Hui Cuisine — China's Wild Cuisine

Anhui cuisine

Anhui cuisine is one of the lesser known of the Eight Great Cuisines of China. Anhui Province is a poorer inland province west of Shanghai, so its food is basically a hearty mountain peasant food, famously the diet of the Yellow Mountains and the tourist area of Huangshan.

The best Anhui food is known for incorporating wild ingredients from the local mountains for a tasty, different, and healthful cuisine.

  • Names: Anhui food, Hui cuisine (徽菜 Huīcài /hway-tseye/)
  • Location: Anhui Province (inland E. China)Huangshan (Yellow Mts.), Hefei
  • Distinctives: many wild plant/animal ingredients, more stewing and oil

Ingredients of Anhui Cuisine

wild vegetablesAnhui cuisine is famous for its wild picked ingredients from mountains

Wild food: Anhui cuisine is known for wild picked or caught delicacies from the mountains as the main ingredients and flavorings. Anhui has large mountain forest areas. Wild caught frogs, local small shrimp, turtles, and lots of other wildlife are put into their soups and stews.

Fungi: Both wild and cultivated fungi and mushrooms are relished as flavorings and for their nutritional value.

Herbs and vegetables: For Chinese, food is medicine. They pay attention to both the season and the weather, and use yin foods and yang foods as necessary to achieve balance and promote health and comfort. Locally produced bayberry, tea leaves, bamboo shoots, and dates all come from mountain areas. Locally picked wild herbs add both aroma and medicinal effects.

Staples: Nowadays, both rice and wheat products are the staples. But in times past, the traditional staple was rice. Anhui-ers also grow various root crops for staple foods, such as kinds of potatoes that fit their climate and land.

Pork and ham: If you like pork, this cuisine is for you since it makes it way into many popular dishes. These include:

  • Li Hongzhang stew is a complex stew with many different ingredients that depends on what is available or seasonal. It contains pieces of chicken and/or ham and/or other meat, vegetables, and perhaps seafood. It is named after Li Hongzhang (1823–1901), a Qing Dynasty general. (李鸿章杂烩 Lǐ Hóngzhāng záhuì /lee hong-jung dzaa-hway/)
  • Farmhouse egg dumplings: This traditional peasant food is pork filled dumplings with an egg wrapper instead of a flour wrapper.(农家蛋饺 nóngjiā dànjiǎo /nong-jyaa dan-jyaow/

Cooking Methods and Styles

Reflecting the peasant origins, their chefs use comparatively simple methods of preparation. 

Hui chefs are particular about controlling cooking time and temperature. High, medium, or low heat is applied according to the quality and characteristics of the different ingredients, and the flavor requirements of finished dishes. They aim to cook food to perfection, and not overcook to protect the nutrition. So they have special skill in sautéing and stewing to achieve a delicate lightness in taste.

There are three regional styles: the Huai River (north Anhui) and the Yangtze River (central Anhui) lowland regions, which traditionally used river fish and aquatic creatures, and the more famous style of the southern Anhui region where the Yellow Mountains are.

Food You Could Try in the Yellow Mountains

The Yellow Mountains are a popular tourist area, where foreign tourists like to hike. Here are some local specialties to try if you go:

  • Mao tofu: It is a traditional snack made from the local fermented "stinky" tofu. It is cooked in sesame oil and hot pepper, and locals love it. It is often sold as a street snack.
  • Yellow crab shell cake: This isn't made from crab shell at all. It gets its name because it has a yellow color and a round shape. It is sort of a dumpling filled with chopped vegetables and fatty meat such as pork. It is baked instead of boiled or fried.
  • Luzhou Roast Duck: This is a local meat dish, and when well made by a chef, it is a local gourmet delicacy.

Hui Cuisine Menu

English Chinese Pronunciation Characters
Ham and “Whippy” Bamboo Stew huǒtuǐ dùn biān sǔn Hwor-tway dwnn byen swnn 火腿炖鞭笋
Stewed Turtle with Ham huǒtuǐ dùn jiǎyú Hwor-tway dwnn jyaa-yoo 火腿炖甲鱼
Red-Cooked Chicken fú lí jí shāo jī Foo lee jee shaoww jee 符离集烧鸡
Snowy Winter Roast Chicken xuě dōng shāo jī Sshwair dong shaoww jee 雪冬烧鸡
Tasteless Smoked Duck wúwèi xūn yā Woo-way sshyoon yaa 无味熏鸭
Fat King Fish in Milk Soup nǎi zhī féi wáng yú Neye jrr fay wung yoo 奶汁肥王鱼
Honeycomb Tofu fēngwō dòufu Fnng-woo doh-foo 蜂窝豆腐
Braised Masked Palm Civet hóngshāo guǒzi lí Hong-shaoww gwor-dzrr-lee 红烧果子狸

Taste Authentic Anhui Cuisine with China Highlights

enjoying Chinese dishes

If you want to try authentic Anhui Cuisine, our tour guides can take you to authentic local restaurants. 

Recommended Yellow Mountains Tour

Recommended Chinese Food Tour

Or we could tailor-make a Chinese food tour for you.

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