Xiamen is based in Fujian province, so Xiamen local food is one part of Fujian cuisine. Fujian cuisine is one of the native Chinese cuisines derived from the native cooking style of Fujianprovince in China, most notably from the Fuzhou region. Fujian-style cuisine is known to be light but flavourful, soft, and tender, with particular emphasis on umami taste, known in Chinese cooking as “xianwei” (simplified Chinese: 鲜味; traditional Chinese: 鮮味; pinyin: xiānwèi), as well as retaining the original flavour of the main ingredients instead of masking them.
Many diverse seafoods and woodland delicacies are used, including a myriad variety of local fish, shellfish and turtles, or indigenous edible mushrooms and bamboo shoots, provided by the coastal and mountainous regions of Fujian. The most commonly employed cooking techniques in the region’s cuisine includebraising, stewing, steaming and boiling.
Particular attention is paid on the finesse of knife skills and cooking technique of the chefs, which is used to enhance the flavour, aroma and texture of seafood and other foods. Strong emphasis is put on the making and utilising of broth and soups. There are sayings in the region’s cuisine: “One broth can be changed into numerous (ten) forms” (simplified Chinese: 一汤十变; traditional Chinese: －湯十變; pinyin: yī tāng shí biàn) and “It is unacceptable for a meal to not have soup” (simplified Chinese: 不汤不行;traditional Chinese: 不湯不行; pinyin: bù tāng bù xíng).
Fermented fish sauce, known locally as “shrimp oil” (simplified Chinese: 虾油; traditional Chinese: 蝦油; pinyin: xiā yóu), is also commonly used in the cuisine, along with oysters, crab, and prawns. Peanuts(utilised for both savoury dishes and desserts) are also prevalent, and can be boiled, fried, roasted, crushed, ground or even turned into a paste. Peanuts can be used as a garnish, feature in soups and even be added to braised or stir-fried dishes.
Fujian cuisine consists of four styles:
- Fuzhou: the taste is lighter compared to other styles, often with a mixed sweet and sour taste. Fuzhou is famous for its soups, and its use of fermented fish sauce and Red yeast rice.
- Southern Fujian: the taste is slightly stronger than Fuzhou cuisine, showing influence from Southeast Asian cuisine and Japanese cuisine. Use of sugar and spices (like shacha sauce and five-spice powder) is more common. Various kinds of slow-cooked soup (not quite similar to the Cantonese tradition) are found. Many dishes come with dipping sauces. Main ingredients include rice, pork(pork offal are considered delicacy), beef, chicken, duck, seafood and various vegetables.
- Western Fujian: there are often slight spicy tastes from mustard and pepper and the cooking methods are often steaming, frying and stir-frying. Food is saltier and oilier compared to other parts of Fujian, usually focusing on meat rather than seafood.
Unique seasoning from Fujian include fish sauce, shrimp paste, sugar, Shacha sauce, and preserved apricot. As well, wine lees from the production ofrice wine is commonly used in all aspects of the region’s cuisine. Red yeast rice (simplified Chinese: 红麴 / 红糟酱; traditional Chinese: 紅麴 / 紅糟醬; pinyin: hóngqū / hóngzāojiàng) is also commonly used in Fujian cuisine, imparting a rosy-red hue to the foods, pleasant aroma, and slightly sweet taste
Fujian is also well known for its “drunken” (wine marinated) dishes and is famous for the quality of the soup stocks and bases used to flavour their dishes, soups, and stews.
One of the most famous dishes in Fujian cuisine is “Buddha Jumps Over the Wall”, a complex dish making use of many ingredients, including shark’s fin, sea cucumber, abalone, and Shaoxing wine.
