, especially 肉包 (ròu bāo), which are stuffed with minced pork. There is a list of varieties in this post.

 

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Baozi

 

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Mantou

 

In addition, 小笼包 (xiǎo lóng bāo) are popular. Xiaolongbao literally means ‘small basket buns’ and consist of tiny bite sized baozi, usually pork but also sometimes crab. They often get confused or conflated with Shanghai’s soup dumplings, but they are more accurately known as 汤包 (tāng bāo).

 

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Dumplings, either 饺子 (jiǎo zi) or wontons, 馄饨 (hún tun) or 云吞 (yún tūn) are also eaten for breakfast, the former steamed or boiled, and both often in soups. Wonton noodle soup is findable, but not huge here.

 

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Wontons in Soup

 

Noodles in soup though, are very popular. Liuzhou people will eat 螺蛳粉 (luó sī fěn) for breakfast, but more often go for less powerfully flavoured noodles such as 桂林米粉 (guì lín mǐ fěn) etc.

 

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Fresh Pork Noodles for Breakfast

 

In ethnic minority and tourist areas such as Guilin city, you are going to be offered oil tea, 油茶 (yóu chá) for breakfast. Go for it!

 

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Oil Tea - Guilin

 

Other breakfast items include 豆花 (dòu huā, literally 'bean flower' or 'tofu flower'), a very soft, jellified form of tofu served as a desert. It comes in a white form, often with a ginger based sauce or with a black sesame sauce. This is one for the sweet toothed.

 

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Tofu Flower Desert

 

The famous 煎饼 (jiān bǐng) pancakes from northern China, particularly Beijing are not that common here. People seem to prefer 葱花饼 (cōng huā bǐng), scallion pancakes.

 

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葱花饼 (cōng huā bǐng), scallion pancakes

 

Most of these breakfast dishes are sold by an army of street vendors who turn up at dawn and hang around until after 9 am selling to people on their way to work. Most restaurants tend not to open until around 10 am, although you will be able to find your rice porridge or noodle fix.

 

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Breakfast Sales - Liuzhou

 

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Porridge Lady - Liuzhou

 

I can’t go without mentioning the king of breakfasts. Being in an area heavily influenced by Cantonese cuisine, of course we have 饮茶 (yǐn chá) or ‘morning tea’ establishments. I guess many thought I was going to say Dim Sum, but the name of the meal is 饮茶 (yǐn chá) in Mandarin; or 飲茶, in the traditional characters used in Hong Kong. It is Yum Cha in Cantonese and means ‘drink tea’. Dim sum (点心 / 點心 (diǎn xin in Mandarin)) is the food eaten as a Yum Cha meal.

 

These places open as early as 5 am and by noon it’s usually all over. They get very busy (mostly with elderly people) and are incredibly noisy. If it’s your thing, you will get your fill of har gow, siu mai, lo bak go, cheong fun and many other dishes to help your tea go down. There is a good introduction to dim sum here. Personally, I find the experience over-rated, but you may well disagree. If you are travelling on to Hong Kong, I’d wait till you get there.
 

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47. 巴马瑶族自治县 (bā mǎ yáo zú zì zhì xiàn)

 

河池 Hechi (hé chí) prefecture lies to the west of Liuzhou and borders Hunan and Guizhou to its north. The prefecture has an 85.23% ethnic minority population (2021) including the only 毛南族 (máo nán zú) Maonan ethnic group and 仫佬族 (mù lǎo zú) Mulao ethnic group autonomous counties in China. The Maonan population numbers a mere 107,166, being one of China's smallest ethnic minorities, while the Mulao is 207,352 (2018 figures). These two groups live alongside the Zhuang, Yao, Miao, Dong, Shui and Han peoples. Over 67% of the population are Zhuang.

 

South-west of Hechi city, close to the border with Baise prefecture lies 巴马瑶族自治县 (bā mǎ yáo zú zì zhì xiàn), Bama Yao Autonomous County, home to the Yao minority. The county is famous within China for being the location of the largest longevity cluster in China and one of the world’s largest. With a population of only around 240,000, the county has more than 80 residents over the age of 100 (as of 2021). The official standard for longevity set by The United Nations is over 75 centenarians per million people.

 

Of course, scientists have investigated why so many people reach these ages, without any definite answer being reached. The people do live simple lives in relatively unpolluted areas and work hard physically. Their diet is simple and largely consists of vegetables. Only at important festivals do they break out the meat, favouring roast suckling pig.

 

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Bama Suckling Pig

 

Hemp seed also features heavily in their diet, being added to their rice porridge etc and is also processed to  provide their main cooking oil.

 

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Hemp Seeds

 

Basically cannabis, but a form negligibly low in tetra-hydro-cannabinol (THC), the active agent in the stoners’ lifestyle.

