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Fujian Food

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Regional Foods

Spring Volume: 2018 Issue: 25(1) pages: 20 to 22


This is one of China’s eight outstanding culinary styles. It is from the province directly across the Taiwan Straits known as Fujian and known for its hundreds of different delicious dishes. Most of them have Min roots. Also known as Hoikken food, it is said to be one of the country’s best known cuisines in China, but one not well known abroad. Readers may recall an early article about Fujianese food in Volume 6(2), a 1999 issue. If not, check it out on this magazine’s complete website at www.flavorandfortune.com.

This province is well known outside of China because thousands of its people went abroad hundreds of years ago. They were and are seafaring folk. As one of China’s twenty-seven provinces politically equal to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Tianjin. They are: Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangzi, Guiszhou, Henam Hainan, Hong Kong, Hubei, Hunan, Inner Mongolia, Jianggsu, Jiangxi, Liaoning, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Sichuan, Xinjiang, Xizhang (more commonly known as Tibet), Yunnan, and Zhejiang; and most have more than a thousand years of history.

There are few printed books where one can learn about foods from this province, and only one cookbook exclusively in English. Its cover is on this page and on the cover of this issue. Written by this magazine’s editor, she thanks the help she had from many people and companies there and here. For those that want see it, they can go to see the world’s largest collection of more than five thousand English-language Chinese cookbooks; they are at Stony Brook University in the special collections area. One does need to make an appointment to see them by contacting the librarian by e-mail at: kristen.nytray@stonybrook.edu or by phone at (631) 632-7119.

Most Fujianese recipes have, like the cuisine, Min origins. They are from one of this provinces culinary branches. Many use different mushrooms, different foods of the sea, dishes with meat and fish in one dish, etc. Some are long-cooked, steamed, stir-fried, or prepared other ways, and many incorporate many different herbs. Famous throughout China and among China’s best, folks outside of this country are usually unaware of them except perhaps for one known as Buddha Jumps Over the Wall. A pity, because their fish balls have meat inside them. Fujian noodles and dumplings, respectively known as banmien, and bianrou, are less well-known but equally delicoius as are many other fish with meat dishes, and their many thick or thin soups. People from this province love having two or more during a single meal.

Dishes from Fujian often have soy in their sauce, some are made with flour, and many other special attributes. My Chinese colleagues call them the best in China; and they love the many local dishes that include wine or wine products including their red or white wine lees made with the dregs or leftover solids from making red or white wines.

Either or both of the wine lees are used when making many dishes originating in this province. They provide unique tastes loved by the Fujianese people. Other dishes might have pickled foods in them, a mite of sugar, some coriander, sesame oil, or other things including different mushrooms, powdered or ground dry pork or beef, five-spice powder, and other ingredients.

This province has twice the amount of land devoted to agriculture than does any other, twenty percent versus eleven percent more in most provinces. Here, the weather offers sixty or more inches of rain annually and that is twice what other provinces get. In addition, Fujian has many mountains that leach and leak water into the soil below making it exceptionally fertile.

Fujian did have serious famines some five hundred years ago sand then they did need to import sweet potatoes from the Phillippines and elsewhere to stave off starvation. That is why this vegetable did become part of many of their meals. Early sources such as The Book of Rites the Chinese call the Zhou Li, tells us there were seven Min tribes, many of its people sea-goers, many leaving by boat telling those they interacted with about their foods of the sea. That is why one-third or more overseas Chinese have Fujianese roots and make up the twenty million plus overseas Chinese.

This magazine has almost two dozen copies of this cookbook and offers them to you, our readers, on a first come, first serve basis for $20.00 including tax and shipping. If you want one, do send a US twenty dollar check for each copy of this volume we note its rear cover has praise from Sidney Mintz, Martin Yan, Ken Hom, E.N. Anderson, and Grace Young.

The recipes below are from this book to tempt you to do so. One more thing, to see the citations and annotations of those more than five thousand English-language Chinese cookbooks that are at Stony Brook, do go on their website to read about them. Also make an appointment and contact that library or speak with the Special Collections director KristenNyitray@stonybrook.edu or go to the university’s STARS computer catalogue; she will explain how to do that. These Chinese cookbooks are in the Jacqueline M. Newman Chinese Cookbook section, and their catalogue listing has citations and annotations, titles, each book’s chapter titles, number of recipes, and considerable other information including several sentences about each volume, and their number of pages, and much more including some historical and cultural content. While many do have recipes from this province, not all of them do.

