Yuan Mei’s Food Book: The Suiyuan Shidan

October 30th, 2014

Suiyuan Shidan:


The Garden of Accord Food Book


Yuan Mei


Translated by Beilei Pu

Edited by E. N. Anderson


Posted for comments; all suggestions and corrections WELCOME and will be duly acknowledged.  

Riverside, CA, 2014



Introductory Note


Yuan Mei (1716-1797) was known as a champion of women’s education, a versatile and brilliant poet and writer, and a foodie par excellence.  He earned a jinshi degree, roughly equivalent to a Ph.D., at 23, a striking accomplishment.  He duly received high office.  In 1748, however, he retired, to live on family income and devote his life to writing, teaching, and eating.  Born and raised in the area of Hangzhou and living his life in the Yangzi delta, he had access to the most sophisticated food culture in China, and indeed in the world at the time. 


Yuan participated in an intense, talented world.  The literary and artistic scene in the Yangzi delta was an open, tolerant, peaceful one.  Yuan’s adult life coincided with the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1636-1696), an era of peace and prosperity.  Trade and commerce flourished.  Unusual in Chinese history was the respect for women, at least among the intellectual and literary circles in which Yuan moved.  He may well have known Cao Xueqin, whose great novel Hong Lou Meng idealized the brilliant but fated girls with whom Cao grew up.  He may have known Zheng Xie, whose poems speak movingly of women of all ages and in all walks of life.  The wider context—footbinding, Neo-Confucian morality, and all—was terribly harsh on women, but Yuan and many others tried to give them the fairest chance possible.


Perhaps the best short insight into Yuan’s complex and fascinating character is one of his later poems:

Seventy, and still planting trees…

Don’t laugh at me, my friends.

Of course I know I’m going to die.

I also know I’m not dead yet.

                        (Tr. J. P. Seaton, 1997, p. 92).

One can easily imagine Yuan smiling happily and a bit ironically, as he watches his workmen plant a row of trees.  Perhaps he even took up a shovel himself (though at 70 he probably did not).  The combination of resigned realism, playful enjoyment of life and society, and deep probing into what life and death really mean, is pure Yuan Mei.


All of which merely sets the background for China’s most popular traditional food book.  Yuan’s birthday, March 25 in the western calendar, has been declared by the Chinese as International Chinese Food Day. 


The title literally means “the Sui Garden Recipes.”  Shidan literally means “eating documents.”  Dan can also mean “single” or “simple,” and I strongly suspect it is a pun, since Yuan loved simple food.  Sui means “to follow, to be in accord.”  Exactly what Yuan had in mind when he gave that name to his garden is somewhat unclear, but one can be sure he had all the meanings of the character in his thoughts somewhere.  He apparently worked on this food book till he died, with drafts circulating for many years (Waley 1956:195).


Yuan’s good humor and delight in writing about his friends and his good dinners rather steal the show in this book.  A true recipe book it is not.  The recipes herein are as vague and cursory as only traditional home recipes can be.  Often all pretense of a recipe is dropped, and Yuan simply reminisces about good food in good company.  It is beyond us to convert the recipes into usable form; they are simply too fragmentary.  The reader is thus turned loose to use his or her imagination.  It is hard to imagine, for example, that the stewed and red-cooked dishes were as completely spiceless as they are here; one assumes that Yuan would add star anise, white pepper, fennel, ginger and the like, according to taste and mood, as a modern Chinese cook would do.  We have silently added some necessary explanatory words, but any substantial explanation not in the text is marked by square brackets.



Translation notes


References to Yi Yin and Yi Ya are to legendary chefs of ancient China, who were supposed to be incomparable.  Yi Yin appears to be purely fictional. Yi Ya may have existed, but stories about him include some tall tales.


We have tried to provide scientific names for obscure itsems, checking against Shiu-ying Hu’s definitive encyclopedia, Food Plants of China (2005).


“Autumn oil” is a common term used herein for soy sauce.  It may indicate a special kind, though probably it just means the regular sauce made in the fall after the soybean harvest.  We leave it as “autumn oil” a few times for the effect, otherwise simply call it soy sauce.  However, there is probably more to Yuan’s soy sauces than we understand, and probably a soy sauce expert needs to look at this book (see Huang 2000—but, alas, H. T. Huang is no longer with us).


“Liquor” here translates jiu, actually meaning any alcoholic liquid. Unfortunately, an old literary tradition in English translates jiu as “wine,” causing endless confusion.  In Yuan Mei’s book, jiu normally refers to a still (noncarbonated) ale made from rice or millet, but in Qing times there were many other jiu, ranging from true wine (from grapes) to a very wide variety of distilled liquors.  Yuan does refer to these occasionally; unless otherwise noted, though, “liquor” was a still ale.  There were, and are, countless forms and local versions of this, and until recently people often brewed their own; older cookbooks all have recipes for doing this, and sometimes for distilling as well.  We cannot fight usage all the way.  For instance, we retain “winecup” for the small cups used for drinking jiu. 





A jin, “catty” in English,was historically 1 1/3 lb or about 600 gr.  A liang or “catty ounce” is 1/16 of this, about 38 gr.  A qian is a tenth of a liang.  A fen is a tenth of a qian.  A liquor cup is a very small amount; traditional Chinese liquor cups hold only one or two ounces.


The standard measure of time in the old Chinese kitchen was an incense stick.  It takes about a half hour for an ordinary incense stick to burn down.  Two sticks means an hour. 





Giles, Herbert A.  1923.  Gems of Chinese Literature.  Vol. II, Prose.  Shanghai: Kelly and Walsh.


Hu Shiu-ying.  2005.  Food Plants of China.  Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong Press.


Huang, H. T.  2000.  Science and Civilisation in China.  Vol. 6:  Biology and Biological Technology.  Part V:  Fermentations and Food Science.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press.


Seaton, J. P.  1997.  I Don’t Bow to Buddhas: Selected Poems of Yuan Mei.  Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press


Waley, Arthur.  1956.  Yuan Mei: Eighteenth Century Chinese Poet.  New York: Grove Press.


Our edition of Yuan Mei was published in Beijing in 2010 by Chinese Culture Publishing House, reprinted 2012.


Part 1: Introductory Basic Knowledge


In all things one needs to know the essentials.  Thus, in cooking we need to know basic skills.

All things in the world have their inherent characteristics, just as people have different natural qualities. If one is really stupid, even Confucius’ and  Mencius ‘ teachings can do him no good.  And if the food ingredients are intrinsically not good, even if Yi Ya cooked them, they would still not taste good. 

Turning to the main points: pork with thin skin, not smelling like urine, is the best.  For chicken, it is best to select a castrated rooster less than a year old, not an old or overly young one.  Crucian carp with flat bodies  and white bellies are the best; if they have black back ridges, they will have hard bones, which look bad in a dish and diminishing appetite.  The best eels are from lakes and flowing streams; eels from a river have harder bones, looking like cluttered branches.   Ducks fed with natural grains produce white and juicy meat.  Tender bamboo shoots are found in good loam, and are small, fresh and delicious.  Hams can differ as much as sea and sky. Similarly, dried fish from Taizhou in Zhejiang can differ as much as ice and hot coals.  The same goes for other kinds of ingredients. As a general rule, in a meal, 60% of the credit should go to the chef, 40% to the persons doing the shopping.



Information on Condiments


The chef’s seasoning is like women’s use of clothing and jewelry. A woman of heavenly beauty,  good at make-up, but dressed in rags, even if as lovely as Xishi will not seem attractive. A truly skilled cook choosing sauce will choose soy sauce made in summer, and will always taste first to check if it is sweet.  Sesame oil is the type of oil to pick, and one needs to identify the source.  Liquor should be real fermented brew, with the lees filtered out.  For vinegar, use rice vinegar, not muddy but clean and mellow. Clear or thick sauce, oil from animal or vegetable sources, sweet or sour liquor,  old or new vinegar, must be used without the slightest mistakes in choice. Other items, such as onions, brown pepper, ginger, cinnamon, sugar, and salt, even if you do not use much, always try to choose top quality. Suzhou autumn oil sauce sold in the store comes in three grades with different qualities. Zhenjiang vinegar whose color is good, but is not sour enough, loses the important function of vinegar. The best vinegar is made in Banpu; vinegar from Pukou follows.


(Zhenjiang vinegar is still a top-quality item, but some is better than others; users of it today will know from experience exactly what Yuan means.) 



Knowledge about Cleaning


Rules for cleaning food and raw materials:  For birds’ nestss, remove any remaining feathers.  To clean sea cucumbers, rinse off the dirt.  For shark fin, brush off the sand.  For deer tendon, get rid of  anything rank-smelling. Meat has tendons and bones—take these out so it will be succulent.  Duck has rank-smelling kidneys; cut these out to make it clean. As to fish, once the gall bladder is broken, the whole dish tastes bitter.  The slime of eel, if not washed off, makes the whole bowl smell fishy.  Use only the white stems of chives and the heart of a cabbage.  The Rites says: “For fish, take out the cheek bones; for sea turtle, cut off the anus,” indicating the cleaning methods for these raw materials. A proverb says: “If you want to eat good fish, first take out the white tendons.”  This has the same meaning.


(The white tendons are on both sides of a fish’s back, inside the body cavity, right and left of the backbone; they have to be removed to avoid nasty smells.)



Seasoning Information


The rules for seasoning foods are determined by the type of cuisine. There are foods cooked in water, others cooked in liquor, others in both liquor and water. There are dishes that use salt, others that use soy sauce, others that use both. Some food are very greasy, and need to be fried first; some foods smell very fishy, and must first be moistened with vinegar.  Some foods need to be cooked with crystal sugar to bring out the original flavor.  Some foods are best dry-scorched, which can make the food flavor more concentrated, as in stir-frying.  Some cooking is best done as soup, to get the flavors outside the food item and into the broth.  This method is commonly used for those foods that are limpid and refreshing, and that easily float on the surface of the dish.



Information about Matching Foods


The saying goes: “A woman needs a good match for a husband.”  The Rites also said: “A qualified person needs a good match.” For cooking methods, isn’t it the same?  To cook anything,  one must have ingredients that match. Light dishes should go with light ingredients; strong dishes should blend heavy ingredients.  Soft dishes should have soft ingredients.  Hard dishes need hard ingredients.  In this way, one can make the best dishes. Some ingredients can be cooked with either meat or vegetables, such as mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and wax gourd. Some ingredients can be cooked with  meat only, like onion, leek, fennel, and fresh garlic. Some can be cooked only with vegetables, such as celery, lilies, and sword bean. Often one sees someone put crab meat into a birds’ nests soup, or put lily in a chicken or pork dish. This match is like Su Jun and Tang Yao sitting in front of each other—highly absurd.  However, if meat and vegetable products are used wisely, they can also give a good effect: for example, fried meat with vegetable oil, and stir-fried vegetables with lard.


(Su Jun was a Jin Dynasty general who rebelled and briefly occupied the capital, saying “I would rather be on a hill looking at a prison than in a prison looking at the hill”; Tang Yao was an emperor in mythic times, in the days of Shun.)



Information on Cooking Single Ingredients


If food tastes too strong, it can only be used alone; it cannot be combined with other foods.  As the famous statesmen Li Jiang and Zhang Juzheng had to stand alone, in order to give full play to their talents, so foods such as eel, turtle, crab, fish, cattle and sheep, should be separate dishes.  They do not mix well with other materials. Why?  Since they have strong flavors, they are quite enough for a dish.  However,  there are shortcomings: they need five-spice, and cooking by skilled chefs, to bring the fragrant flavor out without bad smells. Therefore, when I see people in Nanjing liking turtle cooked with sea cucumber, or shark fins with crab meat, I cannot help but frown. Turtle, crab meat, and sea cucumber’s flavors can not mix well with shark fin and sea cucumber. Instead the tastes of shark fin and sea cucumber can ruin turtle and crab meat.


(Five-spice is a nonstandardized spice mix that can have anything from four to seven spices.  Standard ingredients include black pepper, cumin seeds, cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds, and similar pungent warm flavorings.  It is still used with strong-flavored meats.  A modern diner would usually agree with Yuan Mei on the unlikely mixes noted in the last sentences.)



Cooking Temperature Information


Among cooking methods, the most important thing is to master the fire. Sometimes it must be a high fire, as in stir-frying, deep-frying, and similar things. Insufficient fire makes unpleasing dishes. Sometimes it must be slow, as in simmering, boiling, and the like. If the fire is too hot, these dishes look dry and dull. Some dishes need a military fire and then a civilian fire [a delightful metaphor for a fierce fire and then a gentle one], to keep the stock [from boiling away]. Impatience would make the dishes burnt on the outside but raw inside. For some dishes the longer you cook, the tenderer it will be, such as kidney, eggs, and the like. For some food, even with a short time of cooking, it would lose its tenderness, such as fresh fish, clams and the like. In cooking meat, if we fail to get it out of the pan in time, the color will change from red to black. In cooking fish, it is the same: fish meat will turn dry. While cooking, if you keep lifting the lid from the wok or pot, the dish will end up with less flavor but more foam. If you stop the fire and cook again, the oil and flavor will be lost. In Taoist alchemy, after nine rounds of cooking down, cinnabar becomes elixir. Confucians concentrate everything, avoiding excess and deficiency, and finding the center. When a chef knows fire and can correctly and carefully manage it, he has the Way of cooking. When the fish is put on the table, its color is as white as jade, and without dryness it keeps freshness and deliciousness.  If  the fish is white like powder, and its meat is loose, it  looks dead. A beautiful shining fresh fish, cooked till it seems long dead, is a really hateful thing for me.



Color and Odor Information


The eyes and nose are the mouth’s neighbors.  They are also the mouth’s mediators. When a dish is placed in front of the eyes and nose,  the color and smell can give different feelings. Sometimes the dish looks fresh like autumn clouds; sometimes brilliant like amber. The delicious odor greets you before chewing and tasting, and you notice something wonderful about the food. But to keep the color vivid, do not fry it with sugar; to keep the delicious freshness and fragrance, do not use flavorings. Using such complex methods destroys the food deliciousness.



Information on Timing


To invite guests to dinner, the host usually sends the invitation about three days ahead. That is a good amount of time to consider preparing a wide variety of dishes. However, if guests drop in suddenly, then it’s necessary to prepare a simple meal.  Or if the host is outside, away from home, the situation is similar.  Can you take the water of the Eastern Sea to put out a fire in the south? It is necessary to draw up an easy-to-cook list. Examples are frying chicken slices, frying tofu with dried shrimps, pickled fish, ham, and the like. To be a good cook, one must know how to make quick tasty dishes in such circumstances.



Various Cooking Information


Each food has its own unique flavor, and foods cannot be cooked all together. Sages teach students in accordance with their aptitude.  Gentlemen [junzi] cleave to human goodness.  Yet, now, I always see bad cooks put chicken, duck, pork and goose meat in one pot to cook. The result is that everyone gets the same tastes in dishes—no surprises or uniqueness. I think if the chickens, pigs, ducks, and geese had souls, in the city of the dead they would definitely complain of their grievances! A cook who is good at cooking must have extra pots, stoves, basins, and various pots and utensils, in order to highlight the unique flavor of the food. So each dish has its own characteristics.  If we can experience the uniqueness of each dish, our hearts will blossom.



Knowing Kitchen Utensils


The old saying has it:  Delicious foods need to be placed in beautiful utensils. This is quite right. However, Ming dynasty wares from the times of Xuande, Chenghua, Jiajing,and Wanli are extremely expensive, and people are worried about damaging them. Rather than taking the risk, people prefer Qing dynasty wares produced in  imperial kilns. These are also very delicate and beautiful. Whenever appropriate, use bowls with bowls, plates with plates, large with large, small with small, with appropriate colors. Varied furnishings for all kinds of food on the table make the food look attractive and striking. On the other hand, rigidly using ten bowls and eight plates [a dully conventional setting] on the table appears crude and stereotyped. Precious food should be placed in big utensils; ordinary food is suited to small utensils. Stir-fry dishes go in plates, and soups in bowls. Fry-cooking should be done in an iron pot, simmering and  stewing  food in sand pots. 


(This last sentence has something to do with the presentation, but more with the actual technique of cooking, so it seems an odd fit with the previous sentences. “Sand pots” are coarse sand-tempered earthenware casserole pots, ideal for stewing because they distribute the heat well and develop a seasoned taste.  They could be seen in any old-time Chinese kitchen.)



Serving Order Information


Rules for serving order:  Salty dishes should be served first, then mild dishes. Rich cuisine should also be served first, then light dishes. Non-soupy dishes should go first, then the soup dishes. Under Heaven, cuisines have five flavors; one cannot generally use one region’s flavoring in another’s cuisine. Estimate when guests have eaten until they are almost full and feel tired and sleepy, then serve spicy dishes to stimulate their appetite. If the guests drink too much and their stomachs are tiring, serve with sweet and sour dishes to refresh them.