Fujian is also notable for yanpi (Chinese: 燕皮; pinyin: yànpí), literally “swallow skin,” a thin wrapper made with large proportions of lean minced pork. This wrapper has a unique texture due to the incorporation of meat and has a “bite” similar to things made with surimi. Yanpi is used to makerouyan (Chinese: 肉燕; pinyin: ròuyàn), a type of wonton.
|English||Traditional Chinese||Simplified Chinese||Pinyin||Pe̍h-ōe-jī||Description|
|Buddha Jumps Over the Wall||佛跳牆||佛跳墙||fótiàoqiáng||hu̍t-thiàu-chhiûⁿ||Contains over 30 ingredients, including shark’s fin, abalone, sea slug, dried scallops, duck, chicken breast, pig’s trotters, mushrooms, pigeon eggs and other ingredients. A legend is that after the dish is cooked, the aroma lingers, and upon detecting the smell, a Buddhist monk forgot his vow to be a vegetarian and leapt over a wall to taste the dish.|
|Oyster omelette||蚵仔煎||蚵仔煎||hézǎijiān||ô-á-chian||Omelette with oyster filling|
|Popiah / Lunpiah||薄餅 / 潤餅||薄饼 / 润饼||báobǐng / rùnbǐng||pȯh-piáⁿ||Crepe with bean sauce or soy sauce filling|
|Ban mian||板面||板面||bǎnmiàn||Flat-shaped egg noodle soup|
|Bak kut teh||肉骨茶||肉骨茶||ròugŭchá||bah-kut-tê||Literally means “meat bone tea”. A soup of pork ribs simmered in a broth of herbs and spices including star anise, cinnamon, cloves and garlic. It is usually eaten with rice or noodles.|
|Stuffed fish balls||包心魚丸||包心鱼丸||bāoxīn yúwán||Fish balls filled with meat|
|Ngo hiang||五香||五香||wǔxiāng||ngó͘-hiong||Fried roll in five-spice powder filled with minced pork and vegetables. Also known asquekiam or kikiam (a localized pronunciation in the Philippines) and lor bak in some Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.|
|Fujian red wine chicken||紅糟雞||红糟鸡||hóngzāojī||Chicken cooked in red yeast rice|
|Minshengguo||閩生果||闽生果||mǐnshēngguǒ||Stir fried raw peanuts|
|Fragrant snails in wine||淡糟香螺片||淡糟香螺片||dànzāo xiāng luópiàn||Snails cooked with wine lees|
|Meat strips with green pepper||青椒肉絲||青椒肉丝||qīngjiāo ròusī||Pork strips with green pepper. It has been adapted to become “pepper steak” in Chinese restaurants in the West.|
|Clams in chicken soup||雞湯汆海蚌||鸡汤汆海蚌||jītāng cuān hǎibàng||Clams cooked in chicken stock|
|Crispy skin fish rolls||脆皮魚卷||脆皮鱼卷||cuìpí yújuǎn||Fried bean curd skin with fish fillings|
|Dried scallop with radish||干貝蘿蔔||干贝萝卜||gānbèi luóbò||White radish steamed with conpoy (dried scallop) and Chinese ham|
|Drunken ribs||醉排骨||醉排骨||zuì páigǔ||Pork ribs marinated in wine|
|Eastern Wall Dragon Pearls||東壁龍珠||东壁龙珠||dōngbì lóngzhū||Longan fruit with meat fillings|
|Braised frog||黄燜田雞||黄焖田鸡||huángmèn tiánjī||Frog braised in wine|
|Five Colours Shrimp||五彩蝦松||五彩虾松||wǔcǎi xiāsōng||Stir fried diced shrimp and vegetables|
|Five Colours Pearls||五彩珍珠扣||五彩珍珠扣||wǔcǎi zhēnzhūkòu||Squid braised with vegetables|
|Yanpi||燕皮||燕皮||yànpí||A thin wrapper made with large proportions of lean pork|
|Misua||麵線||面线||miànxiàn||mī-sòaⁿ||A thin variety of Chinese noodles made from wheat flour|
There are many eating places around the province that sell these specialities for two yuan, and which are thus known as “two-yuan eateries”. In Xiamen, a local speciality is worm jelly (t 土笋凍, s 土笋冻, tǔsǔndòng), an aspicmade from a species of marine peanut worm.