Good Eats

Pinyu Lake Food 品渔味湖鲜馆 @ Wuxi

I went to Wuxi for meetings and stayed by Taihu Lake. There were many restaurants around the lake featuring seafood from the lake, and you have to go any one of them to try the Taihu three treasures.

Starters

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Taihu Lake Three Whites 太湖三白

Located in the southern part of the Yangtze River delta in Wuxi, Taihu Lake is the third largest freshwater lake in China. Taihu Lake is just like a bright pearl set in the Yangtze River delta. It crosses Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, where 48 islets of different sizes and 72 peaks and peninsulas along the lake combine to form a panorama of great natural beauty.

Taihu Lake is an abundant source of fish and other freshwater seafood. Traveling there, you can taste the famous delicious food known as ‘Taihu Lake Three Whites’, including white shrimp, whitebait and whitefish. They are characteristic aquatic products in Taihu Lake area. These three products taste delicate and fresh and they have been a delicious dish on the table of Suzhou locals for a long time.

太湖白鱼 Taihu white fish

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太湖白鱼 Taihu white fish

The Taihu white fish is a perennial fish that can be caught all year round. The fish meat is delicate and tasty, and has been sent to the emperor as a tribute from the region since Sui dynasty (581-618 CE). The best way to enjoy it is to simply steam it without any embellishment to fully appreciate the clean and delicate taste.

太湖盐水白虾 Taihu white shrimp in brine

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太湖盐水白虾 Taihu white shrimp in brine

With a thin shell and tiny feet, Taihu white shrimp is smaller than that of river or cocktail shrimp, and its body is like silver or translucent before cooking. The shrimp features a taste of tenderness and at the right season (Sep-Oct) would be succulent and full of roe. They can be deep-fried (usually the way to serve the summer shrimps) and cooked in brine.

银鱼羹 Taihu whitebait soup

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银鱼羹 Taihu whitebait thick soup

In Chinese whitebait is literally known as “silver fish”, as silver and white are used interchangeably in Chinese to describe the colour.  Whitebait is freshwater fish that is found in brackish and fresh water and can be cooked in many ways, including deep fried, steamed with eggs and scrambled with eggs, or in this instance, cooked in a thick soup. Whitebait is cooked with enoki mushrooms, carrot strips and cooked with stock and thickened with starch.

惠泉黄酒

Huiquan Chinese yellow wine

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惠泉黄酒 Chinese yellow wine

Four famous wines in ancient China were Wuxi Huiquan wine 无锡惠阳酒, a wine made from Huishan Mountain’s spring water; The other three are Shaoxing Jiafan Wine 绍兴加饭酒 (also known as Shaoxing Huadiao 绍兴花雕, and the best example at 咸亨酒店); Danyang Fenggang Wine 丹阳封缸酒, a wine brewed in an airtight crock; and Fujian Chengang Wine 福建沉缸酒.

Huiquan wine is a yellow wine with a relatively high sugar content. With thousands of years of cultural accumulation and technical improvement, it became a famous wine during the Ming Dynasty and an imperial wine during the Qing Dynasty.

One of the way to enjoy the wine is to pour the wine in a wine vessel and warm the wine in hot water or on a fire. After heating, the wine will be characterized by its fragrant and soft taste. However, the wine should not be heated for too long of a time, or the alcohol will volatilize and take away its flavor.

The Main Courses

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In Wuxi, the common cooking method is characterised by the addition of sugar and soy sauce to many savoury dish often in the form of hongshao (红烧; 紅燒; hóngshāo; ‘red braised’). This often results in a fragrant, caramelised flavour. In addition, Wuxi cuisine often has sweeter versions of dishes found in its neighbouring regions.

无锡小笼汤包

Wuxi steamed dumpling

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无锡汤包 Wuxi steamed dumpling

Xiaolongbao 小笼包, or literally, “little basket bun”, is the delicate steamed dumpling filled with pork and soup often thought to have originated in Shanghai.
Legend has it that its inventor was a man named Huang Mingxian, the owner of a restaurant called Ri Hua Xuan 日华轩 in Nanxiang, a district of Shanghai. In the 1870s, he invented the dumpling by adding aspic to his pork mince – upon steaming, the aspic would become liquid, thereby filling the dumpling with soup. Customers flocked to his restaurant for the dumplings,  and began calling it Nanxiang xiaolongbao.

Another story goes that Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799) tasted the dumplings in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, while travelling through the region. He travelled along the river and so was given the nickname of Youlong, or Swimming Dragon. On his trip, he was given xiaolongbao to try as a local speciality, and he apparently raved about them. The xiaolongbao of Wuxi thus became famous, and some even say that the long in xiaolongbao should be dragon rather than basket (the two words are homonyms) in his honour.

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门庭若市 interior

Pinyu Lake Food 品渔味湖鲜馆
灵山小镇拈花湾景区内拈花塔西南面靠近码头
Tel : 0510-81912886 17768339388

Date Visited : Oct 2018

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