(The five regional flavors are classically defined as sour in the east, bitter in the south, sweet in the center, spicy in the west, and salty in the north.  The last two, at least, are quite accurate characterizations of food in those regions of China even today, and the east still produces the best vinegar.)



Information about the Seasons


In summer, days are long and hot.  If you slaughter livestock too soon, the meat will easily go bad. In winter, days are short and cold; if the cooking time is slightly shorter than normal, food will not be cooked thoroughly. It is best to eat beef and lamb in winter [they are hearty, high-calorie foods].  Summer is  not the right time. Dry cured food is fit  in summer; in winter it’s out of season. As to condiments, in summer use mustard and in winter use black or white pepper. [Pepper is hot; mustard feels cooler.] Marinated pickles are inexpensive food in winter, but eaten in summer they taste precious.  Bamboo shoots are also inexpensive food, but cook them in cool autumn days, and they will seem a first class dish. Some food eaten before its season will taste  more delicious, such as eating fresh shad in March [a bit before the main run starts]. Some food eaten after its season will taste better, such eating  fresh taro in April. Some are better if eaten in season, such as radish, which goes hollow inside [if left too long], bamboo shoots which turn bitter [again if left too long], and saury fish, whose bones harden up after the season. So all things have their place in the four seasons.  Choose the best time to eat them to avoid losing the original tasty flavors.



Proportion Information


In a given dish, [if it is to feature an expensive ingredient,] the expensive material should take the main role, and inexpensive material should be used in less amount.  In frying and stir-frying, too much [in the pan] and too low fire result in tough meat. Therefore, to cook one dish, use no more than a half jin [about 300 grams] of pork, beef and lamb meat; for chicken or fish, no more than six liang. You may ask: Is this enough food?  I say: when you’re done, just cook more later. Some dishes need larger amount of material.  In cooking dishes like boiled streaky pork, if you cook less than 20 catties, it would be tasteless.  [There needs to be a huge amount to create a really concentrated, rich stock—but 20 jin is a bit much, and there may be some mistake here.]  Congee is the same; without a lot of rice [lit. a peck, but water quantity unspecified], the  porridge will not be thick and heavy. Also, water must be regulated: with too much water or too little rice, the porridge will taste weak.



Information on Cleanliness


A knife used to cut onions is not used to cut bamboo shoots. A pepper-stamping mortar cannot be used to stamp rice powder. When a dish smells like a rag, it is because the cloth is not clean. If dishes smell like a [dirty] cutting board, it is because the cutting board was not clean. “If a craftsman wants  to do a good job, he must first prepare his tools.” [Evidently a proverb.] A good cook should often sharpen his kitchen knives, change rags, scrape the cutting board, and wash his or her hands, and only then cook dishes. Smoking ashes, head sweat, flies and ants on the kitchen range, black coal in the pan, once they pollute the dishes, they ruin the carefully made goods.  If Xi Shi the beauty got dirty, everyone would cover his nose and quickly pass on by.  [Another more or less proverbial expression; Xi Shi was the traditional “beauty” of China, like Helen in ancient Greece.]



Information on Using Starch


Commonly people refer to bean starch as a binder, meaning something like the way ships are pulled by fiber ropes. From this name, we can understand the role of starch in cooking. In making meatballs, it is not easy to bind the meatball together; starch is needed to do this. In making soup, the soup cannot be too greasy. You need starch [in the meatball] to solve the problem. In sautéing meat, if the meat sticks to the pot, then it easily gets burnt. Starch [coating] protects the meat from getting burnt. This is the advantage of using bean starch in cooking.  For good cooks who understand how to use starch right, it is a great help. However, wrongly used starch only creates a mess, and leads to jokes [presumably unkind quips by diners].  The book Han Zhi Kao calls bran the mediator; the mediator should really refer to starch. 



Information on How to Choose the Right Materials


Some rules for using materials: for a small stir-fry, use hindquarters meat.  To make meatballs, use “sandwich” meat. [“Sandwich” meat is meat has three lean layers and two fat layers evenly distributed; it is found just under the shoulder].  For simmering, use pork rib.  Make fried fish fillet with herring or Mandarin fish; make dried fish floss with grass carp and common carp. Make steamed chicken with chicken less than a year old, make stewed chicken with castrated rooster, and make chicken broth with old hen. Female chickens are fresh and juicy, male ducks are fat and meaty. With Brasenia schreberi [a succulent water plant],use tip parts with the young leaves; for celery and chives, use  the stems. These are some basic material selection methods which also apply [in general] to other selections.



Information about Uncertain Tastes


We want the dishes taste rich, but not greasy; or taste light, but not plain. It is really hard to fully understand and grasp the skill. Slight mistakes lead poor cooking. When we say rich flavor, it means that the cook should extract the essence and reject the dross. If one pursues only richness and heaviness, why not just eat lard? To “taste fresh and light” refers to bringing out the prominent good flavor. If one seeks only weak and tasteless things, why  not just drink water?



Information on Fixing Mistakes


When master chefs cook dishes, they know how to use the right amount of seasonings, how to control fire intensity, and how to time the cooking. So the dishes come out perfect and no need more making up. However, I still have to talk about how to correct the mistakes when they happen. When seasoning, make it light rather than strong, because one may add salt but one cannot take it out [once it is in, and the same for other seasonings].. Cooking fish, it is better cook it too little rather than too long. If it needs more cooking time, one can still cook it longer; if it’s overdone, nothing can  make it tender again. The way to know the key points is observing carefully while cooking and cutting, watching the fire to understand it fully.  


(Age-old advice, taught by every veteran cook to young learners. Always make your mistakes in the direction one can correct. One is reminded of the folktale of the ancient Greek sculptor’s advice “Make the nose too big and the eyes too small.”)



Knowing When to Keep Your Roots


Manchu cuisine focuses on simmering and stew cooking. Han cuisine focuses on soup and broth. Since childhood, they have learned to be good at their own styles of cuisine. Han dinners for Manchus and Manchu dinners for Han people are good ways to explore different styles of cuisine. Do not imitate Han Dan, who dropped his own walking style to copy all sorts of others. People nowadays forgot themselves often, tending to calculate how to please the visitors. Han invites Manchu, offers Manchu cuisine; Manchu invites Han, offers Han cuisine. The result is like “painting a gourd while looking at a gourd” [a Chinese saying, meaning to copy mechanically] or like “trying to draw a tiger but ending up with a dog” [another saying]. If a xiucai [roughly, an M.A.] goes to the examination [for the equivalent of a Ph.D.], and concentrates on  doing his own writing excellently, he will naturally get someone’s appreciation or career opportunity. If he just imitates a famous essay, or make an imitation of an examiner’s essay with only a little knowledge, it’s wasted effort.



Part 2  What Not to Do


As politicians, to get political gain, find it better to help people solve their problems than to get promotions through new projects regardless of existing problems, so with food:  one has understood half the art of cooking when one has gotten rid of the bad habits. This is why I write my “Not-to-do Lists.”



Don’t Add More Oil or Fat


Bad cooks like to prepare a pot of pork lard for adding a scoop on top of each dish before serving, thinking it’s the way to enhance the taste, even with a light dish like birds’ nestss. It totally ruins the original taste of the dish. If the diners don’t know, and swallow food without chewing, they may think that eating greasy food was good, but they will look like hungry ghosts reborn.


(“Hungry ghosts” are a Buddhist concept; greedy people and the like are apt to be reborn in the hell of hungry ghosts, where they will have vast appetites but vanishly small mouths.)



Don’t Use the Same Cooking Tools All the Time


The disadvantages of this has been noted in the Cleanliness section of the “to-do lists” above.



Don’t Eat with Your Ears


What is an “Ear Banquet”?  It is a dinner provided in pursuit of fame. Wishing to serve something precious, so as to boast to the guests, is an ear banquet, not really [the serving of] a delicious dish. You should know that if tofu is done well, it’s better than  birds’ nests. And if you don’t cook sea cucumber [the text says “sea vegetable,” which Giles 1923:261 takes as an error for sea cucumber] right, it’s not as good as vegetables and bamboo shoots. I have said that fish, chicken, pork, and duck are the knights of the kitchen.  Each has its basic own flavor and cooking style. Sea cucumbers and  birds’ nestss are like ordinary persons—no characteristics.  They can be cooked well only with the help of other food.  I have seen a official’s dinner, each bowl is as big as a big jar, containing four liang of water-cooked birds’ nest—no taste at all. The guests were trying to compliment him. I smiled and said: “we came here to eat birds’ nests, not to traffic in birds’ nests.” If the valuable item hasn’t been cooked well, although there’s large amount, it’s a waste. If he serves it only to boast how rich he is, why can’t he just put a hundred jewels in each bowl, or a quantity of gold? Then it doesn’t matter if it’s inedible.


(Birds’ nests, by themselves, are tasteless. Their virtues, other than the medicinal one of providing digestible protein and minerals, are that they provide a crunchy texture and are very good at absorbing other flavors.  They are good only if cooked in a very flavorful soup.  Sea cucumbers, also valued more for their medicinal protein and mineral value than for their flavor, are somewhat more flavorful, but do indeed need much supplementing to make them good.)



Don’t Eat with Your Eyes


What is an “eye meal”?  An eye meal is one in which there are too many dishes at a time. Now some people pursue the fame of the food; they cover the table with dishes and stacks of plates and bowls.  They eat with their eyes, not with their mouths. [Angl. “their eyes are bigger than their stomachs.”]  They don’t know that when famous writers write too much in a short time, there must be some failures; when famous poets write too many poems, there must be some bad sentences. It is the same with a good chef. In one day, he can probably make four or five good dishes; that is about his limit. But to arrange a huge feast, even with others’ help, most likely will result in a mess. Because more people come to help, there are more different opinions. [“Too many cooks spoil the broth.”]  This can result in bad discipline during the cooking. I once went to a merchant’s house for dinner. They had three tables of dishes—desserts of sixteen types, total main course dishes of more than 40 types. The host felt proud of his treats, thinking it must have increased his face in front of the guests. However, after I got home, I needed to cook some congee to satisfy my hungry stomach. Due to my experience, I think this merchant’s dinner was less than successful—indeed, it was not very sophisticated! The Southern-dynasty writer Kong Lin once said: “People nowadays have many dishes, but rather outside the mouth—it’s more for the eyes’ satisfaction.” In my words, too many dishes on one table create unsatisfying views as well as unsatisfying flavors.



Don’t Overcook the Food


Everything has its basic nature, and cannot be distorted to be something else. Let nature take its course. For a good thing like birds’ nests, why mash it downto make a ball?  A sea cucumber is a sea cucumber, why cook it down to a sauce? When watermelon is cut, it won’t stay fresh for long. Why make it into cakes?  When apples are too ripe, they turn soft, but why steam them to make dry fruit?  Other things like Autumn Vine cakes from Zun Sheng Ba Jian and Magnolia Cake made by Li Liweng are all pretentiously overcooked pieces. It’s like twisting osier branches to make cups—they lose their main features. It’s also like daily ethical behavior; one can benefit the household just by performing normal good virtue.  There is no need for strange, mysterious practices.


Don’t Set Food Aside to Wait

When flavors are fresh, they should be tasted soon. If set it aside and eaten later, all the good flavor will be gone. It’s like clothes that have grown mold—it doesn’t matter how expensive and shiny the fabric is, as long as the mold is on it, it smells bad and looks grey.  I know an impatient host; every time he invites friends for dinner, he always wants all the dishes to be served together. So his cook has to put all the dishes in steamers to keep it warm until it’s time to serve. With such a way of serving food, how can anyone keep the flavors in?  Good chefs cook every dish with hearts and thoughts, but those eaters who only know how to swallow without chewing, in a rush, don’t really appreciate the hard work of the chef. It’s like a person who has got the best fruit, such as a Mourning Pear.  They don’t eat it when fresh; instead they steam it to eat. When I was in the eastern part of Guangdong, I went to Governor Yang Lanpo’s house and had eel soup there.  It was so tasty that I asked how it was made. He answered: “I just killed the eel, cooked it and ate it right away without a pause.” Other kinds of dishes should be made and tasted the same way.



Don’t Waste, and Don’t Kill without Mercy


A tyrant won’t appreciate others’ hard work, a wasteful person won’t make good use of materials. Chicken, fish, duck and goose, from head to tail, all have their special flavors. One should not take only a bit and then throw away the rest. I once saw a person cook a soft-shelled turtle; he only used the soft meaty edge of the shell and didn’t know the best part was the interior–the turtle meat. And there are people who eat only the fish belly, not knowing the best part is the fish back. In pickled eggs, the most delicious is the egg yolk, not the white. However, to toss all the egg whites, and eat only the yolks, would make the eater feel less interested in the eggs. I point it out not only because I treasure food in life, but also to bring up the point that we don’t need to over-trim in cooking food. If to do so would make a better dish, it may worth doing, but if to do so only results in wasting and poor taste, it’s better not to act this way. As for grilling live geese on charcoal for a goose web dish, or cutting live chickens open for livers, these are very cruel acts that should not be done by gentlemen (junzi). Why is this? If domestic animals are used for food, they have to be killed, but killing has to be kind, not merciless.



Don’t Abuse Alcohol


In judging a matter, only sober people can understand it.  Similarly, as to telling good food or bad food apart, only sober people can do it. Yi Yin said: “The essence of flavor is hard to elaborate in words.” Even sober people can’t do it easily. How can noisy drinkers taste the flavor? I often see those who drink hard, eating while playing finger-guessing games.  Even if the food is very good, they cannot taste it. They care only about the drink, not the food. In fact, if occasionally it’s necessary to drink, we should eat the food first, then drink and play. In this way, both drink and food are enjoyed.



No Hot Pot


In winter time, people like to eat hot pot with guests. During the hot pot season, however, loud talking and a noisy atmosphere really disgust me. Also, different food needs different cooking time and temperature and fire level.  These can’t be mixed up. Now all food is cooked in the hot pot. How can we get delicious flavors? Recently, people are using distilled alcohol as fuel instead of charcoal, thinking it’s a better way, but it’s still not the right way. As long as food has been cooked too long and too hot, it cannot maintain proper flavor. Someone might ask: “What about food that gets cold, is it still tasty?” I say: “Food that has been improperly cooked, with the cooking mistimed, can only taste awful when it’s cold.”


(The hot pot, firepot, or—in Cantonese—tapinlou is a pot with  a charcoal burner in the center, keeping the stock boiling.  In a proper hot pot, the diners hold thinly-sliced food in chopsticks and cook them in the stock to their taste.  Evidently Yuan Mei had to suffer hot pots in which all the food was thrown in at once and boiled to death—not the proper way.)



No Forcing Guests to Eat


To invite friends for dinner is a custom. It’s up to friends to decide which food they want to taste. Hosts should make their guests feel at home.  This is the polite way to treat the guests.  The host should not force guests to eat. I often notice the host taking all kinds of food with his chopsticks and piling it up in front of guests, making guests’ plates look ugly and greasy and disgusting. The host should know his guests have eyes and hands, and they are not children or hungry brides who are shy to take the food themselves. Why treat the guests in a vulgar-woman style that is extremely insulting? Lately, courtesans have come to love this ugly habit; they pick up food with chopsticks and stuff into customers’ mouths. The scene looks as terrible as a rape. In Chang’an, there’s a very hospitable person who can’t seem to manage to serve tasty food. One of his guests asked him:” Are you and I good friends?” He answered: “Of course!” Then the guest kneeled down, and  said: “If so, I have one request, and you must say yes before I get up.” The surprised host asked: “What can I do for you?” The guest said: “In future, if you want to invite friends for dinner, please don’t include me.” Everyone laughed.



Don’t Waste Good Fat


Fish, pork, chicken and duck all have lots of fat, but we wish to save the good fat in meat and turn it to good flavor, not waste it in cooking liquid.  In this way we can keep its natural essence. If the good fat was cooked into soup, it tastes less delicious than if it stays in the meat. For this [loss of fat], there are three reasons: first, if the fire is too high, the moisture leaks out and evaporates, and multiple times we must add water during the cooking  [leaching out still more fat]. Second, if the fire is shut down, later be turned on again, [the fat seeps out]. Third, if the cook is impatiently checking the food by opening the lid over and over during cooking, that will make the good fat leak out of the meat.



Don’t Fall into Stereotyping


Tang Dynasty poems are the best, so why don’t all masters choose Tang’s five syllable-eight line form?  [This was the “signature style” of the great Tang poets.  Yuan himself was a master of it—but of many other forms too.]  Because it has become a stereotype. If poetry is thus, so is cuisine. Nowadays, official cuisine forms include “sixteen plates”, “eight big bowls”, and  “four desserts” or “Man-Han [Manchu and Han Chinese] Banquets,” “eight snacks,” “ten main courses,” and so on. These cheap names are created by chefs and have become mere stereotypes that can be used for wedding ceremonies, welcoming superiors, and such reputation-related events. They are also coupled with chair covers, table cloths, fancy screens, and incense burner tables. But for casual dinners, as when one invites friends to drink and write poems, such things are unnecessary. All we need are different types of plates and bowls, and food displayed in order. This shows dignity. My household, when we celebrate birthday and wedding feasts, unfortunately has fallen into these stereotypes, because we hire chefs from outside. However, with my training, they will henceforth follow my directions and each feast will have its unique style.



