The Anhui Cuisine

The Anhui Cuisine

The Anhui cuisine, also known as Huizhou cuisine, is one of the eight major regional cuisines of China. It is a traditional culinary style that originated from the Anhui province in eastern China, which is known for its lush forests, lakes, and mountains. Anhui cuisine is known for its use of wild herbs, freshwater fish, and local ingredients, as well as its focus on healthy, nutritious dishes.

History and Cultural Significance

Anhui cuisine has a long history that dates back over 1,000 years. It was heavily influenced by the local culture and geography of the Anhui province, which is situated between the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers. The cuisine developed as a way for the local people to make the most of the available resources and ingredients, including wild herbs, freshwater fish, and vegetables.

During the Ming and Qing dynasties, Anhui cuisine became popular among the imperial court and wealthy merchants, who appreciated its unique flavors and nutritious qualities. Today, Anhui cuisine is considered a gourmet cuisine, with many dishes prized for their delicate flavor and artistic presentation.

The Anhui Cuisine

Characteristics of Anhui Cuisine

Anhui cuisine is known for its focus on natural ingredients and a healthy cooking style. It emphasizes the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients and avoids the use of heavy seasonings and spices. Anhui cuisine also places a strong emphasis on cooking techniques, such as stewing and braising, which help to retain the natural flavors and nutrients of the ingredients.

One of the hallmarks of Anhui cuisine is the use of wild herbs and flowers. Many dishes feature ingredients such as bamboo shoots, mushrooms, lotus seeds, and lily bulbs, which are known for their health benefits and delicate flavors. Other popular ingredients include freshwater fish, such as the famous Wuchang fish, and game meat, such as wild boar and pheasant.

Anhui cuisine also places a strong emphasis on soup. Many Anhui dishes are served in a soup or broth, which is believed to enhance the flavor and nutritional value of the dish. The most famous Anhui soup is called “Tangyuan Soup,” which is made with glutinous rice balls and a rich, savory broth.

Famous Anhui Dishes

  1. Tangyuan Soup 汤圆 – tāng yuán
    Tangyuan are small glutinous rice balls filled with sweet fillings such as red bean paste or sesame paste. They are served in a sweet soup made with water, sugar, and sometimes ginger or other flavorings. In Anhui cuisine, the soup may be made with ingredients such as jujube and osmanthus flowers to give it a unique local flavor. It is a popular dessert and symbolizes unity and harmony, often eaten during the Lantern Festival and other important festivals.
  2. Stinky Tofu 臭豆腐 – chòu dòu fǔ
    A popular street food in Anhui and other regions of China, stinky tofu is made by fermenting tofu in a mixture of brine, vegetables, and spices. It has a strong, pungent aroma and a unique, tangy flavor. It is often deep-fried and served with chili sauce or other condiments to balance its strong flavor.
  3. Stewed Pork Belly with Soy Sauce 红烧肉 – hóng shāo ròu
    This dish features tender, fatty pork belly that is stewed with soy sauce, ginger, and other aromatics. The dish is known for its rich, savory flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture.
  4. Braised Chicken with Chestnuts 板栗烧鸡 – bǎn lì shāo jī
    This dish features tender, succulent chicken that is slow-cooked with chestnuts, mushrooms, and other aromatic ingredients. The dish is known for its sweet and savory flavor, as well as its tender, falling-off-the-bone chicken.
  5. Bamboo Shoots in Ham Soup 火腿竹笋汤 – huǒ tuǐ zhú sǔn tāng
    This soup is made with fresh bamboo shoots, ham, and a rich, flavorful broth. The dish is known for its delicate flavor and health benefits, as bamboo shoots are believed to be good for digestion and reducing blood pressure.
  6. Li Hongzhang Hotchpotch 李鸿章烫 – lǐ hóng zhāng tàng
    This hotpot dish features a variety of ingredients, including seafood, meat, vegetables, and tofu, all cooked in a flavorful broth. It is known for its rich, complex flavor and satisfying, filling ingredients.
  7. Steamed Stone Frog 清蒸石蛙 – qīng zhēng shí wā
    This dish features small, tender frogs that are steamed with ginger, scallions, and other aromatics. It is known for its delicate flavor and tender, juicy texture.
  8. Fried Pigeon 炸乳鸽 – zhá rǔ gē
    This dish features tender, succulent pigeon that is marinated in soy sauce and then deep-fried until crispy and golden-brown. The dish is known for its savory flavor and crispy texture.
  9. Stinky Mandarin Fish 臭鳜鱼 – chòu guì yú
    This dish features freshwater fish that is marinated in a mixture of fermented vegetables and spices, giving it a pungent aroma and strong flavor. It is then stewed with tofu and other ingredients to create a rich and savory dish that is a favorite among locals.
The Anhui Cuisine

Anhui cuisine is a unique and delicious culinary style that reflects the local culture and geography of the Anhui province. Its focus on fresh, natural ingredients and healthy cooking techniques has made it a popular cuisine among health-conscious diners. Its delicate flavors and artistic presentation have also made it a favorite among foodies and gourmet enthusiasts.

Anhui cuisine continues to evolve and adapt to new culinary trends and tastes, while still retaining its traditional flavors and techniques. It has also become more widely available outside of China, with many Chinese restaurants around the world offering Anhui-inspired dishes.

If you ever have the chance to try Anhui cuisine, be sure to sample some of its famous dishes and savor the unique flavors and textures that make this regional cuisine so special. Whether you’re a health-conscious foodie or a lover of traditional Chinese cuisine, Anhui cuisine is sure to delight your taste buds and leave you craving more.



About Author

I was born in 1979 in Hungary and since my young age I'm interested in China. First, Hong Kong movies had an impact on me, then slowly, I went deeper into understanding and getting to know more about China and its vast history, culture and society. Recent years brought up lots of anti-China, even sinophobic sentiment, lead by misguiding media content in some countries. I'm making this website for those, who are curious about the real China, open minded for the truth and ready to know and understand more about this great country and its nation.

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