Braised mandarin fish with beer
Two chefs from Guilin face a dilemma in Beijing — to be authentic or acceptable?
Kuang Qing and Su Xiaoxiong, chefs with the Shang Palace Chinese restaurant at the Shangri-La Hotel in Guilin, are at the Traders Hotel Beijing for a Guilin food festival.
Before the event, they prepared a tasting for the hotel’s food and beverage management. “They said it was too spicy,” said Kuang, who is responsible for frying dishes at the event, while Su takes care of preparing and matching ingredients.
So they reduced the spiciness and on the first day of the food festival, a table of media representatives and gourmets from around the country tried the food. Afterwards, some gourmets who had been to Guilin said they believed authentic local fare to be saltier and spicier.
They also wanted the sour beans to be a little sourer. "And where are the famous sour marinated bamboo shoots?" some of them asked.
Guilin, in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, is one of China’s most popular tourist destinations and is damp and hot, with local people loving spicy and sour- tasting foods.
Two of the most common sour marinated foods are bamboo shoots and cowpeas. The marinating involves water, salt and local, clear liquor, inside an earthen jar that is sealed by water on top of the lid. The marinating lasts about 20 days.
"It is the local people’s way of preserving the vegetables after the harvest season," said Su. "In the past, almost all Guizhou families made their own sour marinated dishes. Interestingly, each family’s sour soup tastes differently."
The food festival started on Monday and runs until April 21 in the hotel’s Oriental Chinese Restaurant. Recommended dishes are braised mandarin fish with beer, Guilin rice noodles, fried sour cowpeas with small fish.