Don’t Make Turbid Meals


Turbid and muddy doesn’t mean thick or thin. For soup, it means coming out not black or white, but like filthy water. For braising food, it means coming out not clear or rich, but like waste poured out from a smelly dyevat.  In these cases, the color and taste are really hard to bear. The way to avoid this is to wash well the basic materials; know how to add seasonings; pay attention to control of the fire and the broth; control the sourness and saltiness so as not to make strange or dull sensations on the eaters’ tongues. Yuxin once mentioned in his work: “Flavorless, flavorless, like pure vapor;  muddled, muddled, vulgar at heart.” This is what “turbid” means.



Don’t Be Careless


Don’t be careless about anything, still less in cooking.  Cooks are persons from the lower classes. If for a day they are not duly rewarded or criticized, in that day they will be lazy and casual. Their cooking will be bad because of lack of timely attention.  If we eat that food anyway, then tomorrow they will cook even worse food. Continuing with this, the food becomes trash, their job not performed well.  I say that one needs to reward or criticize them strictly and at the time. A cook who has done well needs to be praised, with details of how his cooking is good.  A cook who has done a bad job needs to be told straightforwardly why it was a bad job and how he can correct it. When cooking, seasoning must be performed well, not too plain or too salty; cooking time must be enough but not overlong. Cooks who don’t love their cooking, like eaters who eat like a pig, are big problems for one’s diet. Studying thoroughly and thinking through details are the keys to success in a scholar. Similarly,guiding in time and learning from each other are the duties of teachers. For cooking and diet, shouldn’t it be the same?



Part 3. Seafood


In the original list of the “eight precious dishes,” there were no seafoods included. Nowadays, people like to add seafood to the precious foods, so I follow the trend and have written a section on seafood.



Birds’ nests

Birds’ nests make a very expensive food  material which is not used in a casual meal. When cooking it, use two liang in a bowl, soaked with boiled natural spring water , and then pick the dark foreign substances out. Cook with fresh chicken soup, best ham soup, or fresh mushroom soup together until it turns to a white-jade color; then it’s ready. Birds’ nests are mild and fresh food material that cannot be cooked with greasy food.  They are also very smooth and cannot be cooked with other food contains bones or any hard subjects. Nowadays, people cook birds’ nests with sliced pork and chicken. In my opinion, this is not an appropriate way to eat it because it’s more like eating pork and chicken instead of birds’ nests. Some people wants to have a taste of the birds’ nests. They cook a little of it with a bowl of noodles, so little that after a moment the eaters have only noodles left.  This is another inappropriate way. It seems to be like a beggar pretending he’s rich, but only appearing poor. If there’s not much birds’ nest material, it is all right to cook it with mushroom slices, bamboo slices or tender pheasant slices. Once, at the Yang Ming government house in eastern Guangdong, I had a top-quality winter melon and birds’ nests dish. It tasted mild and fresh, smooth and tender, cooked with enough chicken broth and mushroom broth only. Birds’ nests are the color of jade, not pure white. Those who smash it into balls or dough are bad cooks.


(Birds’ nests are the nests of swiftlets, Collocalia spp., the best being from Collocalia esculenta.  Long harvested sustainably, they are now becoming extinct, because modern economies have no place for sustainable management.  Yuan’s instructions are all perfect, and still the rules for proper presentation.)



The Three Ways of Cooking Sea Cucumber


Sea cucumber is actually free of taste.  It smells fishy and has lots of sand inside. Cooking it well is difficult. It’s best to cook it with strong-flavored food. Do not make it into a mild soup. The way to prepare it, first, pick out the small spines, then soak it to wash off sand and mud, and next boil with meat soup three times over.  Finally, stew it with chicken broth and meat soup till it’s tender. It also can be combined with black mushrooms and black fungus. Because they are all black, they match the color of the sea cucumber. Usually it should be made a day before the meal, so it will be tender, juicy and smooth enough. I once observed how the household of the investigating official of Qian make sea cucumber. In summer time, they drizzled chicken soup and mustard on cooked sea cucumber slices. It turned out a very good dish. Or they would cut the sea cucumber into small cubes, stew it with bamboo, black mushroom pieces, and chicken broth. At the Officer of Jiang’s house, they use tofu skin, chicken legs and mushroom to cook with sea cucumber. It’s also a very successful dish.


(Sea cucumber, eaten more for health than taste, actually has a slight seafood flavor.  It is still cooked as described here.)



Two Ways of Making Shark Fin


Shark fin is really hard to cook to tenderness.  It has to be cooked for two days; by then it will probably be tender. There are two ways to make it: One way is to use the best ham and chicken broth, add fresh bamboo shoots and a qian of crystal sugar, then slow-cook it on a small fire; or combine broken shark fins with thin sliced turnip slices and thick chicken broth and cook it slowly on a small fire. This way the eaters wouldn’t be able to tell turnips and shark fins apart. When using the ham option, one should make it with less soup; with the turnip option, make it with more soup. Melting the shark fins into other food materials is the best general way to cook it. If sea cucumber pokes one’s nose tip or if shark fin sticks out of the plate because it’s still hard, the whole dish then becomes a joke. In the Investigator Wu’s household, they only use the top part of the shark fins.  This is another option to make the dish well. Turnip slices must be boiled in hot water fast twice to get rid of the muddy flavor. Once I was at Guo Geng Li’s place eating a shark fin dish. It was the best I ever had, but sadly I didn’t get to find out how they cooked it.


(Shark fin is now fading away, because the sharks are overfished; many chefs now refuse to cook it, since the fishery is now unsustainable.  Like the previous two items, it was more a medicinal food than a good-tasting item in itself. The medicinal value was as a “supplementing” or “strengthening” food—a dietary supplement.  We now know this value is due to its easily digestible protein and high mineral content. This made it very valuable in China’s malnourished past, especially to older persons.) 





The best way to make abalone is to stir-fry thin abalone slices. At Zhongcheng Yang’s  house, they slice the abalone, and cook it with chicken broth and tofu.  This dish, named “ Abalone Tofu,” was then dressed with special rice liquor flavored oil. At Governor Zhuang’s, big abalones are slowly cooked with a whole duck, a very special dish. Abalone is hard to make tender enough to chew easily. It has to be cooked for three days.


(The last figure refers to dried abalone, though even fresh abalone takes a good deal of cooking.  A zhongcheng is a vice-manager of important national security matters.)



Dried Clams


Clams are best for making meat soup and are famous for their fresh taste. Simply pick out the insides and cook with liquor.





Haiyan, a tiny fish from Lingbo, tastes like small shrimps. It is best used by cooking in steamed scrambled eggs. It makes a good snack.



Squid Meatballs


Squid meatballs are incredibly tasty but most difficult to make. The squid has to be boiled with river water to wash off the sand and get rid of the fishy smell. Then cook it with chicken broth and fresh mushrooms till tender. Military Officer Gong Yunrou’s squid meatballs are the best of all.

(These are traditionally made from the squid’s nidamental gland, a large glandular structure involved in producing eggs.  It is high in protein and has a mild smell—a very valuable sea food.)



Dried River Scallops


Dried river scallop are from Lingbo. The way of cooking is similar to cooking clams and mussels. The delicious part is the tiny meat part [the adductor muscle] attached to the shells. This being the case, when getting the scallops, people often throw away more than what they get.


(Scallops are not river animals, but for some reason are called jiang yao zhu, “river dried scallops.”)



Oyster Yellows [a standard term for oysters]  


Oysters live on rocks. Their shells stick to the rocks, which makes it hard to pry the oysters off. Open the shells, take the meat, and make thick soup, the same way as for clams and mussels. Oysters have another name, “ghost eyes.” They can be found in Leqing and Fenghua in Zhejiang province.



Part 4.  River Fish


Guo Pu’s “River Discourses” mentioned numerous types of river fish. I choose the common kinds to talk about here, to make a River Fish section.



Two Ways of Making Saury


Saury can be pickled in honey liquor, soaked in light sauce and then placed on plate for steaming, as for herrings. For the best flavor, there is no need to add any water.  If  you want to take out the bones, just fillet the fish and pick [any remaining] bones out with tweezers. Cook it in ham soup, chicken broth or bamboo shoots soup; these are the tastiest. Nanjing people don’t like the bones, so they roast it with oil first, then fry.  [This would make the bones so carbonized that they would be edible along with the fish.]  There is an old saying: “Don’t flatten a humpbacked person’s back, or he will die.” The same is true of saury. Cut the back multiple times to smash the bones, then fry it to golden color, sprinkled with seasoning; this is the method from Tao Datai’s house in Wufu town. This way it’s hard to feel the saury bones when eating.


(The Chinese name literally means “knife fish,” a name which includes saury and some similarly thin-bodied sea fish.  Saury is a mackerel-like fish of particularly fine flavor.  Knife fish are bony, hence the advice. Presumably one wants to have the saury die, and get deboned too.)





You can stew shad with honey liquor, as with saury, and it is very good. Or it can be slightly fried, adding clear sauce and fermented rice liquor.  This is also a good method. But don’t cut it into pieces and cook it in chicken soup. And don’t take only the belly part and throw away the back, because the flavor of shad is in the [meat along the] backbone.


(Northwest Coast people in Canada sometimes have “feasts of salmon backbones,” which sounds awful until you learn that the salmon too has some of its finest meat in the backstrip.)





Yin Jishan said he knew how to cook the best sturgeon dish. But his sturgeon dish was overdone and tasted too strong. At Tang’s house in Suzhou, I had stir-fried sturgeon slices that were very delicious. His method is to oil-fry the sturgeon slices first, then boil the slices with a bit of liquor and soy sauce for 30 seconds.  Then, last, he adds some water to boil the whole dish with spices, pieces of black sauce pickled cucumber, ginger, and green onions. Another method is to boil the fish in water for 10 seconds, then cut out the big bones, cut the meat part into small cubes including the cartilage of the head. Boil some chicken broth, put in the fish head cartilage, and cook it till it’s almost done, then add liquor and soy sauce, and then the fish cubes. Cook it until the meat part is 80% done. Then add liquor and autumn oil [probably a type of soy sauce made in the fall]. Then take the fish meat, slowly stew it for the last 20% of cooking with green onion, brown pepper, chives and a big glass of ginger juice for the last step.


(Sturgeon is a rather tough, meaty fish that needs stronger flavoring than the preceding delicate fish.  It has a great deal of cartilage that is good but needs long cooking.)



Yellow Fish


Yellow fish is cut into small cubes, pickled in sauce and liquor for about an hour, then hung to dry, then fried until golden. Add a teacup of Jin Hua salt black beans, a bowl of sweet liquor, and a small cup of autumn oil [see above] to cook on high heat. When the dish juice looks a bit dry and red, then add sugar , black-sauce-pickled cucumber, and ginger to cook for a minute. Then it is done. This dish smells and tastes really good. Another way to cook it is to get rid of the bones, mash the meat, then cook in a soup with chicken broth. One can also add a bit of sweet bean sauce and corn starch to thicken the texture. Yellow fish is best cooked in strong-flavored dishes, because of its rich and strong essence.


(“Yellow fish” is a term widely used for any yellowish fish, but it very possibly means yellowfin tuna here.  The cooking directions are right.  They are certainly wrong for yellow croaker, another fish often called “yellow fish.”)





Grouper is the tenderest fish of all. Peel off the skin, take out the intestines, and use only the liver and meat. Cook it with chicken broth over a low flame, adding three parts liquor, two parts water, and one part soy sauce. When it is about done, add a big bowl of ginger juice and a few green onions to remove the fishy smell.


(Grouper remains an extremely popular fish, often still cooked more or less as in this recipe.  There are literally countless species in the seas off China—no one has finalized a taxonomy of all of them.)



Imitation Crab


Boil two yellow fish [presumably still tuna] until done. Remove all the bones. Scramble four uncooked pickled eggs.  Then first fry the fish meat on high, then add chicken broth to boiling, and then stir in scrambled egg fluid slowly. Add black mushrooms, onion, and ginger juice and liquor to cook. When served, people can add vinegar to taste.


(Again, the recipe makes yellowfin tuna the logical candidate for the yellow fish here.)



Part 5 Ritual Livestock- Pigs


Pigs are used in so many circumstances that they can be called Majority Leaders. Since our ancestors used the whole pigs as gifts for courtesy [including sacrifice to gods and ancestors], I named this part Ritual Livestock.



Two Ways to Cook a Pig’s Head


Pick a five-jin pig’s head, and wash it thoroughly.  Prepare three jin of sweet liquor for cooking. For a seven or eight jin  head, then prepare five jin of sweet liquor. Then, first boil the head with the liquor, add in 30 roots of green onions and three qian star anise, and boil for about 10 minutes. Then add in a big cup of soy sauce (“autumn oil”) and a liang of sugar. Continue cooking the head till fully done. Check the flavor; if it is too mild, add more soy sauce. Then add boiling water.  Remember to cover the pig’s head one inch deep.  Press it down with a heavy object. Cook it for about an hour on high, then turn to a civilian fire [or literary fire, i.e. a gentle fire.  Recall from above: this is the opposite of a “military” fire].  Continue cooking till not much juice left and the head is soft and tender. Remove the lid when the head is cooked, or the juicy taste will dissipate in the oil. Another way to cook it is to use a bucket,  split across the middle by a copper filter. Wash well a pig’s head; marinate it with spices.  Fill the bucket to just below the copper filter.  Put the head on the filter and cook it on low till done. The greasy material will drop to the bottom.  The rest is the best dish.


(Pig’s head remains a popular delicacy.)



Four Ways to Cook Trotters [pigs’ feet]


Take a trotter without the nails. Boil it to tender in clear water, then discard the greasy liquid. Take one jin of good liquor, a half glass of flavored liquor, a qian of orange peel, and four or five jujubes [“Chinese dates”]. Cook them together with the tender trotter until it falls apart. Before serving, take out the orange peel and jujubes. Then add green onion, brown pepper and liquor. This is one way to cook it. Another way is stew the trotter in dried-shrimp stock with liquor and soy sauce. Another way is boil the trotter well first, the fry the skin in vegetable oil to a crackling, then add seasonings and brown sugar to slow-cook it. There are rural people who like to peel the skin before eating.  This is called “removing the blanket.”  Another way is to use two combined pots. Put the trotter, liquor and soy sauce in the inner pot, add water in the outer pot, steam the pots for two hours. This is called Immortal Spirits’ Meat [shen xian rou]. Official Observer Qian’s house makes very fine Immortal Spirits’ Meat.



Pig Foot and Pig Sinew


Use only pig foot, get rid of the larger bones, cook it in chicken broth. It can be paired with pig sinew.  They are a perfect match. If there is a good leg part [attached], it can be added in.



Two Ways to Cook Pig Stomach


Cooking the stomach is not difficult. The only concern in cooking it is to wash well the stomach to get rid of the smells. This requires some type of process. The normal way is to rinse off the dirty mucus, then boil it in hot water till the surface hardens, then put it in cold water, then shave off the hard surface (including dirty material) with a knife. When the outer part is cleaned, cut open the stomach, cut off the grease on the stomach wall, and rub it with vinegar and salt to rid of the smells, and then rinse the wall till smooth. Now it is finally cleaned and ready to cook in any way. The northern style is to deep-fry the stomach till crisp. The southern style is commonly to boil it till tender, then slice it and eat it with dipping sauce. When boiling the stomach, don’t add salt because the meat will shrink. But if you add in liquor, the meat’s shape will recover and become crisp and tender.    



Two Ways to Cook Pig Lung  


Washing the lungs is very difficult. First rinse and clean the lung tubes till there is no more blood, then cut off the coating. Hang it upside down and beat it, then pull off the veins. Considerable skill is necessary to complete the job. After cleaning, boil in water and liquor for one day and one night. The lung will shrink to the size of a white hibiscus. It will float on the surface. Add seasonings and eat. It tastes juicy and soft. Officer Tang Xiya once held a small dinner party. Each guest had four slices in his bowl. This required four lungs. Recently, people are lacking in cooking skills, and usually just cut lungs to small pieces and stew these with chicken broth. If using pheasant broth, this dish has a milder and fresher taste. Cooking lungs with good ham is also possible.


(The reader will get the correct idea that lungs—“lights” in old-time culinary English—are not the choicest part of the animal.  The Mongolian equivalent of “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” is “today’s lungs are better than tomorrow’s fat.”)



