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Squirrel-shaped Mandarin fish

  Squirrel-shaped mandarin fish  The Squirrel-shaped Mandarin Fish, a typical traditional dish in Suzhou, is highly appreciated by guests from home and abroad. Not only does it feature in the color and flavor, but also in the taste and shape.  There are some notes we should take in the making of Squirrel-shaped Mandarin Fish. Firstly, fresh and alive mandarin fish should be chose so that the meat can well retain fresh and tender. Second, the cutting should be very good and delicate and make it shape as a squirrel. Thirdly, the sauce should be tasted both sweet and sour, making the fish tasty.  When fried fish is served on table, it usually come with hot sauce, while dropping the sauce down on the fish, the fish turn out loud noise similar to that of a squirrel, thus caught the name.  When the dish is ready, it is in the shape of a squirrel with crispy skin outside but with tender flesh inside, the color is orange but taste in appropriate sweet and sour with a special pleasant flavor.  It is said before emperor Qianlong went to south of China, there had been the famous Squirrel-shaped mandarin fish already, but at that time, it was made not by mandarin fish, but by carp. Emperor Qianlong tried and appraised. Later on, this dish turned into the Squirrel-shaped mandarin fish.  It is said, when emperor Qianlong went to south of China, he once visited Songhelou Restaurant, and saw many mandarin fish and wished to have a try. At that time, the fish was prepared for worshipping the god and no one dared to eat it, but it was hard to be against the order from emperor, through discussion with chef, finally, the fish head was taken as squirrel, for avoiding the crime of taking “fish for the god”. When the fish was served, accompanied with the loud sound from dropping sauce on the fish, it was similar with that of squirrel. The inch- length squirrel hold up head and tail in the plate, the body of fish was spineless, carved with knife, after hot-oil fried, then dropped tomato sauce, in appropriate sweet and sour, crispy outside, but tender inside, when bite, very tasty. After Emperor Qianlong tasted , and appraised it a lot.  Another story is when emperor Qianlong travelled to south of China, he visited Suzhou unofficially. Suddenly felt Hungary, he enter a restaurant with name Songhelou. He saw the dish name “Squirrel-shaped mandarin fish” in the menu and ordered this dish. When it was served, because emperor Qianlong felt Hungary after half-day walking, additionally the dish was really crispy outside and tender inside, taste in appropriate sweet and sour, the emperor Qianlong felt rather satisfied after tasting it. After dinner, because emperor Qianlong knew nothing about money and payment, and tried to leave without paying. The servant in Songhelou did not know the real identity of emperor and stopped him from leaving. When they had a quarrel, the local government was patrolling on the street and saw the funny scene. And sent the owner of restaurant money and settled the dispute.

