Celebrating the arrival and harvest from the spring and summer seasons, now is just in time to embrace the grateful seasonal bounty. Eight Chinese chefs of Shangri-La hotels in Changzhou, Chengdu, Hefei, Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanjing, Ningbo and Xi’an are designing the special menu of dishes showcasing the versatility of the beloved delicacies from 16 April to 30 June, 2017.
Deeply rooted in Chinese culture and part of the rich dining heritage, people prefer to eat what’s grown in season and harvested at its peak. This practice can be traced back to The Analects, a collection of sayings and ideas attributed to Chinese philosopher Confucius and his contemporaries which recommend eating fresh, seasonal and well-prepared food in adequate quantities.
From 16 April, the eight Shangri-La hotels across China headlining A Culinary Tribute to Seasonal Bounty will introduce an array of season-inspired dishes prepared by the veteran chefs, with notable signatures including:
Stewed Arrowhead Paste with Finless Eel and Pork Ribs – Shangri-La Hotel, Nanjing
An expert in Huaiyang cuisine, Chef Hou rose to fame for his knife skills and cutting techniques when he presented Wensi Tofu in A Bite of China. For this event, he picked one of the ‘eight seasonal water plants’ produced locally and commonly featured in true Huaiyang cuisine, using mashed arrowhead as a base, which he stewed and used to infuse all the unique flavours into the eel and pork ribs to achieve a balanced taste.
Steamed Crab with Fengzhen Fermented Glutinous Rice – Shangri-La Hotel, Suzhou
Episode 7 of A Bite of China II mentioned Fengzhen noodles, the locally produced fermented glutinous rice, which was the essence of the dish, aside from the toppings, and releases a distinctive flavour and aroma when boiled. Chef Tim Zhao selected locally sourced baby crabs from Taihu Lake, put them in a steamer and, when the crabs turned bright red/orange, dipped them into boiled yellow wine with Fengzhen fermented glutinous rice. The aroma wafts into the air. There is nothing dainty about digging out crab meat with chopsticks or a spoon while the juice drips down your chin.
Smoked Chicken with Wheat Seedling and Tea – Shangri-La Hotel, Xi’an
Smoking is a simple and age-old way to prepare any cut of meat, and smoking with tea adds an extra special twist that gives poultry a distinctive Chinese flavour. Chef Randy, a young-generation chef who and was born in 1980s, specially prepares Smoked Chicken with Wheat Seedling and Tea, an authentic dish with a contemporary twist. The chicken is slowly roasted until the meat is juicy, tender and rich in taste. When dry tea leaves mix with seasoning rub and sit over high heat, they end up burning; the resulting smoke infuses the chicken with a charred flavour that has the essence of the tea leaf as a background note.
Wok-Fried Glutinous Rice Cake with Crab – Shangri-La Hotel, Ningbo
Locally born in Ningbo, Chef Fred is passionate about creating fresh flavours with unique, but approachable, ingredients that people will love to eat and enjoy. That continues to be his focus to this day. He adds wild spring or summer vegetables to fresh crabs and homemade rice cake, the two main features of Ningbo cuisine. It gives the dish a wonderful aroma, when the soft and sticky rice cake absorbs the crab’s juice. It is the dish people cannot miss when visiting Ningbo.
Fish steamed with Yellow Wine and Bamboo Shoot Soup – Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai
In southern China, when the weather gets warmer in early summer, people like to go out and appreciate the beauty of nature, savour the fresh fish, enjoy the blossom of flowers and sip vintage wine. Award-winning Chef Sam selects one of the three famous fishes from Yangtze River, and steams it with seasonings made of ham sauce and Shaoxing yellow wine. The flavour spreads just like cream melting in the mouth. Moreover, the rich fat in the fish is considered as its most distinctive aspect, particularly in April and May, the best time to taste the fish just before its spawns.
Braised Yellow Eel with Bamboo Shoots and Hairy Bean Curd – Shangri-La Hotel, Hefei
Chef Hunt has more than 30 years of culinary experience, including serving dishes to various politicians and celebrities. He has selected eel which naturally grows in Hongcun Town, braised it together with deep-fried tofu and spring bamboo shoots delivered fresh from a farm in Anhui Province, creating delicious textures mixed with authenticity and nutrition, multiple flavours and a long aftertaste.
Deep-Fried Prawn, Toast, Caviar and Fried Dumpling – Shangri-La Hotel, Chengdu
Sichuan cuisine is known for its deep and rich flavours, especially the taste of Sichuan pepper, which is rare in other regional cuisines. Chef Tokfan is originally from Hong Kong, the city frequently described as a place where “East meets West”, reflecting the culture’s mix of traditional Chinese roots with the influences from Western countries. He has prepared Deep-Fried Prawn, Toast, Caviar and Deep-Fried Dumplings with Sichuan Pepper, which combines contemporary flavour with a traditional twist.
Stewed Soup with Fish Turtle – Shangri-La Hotel, Changzhou
“A good chef can be a food ambassador,” said Chef Jason, who believes that food is not his only focus, but also delivering the culture of the cuisine. His specially prepared Stewed Soup with Fish Turtle reflects the essence of Huaiyang cuisine – freshness. He simmers homemade meat ball, fish ball, Jinhua ham and winter bamboo shoots simmering over low heat for five hours, giving the soup a richness and freshness that make the dish alluring.
Guests wishing to get more information or make reservations can do directly with participating hotels by phone via each hotel’s restaurant page on www.shangri-la.com.