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10 Must-Try Anhui Dishes

February 18th, 2010 by

Anhui is one of the 8 great cuisines of China. This style of cooking, which was developed in South Anhei, Huai Bei and Yanjiang, is notable for its elaborate choice of cooking materials as well as the strictness of the cooking process. Ingredients are commonly found in mountain areas, such as bamboo shoots, stone frog, pangolin, mushrooms and tea leaves. Braising and stewing are common styles of cooking in this tradition, which are composed of southern Anhui region, Yangtze River region and Huai River region. Many Anhui dishes are stewed for hours and include dark, heavy sauces enhanced by sugar.

fried stinky tofu

Fried Stinky Tofu – Legend has it that a failed Anhui government examinee started a restaurant instead and chopped up tofu for cooking later. When he checked on the tofu several days later, he found they turned blue and smelly, but with a rich flavor. Today, this odorous snack food is sold by street vendors.

Steamed Stone Frog – one of the best exotic dishes from Mountain, this meal is made from a black and white amphibian which lives in caves. Rich in protein and calcium, this meal helps improve vision and nutrition.

Bamboo shoots cooked with sausage and mushrooms – it is notable for its juicy meat, good color and thick soup.

Li Hongzhang Hotchpotch – a popular meal of sea cucumber, tofu, squid, ham, chicken meat and other ingredients. It is named from a top official who, upon hosting a banquet for American friends, was told that  the specially prepared food was running out. Li Hongzhang ordered any remaining ingredients to be thrown into an impromptu stew and thus saved the party.

Wuwei Style smoked duck – A delicacy famous for its fine art, special flavor, select materials, golden and oily color and soft meat.

Wine-flavored Mandarin Fish – According to legend, fish that were transported to the capital were placed inside wood casks in layers and immersed in a light salt brine to prevent rotting. This process infused an appetizing wine aroma to the fish and created a local specialty.

Royal Pot – The demanding preparation of this meal requires layers of bamboo shoots, flesh lumps, fried tofu, pork balls and bean threads which are simmered in water and seasonings. A Mrs. Yu concocted this fresh and thick Hui-style hot pot when the emperor visited her home, and the delighted ruler named the dish Royal Pot upon learning his hostess came up with it.

“Grape” Fish - Originating from the Xiao county of Anhui, which is acclaimed for its grapes, the cooks of that area prepared a “grape” fish that resembled grapes in taste, appearance and color. Black carp is cut into a shape of a ladder before deep-frying and seasoned with grape juice, with the final presentation looking like a bunch of grapes.

Fish cooked with mutton inside (Yu Yao Yang) – The story goes that peasant tried to transport sheep across a river using a boat, but being overloaded, he was forced to cast one sheep overboard. The fish became engorged on the hapless animal and a nearby fisherman captured and cooked them, and was surprised by the deliciousness of the result. Local cooks duplicated the meal by stewing fish with mutton inside, and a new dish was born.

soft-shelled turtle

Stewed soft-shell turtle with ham – shallots, clove of garlic, pork, ham and other ingredients are stewed with one whole soft-shell turtle.

Fuliji Roast Chicken – noted for its distinctive flavor, the chicken is first hung to dry before spreading malt sugar and frying it in sesame oil. Afterwards, the chicken is stewed in soup stock with various spices like nutmeg, pepper and angelica.

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