Pig Kidneys


Pig kidney slices are hard to cook well. If overcooked, they taste dull and dry. If tender, eaters might think the slices are not well done. So it is better to stew it, then eat it with a salt and brown pepper dip or other spices. Use your hands to separate the kidney; do not use a knife to cut it. If cooked a whole day, it becomes soft as mud. It also should be cooked alone, not with other things, because its smells would ruin the whole flavor [of a mixed dish]. The kidney becomes hard after stewing for 45 minutes but gets tender after stewing for a day.


(Modern Chinese eaters tend to prefer pork kidney slices cooked for a very brief time. Long cooking as described by Yuan would be very rare now.)



Pork Loin


Pork loin is good quality and tender meat. Lots of people don’t know how to cook it. Once I had pork loin at Yangzhou Governor Xie Wenshan’s house; it tasted really good. They sliced the meat, coated it with starch-powder batter, then put it in shrimp broth and cooked it with black mushroom and seaweed, immediately removing it from the fire when cooked.



Boiled Pork Slices


For making boiled pork slices, it’s best to use one’s own home-raised pig. Kill and clean the pig, then boil  it in a big pan to cook till 80% done.  Then leave it in the pan with the stock for another two hours. Get it out and cut off the muscle meat, then thinly slice this. When serving it, it tastes best when it’s not too hot or too cold. This is a northern style. Southern styles seem always less good than northern. Also it won’t taste good if  you use purchased pork parts instead of the whole pig. That’s why when “cold knights” need to invite guests for dinner, they prefer to serve birds’ nests instead of boiled pork slices. To make boiled pork slices requires a lot of pork. The right way to slice it is to use a small sharp knife and to cut pieces which have fat and lean parts evenly mixed. The best pork-slice dish is the Manchu people’s “Tiao Shen Pork.”


(“Cold knights” is an expression from the Northern and Southern Dynasties, a cheerfully ironic way to refer to less-than-affluent students and such.  Compare the Spanish nickname “poor knights” for French bread—a dish that looks noble but costs almost nothing. The point here is that an entertainer with slender means will be more prone to serve very expensive foods that can be served in limited quantity rather than a food that demands investing in a whole pig. The Tiao Shen is a ritual dance used by people to get blessings from the gods, and the pork is the offering, made with the whole pig for ritual ceremonies.)                         



Red Braised Meat


To make Red Braised Meat, it needs sweet sauce or soy sauce. Some use neither. One can cook a jin of pork with three qian of salt and stew it in pure liquor or water till the liquid is boiled dry. All three methods can make the meat color look like red amber. This dish cannot use sugar to add color. In cooking Red Braised Meat, if you remove from the pan too early, the meat looks yellowish.  If you remove it just in time, it’s red.  If you remove it too late, it turns to purple and the lean part gets really dry. While cooking, if you frequently lift the lid, the fat [actually the aroma] will leak away, and it holds the flavor of the dish. We often cut the meat to 1 or 1.5 inches cubes, and cook them until there are no more sharp corners and the lean meat melts in mouth.  This is the best. The most important thing to cook this dish is timing. As the old saying goes: “high fire for cooking congee, low fire for cooking meat.”



White Braised Meat


For white braised meat, choose a jin of meat, boil it in water till 80% done, then set the soup aside.  To the meat, add a half jin of  liquor and two qianof salt, and stew for two hours on low. Then add half of the soup back in, and keep on stewing until all liquid is gone and meat is tender. At this time add in green onion, brown pepper, black fungus, chives and similar vegetables to cook on high for a minute.  Then turn the fire low and cook until done.  Another way: to a jin of meat, add one qian sugar, a half jinof liquor, a jin of water and half a tea cup of clear sauce. First cook the meat and the liquor on high for about two minutes, then add in a qianof dried fennel and enough water for cooking, then cook until meat gets tender. This is also a pretty good way.


(This is almost a usable recipe; Yuan must have cared a lot about this dish.)



Deep Fried Marbled Meat


Cut streaky meat into cubes, cut off the membranes, then marinate in liquor and soy sauce for preparation. Deep fry the pork cubes in vegetable oil to make it crisp outside and tender inside. When serving, add green onions, garlic and a bit of vinegar.



Dry Pot Steamed Meat


First, cut the meat into cubes, place it in a small ceramic container, sprinkle on sweet liquor and soy sauce [“autumn oil”]. Then put the container in a bigger ceramic container, sealed. Then place it in a wok on low fire, and cook it without any water for about two hours. The actual amounts of soy sauce and liquor depend on the meat. Usually one keeps the liquid just above the surface of the meat.



Steamed  Meat in Ceramic Covered Bowl on Stove


Instead of using a wok, just place the bowl on the stove.



Steamed Meat in Porcelain Jar


Same method as above.  The only difference: seal the jar well and use rice husk as fuel and cook it on low heat.



Skinless Ground Meat Pie


Take skinless pork and cut it up. Use three eggs, both whites and yellows, for each jin of meat. Scramble the eggs and mix well in meat, adding in half a liquor cup of soy sauce and green onion pieces. Mix well. Use one lard net [the mesentery, or the net-shaped fatty tissue wrapped around pig muscles] to wrap the meat mixture. Then fry the meat pie in about four liangof vegetable oil till the two sides turn golden. Then take it out and strain the oil. Next, use one teacup of good liquor and one half liquor cup of clear sauce and pour it over the meat pie, and cook it sealed in the wok. When done, slice the meat pie, and add chives, black mushrooms, and bamboo shoot pieces on top.



Sun-bathed Dry Meat


Slice lean meat thinly and sun it until dry. Stir-fry  it with salt-preserved turnips.



Ham and Fresh Pork Stew


Cut the ham into cubes, put it in cold water. Boil for 30 seconds, then strain the water. Cut the pork, put it in cold water, and boil for 20 seconds.  Strain the water. Place ham and pork in clean water, add in four liang of liquor, green onion, chili pepper, bamboo shoots and shiitake to stew on low heat.



Air-dried Fish and Pork Stew


The method is as same as the ham and fresh pork stew. One only needs to cook the pork first until 80% done, then add in air-dried fish. If one waits, it gets cold, and is then called “fish pork stew jelly.” This is a Shaoxing-style dish. If the fish is too old, don’t use it at all.



Steamed Rice Pork


Use pork slices that are half lean and half fat. Stir-fry broken rice grains to a yellow color. Then mix them with sweet flour paste and steam,  remembering to place Chinese cabbage underneath. When done, the cabbage is as tasty as the meat. Because there is no water added, the method of cooking saves all the flavors. This dish is Jiangxi style.



Smoky Stewed Pork


First stew the pork with soy sauce and liquor, then smoke the whole ingredients over a sawdust fire for a while—not too long. When the meat gets half dry, it tastes extremely tender and juicy. Officer Wu Xiaogu’s Smoky Stew Pork is acclaimed as one of the best.



Hibiscus Meat


Take a jin of lean pork slices.  Marinate in mild sauce, then air-dry the meat for about two hours. Use 40 big shrimps, and 2 liang of lard. Cut the shrimps to size of dice. Place one shrimp on one slice of meat, beat it flat, then boil the slices in water and screen them out [take them out with a wire-mesh ladle]. Heat a half jin of vegetable oil, set the meat in the wire-mesh ladle, then deep fry until done. Screen the fried meat. For making sauce, use a half liquor cup of soy sauce, a cup of liquor, a teacup of chicken broth, and boil it all. Then pour the sauce on the meat, adding steamed rice flour [presumably as starch powder to thicken the sauce so it coats the meat], green onion, and some brown pepper, mix it, then serve.



Litchi Pork


Cut the meat to the size of dominoes. Boil it in water for 20 to 30 seconds [lit. “turns,” gun, i.e. of boiling water rolling over], then strain. Using a half jin of vegetable oil, deep fry the meat until it is done. Screen it, then immediately cool it in cold water to make it shrink, then screen it out once again. Last, put the meat in the pan, add a half jin of liquor, a small cup of mild sauce, and a half jin of water.  Stew it until tender and soft.  



Pork with Eight Treasures


Use one jin of pork, a piece that is half lean and half fat. Boil for 10 to 20 seconds [lit. “turns”], screen it, then slice it to the shape of willow leaves. Prepare two liang of small clams, two liang of eagle-claw tea sprouts [named from the shape], one liang of black mushrooms, two liang of jellyfish, four walnuts, four liang of bamboo shoots, two liang of good ham, one liang of sesame oil.  Put meat, soy sauce and the liquor in the pan to stew for five minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients, except the jellyfish, which should be added last.



Daylily Pork Stew


Use young daylily buds, add salt to pickle, then air dry for future cooking.


(The stew recipe is obviously missing here. No doubt the buds were to be stewed in casserole with pork, as they still are.)



Stir-fried Pork Shreds


Prepare a piece of meat by getting rid of membranes, skin and bones, then slice it very finely. Marinate with mild sauce and liquor, while heating some vegetable oil in the wok. When the smoke turns from white to light gray, put in the meat and stir-fry it constantly, meanwhile add in pea starch, a bit of vinegar, a bit of sugar, white stems of green onion, chives, and similar spices. It is best to use one jin of meat and a high fire, adding no water. Another way to cook this dish is: after stir-frying the meat in oil, add sauce and liquor to stew until the color of meat changes to red, turn off the fire, add chives, and serve.


(The chives are presumably to be mixed in for very quick cooking, but perhaps they were chopped as garnish on top.)



Stir-fried  Pork Slices


Use half fat and half lean pork slices. Marinate in mild sauce. Stir-fry in a pan over a high fire.  When it makes a crackling sound, add in some sauce, a little water, green onion, cucumber slices, bamboo shoots, chives, and the like.


(Cooking by ear is common in Chinese kitchens; the change in sound when a piece of meat is properly stir-fried is hard to describe but useful to learn.)



Eight Treasure Meatballs


Mince half fat and half lean meat. Add pine nuts, black mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, gourds, ginger, and things of this sort. Mix them all with starch powder and shape to pingpong ball size. Put the meatballs on a plate, add some sweet liquor and soy sauce, then steam. When eaten, they taste juicy and crisp. Jia Zhihua once said: “To make meatballs, it is best to mince it by slicing, not to chop it with force.”  This is the right way to proceed.



Hollow Meatballs


Slice the meat to mince it. Marinate with seasonings. Use solid lard as filling to wrap in the meatballs. Steam the meatballs; the lard melts inside, making hollow meatballs. People of Zhenjiang are good at this cooking method.


(Evidently any seasoning will do, since the recipe is for a trick, not a particular taste.)



Braised Pork Steak


Boil the pork thoroughly, with the skin. Then broil it in sesame oil in the pan. Cut it into cubes and eat with salt or light sauce.



Soy Sauce Pork 


Marinate the pork for a bit, then brush salty flour paste on it. Or just marinate it in soy sauce, then air dry.


(This and the following recipes are for preparing pork in various ways for cooking; they do not detail how to cook it.  They appear to be ways of readying the meat for a red-cooking recipe or something similar.)



Rice Dreg Pork


Marinate the pork with sauce first for a short time, then add in rice dregs to marinate longer.



Salt-marinated Pork


Use salt to scrub and rub the pork, salt it for three days; then it is ready to cook.

The three styles of preparing for the pork mentioned above are only suitable to eat in winter, not for summer.


(They are all rich and heating—ideal for a cold winter day, but overwhelming in summer.)



Mr. Yin Wenduan’s Air-dried Pork


Slaughter a pig; cut it in eight pieces. Saute the salt first in the pan. Rub four qian of salt on each piece.  Rub this in everywhere. Then hang the pieces in an airy and shady place. If maggots appear, use sesame oil to rub [on the meat—but it would not work well].  In summer, when cooking, the air dried pork should be soaked in water for a whole night, then boil it in water. The water amount is enough when it just covers the surface of the pork. When the pork is boiled, slice it with sharp knife, and do not follow the muscle lines; slicing it should cross the lines. Yin’s house makes the best air dried pork, suitable for tribute to the Emperor. Today, even Xuzhou’s air dried pork is not as good as Yin’s, though we are not sure why.



Household Style Pork


Hangzhou’s hometown pork has different levels of quality, divided into first class, second class, and third class. In general, when the pork tastes mild but very delicious, and the lean part is not tough, it is the first class pork. When cured for a long time, the hometown pork becomes good ham.



Bamboo Shoots and Ham Stew


Cut bamboo shoots and ham to cubes, then stew them together on low heat. After stewing out most of the ham’s salty flavor, add in crystal sugar to continue stewing till the ham collapses. Officer Assistant Xi Wushan said: After the ham is cooked, if it is saved for the next day, one must keep the original broth. The next day, rewarming the ham in the broth is the best way to keep the tasty flavor. If the broth is not saved, and the ham is rewarmed without the broth, the meat will turn dry and the flavor will be gone.



Roasted Piglet


Prepare a piglet of about six or seven jin. Take off the hair, and clean internally. Set it on a large fork, and roast it over a charcoal fire. It should be turned while roasting, till its color turns deep gold. While roasting, spread butter from cream on its skin several times till it is fully cooked. When serving, the meat tasting crumbly and flavorful is the best; crisp is moderate; hard is the lowest quality. Manchu people sometimes steam the piglet with liquor and soy sauce, and this method of cooking is one that my good friend Long Wen has mastered.


(The first method sounds rather like Cantonese cha siu—literally “fork-roasted,” because it used to be roasted hanging on forks in an oven—but Cantonese use oil and flavorings, not butter.)



Barbecue Pork Roast


It takes patience to barbecue pork. First roast the inside in order to cook the fat in the skin. This way makes sure the skin part gets roasted crumbly with a rich flavor. If one roasts the outside first, the fat will melt down in the fire and the skin taste rough and burned, with poor flavor. The same rules apply to barbecuing piglets.


(This recipe is evidently for a whole pig, of the sort found at large temple sacrifices.)





To make ribs, use half fat and half lean ribs. Take out the spinal cord, and replace the space with chopped leek. Brush vinegar and soy sauce on the ribs, then place in the oven. While they are in the oven, make sure the ribs are moist by brushing on vinegar and sauce multiple times.



Luo-Suo Pork


It is cooked the same way as chicken shreds. Save the whole sheet of skin, but chop the pork finely and then cook it with seasoning. Chef  Lie is good at making this dish.



Three Types of Meat Dishes Cooked in Duanzhou


One is Luo-Suo Pork. One is water-boiled plain pork mixed with sesame seeds and salt. The last one is stewed pork slices mixed with mild sauce. These three pork dishes are good on home-style food menus. In Duanzhou, Chef Nie and  Chef Li are good at cooking them. I sent Yang Er there specially, to learn them.



Yang’s Meatballs


Yang Ming Fu’s kitchen makes special meatballs which are as big as teacups, but taste very fine and delicate. The soup is especially delicious. I think they prepare the meat by getting rid of tendon and veins, then chopping it very fine, using half fat and half lean, and last mixing in starch powder.



Dried Day Lily and Ham Stew


Take a good ham, peel off the skin, cut off the fat and save the lean meat. First stew the skin with chicken broth until soft and tender, then add the lean ham and stew until soft and tender.  Take day lily buds, cut into pieces two inches long. Then add honey, fermented glutinous rice and water, to stew with ham and skin for another half day. The dish tastes sweet and juicy. The day lily and ham are both tender and soft, but the day lily still has its shape. The soup is delicious. The recipe is from a Daoist in Chaotian Palace.



Honey Ham


Choose the best ham, cut into big cubes with the skin, stew it in honey liquor until very soft and falling apart.  This is the best. As for grades of ham, there are various qualities.  Even though they are all from Jinhua, Lanxi and Yiwu, most of them are not very good. Some are really bad, so poor that they can’t be used for making salted meat. Only Wang San Fang’s ham store sells the best ham.  It costs four coins per jin. I had this kind of ham once at  Yin Wenduan’s house. It smelled good even when I was still outside the house. Since then I have never had such good ham again.



Part 6 Livestock-Cattle, Sheep and Deer


Cattle, sheep and deer: these three kinds of livestock are not common food in Southern families’ household menus. But it is important to know the way of cooking them. So I wrote this chapter.





The way to purchase good beef: first go to the butcher’s to pick out leg meat. This part is neither too fat nor too lean. When you get home, scrape off the skin, then cook the meat in 3/5 liquor and 2/5 water till soft. Then add in soy sauce to continue cook until the meat absorbs all the juice. Beef has a unique flavor, so it is best to cook it alone. Don’t combine it with other food.



Beef Tongue


Beef tongue is among the best of foods. Peel the skin and membrane, then slice it, then cook with beef. It can be salted, then air dried for a year. Thus prepared, the tongue tastes like first-grade ham.



