Flavor is the key to Anhui Province food. Wild herbs, spices, sugar candy, ham, and smoke enhance the many foods you’ll find on the menu. Braising and stewing are the most often used cooking methods. For some, Anhui food is salty, spicy, and oily, while, for others, it has great flavor.
Anhui chefs and home cooks use fish, turtles, frogs, crabs, and shrimp from the rivers and bamboo shoots, mushrooms, soy bean curd (tofu), chicken, tea leaves, and honey from the forests and surrounding farms in their dishes.
Three distinct regions make up the cooking styles for Anhui Province – southern Anhui (Wannan style), Yangtze River (Yanjiang style), and Huai River (Yanhuai style).
- Southern Anhui or Wannan style uses ham, crystal sugar candy (rock candy), and salt to bring out the flavors.
- Yangtze River or Yanjiang style uses fresh fish from the rivers and smoked poultry.
- Huai River or Yanhuai style uses a lot of salt and spices in hot soups and braised chicken dishes.
Popular Anhui dishes include Stir-Fired and Steamed Frog, Phoenix-Tailed Shrimp, Smoked Chicken and Duck, Stewed Soft-shell Turtle, Salted Fish, Grilled Chicken, Stuffed Bean Curd, and Boiled and Fried Dumplings.
Anhui Province Food: Local Products
These local products in Anhui help chefs and home cooks prepare tasty dishes:
- bean curd
- melon seeds
- chili paste
- lotus root
- tea (black and green)
- bamboo shoots
- hickory nuts
- meats including beef, pork, chicken, duck, fresh water fish, frogs, crabs, and shrimp
Anhui Province Tea
Anhui produces four tea types that are important to the world of tea drinkers: Huangshan Maofeng, Qimen (Keemun) Black Tea, Taiping Houkui, and Lu’an Guapian.
A green tea, Huangshan Maofeng, has been produced in China since the Qing (1644 – 1911 CE) dynasty. Starting in 1875, this green tea has been grown in high in the mountains above Huangshan City. Long green leaves, shaped like tongues, are the hallmark of this traditional tea.
Qimen (Keemun) Black Tea
Since 1875, the small, fermented black leaves of Qimen have been delighting tea drinkers. Sweet and smoky flavors combine to give Qimen tea its distinctive taste. Grown in southern Huangshan, Qimen tea producers have received gold medals for their Qimen-tea growing efforts.
Since the Qing dyanasty, another tea, Taiping Houkui, has changed how tea drinkers think about green tea. Taiping Houkui green tea is made by pressing tea leaves between mesh with a roller while baking the tea over a low fire. This makes the leaves stay thin and straight, allowing for a quicker infusion time when brewing the tea.
Quickly roasted in a wok and then baked over a low fire, Lu’an Guapian green tea is another tea developed during the Qing dynasty. In addition to being drunk as a tea, Lu’an Guapian is also used as a medicine.