Houston Asian Restaurant Guide > Chinese Food Articles > Chinese Cuisines > Fujian Cuisine
Fujian cuisine, also called Min Cai for short, holds an important position in China's culinary art. Fujian's economy and culture began flourishing after the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). During the middle Qing Dynasty around 18th century, famous Fujian officials and literati promoted the Fujian cuisine so it gradually spread to other parts of China.
Fujian cuisine comprises three branches -- Fuzhou, South Fujian and West Fujian. There are slight differences among them. Fuzhou dishes, quite popular in eastern, central and northern Fujian Province, are more fresh, delicious, and less salty, sweet, and sour; South Fujian dishes, popular in Xiamen, Quanzhou, Zhangzhou and the golden triangle of South Fujian, are sweet and hot and use hot sauces, custard, and orange juice as flavorings; West Fujian dishes are salty and hot, prevailing in Hakka region with strong local flavor. As Fujian people emigrate overseas, their cuisine become popular in Taiwan and abroad. Generally speaking, Fujian dishes are slightly sweet and sour, and less salty, and often use the red distiller's grain for flavoring.
Fujian cuisine is characterized by the following four aspects:
1) Ingredients of seafood and mountain delicacies: Fujian cuisine emphasizes seafood and mountain delicacies. Fujian Province has a favorable geographical location with mountains in its north and sea to its south. Many mountain delicacies such as mushroom, bamboo shoots and tremella are often found here. The coastal area produces 167 varieties of fish and 90 kinds of turtles and shellfish. It also produces edible bird's nest, cuttlefish, and sturgeon. These special products are all used in Fujian cuisine. The local people are good at cooking seafood, featuring in methods of stewing, boiling, braising, quick-boiling, and steaming, etc.
2) Fine slicing techniques: Fujian cuisine stresses on fine slicing techniques so much that it is reputed as sliced ingredients are as thin as paper and shredded as slim as hairs. Everything sliced serves its original aroma. Fine slicing techniques may better show the aroma and texture of food. Cutting is important in Fujian cuisine. Most dishes are made of seafood, and if the seafood is not cut well, the dishes will fail to have their true flavor.
3) Various soup and broth: The most characteristic aspect of Fujian cuisine is that its dishes are served in soup.
4) Exquisite culinary art: Fujian dishes are tasty because of their emphasis on a series of delicate procession: selecting ingredients, mixing flavors, timing the cooking and controlling the heat. When a dish is less salty, it tastes more delicious. Sweetness makes a dish tastier, while sourness helps remove the seafood smell.
Typical dishes are Buddha-jumping-over-the-wall, flaked spiral shell lightly pickled in rice liquor, litchi fish, and mussels quick-boiled in chicken broth, of which Buddha-jumping-over-the-wall is the most famous; the name implies the dish is so delicious that even the Buddha would jump over a wall to have a taste once he smelled it. A mixture of seafood, chicken, duck, and pork is put into a rice-wine jar and simmered over a low fire. Sea mussel quick-boiled in chicken soup is another Fujian delicacy.