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                                       Suzhou's food

 

LOCAL DELICACIES
Suzhou food, like the cities elegant landscapes, has its special characteristics. The local people love freshwater food and vegetables. Their dishes often taste sweet and their snacks looks like works of art.
 
SWEETS
The most renowned sweet shop is Caizhizhai on Guanqian Street, established in 1870. Apart from its colorful bonbons, Caizhizhai also sells various kinds of preserved fruits and melon-seeds. It is said that Empress Dowager Cixi was delighted by Caizhizhai’s rice dumpling candies, sent to her by a doctor. She named the candy an imperial tribute, which greatly increased Caizhizhai’s reputation.
 

Dried Bean Curd With Soy Sauce

 

Suzhou dried bean curd with soy sauce can be served both as dessert and as dish for simple meals or banquets. It is a famed speciality of suzhou .

The most popular brand is Jinjin featuring dark reddish brown color, special flavor and abundant gravy. It tastes fresh, sweet, soft and glutinous, embodying flavors of both gravy dish and candied fruit. In 1983, it won the title of “ Jiangsu Product of Quality” and golden-dragon prize for new products awarded by National Economy Committee. It enjoys great popularity throughout China including such cities as Beijing , Tianjin , Shenyang , Xi'an , Harbin ,etc

Suzhou Mooncakes

 

Suzhou mooncakes, featured by their soft surface, elegant color and delicious filling, are regarded as the cream of Suzhou pastry. There are two types of mooncakes: sweet and salty according to the taste; or baked and toasted to the method. The sweet mooncakes are made baked, including such kinds as rose mooncake, gingko mooncake, etc; while the salty ones are made toasted including such kinds as ham mooncake with lard, fresh meat mooncake, etc. Among the two types, rose mooncake, gingko mooncake, hemp mooncake with spiced salt and sweetened-bean-paste-laden mooncake with lard are the best.

The materials including flavorings of Suzhou mooncakes are carefully chosen, carrying typical local characteristics. The filings of sweet mooncakes are mainly roses, osmanthus flowers, walnut kernels, shelled melon seeds, peanut kernels, seasame meat, etc. That of salty ones are mainly ham, mea, shrimp meat, lard, onion, etc. While the surface part of the cakes are mainly compounded with flour, white sugar, maltose, fat, etc.

 

Pinenut-jujubepaste Cake

Pinenut-jujubepaste cake is one of the famed traditional Suzhou pastries. The surface part are mainly compounded with white sugar, maltose, eggs, edible vegetable oil, flour, etc; while the fillings are mainly kernel, pulp, fragrant flowers, etc.

Various types include cakes made with pinemut and jujube paste, pinenut-peach and jujube paste, pinenut-jujube paste and sweetened-bean-paste, jujubepaste-lard, rose-lard, gingko-lard, etc. They are featured by the round or square shape and crispness&fragrance. Thus it is fair to say that in the making of these cakes, both color and smell, both shape and taste are paid equal attention to. The jujubepaste-lard cake made by Qian Sheng-yuan Bakery&Confectionary in Mudu Town , Wuxian city are especially famed for its moderate honey and fat as well as the crispness and fragrance. It is always the first choice of those customers who intend to give presents.

 

Precious Cake

The main materials for Precious Cakes are crops, sugars and oil seasoned with some edibles of certain pharmaceutical functions.

The Precious Cake made by Suzhou Rice Fragrance Shop employs a folk recipe and compounds with food and such medicines as Chinese yam, hyacinth bean, codonopsis pilosula, etc., which could whet the appetite, prevent diseases and protect health. The Precious Cake could serve as dietetic-therapy food, and thus was granted the title of Jiangsu Famed Food.

Green-bean Cake

Green-bean cake, made around the Dragon Boat Festival, is a traditional summer food that can prune heat. Its materials are mainly boiled green-bean powder, steamed sweet-potato powder, vegetable oil, lard, white sugar, rose, dateplum persimmon, etc. The small glossy stuffed cake is fragrant and delicious and can serve to smooth the urine, allay inflammation and remove toxic materials. There is a custom of eating green-bean cakes on Dragon Boat Festival in urban and rural Suzhou .

Crunchy Sesame Candy

Crunchy sesame candy, including mainly crunchy rose-hemp candy, crunchy rose-lard candy, crunchy spiced-salt-lard candy, is the typical Suzhou pastry that is made foldingly stuffed with steamed powder. Being a speciality of suzhou , crunchy sesame candy is characterized by its thin rind, exquisite lines, pure honey and softness and could serve both as desserts and as presents.

 

MEATS
Lugaojian, an age-old shop on Guanqian Street, founded in 1663 during the Qing Dynasty, is always packed with customers. Authentic Suzhou style braised pork and braised duck are served here.
 
RESTAURANTS AND DISHES
This 2000-year-old Songhelou Restaurant in Taijian Alley has long been known for its authentic Suzhou dishes. Prepared with the freshest of seasonal ingredients, Songhelou's most popular dishes are freshwater fish and shrimps, including sweet and sour mandarin fish, fried snails with shrimps and braised eel. The sweet mandarin fish was a favorite of Qing Emperor Qianlong, who dined here every time he visited Suzhou.
Opposite Songhelou is Wangsi Restaurant, which is famous for its liquors, chicken and wild vegetable dishes. The restaurant always uses the freshest ingredients, prepared to order, to preserve all the goodness and original flavor.
 