 

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The local water supply has been examined for clues with no significant results, although this hasn’t stopped a Nanning company selling Bama bottled water to the gullible seekers of long-life, something particularly valued in Chinese culture.

 

I'm guessing the key factor is probably genetic, something the visitors can't buy into.

 

The local authorities are also cashing in, turning the area into a Disney-esque longevity theme park with thousands of tourists destroying what they came to see. I’ve never been. They mainly survive on c@rn! My longevity would be severely curtailed!

 

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8 hours ago, liuzhou said:

The dough sticks are also sometimes served with (zhōu), aka 稀饭 (xī fàn). This is grain porridge – most often rice porridge. At its most basic, it is 白粥 (bái zhōu) which is simply plain rice cooked down to porridge consistency in water. Some people like this, but most pep their porridge up with additional items: minced lean pork, chicken, seafood, century eggs, green vegetables, pumpkin, etc.

 

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Century Egg and Minced Pork Rice Porridge

 

 

Interesting timing - I was just having a conversation about rice porridge and the names for it.  Is zhou different from congee?  Is congee the Cantonese name?  I've also heard the word congee used by Taiwanese (admittedly on the airplane when I used to fly EVA to Asia) when speaking to English speakers - I don't know what they called it in Taiwanese.

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6 hours ago, KennethT said:

Interesting timing - I was just having a conversation about rice porridge and the names for it.  Is zhou different from congee?  Is congee the Cantonese name?  I've also heard the word congee used by Taiwanese (admittedly on the airplane when I used to fly EVA to Asia) when speaking to English speakers - I don't know what they called it in Taiwanese.

 

Congee, also spelled conjee or conji is actually an Indian word. It comes from the Tamil word 'kanji' meaning the water the rice was boiled in. It was borrowed into English in the 17th century, possibly via Portuguese. I'd guess the Taiwanese you heard using 'congee' picked it up from English.

 

Congee in its modern meaning and - zhōu are the same. Zhou is also used in Taiwan - most Taiwanese use Mandarin, but it is muê () Taiwanwese and may have yet other names in other native dialects.

 

It is 'jook' in Cantonese - 'zuk1' in jyutping transliteration.

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13 hours ago, liuzhou said:

Tourists can usually find poor imitations of western breakfasts in their hotel buffets. Your fried egg may have been cooked the night before and the bacon is sure to be limp and cold, but hey ho! It’s proper breakfast. The toast will be cake and the butter rock hard. The coffee will be straight from Mr Nestlé’s jar.

 

This cracked me up. I've seen similar in Egyptian hotels, although the upscale hotels I rarely could afford did the job well. You're right, going native can be a good way to go.

 

The scallion pancakes look delicious. You probably have said before, but please say it again: are they provided with any sort of dipping sauce? Eaten out of hand?

 

This confuses me. What's in the oil tea? If you said, I missed it.

13 hours ago, liuzhou said:

In ethnic minority and tourist areas such as Guilin city, you are going to be offered oil tea, 油茶 (yóu chá) for breakfast. Go for it!

 

325805545_DSC05052(Large).thumb.jpg.e2054078dae70eeed19643e262fdbd5c.jpg

 

Thanks so much for continuing this discussion of food I'm unlikely to see in person, at least at the source. It's fascinating.

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9 minutes ago, Smithy said:

The scallion pancakes look delicious. You probably have said before, but please say it again: are they provided with any sort of dipping sauce? Eaten out of hand?

 

They are usually served just as is - sauceless.

 

A fuller description of the oil tea appears in this earlier post.

 

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10 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

They are usually served just as is - sauceless.

 

A fuller description of the oil tea appears in this earlier post.

 

Adore scallion pancakes when they are good. But at restaurants not so much. Often too greasy and tough. There must be a steep learning curve to get them flaky and tender. So glad to hear you are going home!

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48. 一点红 (yī diǎn hóng) / 叶下红 (yè xià hóng)
 

一点红 (yī diǎn hóng) or 叶下红 (yè xià hóng), Emilia sonchifolia, also known as lilac tasselflower or by many other names, is probably native to east Asia, but naturalised in all the world’s tropics. The Chinese names both refer to ‘a drop of red’, this presumably being in respect of the flowers. Considered a weed most places, it is used both medicinally and culinarily in China. It is always foraged from the wilds.

 

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一点红 (yī diǎn hóng)

 

Medicinally, it is used to treat snake bites, as well as fever, sore throats and diarrhea.

 

In the dining room, the young leaves are served as a green vegetable, usually stir-fried. I’ve also had it in a broth with century egg – a nice dish accompanying Zhuang Lemon Duck in Nanning.

 

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The leaves are always picked before the plant flowers and can be eaten raw in salads, but the Chinese don’t do that.

