Here’s a list of the dishes. Not exhaustive, as there’re over 50 different dishes developed over time.
Lotus roots stuffed with glutinous rice, steamed, rolled in egg batter and flour, then deep-fried in lard, and steamed again with lotus seeds, jujubes, kumquat, plum, and sugar.
Lotus starch balls with osmanthus, kumquat, jujubes, walnuts, pine nuts, and sesame.
Fried lotus roots stuffed with minced pork and egg batter
Roasted chicken rubbed with rose wine and seasonings, wrapped in lotus leaf
Steamed pork with rice vermicelli, wrapped in lotus leaf
Lotus seeds soup
Eight-treasure congee cooked with lotus leaf
(Eight treasures refer to many different types of ingredients, most common ones are: glutinous rice, japonica rice, mung beans, adzuki beans, walnuts, lotus seeds, pine nuts, and jujubes.)
Lotus roots steamed with glutinous rice, melon seeds, cherries, and plums.
Deep-fried lotus roots
You can order any dish that the birthday girl/boy likes. But when it’s the 89th birthday of a famous martial artist with dozens of students, you pull out all the stops.
Here are some highlights.
Eight treasures of the water
Made from the edible parts of Manchurian wild rice, lotus roots, water celery, fox nut, arrowhead, water chestnut, water shield, and water caltrop.
Deboned duck stuffed with sea cucumber, chicken breast, dried scallop, shrimp, ham, shiitake, and winter bamboo shoots, deep-fried in lard, then steamed with seasonings.
The duck is made into the shape of a cute bottle gourd.
This requires a whole other level of preparation, from ingredients, to cooking method, to plating.
To feed the guests attending the 9th BRICS summit in Xiamen, 14 chefs and 90 assistants had to prepare 170 dishes in under 45 minutes: one cold dish, four appetisers, and five main dishes.
Braised beef with shacha sauce
Xiamen style stir-fried misua
Made with salted noodles, shrimp, pork tenderloin, cabbage, dried oyster, and Chinese chives.
A group of scholars gather to re-create historical dishes.
The most famous fictional dish to come out of Dream of the Red Chamber. Granny Liu was treated to this dish when she visited the Happy Red Court.
She said it tasted a little like eggplant, but still it was quite different.
Her hostess laughed, and told her how to prepare the dish.
“Pick some early eggplant and peel it, keeping only the best part, which must be cut into small pieces and fried with chicken fat. Then get some chicken breast, fresh mushrooms, bamboo shoots, dried mushrooms, spiced dried beancurd and various kinds of preserved fruit. Dice these too and boil them with the egg-plant in chicken soup, then add sesame oil and pickles and store it in a tightly-sealed porcelain jar. That’s all.”
The recipe is well-known, but no one can claim to have perfectly re-created the dish.
Slices of raw common perch in soup made from garlic, ginger, salt, tangerine peel, chestnut, japonica rice, and salted plums.
The earliest mention of the dish is from Qimin Yaoshu—Essential Techniques for the Welfare of the People, a book written during Northern Wei Dynasty about 1,500 years ago.
Direct translation of its Chinese name means “Golden powder and jade fish.” Modern versions of the dish include using pumpkin as “golden powder”, so the dish ends up looking like this:
Fish slices arranged in the shape of peony flower
Recorded in Qingyilu, a book written in Northern Song Dynasty about 1,000 years ago.
Tofu soup boiled with petals of freshly picked cotton rosemallow
Recorded in a book written in Song Dynasty.
“Clan” here refers to anyone sharing the same surname, like the Xu clan, or the Zhong clan.
“Ten Big Bowls” feast
There are literally ten big bowls of food. The contents of each bowl vary, but commonly:
- seasonal vegetables
- stewed chicken soup
- bamboo shoots
- tofu salad
- meatballs rolled in sweet potato flour and sweet osmanthus
- stewed pork belly with jujube
- rice vermicelli
- braised pork with dried sour vegetables
- steamed fish
- soup with seasonal vegetables
Every guest after a “Ten Big Bowls” feast: