Yu Cuisine, Zhengzhou, Henan China 豫菜, 郑州河南

Admittedly, I did not appreciate Chinese history when I was young. However, a ten-day trip in China just this end July/early August has become both an eye-opener and educational insight. It started from Zhengzhou 郑州 - Henan province 河南 (considered “中原” central China), explored inwards towards the west of Henan to (1) Xi'An 西安 - Shaanxi province 陕西, Luoyang 洛阳, Dengfeng 登封 then to the eastern side of Henan (2) Kaifeng 开封 and ended in (3) Beijing 北京.

Bottom of this map: Zhengzhou, Luoyang, Kaifeng; top (north of Zhengzhou): Beijing

Henan is a good entry and access point into understanding Chinese history, from the first emperor of China (Qin Shi Huang 秦始皇 - Qin Dynasty) to the last emperor of China (Pu Yi 溥仪 - Qing Dynasty).

Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan, is well-served and connected by the China high speed rail (some call it bullet train). The Zhengzhou-Xi'An line takes you to Huashan 华山 and Terracotta Warriors 兵马俑 in about three hours while the Xi'An-Beijing line transports you from Zhengzhou to Beijing in less than five hours. From Zhengzhou, one can also arrange chauffeured car rental limo-service and make separate day trips - one to Shaolin 少林 located in Dengfeng, and Longmen Grotto 龙门石窟 in Luoyang (both on the west side of Henan); and another to Kaifeng (once the capital of Song dynasty, Kaifeng is usually associated with Justice Bao).

Bullet train tickets

As the capital of Henan, Zhengzhou undoubtedly takes Yu cuisine 豫菜 as its main cuisine, being one of China's most traditional and oldest cooking styles and the representative of culinary civilization of Central China.

Meat skewers羊肉串, braised fish maw白扒广肚, Tong Zi Ji 桶子鸡 @Yu Feng Yuan, Zhengzhou 裕丰源, 郑州

Henan cuisine is characterized by meticulous preparation, and especially known for its delicious broth/soup. One good example is Hui Mian 烩面 - a traditional Henan style of braised hand-pulled noodles dating back more than 800 years, in which the essence lies in the broth. The broth is made from boiling then simmering mutton marrow for at least five hours, resulting in a white brothy soup often called "white soup". When serving, the warm broth is served with noodles, accompanied by ingredients such as soybean strands, mung-bean strands, quail egg and woodear mushrooms.

Hui Mian 烩面 @Yu Feng Yuan, ZhengZhou 裕丰源, 郑州

LiYuBeiMian 鲤鱼焙面 is fried carp in sweet and sour sauce served with super-fine noodles. This is a very traditional dish of Henan and claimed to be one of the ten famous Yu cuisine dishes.

Fried carp in sweet and sour sauce with super-fine noodles, served in a restaurant at KaiFeng

Kaifeng soup dumpling 开封灌汤包 has a very long history over 900 years. They are very similar to XiaoLongBao, with meat and soup fillings in the bun.

LiYu BeiMian, Wok-fried eggplant, Kaifeng soup dumplings in Kaifeng

XinYang cuisine 信阳菜 is one of the most common Henan cuisine which has been localized to the area of Xinyang - the southern part of Henan but now easily available across entire Henan.

Braised sharpbelly (a type of carp) 烧白条, wok-fried fish roe 爆炒鱼泡 @Wang Fu Ji, ZhengZhou 王福记 ,郑州

Other Yu traditional dishes in Zhengzhou:

Vegetables appetizers include lotus roots with vinegar and chili, mint leaves with walnut, carrot "noodles" and sauteed shredded pork in sweet bean sauce also known as Jing Jiang Rousi, @ 豫和馍菜汤,郑州

Soybean noodles in broth @ 张福记,郑州

In 张福记 restaurant, we also enjoyed the LongJing prawns (shrimps with LongJing tea leaves), sweet lotus root stuffed with glutinous rice, DongPo Pork, steamed vegetable buns, dumplings in glutinous rice wine.

This trip has not only intrigued me historically, it has also introduced me to Yu cuisine - the origin of the different Chinese cuisines such as Cantonese, Szechuan, Jiangsu, Fujian, Hunan cuisines that we are familiar with today.

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