Sheep Head


Sheep’s head has much hair. It must be cleaned well. If you can’t clean it off [by ordinary scraping], then burn the hair off. Then wash it well and cut it open. Cook it in water until the meat separates from the bones. If there is old skin around the mouth, make sure it also has been washed clean. For eyes, keep only the vitreous fraction, cut them to halves, take off the dark skin, then chop the rest finely. Use an old hen for making broth, add in black mushrooms, bamboo shoots, four liang sweet liquor, and a cup of soy sauce. If you prefer spicy flavors, add 12 white peppercorns and 12 one-inch-long pieces of green onion. If prefer sour flavor, then add in a cup of good rice vinegar to the cooking liquid.



Lamb Trotters


Stewing lamb trotters is done the same way as cooking pigs’ trotters, except that there are red and white methods. Normally, cook it in mild soy sauce—that is, red-cooking. Stewing it with salt is white-cooking. It’s best to combine with Chinese yams.


(The text has “sheep” instead of  “lamb,” but for this and the next recipe a young animal would be used.)



Lamb Soup


Slice the cooked lamb meat into the size of small dice. Stew it in chicken broth with bamboo shoots, black mushroom and Chinese yam.

Sheep Belly Soup

Clean the sheep belly, cook till quite soft, slice thinly. Stew the sliced belly in the original broth.  One can add pepper and vinegar. This is a northern-style method.  The southern style of cooking the soup is not as good as the northern.  The best lamb pot stew was made by officer Qian Yusha. I wanted to learn the recipe from him.


Red-Stewed Lamb

Same as red-stewed pork. Add  a pricked walnut [presumably green] to get rid of the smell.  This is a very traditional method.


Stir-Fried Lamb Shreds

Same as stir-fried pork shreds.  They can be coated it with starch powder. The thinner the lamb shreds, the better. Stir in green onion shreds when serving.


Lamb Roast

Use big lamb chunks, about five or seven jin. Set the lamb on big pitchforks and roast over the fire. It tastes so good that it even made the Song Emperor Renzong crave it at midnight [in a well-known story].


Whole Lamb Feast

There are 72 ways [i.e., “many”; a traditional figure] to make a whole lamb feast, but only 17 or 18 ways are good. It requires very high cooking skills. Ordinary cooks can never manage the skills. For this dish, the lamb parts need to be cooked in different ways, separately. Even though it is all lamb in bowls and plates, the flavors need to be different to have a successful feast.


Deer Meat

Deer meat is very rare. It tastes more tender and more flavorful than roebuck. It can be roasted or stewed.


Two Ways of Cooking  Deer Sinew

Deer sinew is hard to cook to the soft point. It must be prepared three days ahead by beating and boiling it repeatedly, in order to extract the smelly liquid. Until the sinew is swelled,  it is not ready to cook. Add meat broth first, then chicken broth for stewing, then add in soy sauce, wine and a bit of starch to make a thicker white soup. Serve in plates. If stew with ham, bamboo shoots and black mushrooms, the soup will be red.  There will then be no need to add starch.  Serve it in the bowl. For white soup, one can sprinkle a bit of Chinese brown pepper on it.

(More a medicinal item—a nutraceutical—than a gourmet dish.)


Roebuck Meat

Cook roebuck meat as in cooking beef and deer meat. It can be made into dry jerky. Roebuck meat is not as delicate as deer meat, but is finer and smoother.


Masked Palm Civet (Paguma Larvata)

It’s hard to find fresh civet meat. Cured meat can be steamed with honey wine, then sliced to serve. Or soak it in water that has been used for washing uncooked rice. The rice water can soak away the salty dirty residue on meat. When eating the meat, it tastes juicy and tender.

(Palm civet, a mongoose-like animal, is said to be excellent eating, but is, alas, too good for its own good, and is now almost extinct from overhunting.)


Imitation Milk

Scramble egg whites with honey and fermented rice, beat the mixture really well, then steam it. This imitation milk is smooth and delicate. If cooked on a high fire, it tastes overdone. Too much egg white also makes the fake milk taste too old.


Deer Tail

Yin Wen Duan Gong ranked deer tails as the first among dishes. For people living in the southern part of China, deer tails are rare [they come largely from China’s far north]. When shipped from Beijing, the tails do not stay fresh. I once got a very big tail. I wrapped it in vegetable leaves to steam.  It made an amazing dish. The best part of tail is the fattest part.


Part 7 Birds

Chicken is very much used in many dishes, and should get the highest credit. It is like the case of a person with a good heart who does good things without others’ knowledge: he should get the full credit. So I write chicken dishes ahead of other birds.  This chapter is called Bird Dishes.


White Chicken Slices

Fat chicken slices should be just as the flavor of Taigeng.  [This was an ancient ritual meat broth; it had no seasonings, only the original meat juice flavor.]  And also of Xuanjiu [an ancient ritual water, later referred to as a mild liquor]. It is best when in the countryside, staying in an inn and having no time for complicated dishes. White chicken slices are the easiest. When cooking, do not add too much water.


Dried Chicken Floss [i.e., finely cut meat]

Take one fat chicken, use the two legs, pick out the tendons and bones. Chop the meat part, but do not hurt the skin. Add egg white, cornstarch, and pine seeds, then chop the chicken leg meat into cubes. If there is not enough chicken leg meat, one can add chicken breast, cut similarly into cubes. Fry in aromatic oil (sesame oil) till it has golden color, take it out and place it in a bowl. Add a half jin of hundred flowers wine, a big cup of soy sauce, and one metal spoon of chicken fat. Then add winter bamboo shoots, black mushrooms, ginger, green onion, and similar flavorings to taste, and cover it with chicken bones and chicken skin.  Add a big bowl of water to steam in the bamboo steamer. When done, remove the bones and skin.


Bomb Chicken

Chop the small chick into cubes, soaked it in soy sauce and wine. When you feel like eating it, fry one chicken cube in hot oil for a very few seconds, pick it up, repeat the action three times, then put it on a dish, spray it with vinegar, wine, starch, and chopped green onion.

(Try this and you will understand the name!)


Chicken Congee

Take one fat hen; use the breast. Peel the skin and scrape the meat with a knife, or with a planing tool. Only scrape or shred, do not chop. If one chops the chicken breast, the flavor will be lost. Then use the rest of the hen to make broth.  Cook it with the shredded chicken breast. When almost done, take some fine ground rice, ham crumbles, and pine seeds.  Mash them together.  Then add in the congee. When serving, sprinkle some chopped green onion and ginger.  Pour some chicken fat on top. Screen the dregs, or not, [as desired]. This congee is best for the old people. Normally, if the chicken was chopped when preparing, then screen the dregs out; if it was scraped, then there is no need to screen the dregs.


Caramel-Colored Chicken

Wash one fat hen well.  Boil the whole chicken in a pot. Add four liang lard and four -?- fennel seeds.  Cook till it is 80% done. Then fry it till golden color.  Cook it again in the original broth.  Add soy sauce, wine and unchopped green onions.  Cook till no more liquid remains in the pot, and pick the chicken out. When serving, slice it, and pour the original broth on top, or eat with dipping sauce. This is Yang Zhongchen’s cooking method.  Brother Fan Fu’s house has another good way to cook it.


Beaten Chicken

Beat the whole chicken, then cook it with soy sauce and wine. Nanjing Governor Gao Nanchang’s house cooks the best wrecked chicken.

(The whole raw chicken was beaten with a wooden stick to break the bones inside, but the chicken stays as a whole piece. This would allow the essence and flavor of the bones to get into the meat.  This can also be translated “wrecked chicken,” reminding one of the Spanish “wrecked dessert,” bread or sweet potato chunked and cooked in sugar syrup till it looks like a mess but tastes wonderful.)


Stir-fry Chicken Slices

Use chicken breast, peel the skin off, slice thin. Mix with bean powder, sesame oil and soy sauce, scramble with starch and egg white. When about to stir-fry, add some soy sauce, cucumber, ginger and green onion bits. It must be cooked on a big fire. Each serving can be no more than four liang, for cooking thoroughly in a short time.  


Steamed Chicken  

Use a whole young chicken [presumably something like the “game hen” of today].  Place it on a plate, add soy sauce, sweet wine, black mushrooms, bamboo shoots on top of the chicken, then steam it on rice cooker.


Braised Chicken with Soy Sauce

Take a whole raw chicken.  Marinate it in mild soy sauce for a whole night, then air-dry the chicken. It is a winter dish.


Diced  Chicken

Use chicken breast.  Cut into small cubes.  Fry these in hot oil. Add autumn oil and wine, then remove it from the frying pan.  Add some diced water chestnut, bamboo shoots and black mushrooms—for the juice, the black the best.      


Chicken Meatballs

Chop the chicken breast into fine paste.  Shape it into chicken meatballs, each about the size of a Chinese liquor cup [an ounce or two].  They taste tender and juicy like shrimp meatballs. Yangzhou Grand Master Zang Ba’s house makes the best. Their method is to use pork lard, turnip and starch to knead the meatballs; no fillings.


Mushroom Simmered Chicken

Take four liang of mushrooms.  Soak off the sand and dirt in hot water.  Then rinse under cold water, brush with a toothbrush, then rinse with cold water four times. Fry the mushroom in two liang of vegetable oil.  Spray on some liquor . Chop the chicken, place it in the pot, boil it, get rid of froth, put in some sweet wine and mild soy sauce. Stew it until 80% done. Then put in the mushrooms. Keep stewing for the other 20% of the time.  Add in bamboo, green onion, and pepper to serve. No further water is needed.  Add in crystal sugar, three qian.                                            


Pear Stir-Fried Chicken

Use young chicken breast.  Slice it, heat up 3 liang pork lard, put in the chicken slices.  Stir-fry 3 or 4 seconds .  Add in one tablespoon of sesame oil.  Then add in one teaspoon of each of the following: starch, salt, ginger juice, Chinese pepper powder. Then add in pear slices and black mushroom cubes. Stir-fry together 3 or 4 seconds.  Serve on a five-inch plate.


Imitation Wild Chicken [or pheasant] Wrap

Chop a chicken breast finely, crack one egg in.  Add mild soy sauce to marinate. Divide a lard net [caul, or equivalent] into parts, wrap the chicken meat in, then deep fry in the hot oil. Add mild soy sauce and wine for seasoning.  Stir in black mushroom and black fungus [i.e., black shiitake and black wood-ear].  To serve, add a little sugar.


Chinese Cabbage Stir-Fried with Chicken

Cut the chicken into cubes.  Stir-fry until half done.  Add wine and continue stir-frying 20 to 30 seconds, then add soy sauce to stir-fry another 20 to 30 seconds, then add water to boil. Cut the cabbage into cubes. Put in when the chicken is almost 70% done. Cook the whole dish till done, add in sugar, green onions, fennel. The cabbage should be cooked first [before adding the other items] and each chicken needs about four liang of oil.


Chestnuts Fried with Chicken

Chop the chicken into cubes.  Fry in two liang of vegetable oil.  Add in a bowl of wine, a small cup of soy sauce, and a bowl of water.  Stew it on a small fire till 70% done. The chestnuts need to be fully cooked before being added to the dish.  Toss some bamboo shoots to cook. When the dish is done, sprinkle a little sugar to enhance the flavor.


Broiling Eight Pieces

Take one tender chicken.  Chop into eight pieces. Deep-fry these in hot oil.  Strain the oil.  Add a cup of  mild sauce and a half jin of wine.  Cook until done.  Serve immediately. Do not add water.  Use a high fire.


Pearl Meatballs

Cut fully cooked chicken breast into the size of yellow beans; mix with mild soy sauce and wine, then roll in dry flour. Stir-fry in oil in a pan. Use vegetable oil.


Astragalus-Steamed Chicken for Curing Tuberculosis

Prepare a  young chicken which has not laid eggs.  Do not get water on it. Clean out the inside and stuff in one liang of astragalus. Place the chicken on chopsticks in a steaming pot.  Seal the pot. When it is done, take out the chicken.  The soup is thick and delicious. It is good for people who has poor health.

[The chicken is held above the steaming water by the chopsticks.  The drippings of the chicken would mix with the water to make a very pure, concentrated broth.  This is considered especially digestible and medicinal, today as in the 18th century.  Astragalus is a medicinal herb of very dubious value for TB.]


Braised Chicken

Take one whole chicken.  Stuff with 30 spears of green onion.  Add two qian of fennel powder. Use one jin of wine and one and half cup of soy sauce.  Cook for an hour. Then add in one jin of water, and two liang lard.  Stew it together. When chicken is cooked, get rid of the lard. The water needs to be boiled before adding. When there is a bowlful of thick juice left, take out the chicken. The chicken can be torn apart by hand or thinly sliced by a knife, and served with the original juice.


Jiang Chicken

For one whole chicken, use four qian of salt, one tablespoon of soy sauce, a half teacup of old liquor, three big slices of ginger.  Put all the ingredients in a casserole. Steam the casserole until the chicken falls apart.  Pick the bones out.  Do not add water. This is Yushi Officer Jiang’s family cooking method.

(A characteristic part of the Tang Dynasty’s bureaucratic system, the Qing Dynasty’s renewed Yushi system was a typical aspect of Chinese imperial supervision institutions.)


Tang Chicken

Take one chicken, weighing two or three jin. If choosing a two-jin chicken, use one bowl of liquor, three bowls of water; if choosing a three-jin bird, allow additional liquor and water. First, cut the chicken into pieces.  Use two liang of vegetable oil to fry the chicken until well done. Add wine, cook for 20 seconds, then add water and cook for about 5 minutes. Add a winecup [1-2 oz.] of soy sauce.  When about to serve, add one qian of sugar. This is a recipe from Tang Jianhan.

(Possibly in the style of the Tang Dynasty?)


Chicken Liver

Quickly stir-fry chicken liver with liquor and vinegar.  This is the best to preserve the tenderness.


Chicken Blood

Solidify the chicken blood, cut it to long pieces, add some chicken broth, mild sauce, vinegar and starch to make soup.This is a superior dish for old people.

(“Solidify” with a coagulant, normally one of the ones used to make tofu.  The blood becomes a cake much like tofu and tasting rather similar.)


Shredded Chicken  

Shred cooked chicken.  Add with some soy sauce, mustard-green tips, and vinegar to make a salad. This is a Hangzhou dish. One can add bamboo shoots and celery. To stir-fry the shredded chicken, use bamboo shoots slices, soy sauce and wine. This is also very good. For making chicken salad, use cooked meat; for stir-frying shredded chicken, use raw meat.


Rice-Dreg Chicken

The way to cook rice-dreg chicken is the same as the method for cooking rice-dreg pork.


Chicken Kidneys

Slightly boil 30 chicken kidneys in water.  Peel the coating, then add chicken broth and seasoning to stew. They taste extremely tender and juicy.

(This certainly shows the amount of labor a Chinese cook was willing to put in.  Chicken kidneys are about the size of split peas.)


Chicken Eggs

Crack eggs in a bowl, scramble with bamboo chopsticks for a thousand times [hyperbolic!].  Then steam till very tender. Eggs taste dull when cooked for a short time; cooked for a long time,they taste tenderer.  [An odd comment, at least by modern standards.]  When cooked with tea, control the cooking time around two sticks of incense.  [To burn one stick of incense takes about a half hour; here the text says two sticks of incense time, thus about one hour.  This was, even within living memory, a very common way of telling time, especially in the kitchen.]  To cook 100 eggs, use one liang of salt; to cook 50 eggs, use 5 qian of salt. Or use soy sauce to stew eggs. Other methods could be either frying or stir-frying. Steaming eggs with chopped Eurasian Siskin [a small bird] also tastes good.

(This is a rather chaotically mixed account.  The first part refers to Chinese omelet or frittata; then attention shifts to tea-cooked eggs, hardboiled for a very long time in tea and soy sauce; then attention shifts again to a whole set of suggestions.)


Wild Chicken [or pheasant] Cooked Five Ways

Slice off the breast part of a casseroled chicken.  Leave the skin on. Marinate in mild soy sauce, wrap it in a lard net [caul, mesentery, or equivalent], then place it to roast in an iron pan [tie lian, an ancient pot-like cooker.  A lian can be made of metal like iron or copper, porcelain or clay. Here the text specifies an iron lian.]. The chicken breast could be wrapped in a square shape or a roll shape. This is one way. One can also slice the chicken breast, stir-fry it with seasoning; this is another way. Or one can cut the chicken breast to small cubes to stir-fry, or stew the whole wild chicken the same way as a domestic chicken. Or pour hot oil over the chicken breast to cook it well done, then shred it, add in wine, soy sauce, vinegar and celery to make a salad. Or slice the chicken, put it in a hot-pot, eat immediately when it is done; however, this way of eating wild chicken has the disadvantage that if one wants to eat tender chicken, it lacks flavor, but if one wants the flavor, it tastes dull.

[“Wild chicken” can refer to any wild gallinaceous bird, including pheasants and the like as well as actual wild chickens.  All of these once were, but no longer are, common in China.]


