This is another one of the lesser known cuisines that make up the Chinese cuisine.
It’s especially uncommon among foreigners but its popularly known as Su cuisine within the country.
Some people even refer to it as Huaiyang cuisine.
The Jiangsu Province Location
This province is one of the eastern-central coastal provinces of China that is found in the North of Shanghai.
It’s further one of the smallest provinces in the country that is also densely populated. The province also has a high income per capita.
It borders Shandong, Anhui, Zhejiang and Shanghai.
It further enjoys a large coastline as the yellow sea and Yangtze river passing across the south part of the province. In addition, it’s the home of exporters.
The region enjoys the perfect climate which means they enjoy the natural ingredients and a lot of fish as well as other seafood since the province is along the coastline.
Nanjing is the capital city of the province and it was the capital for over 6 dynasties. It was the imperial city of the region which led to the great influence of the cuisine.
The History of The Cuisine
Over 2000 years ago, the province began to mold their own cuisine which would later be used by the royalties of the region.
The southern song dynasty used this cuisine many times and so did the Ming and Qing dynasties.
The cuisine quickly spread to other regions that were near the Yangtze river.
This made it one of the most popular cuisines n the country.
Notice that, the city being an imperial city the cuisine had no choice but to be great.
Talented palace chefs at the time went on to create a cuisine that is adored to date by all.
The cuisine is famous for its freshness and uniquely rich delicacies. The cuisine would come to be at the level of the famous Cantonese cuisine within the country.
Since the cuisine belonged to the high-end people, it quickly became popular across the country.
During the Han and Qin dynasty, those around the area of Changjiang river served rice with fish soup as a common meal.
The Styles of Cooking
It’s important to understand that the Jiangsu style of cooking represents four sub-regional styles.
The Nanjing style
This is the capital of Jiangsu region and it’s also a city where people enjoy eating radish maybe because it’s sweet and juicy. The other common meal of this region is the duck. You will find duck in almost every other meal here.
The style of cooking here represents the evenness in taste and the perfect representation of matching colors.
The meals represent the river fish and duck. Notice that this cuisine has a robust of flavors. This is mostly because the cuisine is inspired by the four corners of China.
The cuisine further emphasizes the use of fresh ingredients that are crispy in nature.
The distinctive characteristic of this cuisine is that it features the ideal cuts, slices and dicing. You further have the set cooking time to follow which makes it easy to produce fresh meals that are also vibrant in color.
The meals are hearty yet light and they pride themselves of producing some of the best soups in the market.
This style emphasizes the selection of only the best ingredients. Its taste is stronger than that of Nanjing yet its sweeter than the Zhejiang cuisine varieties.
The unique thing about this cuisine is that it has additional sugars and soy sauce. The food here is sometimes red braised. The cuisine is characterised with strong aromatic nature and caramelized flavor.
Basically, most of the meals you find in those other parts of China you will also find their sweeter versions in this style of cooking. The Wuxi style is also proximal to lake Tai which means that the food and produce cooked here are mostly water-based.
You will find shrimp here, white fish and whitebait.
For this style, the emphasis is on the flavor and freshness of the ingredients. This is a description for most of the seafood you find in this region.
Note that, Nantong is located at the intersection of the most important rivers of the region which include the Hao river and Yangtze river as well as the yellow river.
Features of The Cuisine
The fresh ingredients
Jiangsu cuisine has attention to the ingredients they use and the method of cooking chosen. Since the province is found at a place with the great climate the ingredients are readily sourced in the mountainous regions.
In choosing only the best ingredients for the meal preparation, you expect only the best results in your meal preparation. Notice that, they further value the time of cooking the food with the aim of producing only the optimum product.
The food has a clear and fresh taste
The cuisine features a clear meal that is a result of articulate, timely and use of the perfect ingredients for the perfect preparation of the food. This also gives your meal the perfect taste.
One thing that is common about this food is that it balances the saltiness and sweetness of the food. The region likes to use thick sauces but emphasizes making them not greasy. The light sauces are clear and light but never watery.
