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Five Foods to Try in Wuhan, China

by S Rose 11 months ago in asia · updated 7 months ago
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Especially Re Gan Mian

Wuhan, a central Chinese city which straddles the Yangtze River, has gained global attention over the last year as the original epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic. What the news reports do not capture is the charm of this city. Having spent eleven years there working as an English teacher, I came to know Wuhan as place with historic towers, temples, and bridges, as well as some of the kindest people I’ve ever met. There are vast clothing and jewelry markets that stretch out for miles and only open after dark when the city lights are glowing. Wuhan has four major museums, dozens of parks, and a bustling underground independent music and craft beer scene. Above all, Wuhan serves up spectacular food, some of which is completely unique to this city. If you’re lucky enough to have a chance to visit Wuhan, here are five dishes you can try.

1. Cauliflower on Fire (gan guo huacai)

If you consider cauliflower bland or boring, think again. Besides the titular vegetable, this dish consists of onions, pork belly, and chili, in an oily sauce. Found ubiquitously at mom and pop restaurants around Wuhan, this delectable meal is brought to your table in a miniature wok, underneath which a candle keeps keeps the oil bubbling hot. The fire creates an ever evolving flavor profile. At the start of the meal the cauliflower is spicy, light, and fresh. By last few bites, the onions are caramelized, the cauliflower has softened, and the sauce is thick and strong.

2. Spicy Duck Neck (ya bo)

At first glance, duck neck resembles sausage. Be careful biting into it, however. Tough and boney, duck neck is nonetheless delicious. This snack can be found being sold by street vendors or preserved in airtight bags at the supermarket. For some fun, get your friends together and book a deluxe room at a KTV (Chinese karaoke bar). A snack platter of fresh fruit, caramel corn, chicken feet, and duck neck will be provided. Savor the task of gnawing every scrap of meat off your duck neck. Then, follow it up with a swig of beer and a song.

3. Lotus Root Fries - (ganbian ou si)

Anything potato can do lotus can do better. For this dish, lotus root is cut into thin strips and deep fried in a way that resembles western french fries. The lotus root, which is sweet and nutty on its own, is seasoned with numbing Sichuan peppercorns, chili, sesame seeds, allspice, and MSG (which, in spite of being much maligned, is a wonderful taste enhancer and no more dangerous than table salt). If you see something resembling hair floating out of your lotus root fries after you take a bite, don’t be alarmed. Those are simply the lotus root fibers.

4. Pork with Bitter Melon - (kuguo chao ro)

Bitter melon is aptly named. A bite of this fruit, which resembles a lumpy pastel cucumber, is bound to make your mouth pucker. Like the fat in milk or creamer mellows out black coffee, the pairing of fatty pork alongside the bitter melon creates a kind of alchemy, resulting in a palatable flavor, which is strong and unique without being overwhelming. Additionally, bitter melon is highly nutritious and said to boost the immune system.

5. Hot Dry Noodles - (re gan mian)

I’ve saved the best for last! This popular breakfast staple reigns supreme as the quintessential Wuhanese dish. If you go to Wuhan and fail to sample the hot dry noodles, then you haven’t had the full Wuhan experience. As the name states, these noodles are dry, coated in a thick brown sesame paste that sticks to the roof of your mouth. It’s a little like dining on peanut butter and spaghetti. The noodles are seasoned with spring onion, pickled soy beans, and carrot. Spice and vinegar are optional but recommended. You can buy hot dry noodles at any breakfast cart. Every seller adds their own spin.

asia

About the author

S Rose

I’m an English as a foreign language teacher who writes as a hobby.

Contact - [email protected]

twitter - @S_Rose_Vocal

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