Foodie Corner Stories

Zhejiang Cuisine (浙菜)

When it comes to Zhejiang Cuisine, many foreigners don’t actually know where to place it. Especially nowadays, we enjoy a world of delicacies at the grasp of our hands. Many people tend to forget that there are actually eight different main cuisines in China (check out our other articles on Sichuan, Hunan cuisine) and they believe that Cantonese cuisine is Chinese cuisine. The reason for that is that back in the 1960s and 1970s, many Chinese from Southern China emigrated due to political reasons and settled down in the US or Europe. Since Chinese people really love to eat, they quickly established restaurants, which offered food from “home” and so introduced their cuisine to the rest of the world.

Probably the most famous dish of the Zhejiang cuisine: Dongpo-Pork belly. The carefully marinated pork belly will be braised in cooking wine, herbs and spices for hours until it reaches the consistency of “drinkable”, meaning it melts right in your mouth!

However, with the globalization taking place and China getting more and more cultural exchanges, the other cuisines in China are also gaining popularity. The reason why Zhejiang cuisine has recently become popular is that its style is very harmonious. Zhejiang cuisine focuses on the unique natural tastes of each ingredient. It may sound confusing but Zhejiang chefs actually don’t use a lot of spices but instead of focussing on the usage of different levels of heat and other technics in order to bring out the ingredient’s maximum flavour.

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Zhejiang cuisine is especially famous for its variety of seafood. Fragrant cooking wine is used instead of water to simmer the ingredients and combine the fish’s natural tenderness and the fragrance of the wine. In order to preserve or even elevate the flavor of each dishes “crown ingredient”, Zhejiang chefs use a big variety of sub-ingredients such as the Jinhua-ham, seasonal vegetables, baby bamboo roots or different mushrooms to support/enhance the dish.
The infamous Xihu-Vinegar fish (not sweet-sour like you would get in South China)

In Zhejiang cuisine, chefs are asked to possess exceptional knife skills. The overall presentation of the dish – including the fragrance, the combination of colour and the plating – have to be perfect. It is said that each Zhejiang dish has its own poetic meaning and the plating of that dish is expected to show that poetic element.

One example of the exceptional knife skills of Zhejiang chefs. This dish is called “The Meat Pagoda”, which derives from various poems about Confucian teachings.

I don’t really want to admit it, but I have no knowledge nor experience when it comes to Zhejiang cuisine. For that I have prepared a small video showcasing the Zhejiang cuisine and I hope it will give you guys an impression of the amazing cuisine!