Red-cooked Chicken

To make red pot-roasted chicken, wash the chicken well.  For every jin of chicken, marinate with twelve liang of good wine, two qian plus five fen of salt, four qian of crystal sugar, a few cinnamon bits, all put in a casserole.  Then stew on a mild charcoal fire. If the wine is almost gone, but the chicken is still not well cooked, then add one teacup of water per one jin of chicken.


Mushroom Chicken Stew

One jin of chicken, one jin of sweet wine, three qian of salt, four qian of crystal sugar.  Use fresh mushrooms without any mold on them. Use a mild fire.  Two sticks of incense cooking time is appropriate. Do not add water, stew the chicken to 80% done, then add mushrooms.



Stewing pigeons with good ham is the best. Stewing without the ham is also good.

(As this recipe, or lack of a recipe, implies, a well-raised Chinese pigeon is so good and so delicate that least is best.  Unlike the French, the Chinese use the adult bird, not the young squab.)


Pigeon Eggs

The way to cook pigeon eggs is the same as cooking chicken kidneys. Or one can fry the pigeon eggs, adding a bit of vinegar.


Wild Duck

Slice the wild duck into thick slices.  Marinate with soy sauce. Bind each slice of duck meat between two slices of snow peach and fry. Fu Daotai’s family cook  made the best wild duck dish, but the recipe has vanished. The duck can be made by the method for steaming domestic duck.

(Daotai was an official position, the highest in the Qing Dynasty city government hierarchy.)


Steamed Duck

Take one raw fat duck without bones. Stuff with one winecup of sticky rice, some ham cubes, kohlrabi cubes, black mushrooms, bamboo shoots, soy sauce, wine, sesame oil, and green onion.  Put these all in the duck.  Place it in a plate.  Soak in chicken broth, then steam the whole dish till done.This is the recipe from Taishou Wei in Zhengding. [Zhengding is a city in Hebei province.]  


Duck All Confused

Use a fat duck.  Boil in water till 80% done. Pick out the bones after it cools down.  Cut into random, natural-looking pieces instead of  regular round or square shapes. Put the meat back into the original broth to continue stewing, add 3 qian of salt, half jin of wine, then mash some Chinese yam into the dish to make soup. When the soup is almost cooked, add in ginger crumbs, black mushrooms and green onion. If want to make thick soup, add some starch in it. One can use taro to replace Chinese yam; it tastes good as well.

[The name of this dish is truly odd.  Possibly hutu, “confused and foolish,” is used here in the etymologically original sense of “paste-daubed.”  More likely it means “duck all mixed up.”  Such is Chinese.  One dictionary happily suggested “schlemiel” as a translation for hutu.  Chinese yam is not a sweet potato; it is a rather firm root, medicinal, flavorful.  White potatoes will do for a substitute, or if you can find a West African market, West African yams are more like the Chinese ones.]


Braised Duck

Do not use water, use wine to cook the duck. Take out the bones. Serve with seasonings. This is the recipe from Officer Yang Gong’s house in Guangdong.


Duck Breast

Use fat duck, cut into big pieces, use a half jin of wine, one cup of soy sauce, bamboo shoots, black mushrooms, and green onion to braise, cook it until the juice is absorbed. It is then ready to serve.


Roast Duck

Use a young duck, place it on a big fork and roast it. The cook from Officer Feng’s family makes the best roast duck.

(About as minimal a recipe as Yuan ever gives us.  Presumably this is the modern fork-roasted duck, marinated in a variety of wonderful dips and then hung on a fork in an old-fashioned Chinese oven—or, more likely, today, over a barbecue fire.)


Deep Braised Duck

Stuff green onions inside the duck.  Close the cap [of the pot] neatly to braise. Xu’s duck store in Shui Xi Men makes the best deep braised ducks. Ordinary families can not manage the skills. The braised ducks have yellow and black colors [depending on the sauce]; the yellow ones are better.


Dry Steamed Ducks

Hangzhou merchant He Xing Ju’s house made dry steamed ducks with this recipe.  Use a fat duck, wash it well and cut into eight pieces.  Add sweet wine and soy sauce. Cover the duck.  Seal it in a porcelain jar. Then put the jar in a dry wok to cook. Use mild charcoal.  Do not use water. When served, the duck tastes soft as clay. The cooking time is best held to two sticks of incense [i.e. the time it takes to burn a stick and then another—about an hour].


Wild Duck Meatballs

Chop duck breasts finely, add some lard and starch to make meatballs, cook the meatballs in chicken broth. Or cook in the original duck broth; this is also very good. Kong Qin’s house in Taixin makes the best wild duck meatballs.


Xu Duck

Pick a very large fresh duck.  Use 12 liang of Hundred Flower jiu; one liang and two qian of raw salt; one bowl of boiled water.  Use the water to dissolve the raw salt, then get rid of the foreign substances [insoluble residue in the salt]. Then add seven bowls of water, and four chunky slices of fresh ginger weighing about one liang [each, apparently]. Put them all in a big ceramic pot, covered.  Seal the pot with strong paper. Then put the pot in a big bamboo basket brazier. Choose 15 big charcoal pieces which cost two wen each. Cover the basket brazier well with a bag to avoid the heat getting out. Start cooking in the early morning breakfast time and cook till evening. If not cooked long enough, the flavor is not good. When the charcoals are all burned out, do not replace the pot, and do not open it too early. After the duck is cut open, wash it well with water, then dry it with a clean cotton cloth.  Then place the duck in the pot.

(“Xu” remains unidentified.  This recipe seems confused; the last sentence may belong before the sentence starting with “Seal…”)


Sparrow Stew

Use 50 sparrows, stew with mild sauce and sweet wine. When cooked, pick out the feet, leave the chests and head meat.  Put in a plate with broth.  It is very fresh and delicious. This method can be used when cooking other kinds of birds. But fresh sparrows are hard to find. Xue Shengbai often suggests that others not eat pet birds, because he thinks the wild birds are more delicious and easy to digest.


Quail and Siskin Stew

Quails from Liuhe [a district in Jiangsu Province] are the best. They have some which cook down well.  For the siskins, stew with Suzhou seasoning sauce and honey wine till really tender, then add seasonings to cook, just as with sparrows. Suzhou Inspector Shen’s Quail and Siskin stew was made so well even the bones are soft as clay. I have no idea how they make the dish. The same household also makes delicious stir-fry fish fillets. Their cooking skill is so perfect that they could be ranked on top in Suzhou province.


Yunlin Goose

Ni Zan’s Yuan Dynasty cookbook Yunlin Collection recounted the method of cooking goose. Take one whole goose, clean it well, wash and rub it inside with three qian of salt, then stuff in a small bundle of green onions. To the outside of the goose, apply honey and wine. In a pot, place a big bowl of wine and a big bowl of water for steaming the goose, the goose can not touch the water. Hold it up by bamboo chopsticks. Two bundles of cogongrass as fuel in the stove.  Burn it all up slowly. Wait till the pot cools down, open the lid, turn the goose over, place back the lid fully to steam again, burn another bundle of cogongrass until burnt up. Let the grass burn naturally, do not prick or stir it. Seal the lid with cotton paper.  If the paper is too dry and gets cracks, wet it with water. When the cooking is done, the goose is tender as clay, the broth is very delicious as well. Use the same method to cook ducks will get the same taste. Every bundle of cogongrass weighs one jin and eight liang. When rubbing with salt, it could be mixed with onions, grind pepper and wine. The Yunlin Collection recorded many dishes. Only this method is very good.  After being tried, the rest just seemed so-so.

(Ni Zan, a.k.a. Yunlin (Cloud Forest, his studio’s name), was a famous artist of the Yuan Dynasty.  In his book, this recipe follows one for barbecued pork, and says to follow that recipe except as otherwise specified.  Yuan successfully and accurately fuses the two recipes here.)


Roast Goose

Hangzhou Roast goose always gets bad reviews, because it doesn’t get cooked long enough and looks half raw. It’s better to let the family cooks make this dish!

(One of Yuan’s non-recipes!)


Part 8  Aquatic Animals with Scales

Every fish should have scales, only herrings don’t. I think fish should be considered as a category with scales. So I write “aquatic animals with scales.”

(Herrings do have scales, but very small ones that can be ignored in eating.  Oddly, Yuan missed catfish, some of which truly lack scales.  Could he, just possibly, have meant “catfish” and miswritten “herring?”)


White Amur Bream

Take live white bream, add wine and soy sauce to steam. It’s best when steamed to the color of jade [white—not the green that English readers think of as “jade color”]. If the fish turns to a duller white color, the meat will taste overcooked and odd. When steaming, one must place the lid right. Do not let the steam water fall on the fish. When it’s about to serve, add some black mushrooms and bamboo shoots. Or it can be fried with liquor; use liquor, not water.  This is called Imitation White Bream.  [Presumably because the real thing is the steamed form.]



First, one needs to be good at choosing the best carp. Choose the ones that are somewhat flattened and have a white color. The meat is fresh, crisp and loose [not dense]. When one picks out the bones after cooking [carp are extremely bony], the meat will naturally fall off of the bones. The ones with a black back and round body have meat that is stiff and rough and contains lots of bones. It’s a bad type carp.  Do not eat it. If steaming [the bettrer kind of carp], do it the same way as for steaming White Bream; this is the best.  Frying is also a good way.  Taking the meat to make soup is good too. Tong Zhou people are very good at stewing carp; the head and tail both are crisp.  This is called “ Crunchy Fish.”  It’s best for children to eat. However, it still is not as good-tasting as steamed carp. Long Chi in Liuhe produces this kind of fish; the bigger they are the tenderer they are, which is amazing. When steaming, use wine, not water, add a bit of sugar to bring out the essence of the dish. Consider the size of fish when adding soy sauce and wine.

(The white carp is evidently the true carp, Cyprinus carpio.  Possibly Yuan means to include other whiter species too.  The black-backed rounder one is clearly a different species, possibly the mud carp or noble carp, or perhaps both of these lumped together.)


White Fish

White fish has very fine meat. Steam it with pickled herrings; this is the best. Or lightly pickle it in winter, add liquor to marinate for two days; this is good also. I catch fresh white fish from the river, and steam it with liquor.  It tastes amazingly delicious. Marinating the fish is the best, but not too long or meat turns hard and flavorless.

(“White fish” could be anything.  Often it means the culter, Culter brevicauda, but locally it can apply to any fish that is whitish.  In Heilongjiang, for instance, the “Heilongzhang white fish” is the Ussuri cisco.  The ciscoes are a group within the English-language “whitefish” category.  In Guangzhou, it can mean the white croaker, Pseudosciaenia crocea.  In China, the term “white fish” is even used as a term for silverfish, a primitive insect.  We have no idea which bai yu Yuan was catching.)



Ji Fish (Mandarin Fish)


Mandarin fish does not have many bones.  It is best filleted and stir-fried. For stir-frying, the thinner the fillets, the better. Marinate in soy sauce first, then mix it with starch and egg white for batter, then add in seasonings. Use vegetable oil.


(The Mandarin fish or Chinese perch, Siniperca chuatsi, is a white-fleshed spiny fish.  Egg batter is considered an Iberian invention; the Portuguese must have brought it to China, if it is not an independent invention there.)



Dark Sleeper (Odontoburis obscura)


In Hangzhou, people rank dark sleeper one of the best fish, but in Jinglin, it is a low ranked form, and is considered a “tiger head snake,” really amusing.  [A “tiger headed snake” is a metaphor that refer something looks funny and amusing.] This type of fish has very tender meat.  It can be stir-fried, stewed, or steamed. Add pickled shepherd’s purse to make soup; this is extremely tasty.


(A highly regarded large goby.)



Fish Floss


Steam mackerels, or grass carp.  Take the meat when cooked, fry it in oil in a wok till it turns golden, add some salt, green onion, pepper, melon, ginger. Sealed in a bottle in winter time, it can stay fresh for a month.


(The vegetables would probably be slivered like the fish.) 



Fish meatballs


Use white fish, or mackerel.  Cut into halves, nail to a board, and scrape off the meat with a knife, leave the bone on the board.  Chop the meat finely, mix it with bean powder and lard by hand.  Add in a little salt water, but not mild soy sauce.  Add some green onion, and ginger juice, to fishballs.  When the fishballs are made, place them in boiling water till they are fully cooked, then take them out and put in cold water to keep fresh. When serving, boil the fishballs with chicken broth and seaweed.


(This remains a common, simple soup in China.)



Fish Fillets


Use mackerels or Mandarin fish fillets.  Marinate with soy sauce.  Mix [i.e., cover] with some starch and egg white [batter].  Quickly fry in really hot oil.  Place it on a small plate and sprinkle green onion, pepper, melon and ginger. Fillets should not exceed six liang.  Too much is not good for cooking thoroughly [the outside would be overcooked before the inside finished cooking].



Asian Carp with Tofu


Fry a large Asian carp till fully cooked.  Add tofu, soy sauce, water, green onion and wine to boil it.  When the soup color turns somewhat red, it is ready for serving.  The fish head is the most delicious part. This is Hangzhou cuisine. Match the amount of soy sauce with the size of the fish.



Braised Mandarin Fish with Wine-based Sauce


Cut a large, fresh Mandarin fish into large pieces, and deep-fry.  Add soy sauce, vinegar, wine and other ingredients, and cook in broth—the more the better. When fish is done, quickly take it out. This dish was best cooked by Hangzhou Wu Liu Ju [a restaurant]. However, their dish is not as good as before, because of bad sauce. It truly is a shame. Song Sister-in-law’s Fish Congee is also not as good as its fame. Meng Liang Lu is not very trustworthy either.

            The fish should not be too large, too large makes it hard to absorb the flavor. Not to small either, small fish has too many bones.


(Note by Beilei Pu: I am not sure why Yuanmei mentioned Meng Liang Lu here.  It is a Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1280) famous book “Meng Liang Lu” (1274) by Wu Zimu, which details social life in Lingan (now Hangzhou).  Apparently Yuan Mei is saying that even a famous book can be wrong about fish. The same appears to be the case for the Song Sister-in-Law’s fish congee.)





Whitebait, when freshly caught out of water, is called “icy fresh.” It can be slow-cooked with chicken broth or ham soup. Or fry it, which tastes even more tender. Dried Whitebait needs to soak in water to soften it, first.  Then fry it with sauce, which is also a good dish.



Taizhou Dried Fish  (Tai Xiang)


Tai Xiang can be of various qualities.  The best is from Taizhou Song Men [a small town]  It is tender, fresh and fat. Take the meat off when raw.  This is a snack dish; there is no need to cook it. When stewing with fresh meat, it must be added in after the meat is thoroughly cooked. Otherwise, Xiang will be overcooked, melt, and disappear. After the dish is cooked, it can be frozen, to become Xiang jelly; this is the method by Shaoxing residents.



Fermented Glutinous Rice with Xiang


In winter, use a big carp, marinated and air dried.  Put it in fermented glutinous rice in a pot, sealed.  Leave till summer time, then eat it.  For this, do not use soy sauce. It will produce too spicy a flavor.



Shrimp Eggs and Ilisha Herring


In summer, pick white and clean ilisha xiang [dried ilisha herring].  Soak it in water for a day, to get rid of the salty flavor. Dry it under the sun, then fry it in oil in a wok. When one side is fried to yellow color, take it out, add a layer of shrimp eggs on the other side, place it on a plate, add some sugar, and steam for one stick of incense. The dog days of summer are the best time to eat this dish.



Preserved Fish

Take a live black carp.  Discard the head and tail.  Cut it into small cubes, and marinate it with salt thoroughly.  Then let it air-dry. Fry it in oil in a wok, add some seasonings to absorb the juice, then add sesame seeds to stir and serve. This is a Suzhou method.



Homestyle Fried Fish


To make homestyle fried fish takes patience. Wash the fish well, cut into cubes and marinate in salt, press flat. Then put in oil to fry till both sides turn yellow. Add more wine and some soy sauce to slowly stew.  Then cook till all the juice is taken in, making the seasonings’ flavor absorbed in the fish. But this is a way to cook unfresh fish.  For fresh fish, just take it out of wok as soon as the fish is cooked.



Huang Gu Fish


Yuezhou [now Yueyang, in Hunan province] produces small fish, about two to three inches long.  Send for some that have been sun-dried. Peel the skin, add wine to season, put it on top of rice to steam.  It gives a most delicious flavor.  This is called Huang Gu Fish.



Part 9  Aquatic animals without scales


Fish without scales smell twice as bad as with scales.  They must be cooked in a special way. Use ginger, cinnamon to cover the fish smell.  Thus I have written this section “aquatic animals with scales.”



