Chongqing: City on Rivers
Chongqing, known as both ‘a mountain city’ and a ‘city on rivers,’ is an important transport and port city in southwest China on the confluence of the Yangtze and Jialing rivers. Often swept by monsoons, it is famous for its night time rain. All this natural water makes Chongqing a modern garden city with a wealth of flora and fauna, written about by many Chinese poets throughout the ages.
Such lush natural resources have, of course, greatly enhanced and influenced the cuisine of a whole region noted for distinctive spicy and pungent flavours like chilli, sesame, fermented black beans, scallions (like spring onions), ginger, garlic, wine and soy sauce.
Through processes such as drying, salting, pickling, frying and smoking, Chongqing cuisine has created many famous dishes. Examples include tea-smoked duck, dry-stewed fish, chicken with local spring water and Dan Dan spicy noodles.
Typical Chongqing Street Food — Hot Pot
Chongqing is famous for pioneering the Chinese version of Hot Pot – ultimate one-pot cooking. Chongqing hot pot is a broth in terms of consistency. Typically for the Chongqing region, the hot pot dish here demonstrates the local preference for food that packs a lot of spicy heat!
This is because traditionally, chilli infused hot pot was the perfect antidote to the cold winter winds of Chongqing. Today it is widely enjoyed with meat, fish, bean curds and vegetables. It is a very healthy, nourishing and restorative broth into which Chongqing tradition is to add ham, marrow and herbs.
Chongqing Jiuyuan Steamed Bun
For those with a sweeter preference, Chongqing delicacies include Jiuyuan steamed bun, which is actually available sweet (with walnut seed, honey, Chinese dates and rose sugar) or salty (with ham and bamboo shoots).
Experience a taste of Chongqing
At Toro, our menu includes a Chongqing style grilled fish which celebrates the pungent spicy flavours of Chongqing. In our honesty and to our knowledge, we believe it was the first such authentic Chongqing grilled fish recipe made available in the UK outside of London.
By Chen Hualin