 

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49. 梧州纸包鸡 (wú zhōu zhǐ bāo jī)

 

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Traditional 梧州纸包鸡 (wú zhōu zhǐ bāo jī)

 

Another speciality of Wuzhou city is actually a Cantonese version of ‘en papillote’, the supposedly-French method of cooking meats or vegetables in a ‘paper’ bag. But with a difference.

 

There are records of the technique being used at least 2,200 year ago as a tribute to the emperors’ court. In 203 BC, the state of Nanyue was founded with Panyu as its capital. Panyu later became Guangzhou, present-day capital of Guangdong (Canton). At the celebratory banquet at the time of the founding, 梧州纸包鸡 (wú zhōu zhǐ bāo jī), paper wrapped chicken was served as the main dish.

Wuzhou’s first paper-duck chicken restaurant, 粤西楼 (yuè xī lóu)*, opened in 1916, before going on to domestic, then international fame. 100 years later, in 2016, the dish was included in Guangxi's Intanglible Culture list.

Authentic Wuzhou paper-wrapped chicken utilises local free-range 黄毛鸡 (huáng máo jī),  ’yellow chickens’, so-called due to their feather colour. These birds are raised for 120 days before being sent to the kitchen, as opposed to around 40 days maximum for regular broilers. The birds are chopped up on-the-bone and marinaded in dark soy sauce with ginger juice, star anise, fennel seed, tangerine peel, red grain rice, scallions and other seasonings..

 

White rice wine is added and the chicken wrapped in small bundles with edible paper. These are then fried with peanut oil and served. Each diner gets their own bag.

 

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Traditional 梧州纸包鸡 (wú zhōu zhǐ bāo jī)

 

Today, the dish tends to be made more in a French en papillote style – one dish cooked in a bag for every table. The bag is also more likely to be foil than actual paper. I prefer the old way, but I guess the emperors had more disposable cash and help than I do. Individual bags for hundreds of people would have been costly.

 

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Modern 梧州纸包鸡 (wú zhōu zhǐ bāo jī)

 

*(yuè) refers to the old union of what is now Guangdong and Guangxi. The restaurant’s name means ‘west yue’ which later became Guangxi.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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"Edible paper" is an interesting concept. Do you know what it's made from? Does it have any nutritional value that you know of, or is it convenience and roughage?

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9 minutes ago, Smithy said:

"Edible paper" is an interesting concept. Do you know what it's made from? Does it have any nutritional value that you know of, or is it convenience and roughage?

 

Made from rice. Negligible nutritional value, I'd guess. Ditto, roughage.

 

Convenience.

 

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7 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

Made from rice. Negligible nutritional value, I'd guess. Ditto, roughage.

 

Convenience.

 

Is it similar to what we get on nougat here in the West? 

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50. 菜单 (cài dān)

 

Well, I can’t believe I got to 50 posts. I think I’ve exhausted my resources, so unless something pops up, I’ll call it a day here and finish by showing two typical locally flavoured menus (菜单 - cài dān). These aren't fine dining, but reasonably good quality family dining at a fair price.

 

The first (Shatang1), I translated back in 2005 for a local restaurant I frequently frequented. The second (Shatang 3),  is more just a list of dishes any restaurant should be able to put together. It was compiled and translated in 2016 from the menus of two adjacent restaurants near my home.

 

Both feature local cuisine plus a scattering of ‘imports’ from other regions as, is Guangxi style. Please ignore the prices – they are way out of date.

 

The files are in PDF format.  Should  you prefer DOCX or anything else reasonable, please let me know by PM and I'll do my best.


 

Shatang 1.pdf Shatang 3.pdf

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51. 甲龟 (jiǎ guī)

 

I should have guessed that as soon as I hung up my hat regarding Guangxi Cuisine, something would turn up which needed mention.

 

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Someone mentioned 甲龟 (jiǎ guī), turtles, something I never ate in the UK, (although there was ‘mock turtle soup’, whatever that was all about). However, I have made up for my turtle omission since arriving in Guangxi.

 

It surprises visitors to see live turtles and terrapins crawling around tanks in my local supermarkets but they are a popular local choice. The reptiles are farmed locally under strict conditions to ensure quality and that food safety standards are maintained. Only a few farms are authorised to export the beasts, mainly to Singapore, although that represents a tiny proportion of the output, Annual domestic consumption is estimated to be between 130,000 – 150,000 tons. Singapore imports only an estimated 200 tons per annum.

 

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The turtle carries a load of symbolic meaning in Chinese mythology and culture, representing tranquillity, steadfastness, longevity, tenacity, endurance, wisdom and wealth among other attributes. For these reasons turtle  soup is often served at wedding banquets.

 

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Turtle Soup at  Wedding Banquet

 

In fact, it’s just as well the turtles have the symbolism, because they don’t have much in the way of meat or flavour. If gelatinous, chewy textures appeal to you, as they do to many Chinese palates, then turtle is for you. There are streets here in Liuzhou where every restaurant is selling turtle.