Eel Soup


Eels should not be cooked without bones. Eels smell quite fishy.  If you cook them in an easy way, the natural flavor of eels will be lost. As in cooking herring, one should not remove the scales. [Ordinary eels do not have scales; eel-like fish are evidently intended.]  To mildly stew river eel, choose one eel, wash off the slime, chop it into one-inch pieces, put in a sand pot, and stew it in wine till the meat softens down.  Before serving, add soy sauce.  For eel soup, stir in some winter pickled fresh shepherd’s purse, and lots of green onions, ginger, etc., to get rid of the fishy smell. In Changshu [a county-level city in Jiangsu] Bibu [an official government position in ancient China] Gu family dry-stew eel with starch powder and Chinese yam.  This is also a very good method.  Or one can add seasonings and steam the eel in a plate, without water. Fensi [an official government position in ancient China] Jia Zhihua family makes the best steamed eel, using four parts soy sauce to six parts wine mixture to cover the eel when steaming. When it is done, take it off the fire immediately; the skin will shrink if you are too late.



Stewed Eels in Brown Sauce

Stew the eels with wine and water till tender and soft.  Use sweet soybean sauce instead soy sauce.  Cook the dish till the juice is absorbed, then add fennel and spices to finish the dish. There are three problems to avoid: first, if the skin shrinks, it is not crisp; second. if the meat collapses [softens and shrinks too much], it is hard to eat with chopsticks; third, if one puts in fermented soy bean too early, the eel will not taste tender in the mouth.  TheZhu Fengsi family in Yangzhou makes the best. In general, stewed eels in brown sauce tastes best when the juice and flavor are absorbed by the eels.


Deep-Fried Eels


Choose big eels, chop off the heads and tails, then cut pieces one inch long. Fry thoroughly in sesame oil.  Take it out; then pick fresh tips of garland chrysanthemum, and fry them in the same oil till done. Layer the eel on top of the fried garland chrysanthemum, add seasoning, stew for the time it takes to burn one stick of incense. The amount of garland chrysanthemum should be half the amount of eel.  



Fried Soft-shelled Turtle


Take the bones out of soft-shelled turtle, fry it in sesame oil on a big fire, add in a cup of soy sauce, and a cup of chicken broth. This is the recipe of Taishou Wei’s family in Zhengding [a county in southwestern Hebei].



Fried Soft-shelled Turtle with Soy Sauce


Boil the turtle until half done, get rid of the bones, fry it in oil on a big fire, add some soy sauce, water, green onion, and pepper to cook till all the juice is taken in by the turtle. Remove from the wok. This is Hangzhou style.



Soft-shell Turtle with Bones


Pick one about half a jin in size.  Chop it in four pieces.  Add three liang of lard.  Fry it in a wok till it turns a golden color.  Add some water, soy sauce, and wine to stew; first use a military fire [a strong, fierce fire], then a small fire.  When it is 80% done, add garlic. When serving, sprinkle some green onion, ginger and sugar. Small ones are better than big ones. The ones called “babyfoot soft-shell turtle” are the fresh tender type.



Soft-shell Turtle with Raw Salt


Chop in four pieces.  Deep-fry it in oil in a wok.  For every one jin of turtle use four liang of wine, three qian of fennel, one and a half qian of salt. Stew it till half done, then add in two liang of lard.  Then chop the turtle to the size of small tofu cubes. Add garlic, bamboo shoots. When done, add some green onion and black pepper.  If use soy sauce, then no salt. This is the recipe from Tang Hanjin’s family in Suzhou. A large soft-shell turtle tastes old, a small turtle tastes fishy, so you should choose middle size ones.



Soft-shell Turtle with Soup


Boil the turtle first, then pick out the bones to get the meat. Use two bowls of a mix of chicken broth, soy sauce and wine.  Stew the turtle in this until the juice reduces to the amount of one bowl.  Then remove from the wok.  Sprinkle some green onion, pepper, and ginger crumbs. Wu Zhuyu’s house makes the best. Use a little of starch can thicken the soup.



Whole Shell Soft Turtle


In Shandong, Chanjiang [a Ming military title] Yang’s house cooks turtle thus:  They cut off the head and tail, and use only body meat and a circle of soft meat from the shell. Stew it with seasonings till done, then cover by putting the whole shell back on. When hosting a banquet, in front of every guest, a whole shell soft turtle dish will be served. Guests first see it will feel a little surprised, worrying that the turtle may move! Sadly, the full recipe has not been recorded.



Ricefield Eel Soup


Boil eels till half done, pick out the bones and thinly slice the flesh. Add liquor and soy sauce to stew.  Use some starch, dried daylily buds, winter melon, and a few whole green onions to make the soup. Nanjing’s chefs often roast eels on dry charcoal; this is really hard to understand.


(Ricefield eels are common eels caught in ricefields—usually small.  They are delicate eating, and would be dried up and de-flavored by hot charcoal roasting.)



Stir-fried Ricefield Eels


Prepare thin-sliced eel to stir-fry. Let it get burnt a little.  It is just like the way to stir-fry chicken.  There is no need to add water.


(Presumably this just means thin fillets are simply stir-fried in oil.)



Inch-long Ricefield Eel


Cut the ricefield eel to one inch long pieces, stew it the same way as cooking sea eels. Or oil fry it first to make it hard, then cook with winter melon, fresh bamboo shoots and black mushrooms.  Use less soy sauce, but more ginger juice.



Shrimp Balls


To make shrimp balls is the same as making fish balls. Stew shrimp balls in chicken broth, or just fry and then add water. Be careful to mash the shrimps, but not too fine, otherwise they lose the original flavor. The same happens to fish balls too.

You can also simply shell the shrimps, then stir-fry with seaweed.  This is also good.



Shrimp Cake


Smash the shrimps, shape into rounds,  then fry.  This is called shrimp cake.


(Modern cooks would add chopped water chestnuts or similar vegetables, and one suspects this was done in Yuan Mei’s time too.  Another fragmentary recipe.)



Drunken Shrimps


Fry the shrimps with liquor till they turn yellow, then remove from pan. Add some mild sauce, and rice vinegar.  Stew till done, then place in a bowl, covered. When serving, put the shrimps on a plate.  Even the shells taste crisp.


(Modern recipes under this name generally marinate the shrimp in jiu.)



Stir-fried Shrimps


The way to stir-fry shrimps is the same as that for stir-frying fish.  One can add Chinese chives. Or add marinated shepherd’s purse from the winter [i.e., pickled in or for winter] to replace the chives. Some people beat the tails to flatten, then stir-fry; this is also a creative cooking way.




Crabs need to be eaten alone.  Don’t pair with other foods. The best is to boil in lightly salted water, till fully cooked.  Peel, then eat. Steaming can keep all the flavors but would taste very light.



Crab Congee


Shell the crabs.  To make congee, it is best to use the original broth to stew.  Don’t add chicken broth; it is better to cook the crabs alone. I have seen bad cooks add duck tongues or shark fins or sea cucumber, which not only covers the crab’s original delicious flavors but also add more fishy taste.  This is the worst ever!


(Amen.  Using expensive but incompatible items just to show off wealth is indeed fatal to crab dishes.)



Stir-fry Crab Powder


To make crab powder, it is best to use fresh shelled crabs and stir-fry them when fresh. After two hours, the crab will get dry and be flavorless.



Steamed Sshelled Crabs


Shell the crabs, detach the meat and ovaries, then put these back in the shell.  Put five or six eggs on top to steam. When serving, it looks like a whole crab but without legs. This is more creative than Stir-fry Crab Powder.

Yang Lan Po, mayor of Mingfu, has a method to cook crab with pumpkin, a very amazing dish.





Use clam meats.  Stir-frying them with chives is the best. Or one can make soup. Remove from the cooker in time, otherwise clams turn dry.


(True, but trust Yuan Mei to leave the exact time to your judgment—correct, since clams differ a lot in how long they take to cook, but not very helpful!)





There are three ways to eat cockles. One can use hot water to spray till the cockles are half done, then take off the shells, add liquor and soy sauce to marinate them; they are then “drunken cockles.”  Or one can boil in chicken broth and make soup, without the shells.  Or, take off the shells first, then use the meat to make congee. However, remove the dish from cooker in time.  If late, the meat will turn dry. Cockles are from Fenghua city [at least that’s where Yuan got them]. The quality is better than quahog and other clams.



Quahog (hard clam)


First, slice pork belly, stew it with spices till really tender. Wash quahogs well, stir-fry with sesame oil, then stew with the pork belly and the juice. The more soy sauce, the more flavor.

They can also be cooked with tofu. The quahogs are delivered from Yangzhou [quite far from where Yuan was living when he wrote], and can easily spoil, so one can shell them to get the meat part, then place it in pork lard to deliver it to faraway places. Or one can sun dry the quahog, which is also good.  If you cook the quahog in chicken broth, it tastes much better than razor clam. Or you can mash the quahog, and make it to pancake as in making shrimp pancake.  It tastes pretty good with seasonings.



Cheng Ze Gong ‘s Dried Razor Clam [Cheng Zegong was a merchant]

Cheng Zegong’s dried razor clam:  He soaked the clams in cold water for a day, then boiled them in hot water for two days, changing the water five times during the two days. One inch of dried razor clam will expand to two inches, looking like fresh razor clams.  He would then stew the clams in chicken broth. Yangzhou people tried to copy this recipe of the dried razor clams, but it was still not as good as Cheng’s.


(Those clams were evidently dried to truly rock-like hardness—as they often are today.)  



Fresh Razor Clams


The ways to cook [fresh] razor clams is the same as cooking quahog. It’s also good to stir-fry them alone. He Chenchao’s family cooks very good tofu with razor clam soup, and no one can compare to it.



Water Chicken (Frogs)


Get rid of the frogs’ torso; keep only the legs. First fry the legs in oil, then add soy sauce, sweet wine, melon and ginger, then remove from the wok. Or get the frog meat to stir-fry.  The flavor is the same as chicken.


(“Tastes like chicken” is the classic line in English, but the Chinese use it too; frogs do indeed taste like chicken, and are universally called “field chickens” or “water chickens” in China.)



Smoked Eggs


Stew the eggs with spices till done, slightly smoke the eggs, then slice to put on plate.  This makes a good side dish.



Tea Eggs


For one hundred eggs, use one liang of salt, and unrefined tea.  Boil for about two sticks of incense time. For fifty eggs, then use five qian of salt, adjust the amount of salt by numbers of eggs.  This can be an appetizer.


(These two recipes are ancestral to the modern “tea eggs,” long boiled in the shell in tea with spices or in soy sauce with star anise and often other flavorings.)



Part 10  A Variety of Vegetable Dishes


Dishes are divided to meat dishes and vegetable dishes, as clothes are divided into outdoor and indoor wear.  Rich families prefer eating more vegetable dishes than meat, so I write the Variety of Vegetables dishes.


(An interesting observation about the rich; not true in China today!  However, even now, many gourmets would prefer a perfect dish of fresh, tender pea shoots, or fine mushrooms, to an ordinary meat dish.)



Jiang Shilang’s Tofu


Take 120 large dried shrimps.  If you do not have dried big shrimps, use three hundred small ones. First soak the dried shrimps in hot water for one hour, then add a small cup of soy sauce, boil one more time, add a small amount of sugar, boil again.

Then slice the tofu skin off on two sides.  Cut every piece of tofu to 16 small slices.  Air-dry these. Use pork lard in the wok.  Heat it till light smoke starts to rise.  Then place the tofu in it, sprinkling a bit of salt. Then turn the tofu slices over.  Use one glass of good sweet wine, and Use thin green onions, cut to half inch long, one hundred and twenty lengths.  Add to the dish, then slowly remove from the wok.


(Recipe rearranged for comprehensibility.  This tofu is obviously the kind sold in a cured form, with a hard skin to preserve it.)



Yang Zhongcheng’s Tofu


Use soft tofu.  Boil to get rid of the soybean smel.  Add chicken broth and cook with abalone slices till boiling.  Then add some rice wine dregs and black mushrooms.  Then remove from the wok.  The chicken broth should be thick and the abalone slices should be thin.



Zhang Kai’s Tofu

Crush dried shrimps, mix with tofu.  Put oil in the wok, stir-fry with spices without any liquid.



Qing Yuan’s Tofu


Soak one teacup of salted black beans in water, stir-fry with tofu, then remove from wok.



Lotus Bean Curd


Use uncongealed tofu, soak in three changes of well water to get rid of the bean smell, then boil the tofu in chicken broth.  After removing from the fire, add seaweed and shrimp.



Wang Taishou’s Eight Treasures Tofu


Use soft tofu, crush it, add some crumbs of  black mushroom, common mushrooms, pinenut kernel, sunflower seeds, chicken meat, and ham, into thick chicken broth.  Boil, then remove from wok. One can use uncongealed tofu as well. Use a spoon instead of chopsticks. Taishou Meng Ting said: this recipe is from Emperor Kangxi to Shangshu Xu Jiang An. When Shangshu got the recipe, the Royal Kitchen charged him one thousand liang Yinzi (silver).  Taishoul Meng Ting got the recipe because his grandfather was Teacher Lou Chun, a student of Shangshu.



Cheng Li Wang’s Tofu


In the 23rd year of Qian Long’s rule, I was with Jin the City Gate Keeper, visiting Cheng Liwan’s family fromYangzhou.  We ate fried tofu, and it was the best ever. The tofu’s two sides are yellow and dry, without any soy sauce.  They have a fresh flavor like quahog, but there was no quahog or other things. The next day, I told Cha (another City Gate Keeper), and he said: “I can make the same dish.  I invite you to taste.”  Soon, Hang Dongpu and I went to Cha’s for dinner. When it was time to eat, we found out the dish was made with chicken and sparrow’s brain, not real tofu.  It was very rich and greasy. The cost of the dish is also ten times more than Cheng’s tofu, but the taste is not comparable at all.  Unfortunately, I had to go home quickly to attend my little sister’s funeral, and didn’t have time to ask Cheng for recipe. And Mrs. Cheng died after a year.  I have been regretting it all since then. Now all I have is the name of the dish.  Whenever there is a chance, I will go look for that recipe.



Frozen Tofu


Freeze the tofu for a whole night, cut into cubes.  Boil them to get rid of the bean smell. Add chicken broth, ham broth and meat broth, and stew. When serving, pick out the chicken, ham and similar things, leaving only the black mushrooms and winter bamboo shoots. If you stew the tofu too long, it becomes limp, and the surface will look like a beehive, just as  in uncooked frozen tofu.   For stir-frying, use soft tofu; for stewing, use firm tofu.   Jia Zhihua the fensi (a government title) cooks tofu with “winter” mushrooms, even in summer, and they still use the frozen tofu recipe; it is really good. Do not add in meat broth, or the dish tastes greasy.



Shrimp Oil Tofu

Use old shrimp oil instead of mild sauce to stir-fry tofu. You must fry it till it turns yellow. The wok needs to be hot.  Add pork lard, green onion and pepper.



Chrysanthemum Greens


Use the tips of the greens.  Fry in oil, then add some chicken broth and boil.  Last, add a hundred matsutake [and cook briefly] before removing from the wok.


(Chrysanthemum coronarium, a relative of florists’ chrysanthemum, with spicy-flavored greens; a popular food.  Usually called tung hao cai, but an alternative name peng hao cai is used here.)





With bracken, do not try to save and get the most out of it. One must get rid of all the old leaves and stems.  Save only the tender leaves and the straight root [rhizome]. Wash well.  Stew till tender, then add chicken broth and stew [a bit] longer. Buy the short and soft bracken pieces, which are fat and tender.


(The old tough parts can be somewhat toxic.)



Hair vegetable (Nostoc flabelliforme or N. sphaeroides, an alga growing on rocks after summer rains in northwest China; excellent eating)


Carefully pick and wash.  Boil it until half way done, add chicken broth and ham broth, and stew. When serving, one should only see the hair vegetable, not the chicken and ham; then it’s best. For this dish, Tao Fangbo makes the best.





Morels are from Hubei province. The way of cooking it is same as for hair vegetable.



Rock Alga [green algae growing on rocks in rivers]

Cook rock alga in the same way as hair vegetable.  In summer time, use sesame oil, vinegar and soy sauce to mix, which is also good.



Pearl Vegetable


The way to cook moneywort is the same as cooking bracken. It comes from the upper river area of  the river Xinan.


(Swamp loosestrife, Lysimachia fortunei, or centella, Centella asiatica.  The term is more specific to the former, but the latter is a much commoner food and probably intended here.)



Vegan Roast Duck


Boil thoroughly Chinese yam, cut it to inch-long pieces, then wrap each piece with tofu skin.  Fry in oil in a pan, then add some soy sauce, wine, sugar, melon, ginger, and the like [other seasonings to taste].  Cook the dish till the pieces turn bright red.



Garlic Chive


Garlic Chive is a hun vegetable.  [Hun vegetables are the rank-scented ones: big garlic, small garlic, green onion, garlic chive and onion. In Buddhism, hun  means lust.  These five vegetables are thought to arouse sexual feeling of people, so Buddhists are not encouraged to eat these.] Only use the white part, stir-frying with dried little shrimps is the best.  Or cook with fresh shrimps, corbicula and meat.