Chang-shu Beggar-chicken is also called stewed chicken. It is said there was a beggar in Yu-shan, Chang-shu. He once caught a chicken but he had no cookers or condiments with him. So he killed and emptied the chicken. Without plucking it up, he daubed it with mud and roasted in fire. After it was ready he rejected the mud, with which the feather fell off. It turned out to be limp and fragrant when eating. Later, people seasoned such kind of chicken with condiments and produced distinct flavors. It is thus named "Beggar-chicken".

Although the title doesn ' t sound elegant, it is a famed dish at home and abroad. In 1983, it was appraised as " famed product of Jiangsu province " . The beggar-chicken today is made of small-head-big-body " three-yellow chicken " , that is, yellow mouth, yellow legs and yellow feather. After the chicken is emptied, it is to be seasoned with chicken gizzard, ham, mushroom, etc. The whole chicken is daubed with perfume. Then wrap it with lotus leaves first and at last smear the whole with mud and roast it in fire. When it is done and the mud is rejected, place it in a dish, it is ready for service.

 
PASTRIES
Suzhou has a long history of growing glutinous rice, giving rice to a fine array of pastries. Traditionally in China, pastries are an auspicious food, symbolizing happiness and reunion. Huangtianyuan on Guanqian Street, founded in 1821, is the most well known pastry shop in the city. It offers traditional pastries such as lard cakes and osmanthus cakes, and has created over 100 kinds of new pastries.
 
LAMB SOUP
When winter falls on Suzhou, a large bowl of hot lamb soup helps ward off the cold. The dish is prepared simply: the lamb is braised in water without any added seasonings, a method used to preserve the original meaty taste. The soups price depends on the weight of the meat (a small portion costs around 5 yuan) and it goes well with noodles. The soup also serves as an ideal medicinal dish.
 
BIG GATE CRABS
Yangcheng Lake’s Big Gate Crab, a type of freshwater crab, is regarded as one of the tastiest crabs in China.
An ideal habitat for the shellfish, Yangcheng Lake produces huge crabs, weighing 250 to 400grams each, with a grey-green shell, white underside, yellow hair and golden claws. Hence the Big Gate Crabs of Yangchen Lake are also known as the king of crabs among the gourmets. They come into season in autumn.

There are many kinds of crabs, among which the freshwater lakes boast more than 20, which in turn are highlighted by the golden-claw crabs in Yang-cheng Lake . After the Mid-autumn, fresh plump Yang-cheng crabs appear on the markets in large quantities, adding to the dining-boards another delicious throughout china.

Yangcheng Lake lies in the northeast of suzhou , traversing the cities of Wu Xian, Changshu and Kunshan. It has an area of some 80 square li. The clear water and abundant insects and grasses provide an excellent environment for the crabs. Crab is a kind of migration fish. It stays in freshwater lakes before September. About a fortnight after the crabs cast their shells in September comes the mating and spawning season. At this time they would crawl eastward to the juncture of the Yangtze River and the sea, thus making an annual crabbing season. The waterways in Kunshan city east to Yangcheng Lake are the only way of these migration crabs, so the place there becomes the main crabbing area. Each year during the period of September and October, the fishermen go there crabbing with nets, fishing grates, baskets, and even bamboo poles, ,making a scenery bustling with excitement.

After shelling appears the white jade of grease and the snow-white flesh. Going with wine or ford, the crab tastes delicious and is nutritious enough. Dishes made with crabs not only stay at the top of the menus in domestic hotels and restaurants but enjoy great popularity in Hongkong , Macao and overseas markets

 
 
DIM SUM
Zhuhongxing at Bifengfang beside Taijian Alley and Guanzhenxing on Guanqian Street are three good spots for dim sum and noodles.
 
TEA CAKES
Aromatic date and sesame cakes with pine nuts, thousand-layer pastry and petite sesame bun, are all famous Suzhou tea cakes. Legend has it that Emperor Qianlong tasted a date and sesame cake with pine nuts from Daoxiangcun on Guanqian Street and fell in love with it immediately. He bestowed on the shop a plaque to boast Daoxiangcun’s reputation far and wide.
 
Suzhou FansBiluochun Tea

Suzhou 's Biluochun Tea is one of the ten most famous teas in China . It is locally known as "Fearful Incense" due to the strong aroma of the brew!

During the Qing dynasty, Emperor Kangxi visited Suzhou and praised the flavor of this aromatic tea. The tea leaves are picked from the Biluo Mountain near Tai Lake , and are collected traditionally in early spring between what is known as "Tomb-sweeping Day" and "Grain Rain Day"!

The technique for collecting tea leaves is very complex. Only the tender tip of the leaf is used for the tea making process. This part of the leaf should be no longer than one inch long and shaped like the tip of a spear. One tin of tea uses 60 thousand spears! It's no surprise then, that some of the finest Chinese teas are very expensive. The next step in the process is to repeatedly knead, rub and roll the leaves by hand. The Biluochun tea involves a particularly labor intensive process but the end result are leaves that are compact, tender and wonderfully fresh and aromatic.

If you have never sampled Chinese green tea, the Biluochun is a good one to start with. Chinese tea not only smells and tastes great but is reportedly very good for you! Take a few tea leaves and sprinkle them at the bottom of your cup. Next, cover them with boiling water until the tea leaves sink. Leave it to rest for a minute and then fill the cup to the top. The tea will then change color, to a light green shade and should taste delicious! It is an acquired taste but certainly one that grows on you, and is much healthier and more refreshing than black tea. The tea is quite expensive and can cost between RMB 200 and RMB 5000 for a kilogram. There are numerous tea houses around the city selling the leaves, particularly try some of the shops near Renmin Lu.

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