Bengbu dishes are one of the three flavors of Anhui cuisines--Yanhuai cuisine. This flavor is represented by the dishes of Bengbu, Suxian region and Fuyang and is prevalent in north-central Anhui province.
Yanhuai cuisine is salty, plus slightly spicy, with coriander and peppers as seasonings. It’s famous for its briskness, crispness and saltiness. It has several cooking methods such as roast, fry and steam.
The snack most worthy of mention is “Ant Shrimp Street”. It derives its name from a famous gourmet street in Bengbu that popular for its big ant shrimps. At this street, people are able to pick and buy big ant shrimps themselves. A special fry sauce is later added by the owner of the store. The big ant shrimp on this street is famous for its spicy flavor and tenderness.
Tips for picking ant shrimps:
Tip 1: you should pick those whose claws are small because the ones with large claws have fewer crabs.
Tip 2: you should pick the green shelled shrimps because they have a lot more meat and a smaller shell, making it more value for money.
Other must-try specialties of Bengbu include:
Milk Kingfish—Feiwang Fish
Huai Wang fish, also known as the king of fish, can be found only in the waters of Fengtai. The fish is regarded as a treasure for its fresh, tender and fine taste.
According to a legend, the king of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24), Liu An (179-122 BC), enjoyed eating Feiwang fish very much. At a feast, as the cook mixed other kind of fish with Feiwang fish and when this was discovered by Liu An, he was furious: "I cannot live without eating Feiwang fish!”. This goes how much the fish is favored. This dish later found its way into Bengbu and Hefei and people began to cook the fish with chicken soup. This soup is thick and milky and the fish tastes fresh and delicate.
Zhu Hongwu (Chu Yuan-chang) Tofu
Also known as "Fengyang Tofu”, it is one of the first Ming emperor's (Chu Yuan-chang 1328 –1398) old royal recipes. It’s also one of the traditional dishes of the Huaihe River region.
It’s said that the founding emperor Chu Yuan-chang was so poor in his childhood that he had to beg for life. On one occasion, he begged a Fengyang tofu and found it was quite tasty. After he ascended the throne, he often thought of home-styled tofu so he invited Fengyang cooks to his palace as the royal cooks, who were put solely in charge of this dish. This dish was appreciated by many guests.
This dish is often cooked with chicken breasts, lean port, and shrimp mud. Boil it in oil it turns a golden color. Sprinkled with some bittern, it tastes tender, crisp, sweet and refreshing.
Shrimp Fried Piper
Fried shrimp is a traditional Huaibei dish, with steamed shrimp as stuffing for the first step, and then wrapped in crisp fried paste and sesame seeds. It’s called so because its lute shape, especially its crooked shrimp tail.
The outer layer of this dish is crisp and the shrimp filling is fresh. You can have it with salt and pepper to make the dish more delicious.