Pork, Vegetable, and Fish Soup
Ingredients:

1/4 pound pork, hand chopped
10 cups chicken stock
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
½ cup peeled diced white or green radishes
2 slices fresh ginger, diced
1 one-inch piece tangerine peel, soaked until soft, then diced
1 to 2 teaspoons minced Yunnan or Smithfield ham, minced
2 Tablespoons white rice wine lees
1 teaspoon red rice wine lees
1/4 pound skinless and boneless fresh fish
2 sprigs fresh coriander, for garnish

Preparation:

1. Blanch the pork two minutes in two cups boiling water, then drain and discard the water.
2. Bring chicken stock to the boil, lower the heat and add the pork, carrot, radishes, ginger, garlic, and tangerine peel and simmer for one hour.
3. Add ham and both wine lees and simmer another thirty minutes. Add the fish and simmer ten more minutes, than add the coriander and pour into a preheated soup tureen and serve.

Up and Down Shrimp
Ingredients:

1 pound large shrimp, peel and veins discarded, tails left on
2 Tablespoons goji berries
5 pitted Chinese black dates, each cut in half
2 pitted Chinese brown dates, coarsely chopped
5 pitted Chinese red dates, cut in half
2 pieces dried licorice
1 two-inch piece stick cinnamon
4 dried shrimp, minced
½ cup red Chinese rice wine
1 teaspoon white or red rice wine lees
½ teaspoon Chinese black rice vinegar
½ teaspoon salt

Preparation:

1. Cut shrimp lengthwise including tail shell and soak in cold water.
2. Cut goji berries, dates, and licorice and put these in a pot with two cups water. Simmer them for twenty minutes, then remove the licorice and cinnamon stick and simmer the rest for another ten minutes.
3. Add wine, wine lees, vinegar, salt, and shrimp and turn off the heat and cover the pot for fifteen minutes. Uncover and transfer to a preheated bowl, and serve.

Meatballs With Crab Meat
Ingredients:

1½ pounds minced boneless pork
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons minced white scallion part
3 slices fresh ginger, minced
1 egg white
1 cup minced crab meat, cartilage removed
3 Tablespoons water chestnut flour or cornstarch
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chicken broth
5 Chinese cabbage leaves, cut in half in their width

Preparation:

1. Mix pork, rice wine, soy sauce, salt, sugar, scallion whites, ginger, and egg white and divide into ten parts.
2. Divide pork into ten parts, flatted each one, pout one tenth of crab meat in each center, then make into ball, meat on outside, crab meat inside it, then roll in flour or cornstarch and set aside for half an hour, then lightly flatten each one not breaking them open.
3. Heat vegetable oil in wok or fry pan, and fry these patties on each side until lightly browned, then add the broth and simmer for half an hour, setting the liquid aside.
4. Line a casserole with half the cabbage leaves, put meat patties on top, and then add reserved liquid on top of them, putting the remaining leaves on top of the patties. Cover the casserole and simmer for fifteen minutes, uncover it and simmer another

Pickled Papaya Slices
Ingredients:

2 ripe papayas, seeds removed, peeled, and cut into thin slices
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
6 shallots, fried or purchased dried and pre-fried sea cucumbers
6 chili peppers, seeds removed and discarded
6 sprigs fresh coriander, stems and leaves minced
1 lemon or lime, juiced
1 Tablespoon coarse salt
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Preparation:

1. Mix all ingredients including papaya slices, and toss well.
2. Cover and refrigerate for two hours or overnight; then serve.

Sea Cucumber Soup
Ingredients:

½ pound soaked sea cucumber, cut in half-inch cubes
½ cup corn oil
3 ounces pork loin, cut in half-inch cubes
3 Tablespoons cubed canned bamboo shoots
4 dried Chinese black mushrooms, soaked, stems discarded, and cut in half-inch cubes
8 cups chicken stock
1 Tablespoon red rice wine lees
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon thin soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon chili oil
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 chicken egg
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon Chinese black rice vinegar
½ Tablespoon Chinese white rice vinegar
1 scallion, thinly sliced on an angle
5 hard-cooked pigeon eggs, peeled and cut in half, thin bottom piece removed so the stand upright

Preparation:

1. Simmer sea cucumber cubes in two cups water for one hour or until tender.
2. Heat wok or fry pan, add corn oil, and deep fry pork cubes for one minute, then drain them on paper towels, and remove all but one tablespoon of the oil.
3. Add sea cucumber cubes, pork, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms and fry them together for one minute, then add the stock, red wine lees, sugar, salt, soy sauce, and the chili and sesame oils and simmer uncovered for thirty minutes.
4. Beat chicken egg with the cornstarch and one tablespoon cold water, and stir into the soup in a thin stream; then add both vinegars and the scallion slivers.
5. Put one-half of each pigeon egg into each empty bowl, and gently pour soup one it; then serve. Reserve other pigeon eggs for seconds.

                                                                                                                                                       
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