Beggar’s Chicken

  Beggar's chicken  Beggar's chicken got another name “Changshou Beggar’s Chicken” and is a renowned dish from district Changshou of Han ethnics which roasts the well-dressed chicken wrapped with earth and lotus. The color is bright red with fragrant. The skin is crispy and flesh is tender. When try it, it is crispy, fatty and tender with a unique flavor.  It is said, long time ago, there is a beggar, passing through one village in county Changshou. One day, he got one chicken. He tried to eat the chicken, but he did not have any cooking wares and seasonings. He came to the foothills of Mountain Yu, after killing the chicken, and got rid of viscera, wrapped the chicken with earth and dried grass, simmered the chicken, when the earth was dried, chicken was well-done, after get rid of the earth shell, the fur of chicken was taken off automatically, the flesh comes. Around 100 years ago, Shancaiyuan restaurant lied at west to Yushan resort of Changshou county made some renovation of this dish and copied this method according to the sayings.  Story one:  “Beggar’s chicken” is sourced from Zhejiang and it is the chicken stolen by those poor beggarWrapped chicken with earth and roast the earth, when the earth is heat, then the chicken is well done too. Beggar’s chicken got another name as “noble’s chicken”, originally made by beggar thus with name beggar’s chicken. It is said when Zhu, yuanzhang competed for emperor, one time, he was defeated and ran three days and three nights. Enemy ran after him and zhu,yuanzhang felt so tired and felt hungry. At that time, he saw some fire in front and there is some earth in the fire. There was one beggar besides the fire, Zhuyuanzhang asked him In surprise, what did you do here? The beggar saw Zhu,yuanzhang and said: I made the roast chicken for you. After hearing it, Zhu,yuanzhang felt very shocked. The old beggar took the chicken out of the fire and unwrapped the earth, the good smell spread out. When zhu, yuanzhang ate it, he appraised it, “very delicious”. Since then, Zhu,yuanzhang won many fights and became the emperor later. After that, Zhu,yuanzhang renamed the chicken as “Noble’s chicken”.  Story two:  There is another fairy tale. When emperor Qianlong visited south China, he got lost in the wild land. One beggar sent him the Beggar’s chicken. At that time, Qianlong felt hungry and sleepy and of course felt the chicken was delicious. After eating it, he asked the name of the dish. The beggar felt embarrassed to name the chicken as “Beggar’s chicken”, instead he named the chicken as “noble’s chicken”. Qianlong appraised the chicken a lot. Later the beggar knew that the stroller was the emperor. Because the emperor appraised the dish, so until now, it turns out as a dish in the banquet.  Story three:  It is said in Qing dynasty, at the foothill of Yushan mountain, Changshou, a hungry beggar caught a chicken from the grass and tried to eat it. But the beggar did not have any cooking utensils and seasonings, and even without hot water for pulling off chicken’s fur. The beggar killed the chicken, took the viscera out of the chicken. Then he wrapped the chicken with lotus leave and earth and dried grass and roasted the chicken on fire. When the earth was dried, the chicken was fallen down to the ground, the fur was taken off automatically and a good smell spread out. There is a servant of a local rich man passing by and attracted by the good smell. He got the cooking method from the beggar and told his boss. The rich man cooked the chicken and asked relatives and friends for trying it. Everyone appraised it and asked the dish name. The rich man named the chicken as “Beggar’s chicken”. A famous cook of Yingyuan restaurant in Changshou made some renovation and added various seasonings in the stomach of the chicken, then wrapped with pig net oil and lotus, at last wrapped with yellow earth and roasted. It tastes really delicious and renamed as “simmer chicken wrapped with yellow earth”.  How To Make Beggar's Chicken?  Ingredient  2 small poussins or spring chickens , for the dough covering: 600 g flour water.  Beggar's Chicken  Stuffing  1 tsp sunflower oil, 110g/3.5oz lean pork cut into cubes,1 medium onion finely chopped,1cm piece of fresh ginger peeled and grated, 8 finely sliced shiitake mushrooms finely chopped, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil 1 tbsp light soy sauce, freshly ground black pepper,Mixture for skin1 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp rice wine or Amontillado sherry, 1 tbsp dark soy sauce, 2 spring onions finely chopped 1cm piece of ginger,1 tsp sunflower oilUtensilsUtensils1 rolling pin  1 bowl  1 baking tray  1 frying pan  1 small mixing bowl  aluminum foil or roasting bag  1 spoon  Step 1: Preheat the oven  Set the oven to 200?C (400?F/ gas mark 6).  Step 2: Marinate the chicken  Mix the dark soy sauce, wine, half of the oil, a little of the shredded ginger and the spring onions in the bowl. Spread this mixture all over the poussins and let it marinate for 1 hour.  Beggar's Chicken  Step 3: Make the stuffing  Heat up a little of the oil in a frying pan and add the pork. Fry until nice and crispy. Then add the mushrooms, onion, the rest of the ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, and pepper. Cook over a moderate heat for a few minutes.  Beggar's Chicken  Step 4: Stuff the poussins  After a few minutes of cooking, take the saucepan off the heat and drain away any excess oil if necessary. Then, open up the necks of the poussins and put in the mixture.  Beggar's Chicken  Step 5: Wrap up the poussins  Wrap them tightly in aluminum foil or place them in a roasting bag and close tightly to prevent the juices from escaping.  Beggar's Chicken  Step 6: Make the dough  Put the flour in a bowl, gradually, stir in the water and mix until it is a firm dough ball.  Step 7: Roll out the dough  Once mixed, divide into two and roll out the dough to around 0.5 cm in thickness so that it is big enough to completely cover the poussins.  Beggar's Chicken  Step 8: Cover the poussins  Fold the dough over the poussins and press the edges and ends together. Add a little water to make the dough stick.  Beggar's Chicken  Step 9: Cook the parcels  Place the parcels on a baking tray. Check that there are no holes in the dough or at the joins for the steam to escape. Now place in the oven and cook for 3 hours 200℃.  Beggar's Chicken  Step 10: Break, open and enjoy  After 3 hours in the oven, take out the parcels. Crack open the dough (this is not meant to be eaten) and discard. Cut open the roasting bag or the foil. And tuck in!  Beggar's Chicken.

Fried Shrimps with Biluo Tea

  Fried shrimps with biluo tea  Fried shrimps with biluo tea is a traditional dish of Province Jiangsu. The main ingredient of the dish is shrimp with Biluo tea as side-ingredients. The finished dish bear tea flavor, light and refreshing plus the color is simple and elegant. The color of the shrimp is so white as jade, sipped with tea, tasting tender, and at the same time adding more sweet.  Biluo tea originated from east of Dongting lake and Western mountain. Fried shrimps with biluo tea has Biluo tea juice as seasoning, cooked with shrimp together. After eating it, combine both the fresh taste of shrimp and the fragrance of the famous tea. When served, dotted with tea leaves, it turns out to be a dish with good flavor and pretty color.  Biluo Tea is a famous tea from east of Dongting, taihu lake of Suzhou and Xishan mountain and regards as the top of all teas. The original name is not so elegant, when emperor Kangxi travelled in Taihu, he renamed the tea as “Biluochun”.  Cooking method:  Fresh shrimp: 350g, Biluochun: 10g, salt:6-7g; One egg white; dried starch: 20-25g; Oil:400g (oil in real use 50g)Fresh shrimp is washed clean, and dried. It is put into bowl with salt, egg white, dried starch and mix hard.  Made a big cup of hot biluo Tea.  The oil was put into hot pan, when heated to 120, put shrimp inside it.  When shrimp is medium-done, it is taken out and skips the oil.  Remove the shrimp back and put 30g tea water.  when is served in the plate, dotted with tea leaves around the plate.  Remarks:  The tea water bears pleasant flavor and can remove the bad flavor of shrimp. Tea taking place of wine is a good method to add pleasant flavor to dish Shrimp cannot be heated too long. Shrimp needs to be done in a quick speed for both maintaining the fresh taste of tea and the fragrance of tea. The tea dotted around the plate also adds both color and made the dish more pleasant too.  Fresh shrimp need to be rinsed in the water for keeping transparent color of the cooked shrimp.

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