【Delicacies of Song: A Treat of Luxury Feast 】

Delicacies of Song: A Treat of Luxury Feast
As the most prosperous and richest empire in 5000 years of Chinese history, the Song Empire had the world’s highest population of over 100 million people. Amongst a host of historical records about the empire’s prosperity, Along the River During the Qingming Festival by Zhang Zeduan (1085–1145) reveals the bustling scenes of the capital Bianjing and depicts the emphasis on delicacies of the Song people through comparison and contrast with classic literary works.
Laying the cornerstone of Hangzhou cuisine in Taiwan through over 30 years of efforts, Tien Hsiang Lo linked to Hangzhou, the capital of the Southern Song Empire, in 2019 to reproduce the empire’s prosperity by analogy with the lakeside willow views and the Scenes of West Lake in a freehand style to reconstruct the classic dishes in literature.

Whisking Tea: The Start of Elegance
Known as the “four leisure activities” together with flower arrangement, hanging paintings, and burning incense, whisking tea is an elegant hobby of the Song dynasty. Also influenced by Emperor Huizong, a tea fan, whisking tea became a routine activity in the commons and a way to pursue elegance amongst scholars and artists. In his Treatise on Tea, apart from describing the emphasis on tea of Song scholars, Emperor Huizong also mentioned that whisking tea was a favorite of many scholars.

Ceremonial Dish: Heat of Wineshop
The ceremonial dish tradition originated in palace ceremonies. It aims at livening up the feast through “watching” and arousing the food expectation of guests. As the term “ceremonial” suggests, these dishes are for watching only. Ceremonial dishes are “served” immediately after guests are seated, and other courses follow suit after the dish-watching ceremony.

Gudou: Review of Literature
A famed dish during the Northern and Southern Song empires, gudou looks like the present-day wonton. In the style of a budding flower, fillings are sophisticatedly wrapped in a large square wrapper. Due to its sophisticated process, it eventually declined in later times.

Crab Stuffed Orange: Container of Freshness
A palace banquet dish first recorded in the Southern Song Empire, the crab stuffed orange was also a state banquet dish of the 2016 G20 Hangzhou Summit. A popular winter dish of the Southern Song Empire, it is steamed in a bamboo steamer to preserve the original crab juice. White meat, crab roe, and brown meat are stir-fried with orange juice to create a smoky flavor, and Huadiao is added to remove the coolness of crab meat, leaving a pure taste after alcohol evaporation. The orange and brown meat set each other off nicely, and the orange’s sour and sweet taste also balances the greasy crab roe. In addition to removing the seafood smell, the orange pulps and juice enhance the dish’s umami to create a perfect fusion of the crab aroma, fruit fragrance, and wine scent.

Crystal Jelly: Smooth as skin, clear as crystal
Originating in the Northern Song Empire, the crystal jelly was a winter dish to prevent the jelly from melting, as reported in literature: it was sold in markets from December to Spring Festival. The crystal jelly is characterized by its crystal-clear look, smooth texture, and refreshing taste. In the Northern Song Empire, it was made with premium pork rinds simmered/stewed at medium heat for four hours to extract all the gelatin, which became jelly after condensation. In the Southern Song Empire, people began to make various jelly dishes
with fish skin. As the food’s thickness is highly correlated with temperature and the water content, it is a challenge to the temperature control and culinary skills of cooks.

Stewed Lamb Brisket with Chestnut and Lotus Seeds: Royal Dish Made Common
Lamb was a high-profile meat that was primarily consumed used by the royalty and nobles in the Song Empire, and the remainder was delivered to the markets. The Stewed Lamb Brisket with Chestnut and Lotus Seeds is made with prime lamb brisket stir-fried with fermented black bean source, fermented chili bean source, and sesame oil. Yellow wine, soy source, and sugar are then added for stewing. Lastly, nice plump chestnuts and lotus seeds are cooked with the stew to create a fusion of the sweet nut flavor and plump lamb brisket taste.

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