 

The soup is always served with the carapace (top shell), presumably to assure you it is real, although of course it does no such thing. They could have been reusing the same shell for years.

 

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8 hours ago, liuzhou said:

(although there was ‘mock turtle soup’, whatever that was all about).


That:

 

8 hours ago, liuzhou said:

If gelatinous, chewy textures appeal to you, as they do to many Chinese palates,


For some historic reasons Mockturtlesuppe is popular in Lower Saxony, where I hail from. It features veal head and leg meat. My father likes it a lot. Consistency wise it goes into oxtail territory, taste wise stock and Madeira wine dominate. It does not really compare to the two Chinese turtle soups I was able to sample.

 

But substituting the (elusive green) turtle in upper class soups has quite the history itself. I always enjoyed the Mock Turtle character in Alice in Wonderland

 

alice-module2-nurseryalice1890tenniel_14

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52. 烤鱼 (kǎo yú)

I surrender. The list refuses to give up.

About 6 years ago, there was a sudden craze for 烤鱼 (kǎo yú). It was sold in restaurants, but also in roadside shacks throughout the area. Groups of people would gather in the evenings over a few beers and order up their 烤鱼 (kǎo yú), sharing in its delights.

 

Here is an example that I ate in a corrugated iron hut in the middle of nowhere, somewhere south of Liuzhou. What you see is probably a pile of vegetables, mainly bean sprouts, but buried under that mound of vegetables is the actual 烤鱼 (kǎo yú) – roast fish.

 

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Normally, the fish is grilled whole 罗非鱼 (luó fēi yú), tilapia and depending on the size of your group, there will be be one or more of the critters. The dish bears the influence of Sichuan, being spicy with 豆瓣酱 (dòu bàn jiàng) and chilli peppers. Luxury versions sometimes include snails.

 

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Tilapia

 

The vegetation usually includes cow peas, garlic, ginger, greens and I can spot some lizard's tail, aka chameleon plant, heartleaf, or fishwort, Cordata Houttuynia, a local favourite. In Chinese, it is 鱼腥草 (yú xīng cǎo), which literally translates as “fish smell grass”. Taro is also often added.

 

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Lizard's Tail

 

With the weather turning chilly, a quite a few tilapia will be be going to bed in a  mess of bean sprouts over the next couple of months or more. It hasn't lost any popularity.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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53. (chá)

 

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Tea - Liuzhou


Some news brings me back here.

 

On Tuesday 29th November in Rabat, Morocco, at the 17th regular session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, a submission on the “Chinese Traditional Tea Making Skills and Related Customs” of Guangxi was passed.

 

It covers tea plantation management, tea picking, and tea making. In addition to the knowledge skills and practice of drinking and sharing tea , this includes the production skills of Guangxi tea and the customs of the ethnic minorities producing the tea.

 

Various Guangxi cities, including Liuzhou, Guilin, Wuzhou and Hengzhou plant tea as raw material then pick, dry, fix, roll it along with other processes. These traditional techniques produce tea with the appearance of being dark brown, yellow and red and with a mellow, sweet taste.

 

The recognition specifically includes the ‘oil tea’ (which already has Intangible Heritage status in its own right) that I have previously described as being used by most of the ethnic minorities, especially the Yao who get a special mention in the citation.

 

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54. 猫牙米 (māo yá mǐ)

 

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This is a bit strange. I came across it a few days ago and was intrigued, so I acquired the smallest acceptable amount (2.5 kilos) in order to test it.

 

It is a hybrid of Oryza sativa subsp. japonica, the main Chinese rice. This particular and unusual hybrid is grown here in Hezhou, Guangxi. Google is silent on the subject apart from someone in Hunan having designed a bag for the stuff. I can’t claim this is a huge part of the local cuisine – yet. It has only recently been introduced.

 

Called 猫呀米 (māo yá mǐ), literally ‘cat tooth rice’, it is so named for its alleged longer than average grains’ supposed resemblance to Felix's dental equipment. Their advertising images certainly suggest a very long grain.

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Advertising for Cat Tooth Rice (猫牙米)

 

They also provide a comparison chart for grain length. From L-R: Cat Tooth Rice, Thai Hom Mali, Unspecified 'Foreign Rice' and Domestic Rice.

 

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For the rice cooker, they suggest a rice to water ratio of 1:1.3, which is a bit more water than I normally use, but I followed their advice in a spirit of experimentation.

 

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Cooked Cat Tooth Rice (猫牙米)

 

Despite meticilulously following their instructions, the cooked rice is overdone – as I suspected it would be. Too much water. As to the grain, it is little or no longer than the Thai Hom Mali rice I usually use.

 

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Cooked Cat Tooth Rice (猫牙米)

 

Bah humbug!

 

It’s OK rice, but nothing special. I see congee in my future.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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