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My Chinese appetite: Henan cuisine

Source:CGTN | 2023-01-23 17:29

My Chinese appetite: Henan cuisine

‍Located in central China, Henan Province is one of the major agricultural regions in China. Henan cuisine, also known as Yu cuisine, formed its own style under the influence of Jiangsu cuisine, with which it shares some similar ingredients, and to a lesser extent, Beijing cuisine, from which it adopted many cooking methods. Consequently, Henan cuisine tastes lighter than Beijing cuisine, and bares more resemblance to Jiangsu cuisine.

Braised noodles

Henan Braised Noodles is known as one of the five famous noodles in China, with other four being Beijing Soybean Noodles, Shanxi Sliced (Daoxiao) Noodles, Hubei “Hot-dry” Noodles, and Sichuan Dandan Noodles.

Braised noodles. /VCG Photo

The dish can be divided into different types based on the ingredients used: mutton, beef, and others. 

Caiji steamed dumplings

The story started with a man named Cai Shijun, who worked as a chef in the imperial palace in Beijing. He lost his job after the Revolution of 1911. To support his family, he opened a small dumpling restaurant on the outskirts of Beijing.

A few years later, Cai and his family moved to Zhengzhou, now the provincial seat of Henan, and named his new restaurant "Cai's Wanton Shop from the Imperial City." 

Caiji steamed dumplings. /VCG Photo

His son inherited his business, and thankfully his cooking skills, and played a big role in developing the family business. The brand became renowned in Zhengzhou, then a representative of steamed dumplings for Henan Province. Their foods have been selling for nearly a century now.

Spicy soup

Hulatang, meaning "hot pepper soup" or "spicy soup", is a traditional Chinese soup created in Henan Province but became popular in Shaanxi Province. It can be divided into two versions in Henan, Xiaoyaozhen style (from a town near Zhoukou City) and Beiwudu style, both in Henan. 

In Chinese, "hu" represents "hujiao", which means pepper, and "la" spicy, hence its name.

Hulatang. /VCG Photo

The soup's signature is that it's heavily seasoned with pepper and its thick and sticky texture. In addition to pepper, herbs and ginger, aniseed and fennel are also added to the boiling soup to make it even more hot and spicy.