The cuisine emphasizes the importance of obtaining the juices and meat flavors. The cuisine emphasizes the essence of having soups and sauces full of their authentic flavors.
They have a wide variety of seafood
When you talk of seafood, in most cases what comes to mind is the fish oysters or shrimps. However, when talking of the seafood for the people of Jiangsu it will mean anything from the fish, oysters, and shrimps to sea vegetables.
Unlike various other regions, this province has a select of foodstuffs for you to enjoy when you are looking to take seafood. In addition, you can easily have healthful food to explore.
Different styles of cooking
Jiangsu cuisine like many other cuisines in the country uses different cooking methods. They stir-fry, stew, braise, fry and quick frying.
Popular Ingredients Used in The Cuisine
The thing about this cuisine is that the province is found at the coast of the country which makes it easy to access the different kinds of seafood. The people living in Jiangsu are high-income earners which means that they demand the use of high-quality seafood for their dish.
What are the staple starches?
In this region, both rice and wheat are used to accompany the different kinds of meals. Jiangsu region like most other regions grow different kind of root crops like potatoes which act as staples.
Veggies and herbs
We had earlier stated that the province has great weather. This means that you can find different agricultural products. The area further has more lakes and ponds which allows for sea cucumbers, lotus among others.
This means that since the region has more rich people living there, they can choose from the list of the best veggies for all the health reasons.
Food for good health
The Chinese believe that a vast majority of diseases you can treat using the food. Yangchen city is in fact known for the concern about using healthy food to curb and heal certain diseases.
The Cooking Method
Remember we highlighted that the people of Jiangsu have a great income per capita which means that they would want a complex method of cooking as well.
This method is like braising method of cooking only it has more soup and it takes longer in the cooking process. The soup you have for the stewing method of cooking is often lighter.
The common ingredients for stewing include the pork ribs, mushroom, chicken and turnip in most Chinese cuisine.
This is a common method of cooking where you brown your food then simmer it in minimal amount of sauce or stock over a prolonged time. All these happen over medium heat. You will always use the dark soy sauce among other sauces in this method of cooking.
This is commonly used in making the soups and stocks especially when you are making the hot pot. The secret here is to use low heat as this will help to thicken your sauce. In cooking the ingredients for longer you melt the nutrients to increase the flavor.
Although it isn’t popularly used in the cuisine as it is in other cuisines, they still use it to cook a few of their dishes. This is a quick method of cooking that requires high heat and a wok for the cooking to take place.
The secret to effective stir-frying is in not using fridge cold ingredients. If you use cold food, chances are that the food will become soggy.
Also, ensure the food is well drained to avoid adding water to the food you are stir-frying.
This is a method of cooking where you place your food over the boiling water to steam. Being another healthier option of cooking you expect to use at Jiangsu province.
Jiangsu Common Meals
- Yangzhou fried rice
This is your regular kind of fried rice dish. It features the use of eggs alongside other leftovers like ham, shrimp and meat. Qing China’s Yi invented the meal and they named it Yangzhou fried rice.
You serve the meal with fish soup and you can cook the rice by silver covered gold. In this method, you scramble the eggs then mix it with the rice after its fully cooked. The other method you pour your liquid egg over the vegetable mix and the rice as its cooking.
This cuisine isn’t only used in Jiangsu cuisine but also other parts of the country. If you are interested in understanding the cuisine better visit the blog below.
- Salted duck
If you have never been to a region in the world where the people are duck crazed then maybe you should visit Jiangsu province. From the marinated kind of duck to the roasted duck then from duck meat to duck blood they enjoy it all.
The natives here believe that every meal should have some form of a duck. The salted duck is one of the common types of duck you will eat which is also an appetizer. You eat it cold at the start of your meals.
Some people use it as a snack to accompany alcohol. This meat is marinated in a special kind of brine to keep it tender. The best part is that the meat remains salty for its flavoring.
- Jingling roast duck
There’s a debate as to where exactly this kind of duck was invented. Some royalties say they introduced the jingling roast duck to the capital of Beijing from Jiangsu.
