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Henan Cuisine

Henan cuisine, also known as Yu cuisine, has the accolade of being one of China's most traditional and oldest cooking styles. As the representative of culinary civilization of Central China, Henan cuisine has preserved traditions and made great innovations. With ingredients from all over the country, Henan cuisine is characterized by meticulous preparation, and especially known for delicious soup. No matter a dish is prepared by frying, stewing, braising or boiling, it is well received by customers because of its taste, shape, aromas and container. It is: moderately sweet and salty, tender and palatable, crispy but not fragmentary.

In the past several thousand years, Henan chefs have created a large number of famous dishes, many of which have the names depicting the ancient charm of the Shang (17th-11th century BC) and Zhou (11th century-256 BC) Dynasties, the traditions left over by the Han (206 BC-220AD) and Tang (618-907) Dynasties, and the excellencies of the Song Dynasty (960-1279).  

Henan cuisine is mainly represented in Luoyang and Kaifeng. The Gulou Night Market in Kaifeng, which started in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), is crowded with people every evening. Luoyang has a good selection of the varieties of Henan cuisine, and the best way to sample them is by settling in for the night with some friends and the many courses of the water banquet. The Luoyang Water Banquet (Luoyang shuixi) is a local custom that has been running for over a thousand years. There are two reasons why the banquet has this name. The main reason is that, unlike most meal customs in China, the dishes served in this banquet are brought one after another, like flowing water. The second reason is that around one third of the dishes served are soup or semi-soup ones. 

The Shaolin Vegetarian Food is one specialty, standing out among the drab scenery of Henan cuisine. Chinese Buddhist belief has for centuries prohibited the eating of animal flesh, and the monks here have spent an age perfecting the cooking of all types of vegetarian food. Although not rich in fat or protein, this cuisine is packed full of nutrition and is healthy. 

Famous dishes and snacks include peony and swallow vegetable, fried purple crisp pork, lightly fried bean curd, jadeite shredded fish, scallion stewed sea cucumber, fruit juice and shrimps, stuffed bun steamed in small bamboo utensils, sweet and pleasant buns, egg cakes which is crisp outside and tender inside, steamed ravioli, hand-stretched noodles, braised cakes, etc. 

Over the vast expense of Central China, people can feel the comprehensive charm of culture and delicacy of Henan cuisine.


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