|The Story of Bean Curd |
Bean curd may be justifiably called a great invention of old China.
An ancient work on medicinal herbs mentioned bean curd in these words: 'The method of making doufu dates back to Liu An, the Prince of Huainan. It is made of soya beans, either the black or the yellow variety.' Liu An (179 - 122 B.C.) was a grandson of Liu Bang, founding emperor of the Han Dynasty. Legend has it that the prince, in his search for a panacea to help him achieve immortality, experimented with soya beans and through the chemical reaction, stumbled on the earliest bean curd. That was more than 2,100 years ago.
An analysis of 100 grams of bean curd shows that it contains water (85 grams), protein (7.4 grams), fat (3.5 grams). Calcium (277 mg), phosphorus (57 mg) and iron (2.1 mg). As a food of high nutritive value, it has been met with widespread acclaim.
The Story of Roast Duck
The Beijing roast duck is a dish well-known among the entire world.
The cooking of the Beijing Roast Duck dates back at least 1,500 years to the period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties, when "broiled duck" was mentioned in writing. About eight hundred years later, Husihui, imperial dietician to a Mongol emperor of the Yuan Dynasty, listed in his work Essentials of Diet (1330 A.D.) the "grilled duck" as a banquet delicacy. It was made by heating the duck - stuffed with a mince of sheep's tripe, parsley, scallion, and salt - on a charcoal fire.
Today the Beijing roast duck (or "Peking duck", as it has been called) is made of a special variety of duck fattened by forced feeding in the suburbs of Beijing. After the duck is drawn and cleaned, air is pumped under the skin to separate it more or less from the flesh. And a mixture of oil, sauce and molasses is coated all over it. Thus, when dried and roasted, the duck will look brilliantly red as if painted. Perhaps that is why it is known among some Westerners as the canard laque or "lacquered duck".
A highly experienced chef of a duck restaurant can produce an "all-duck banquet" of over eighty dishes made of different parts of the fowl.
The Story of "Buddha Jumps the Wall"
This is a well-known dish of Fuzhou. It is made of an assortment of materials: shark's fin, shark's lip, fish maw, abalone, squid, sea cucumber, chicken breast, duck chops, port tripe, pork leg, minced ham, mutton elbow, dried scallop, winter bamboo shoots, xiang gu mushrooms, and so on. These are seasoned and steamed separately and then put into a small-mouthed clay jar together with cooking wine and a dozen or so boiled pigeon eggs. The jar is covered and put on intense fire first and then simmered for some time on slow heat. Four or five ounces of a local liquor is added into the jar which is kept simmering for another five minutes. Then the dish is ready.
The origin of the dish is explained by a local story. A Fuzhou scholar of the Qing Dynasty went picnicking with friends in the suburbs and he put all the ham, chicken, etc. he had with him in a wine jar which he heated over charcoal fire before eating. The attractive smell of the food spread in the air all the way to a nearby temple. It was so inviting that the monks, who were supposed to be vegetarians, jumped over the temple wall and partook heartily of the scholar's picnic. One of the party's participants wrote a poem in praise of the dish, of which a line reads: "Even Buddha himself would jump the wall to come over." Hence the name of the dish.
[ Food ]