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Fujian's fragrant feast

As the popularity of regional cuisines heats up, a once-unappreciated tradition discovers fresh confidence, Li Yingxue reports.

By Li Yingxue | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-01 10:25
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A display of various mountain and sea delicacies from Fujian. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Imperial favorite

One of Fujian cuisine's most renowned dishes, Buddha Jumps Over the Wall, was once considered one of the culinary centerpieces of grand Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) imperial feasts. Known for its complex flavors, it features a variety of ingredients expertly simmered to perfection. Hong takes pride in displaying all the elements of the dish on a dedicated wall in his restaurant. He has also given the traditional recipe a modern twist, with a lighter, clearer broth that appeals to the health-conscious palettes of today's diners.

To preserve its authentic flavor, he goes the extra mile, and uses water specially sourced from the province.

Another Fujian food expert, chef Wu Rong at Shanghai's Meet the Bund restaurant, has also added his own unique touch to the famous dish. He substitutes the usual soup base with ingredients such as fish glue, sea cucumber and abalone, steering away from its normally overly thick consistency.

Wu emphasizes the importance of preserving tradition while embracing change. He believes that innovation doesn't have to mean a departure from the past, but can mean making traditional dishes even better. This approach has earned Meet the Bund a Michelin star, and recognition as a two-diamond restaurant in food app Dianping's Black Pearl Restaurant Guide.

The 45-year-old's culinary journey began in hotel restaurants in 1998, where he honed his skills. In 2011, he decided to become an entrepreneur, and opened a fusion cuisine restaurant in Fujian, which quickly gained popularity with patrons.

In 2016, Wu decided to return to his roots and embrace tradition. He opened Mr Rong's Fujian Cuisine restaurant, which focuses on more traditional dishes.

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