The province we will start off on our journey, which is a bit similar to the tour of the olympic torch, is Hubei (湖 北). Fish comes in all varieties, especially steamed fish. Even a kind of sushi can be found here. Seafood is so popular because of the proximity to the fish-rich rivers, the Yangtze is particular with its three gorges. The Yangtze valley was the cradle of Chinese civilization.
Interesting blends of tastes (orange, cucumber) are also an important characteristic. The material is cut and arranged with meticulous care, to make the dish pleasant for the eyes (attention is payed to the colours of the ingredients as well). The food is rather spicy (at least in Wuhan that's the case), although dishes from he Huangzhou area can be rather salty and oily. More sugar is used than in other parts of China, contributing to a distinct sweet-sour (from the vinegar) taste. Apart from fish, soups are very popular. Hubei cuisine does not rely on stuffings (like in dumpling etc.) so much, instead meatballs (made from beef, although not as common as in other eastern provinces) and fish rolls are eaten as they are, to go with rice. Even Chairman Mao is said to have been partial to one of the local specialities (from the Wuhan area) - rice balls with a savoury-sweet flavour wrapped in pancakes made from bean flour. Other popular dishes include (recipes to come) desserts made form fermented rice, hot dry noodles and soy-braised chicken.
Here is an interesting article (entirely in Chinese) about 鄂菜 (e4cai4) - Hubei cuisine.
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