Just like the presentation of the food is said to matter, the roast duck has a red duck skin that is oily, bright, tender and delicious too. The duck is cooked whole and you can have the internal pieces removed from the inner part from the underwing.
Since the people of Jiangsu love eating aromatic food, the onions will enhance the fragrance of the food.
It appears true that the duck was introduced to the market by the Jiangsu emperor. The cooking of the duck is interesting as you need to roast the exterior while cooking the interior using hot water.
- Pan fried beef dumpling
You can never finish a Chinese cuisine list of foodstuffs without talking of dumplings. In this case, the beef dumpling is more popular. It has a crispy wrapper, beef that is full of flavor and onion rings as well as steaming soup. This is the most loved meal in Nanjing.
The dish is one of the Qinhuai treasures and it was originally from the Jiang you ji restaurant.
The squirrel shaped mandarin fish
- A tsp. of bamboo shoots
- A pound of river bass
- A pinch of salt and some sugar
- White pepper
- Two egg yolks
- The deveined and peeled shrimp
- Cooking oil
- Green peas
Prepare the fish
Begin by properly cleaning the mandarin fish. Cut off its head but don’t throw it away.
Slice both its sides then remove the inner bone but don’t get rid of the tail.
Turn your fish upside down so that the meat part is on the upside then make cuts that will form the diamond shapes. When cutting, don’t cut through its skin and this will form the quill-like pattern.
Season your fish with the salt, sugar, white pepper and egg yolk. Let the ingredients seep into the fish in 20 minutes. You then bat it with corn-starch.
Add oil into the wok and let it heat up. Cook it on both sides but remove it when its half cooked. Let the oil heat up to its smoking point then put the fish back to cook until golden and crispy.
Making the sauce
Drain the oil and place in a safe place.
Leave some oil in the wok, add your ketchup, water, salt, white pepper and 10 tsp. of sugar.
Next, add in the bamboo shoots, green peas, shrimp and egg yolk.
Make a mixture of water and corn-starch then add 2 tablespoons to the sauce. Go ahead and add the vinegar then mix briefly.
Your sauce is now ready, pour it over the fish.
Lastly, deep fry the fish head then add it to the rest of the fish and present it.
The duck recipe has only two ingredients for the marination.
- Salt and Sichuan peppercorn
For the sauce
You may use as many ingredients as you desire however in this case, we only use four.
- Take two whole spring onions
- Slices of fresh ginger
- Enough water to cover the duck
- Star anise
Prepare the duck then wash its parts both the inner part and the outer part. Pat dry it with a kitchen towel. Makes sure its inner part is dry and so is its outer part.
Dry roast your Sichuan peppercorn and salt over dry heat for 5 to 8 minutes. Confirm that the salt has turned its color to a pale yellow. Make sure the Sichuan peppercorns don’t burn. Let everything cool off.
Rub this mixture on the duck both the inside and outside should be covered in the marinade. Set it aside and let it rest for 3 hours in the fridge.
Take a large saucepan that will cook the duck in its whole form. Add the water and other braising ingredients and put your duck in. Bring your water to boil over high heat and then let it braise for 20-30 minutes.
Switch off the heat source and let the duck rest for about 20 more minutes in the sauce. You then remove it from the sauce and place it on the cutting board.
Spread the sesame oil on the duck then allow it to cool before you begin cutting through it.
Enjoy your cold appetizer.
Where to Enjoy the Cuisine
Nanjing impressions restaurants
For all those days when you crave for the authentic Jiangsu cuisine, visit the Deji Mall. You won’t only enjoy the food but also the beautiful shopping mall. I love their pork cooked in soy sauce.
Address No.18 Zhongshan road Xuanwu district/7F, Deji shopping mall Nanjing China.
Tian Shui ya ju
Here you will mostly enjoy the seafood that is cooked in the Jiangsu style. I have heard most people recommend the use of braised clover and shrimp.
Address: No. 1301 Gonghe new road, Zhabei district in Shanghai.