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The coastal province of Zhejiang is rich in produce and has long been known as "the land of fish and rices". Naturally, therefore, it has always been a great place for eating. Especially after 1127 when Hangzhou become the capital of the Song Dynasty,�moved from Kaifeng in the north. Some of the best chefs from both these cities were brought together, and as a result northern methods of cooking were introduced to the south. Thus, Zhejiang Cuisine evolved, which became one of the most famous types of cooking.
Zhejiang cuisine consists mainly of four local styles: Hangzhou, Ningbo, Shaoxing and Wenzhou, each having its own special characteristics. Among the four, Hangzhou Cuisine is considered the most representative one�in Zhejiang. Although the main methods of cooking are frying and stewing, the food produced is usually light and delicate. Some of the most popular dishes are Shrimp with Longjing Leaves, West Lake Fish in Sweet and Sour Sauce, Fried Eel Slices, West Lake Water Shield Soup, Beggar's Chicken, Dongpo Pork and Steamed Pork in Lotus Leaves.
Ningbo dishes tend to favour more steaming, roasting and stewing, and are slightly richer in taste. Yellow croaker, eel and crab are popular in Ningbo, and there is also a sweet soup made of turtle stewed with rock sugar. Shaoxing dishes are usually light on oil and spices, yet lack nothing in richness, as Shaoxing rice wine is often used to make the sauces for dishes. The last of the fourth, Wenzhou dishes, are also light on oil, and some of the more popular ingredients are yellow croaker, crab and squid.
Zhejiangcuisine strives to be delicate in taste as well as in appearance. In recent years people have been trying to revive Southern Song- dynasty imperial cooking, based on what they can find in historical records. Their emphasis is on preserving and bringing out the original taste of the recipes, thus visitors to Zhejiang now have even more varieties of cuisine to tempt their palates!
Crystal Leaf Fat Bun This steamed dessert is made of dough and filled with a mixture of leaf lard, nuts, melon seeds, and sugar. The most delicious crystal leaf fat bun can be found in Zhao Dayou Snacks Restaurant in Ningbo.
Dragon and Phoenix Golden Cake Dragon and Phoenix Golden Cake is one of the top ten Ningbo local snacks, and particularly well-known in East Zhejiang. The most famous cake is prepared by Zhao Dayou Restaurant, a well-known restaurant in Ningbo for its Ningbo local snacks and cakes.
The history of the snack is dated to the South Song Dynasty (1127-1279). As legend goes, when the Jin invaders seized the capital of the South Song Linan (the present Hangzhou), Zhao Gou the emperor fled to Mingzhou (present Ningbo) and there a village girl saved his life and served him food including a cake. When Zhao Gou recaptured the capital, he repaid his savor by naming the cake he ate in his refugee "Dragon and Phoenix Golden Cake"and from then on the cake has become a snack that must served at weddings, symbolizing happiness of married life.
Golden in color and with pattern of a dragon and phoenix, the cake is made of polished glutinous rice, with fillings of processed beans, sugar, orange peel, osmanthus flowers, and so on.
Eight-Treasure Rice Pudding Ningbo Eight-treasure Rice Pudding is steamed glutinous rice with bean paste, lotus seeds, preserved fruit, longan pulp, sugar, leaf fat, etc. Sweet and tasty, the pudding is a perfect health-care food.
Ningbo Dumpliing with Leaf Fat Filling Tangtuan (called "tangtuan" in Chinese) is made of glutinous rice flour wrapping, leaf fat, sugar and black sesame. The skin is thin, smooth, white and shiny.
Not all visitors to Ningbo have the luck in enjoying the Top Ten Ningbo Dishes. However, one thing that any visitor can not miss is the Ningbo stuffed lard and sesame dumpling, just like one who goes to Beijing must go to the Great Wall. In Ningbo, as in all China, sweet dumpling is a symbol of family reunion and happiness and in Ningbo it is a local custom for all family members to have dumplings on the morning of the first day of the lunar year. Dumplings are very popular in the city; however, to enjoy the most delicious, one has to go to Gang Ya Gou Sweetfood Beaufet, as saying goes: "Home-made dumplings are common things, but nothing is better than the dumplings in Gang Ya Gou."
Noodle of Three Delicacies This delicious noodle soup is prepared with quality noodles with slices of chicken, port, and ham.
Shortbread with Sweetened Bean Paste This fried snack is made of dough filled with sweetened bean paste, golden in color, sweet and crisp.
Small Steamed Bun with Pork Filling The bun is prepared with wheat flour sheet and filled with pork stuff and seasonings. It is better served with vinegar.
Steamed Wonton and Wonton Soup Wonton is a very popular snack in China, but Ningbo Wonton is well-known for its long history and special local flavor. Ningbo Wonton has two types: steamed Wonton and Wonton soup. In the past, it was common to see lots of Wonton peddlers, who carried on their shoulders a kitchenette and material for Wonton, hawking all the way in the streets.