The attractions of Suzhou exist not just in its scenic and artistic landscaping and architecture. Suzhou is also a paradise for gourmets, with its long history and thousands of years of culinary experience and culture.
The characteristics of Suzhou cuisine lie in its delicate preparations, emphasis on ingredients quality and its uniqueness in their dishes look and taste. Suzhou food delicacies tend towards the sweet side while retaining the ingredients’ natural flavour.
Suzhou Banquet Dishes
The formal Suzhou style banquet is renowned throughout China. It is made up of many Suzhou signature dishes.
The most famous of them is Squirrel-Shaped Mandarin Fish.
Squirrel-shaped Mandarin Fish (Song Shu Gui Yu)
The Squirrel-shaped Mandarin Fish is characterized by its lack of bones and soft meat. The name is derived from the dish’s resemblance to a squirrel. The meat of the fish is made to protrude outwards like the fur of a squirrel. The placement of the fish and the red sauce poured over it also adds to its resemblance.
The fish is deep fried to give it a beautiful fragrance, while the meat inside is soft and fresh. The sweet and sour sauce further enhances its flavour, making this a mouth-watering and appetizing dish!
Whitebait Soup is another typical dish in the Suzhou banquet.
This light and delicious soup is features the soft textured whitebait as its main ingredient. Ham, bamboo slices, green vegetables in the soup adds to its aromatic taste.
Biluo Shelled Shrimps
Biluo Shelled Shrimps is named after Bi Luo Chun tea, which is produced in Suzhou and is arguably the finest green tea.
This dish is prepared using Bi Luo Chun tea leaves to flavour the shrimp, giving the dish its unique taste.
Cracking Eel Paste
Cracking Eel Paste, is another Suzhou dish. The eel paste is made with rice field eels being broiled, stir-fried or quick-boiled.
The word cracking refers to the cracking sound of oil still present when the dish is served right out of the kitchen.
Watermelon Chicken is unique in look and taste. The chicken is first braised, then marinated in a watermelon. The final result is a dish with both sweet and savoury flavours.
Taihu Boat Dishes
In addition to these formal banquet dishes, Taihu Lake in Suzhou also offers a unique array of seafood dishes.
With Taihu lake in the backdrop, you can experience what is known as Taihu Boat Dishes. Taihu Boat Dishes dates back to the Tang Dynasty, which is over 1,000 years ago. Officials and merchants would hold banquets on boats at the lake, enjoying the beautiful scenery while feasting. Since 1994, Boat Dishes have become a well established tradition in Guangfu town, at the eastern bank of the lake.
Currently, there are 13 boat restaurants along the fishing harbor at Taihu Lake. The wide variety of seafood available includes the well known Steamed White Fish, White Shrimps and Whitebait.
White fish is a specialty of the Taihu Lake. It is steamed with shredded ginger and red and green peppers. The dish is wonderful in texture, look, aroma and of course, taste.
If you have sweet tooth, Suzhou has various snacks to impress and satisfy your sweet desires. Some of these snacks may not appear in large restaurants but you will definitely be able to find them in ordinary snack booths or shops.
Green Dumpling is a special food during April. It is made from glutinous rice, the green colour is from the juice of bromegrass which takes you a fresh taste, and the filling is made from sweetened bean paste and sugar.
Pan-Fried Steamed Bun
It’s classical, fantastic, wonderful, unexceptionable, terrific and awesome. In fact, shengjian mantou (生煎馒头, Shengjian mantou) is not a kind of steamed bun but stuffed bun. Shengjian mantou is fried on a big pan in shallow oil, so the bottom of shengjian mantou is very crisp and tasty. The most wonderful part is the filling which select and use leg meat of the hog. The secret of the dainty lies in the meat jelly which is mingled with the filling. After the frying, jelly is melted into juice, so it’s absolutely tasty.
Enjoying the shengjian mantou you need some skills. The mantou just off the fried pan is very hot, you should take care of your mouth and tongue. The right way is use your tooth to tear a small hole on the top and sip off the delicious meat juice carefully, the last step is eating up the mantou.
Wonton is a classical snack in South China, paopao wonton is the favourite for girls in Suzhou. The fillings usually use pork and shrimp and not filled too full, the remaining space is left for the air.
Suzhou style Noodles
Suzhou style noodles is very famous in the Yangtze River Delta area. The same as Japanese Ramen, Suzhou style noodles emphasize the soup too. Soup is the soul of the noodle. The different is Suzhou local noodle use fine noodles not the thick noodles in Japan. Due to the different colour of the soup, there are red soup noodles and white soup noodle. Also, the toppings (in Chinese it is called jiaotou 浇头) are important too, you can choose chop steak, smoked fish, peeled prawns, eel paste or something else as your toppings.
Suzhou style Mooncake
Mooncake is the traditional snack during the Mid-Autumn Day. Suzhou style mooncake is very special in China. It is pan fried with pork as the special filling. Other styles of mooncakes use fillings like sweetened bean paste, yolk, lotus and pineapple. The savoury taste and pork filling makes this Suzhou style mooncake unique.
More Suzhou Snacks
There are actually a lot of local snacks left to you to discover on the street, such as Dragon Head Sweet Potatoes with Sugar Juice, Gorgon Fruit with Osmanthus, Plum Blossom Cakes, Smoked Fish and Boiled Lotus Roots with Osmanthus.
Please do check out the other articles on Discover Suzhou. We hope you’ll enjoy your stay in Suzhou.
Learn Some Mandarin
|美食家||měi shí jiā||Gourmet||n.|
|玉兰片||yù lán piàn||Bamboo slices||n.|
|鳝糊||shàn hú||Eel paste||n.|
|青团子||qīng tuán zi||Green dumpling||n.|
|熏鱼||xūn yú||Smoked fish||n.|