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Tastes of the sea

By Liu Zhihua | China Daily | Updated: 2015-10-23 08:15

Tastes of the sea

The festival's chief chef You Xiaochun prepares a dish at Minzu Hotel in Beijing for the Ningbo food festival that runs through Nov 16.[Photo provided to China Daily]

A Beijing hotel food festival brings the light flavors of Ningbo cuisine to foodies in the capital. Liu Zhihua stops by for a sampling.

Coastal Ningbo city in East China's Zhejiang province is famous for "Yongbang Cai" (Yongbang cuisine, as Ningbo is called Yong for short), which is one of the most widely recognized local fares in China, characterized by light flavor and freshness.

Compared with other cuisines that are also light-flavored, such as Huaiyang cuisine, Ningbo cuisine uses even fewer seasonings and always tries to bring out the best original flavors of ingredients through simple cooking.

Good news for Beijing foodies: Minzu Hotel has invited a team of chefs from the seaport city to hold a one-month Ningbo food festival that runs through Nov 16. All the ingredients are being sourced from Ningbo and flown to Beijing every morning to ensure freshness.

"Ningbo is a port city of long history. Businesspeople from all over China and abroad gather there to make money, and they shape the character of Ningbo cuisine as being exquisite, fresh and healthy," says You Xiaochun, the festival's chief chef.

"Rich businessmen have exquisite taste for what they eat," he adds.

Ningbo cuisine chefs seldom use deep-frying, so that the original flavors of ingredients will be kept, and the nutrition will not be damaged, You says.

Also, because Ningbo is close to the Zhoushan fishing area, China's largest offshore fishing ground, where high quality fish and crustaceans are bred, seafood is the essence of Ningbo fare.

The hotel food festival's menu consists of an array of signature Ningbo delicacies, and I tried some of the food last weekend.

My favorite was Ningbo yanxie, literally marinated crab.

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