Celery is a su vegetable (su is the opposite of hun, see above). The fatter the stalks, the better. Use the stem part to stir-fry with bamboo shoots till well done.  People these days fry it with meat, making it hard to distinguish fish or fowl.  If it is not cooked till well done, then it is crisp with no flavor. One can use raw celery to make a salad with wild chicken; this will be another dish.


(Celery evidently already had its use as an extender and crispness-provider in meat dishes.  It went through a period of enormous popularity for this, especially in “diaspora” Chinese restaurants, in the 1960s and 70s, but has waned considerably since then.)



Bean Sprouts


Bean sprouts are tender and crisp.  I love them very much. When stir-fried, they must be cooked till well done, so the flavors of the seasonings can be absorbed.  They can be cooked with birds’ nests: softness to softness, white to white.  However, people [often] think this match is ridiculous because it uses very cheap and expensive ingredients together.  They do not realize that only Cao Fu and Xu You could accompany emperors Yao and Shun.


(Cao and Xu were ordinary people promoted for superior talent.)



Water Bamboo Shoots


Water bamboo shoots can be fried with pork and chicken. Cut and use the whole shoots.  Roasting with sauce and vinegar is best.  Stewing with meat is also good.  One must cut them in pieces, each an inch long. The shoots which are too young and thin are not well flavored.



Green Vegetable [a clear-green form of Chinese cabbage]


Pick the young green vegetable, and fry it with bamboo shoots. In summer, it can be mixed with mustard and a bit of vinegar, making a good appetizer.  Or, with some ham slices, it can be made into soup. It must be freshly handpicked to ensure tenderness.



Tai Vegetable [a type of green leafy vegetable; Hu Shiuying’s Food Plants of China defines it as a seaweed, Enteromorpha compressa, but that does not fit Yuan Mei’s description; plant names are fairly loosely used in old culinary texts, and the name could refer to a quite different plant here]


Fry Tai vegetable’s heart [stem base].  It is very tender. Peel the skin and add mushrooms and fresh bamboo shoots to make soup.  Frying with shrimps is also good.



Chinese Cabbage


Frying Chinese cabbage or simmering with bamboo shoots are both good. Simmering with ham slices and chicken broth is also good.



Peking Cabbage [large, thick, mostly-white form of Chinese cabbage]


This vegetable is best from the northern area. It can be made to cabbage with sweet-sour sauce, or simmered with dried shrimps.  Eat right away once it is cooked.  Otherwise the flavor will go bad.


(Peking, or Beijing, cabbage is easily stored fresh or dried, or pickled, and thus was the winter mainstay in the old days in the north, where winters are long and hard.  It is still quite common.)



Bok Choy [Cantonese pak choi, “white vegetable”; a variety of Chinese cabbage with green leaf blades but white leaf stems]


To fry the heart part of Bok Choy, the best is to make a broth-less dish with dried seafood. The bok choy that has been covered by snow tastes more tender.  Taishou Wang Mengting’s household makes the best bok choy.  It is needless to add other things.  It is best fried with animal fat.





Fat and tender spinach is cooked with sauce and tofu.  Hangzhou people call this “gold inlaid with jade.”  This dish is thin but also rich.  There is no need to add bamboo shoots and black mushrooms.





Mushrooms not only can be cooked to soup, but also are good for frying. However, white mushrooms [probably meaning our common market mushrooms] are sandy and easily get moldy. They must be stored properly, and prepared and cooked right. Shaggy-mane mushrooms are easy to prepare and cook; they are made to good dishes as well.


(Shaggy-manes are Coprinus spp., very superior eating mushrooms if caught in time—they last only a couple of days.)





For frying, matsutakes and white mushrooms are the best. Or one can just marinate it in soy sauce to eat; this is also tasty. The only bad side is that they cannot be stored long. They can be combined with any dish to enhance the flavor. They also can be cooked and layered on the bottom of birds’ nests, because they are tender.


(Matsutake mushrooms abound in much of the forested area of China, and are very widely collected today, following the Japanese boom in matsutake consumption.)



Two Ways of Making Flour Gluten Dishes


One way is to oil-fry the gluten till dry, then add chicken broth and mushrooms, and simmer in mild-flavor style. The other involves no frying: soak in water, then cut into strips and simmer in thick chicken broth, adding winter bamboo shoots, heavenly flower vegetable, and similar things.  Observer Zhang Huaishu’s household makes the best flour gluten.  When serving, tear it with the hands, do  not cut with a knife.  One can also add some dried shrimps to make broth, then fry gluten with sweet sauce; this is also a good dish.


(Wheat gluten is made into imitation meat for vegetarian Buddhist eaters.  “Heavenly flower vegetable” is defined in our edition as a vegetable from western mountains.  The term is now used for cauliflower, but that was almost surely not yet known in Yuan’s China.)



Two Ways to  Cook Eggplants


In Wu Xiaogu and Guang Wen’s households, they peel the whole eggplant, then soak it in hot boiling water to get rid of the bitterness.  They then fry it with pork lard. Before frying, make sure drain the water off completely, then stew it in sweet sauce; this very good. Landlord Lu Ba’s household cuts the eggplant to small cubes without peeling, fries them in oil till the color turns to light yellow, then adds soy sauce to stir-fry on a high fire.  This is also a good way. I have learned both two ways, but still can’t manage the skill well.

After steaming eggplants, then slicing them open, you can make a salad with sesame seed oil and rice vinegar.  This is a good dish to eat in summer.  Or you can make them into heated and dried eggplants, and place them on the plate.



Amaranth [spinach-like greens of Amaranthus spp.]


Use the top tender tips; fry with nothing else. It is, however, better to cook with dried shrimps or fresh shrimps. Do not add water to make soup.



Taro Curd


Taro is soft and smooth.  It can be combined with either hun or su vegetables.  You can cut it up into small pieces to make duck or meat stew, or stew it with tofu in sauce.  At Mingfu Xu Zhaohuang’s household, they choose small taros, stew them with young chicken to make soup; it’s fantastic!  Unluckily, the recipe was lost.  I assume they only used seasoned broth to stew—no further water needed.


(Mingfu is a more respectful form of the title Tai Shou.)



Tofu Skin [the skin that forms on boiling soybean-in-water mash before making tofu from same]

Soak the tofu skin to softness, add soy sauce, vinegar and dried shrimps to mix together.  It is good for summer eating. Jiang Cilang’s household uses sea cucumber to cook with it  This is amazing. Add seaweed and shrimps to make soup is also a good dish. Or use mushrooms and bamboo shoots to make a mild soup  This is good as well.  Cook it till it turns very soft. In Wuhu, Monk Jinxiu rolls up the tofu skin, cuts it, lightly fries in oil, then adds mushrooms to stew till it is very tender.  This is an extremely good dish. Do not add chicken broth.



Hyacinth Bean


Use fresh-picked hyacinth beans.  Fry with meat and broth, then separate out the meat but save the beans.  If frying only the beans, it is better to use a lot of oil. Beans are good if they are fat and soft. They are bad if hairy, rough, thin, and flat.  These were cropped from weak soil.  They are not good to eat.



Hispid Bottle Gourd, Japanese Snake Gourd


Take snapper fish slices to fry first, then add the gourd.  Stew with soy sauce.  These two gourds are cooked the same way.



Black Ear Fungus and Black Mushroom


In Yangzhou, nuns from Ding Hui nunnery stew the black ear fungus till it is twice its original size, and the black mushroom to three times its original size. Before stewing, use mushroom to make soup base first.


(One of Yuan’s more minimalist recipes.)



Winter Melon


Winter melon is usually used with birds’ nests, fish, river eels, ocean eels and ham. Yangzhou’s Ding Hui Nunnery makes the best.  It is red as blood-red jade.  There is no need to add meat soup.



Fresh Water Caltrop Stew [the water caltrop is the nut of an aquatic plant, Trapa natans.  It is often confused with water chestnut, the rootstock of a totally different plant]


To stew water caltrops, boil in chicken broth. When serving, keep only half the soup. The fresh tender caltrops are the ones just picked from the pond, floating on the water surface. Add chestnuts and gingko nuts to stew till soft.  This is the best. Or use sugar for stewing.  This is also good.  The caltrops are good as a snack as well.



Cowpea [the green pods are intended here, not the dry beans]


To fry with meat, before serving, save the peas but separate the meat.  Use only the tender part, and peel the ribs [strings] of the pods.



Stewed Three Bamboo Shoots


Use Tianmu bamboo shoots, winter bamboo shoots and Wenzheng bamboo shoots in chicken soup, for “three bamboo shoots soup.”


(Tianmu is a mountain in Hangzhou, Wenzheng is one in Anhui.)



Taro and Cabbage stew

Cook the taro till extremely soft, add the cabbage hearts, then stir in sauce to serve.  This is among the best of homemade cuisine. The cabbage should be fat and tender.  Light yellow ones are best.  If you choose one with green coloration, it tastes old.  If you choose one that has been harvested too long, it will be dry.


Aromatic Beans (Young Soy Beans)


The soy beans harvested from August and September nights are the fattest and tenderest, and are called aromatic beans. Boil the beans and soak in soy sauce and wine. They can be eaten with or without shells.  They are aromatic, soft and delightful. Other ordinary beans can not be eaten this way.



Wild Aster [Kalimeris Indica, a wild-gathered medicinal food popular in the lower Yangzi area]


Use the tender leaves, mix with vinegar and bamboo shoots, and eat. Eaten after greasy food, it can be a refresher for the spleen.



Yanghua Cai [a vegetable found in southern China, e.g. around Nanjing.  It is not in Shiiu-ying Hu’s Food Plants of China.  Probably a local form of Chinese cabbage.]


In March, in Nanjing, there is yanghua cai, which is as tender and crisp as spinach.  The name of it is very elegant [probably means “it is considered very elegant”].



Wenzheng Shredded Bamboo Shoots


Wenzheng bamboo shoots are available in Hangzhou.  Huizhou people give friends bamboo shoots that are mildly salted and dried.  They need to soak in water.  Then they can be shredded and made into stew with chicken broth. Gong Sima uses soy sauce to cook with bamboo shoots till dry, then serves them.  Huizhou people, eating this dish, think it is the best exotic dish of all. I laugh and think they may finally wake up from their dreams.



Stir-fried Chicken Legs and Mushrooms


At Wu Hu ( a lake in An Hui), the Grand Temple monks wash chicken legs well, rinse off the sand from the mushrooms, add soy sauce, and stir-fry with wine till well done.  They place it on plates to serve the guests.  It is amazing.



Pig Lard with Turnips


Stir-fry turnip in pig lard, add some dried shrimps to stew till it gets extremely well done. When remove from the wok, add some green onions.  The color of the dish is like amber.



Part 11 Side dishes

Side dishes are for pairing with the main food.  They are like the lower-ranking officers who assist the six highest-ranking officers in government.  The side dishes can wake up the spleen and stomach and get rid of waste.  This is the function of side dishes.


Preserved Bamboo Shoots


There are many places producing preserved bamboo shoots.  The best ones are from the home garden, cooked barbecue style. Boil the fresh bamboo shoots with salt till done, then place them on a basketry rack to roast.  They must be watched carefully overnight. If the fire goes low, the bamboo shoots will taste soft and turn yellow.  If the bamboo shoots are roasted with mild sauce, the color becomes slightly dark. Winter bamboo shoots and spring bamboo shoots can both be used for preserving.



Tianmu Bamboo Shoots [as noted above, Tianmu Mountain is near Hangzhou]


Tianmu bamboo shoots are usually sold in quantity in Hangzhou. The ones placed above in the basket are the best quality; two inches below are the older shoots. You should buy the sets that are placed on top!  They can command a high price. The more baskets you buy from, the more fresh and tender shoots we get.


(I.e., the more you stick to the top ones—and therefore have to skim more baskets—the better you do.  Putting the best quality goods on top of the basket and the less good ones below is not a tactic confined to old China….  Check any modern supermarket’s strawberries, for example.)



Yulan Slice (Yulan means “magnolia”; here it refers to dry preserved winter bamboo shoots, the appearance and color of which resemble magnolia.  They smell really good.)


Yulan slices are made from winter bamboo shoots, roasted with a little honey.  In Suzhou, Sun Chunyang’s household preserves two kinds, one salty and the other sweet.  The salty ones are better.



Vegetarian Ham


Chu Zhou preserved bamboo shoots are called vegetarian ham.  This should be cooked in a short time.  The longer it is cooked, the drier it gets. One can just preserve some fresh bamboo shoots on their own.



Xuancheng Preserved Bamboo Shoots


Xuancheng (Xuanzhou, Anhui) bamboo shoots are black and fat, almost the same quality as Tianmu shoots, and very good.



Ginseng Bamboo Shoots


Preserve the thin bamboo shoots in ginseng shapes  Add a bit of honey water. Yangzhou people value this, so the price is pretty high.



Bamboo Shoot Oil [actually bamboo juice, not oil]

Take ten jin bamboo shoots, steamed about one day and one night.  Pierce the shoots and layer them on a flat board.  As in making tofu, press the shoots with boards on top, to make the juice come out.  Add one liang of fried salt in juice to make bamboo shoot oil.  After the bamboo shoots are sun-dried, they can be preserved.  Tian Tai monks like to make bamboo shoot oil as gifts for people.


Rice Wine Dregs


Rice Wine dregs is from Taicang Zhou.  The older they are, the better.



Shrimp Oil


Buy a few jin of shrimps, slowly cook with soy sauce.  Wen removing from the wok, strain the soy sauce with a piece of cloth and wrap the shrimps up.  Then marinate in a jar with soy sauce.



Spicy Tiger Sauce


Chilli, mashed, is steamed with sweet sauce.  Add some dried shrimps.


(This is an unusually early recipe for chilli in China.)



Smoked Caviar


The color of smoked caviar is like amber.  The more oil it has, the more expensive it is. In Suzhou, Sun Chunyang’s household makes the best.  The fresher it is, the better. After a long time, the flavor goes dull.


(Chinese smoked fish roes are as good as caviar, though not true caviar.  And they are much more sustainably produced.)



Preserved Chinese Cabbage

Less salt makes tastier flavor, too much salt makes a nasty flavor. However, to preserve it a long time, it needs a lot of salt. I tried to preserve one big jar, opened it in the dog days of summer; the upper half of the jar smelled bad and looked mushy, but the lower half smelled good and looked like jade.  It was amazing! So don’t judge by appearances [lit. “don’t just look at the skin and hair”].


(Here and in the next recipe, the maddening issue of exactly how much salt is left to the reader!  Chinese pickled vegetables are less salty than Korean kimchi but more salty than good sauerkraut.)



Celtuce [a variety of lettuce grown for its thick, succulent stem]


Two ways to eat celtuce: freshly made celtuce with mild sauce tastes crisp and tender. If it is pickled and preserved, slice it then eat;  it tastes fresh. But it must be slightly salted; too much salt ruins the flavor.



Preserved Dry Vegetables


Spring mustard greens can be air dried.  Use the stems, slightly salted, for sun-drying.  Add wine, sugar and soy sauce, mix well, then steam. Air-dry it, then seal in bottles.




Mizuna is also called red-in-snow. One way to preserve it is to preserve a whole jar.  Make sure it is mild; this is best.  Another way is to pick the hearts, air-dry, chop up, preserve in a bottle.  When this is ready, it can be cooked in fish congee, and tastes fine. Or one can slowly stew it with vinegar, or cook it with spicy dishes; these are also good.  It is best of all with eels or carp.


(A form of Chinese mustard greens, variously called pot-herb mustard, thousand-leaf mustard, red-in-snow, etc. in English.)


Spring Mustard Greens


Air-dry spring mustard greens, chop them up, preserve in a jar till ready.  This called “portable vegetable.”



Mustard Head


Mustard sliced, preserved with green mustard, tastes crisp.  Or one can preserve the whole head: sun-dry then preserve.  It will taste musch better.



Sesame Vegetable


Sun-dry preserved mustard greens, then chop up finely, steam, and eat.  This is called “sesame vegetable.”  It is best for the elders.


(The name is mysterious; probably the recipe requires sesame oil for preserving and/or sesame seeds for garnish.)



Shredded Dried Tofu


Thinly slice good dried tofu, mix it with shrimps and soy sauce.



Air-dried Vegetable


Use the hearts [leaf bases] of mustard greens, air-dried.  Preserve them, then squeeze out the juice. Seal in small bottles with clay. Then place the bottles bottom up on ashes. This side dish, when eaten in summer, appears yellow, and has a mild and fresh flavor and scent.



Rice Wine Dreg Vegetable


Use air-dried preserved vegetables; wrap them up separately with vegetable leaves.  For each leaf, layer some rice wine dregs and wrap.  Stack them up in a jar. When eating, open the wraps. The dreg will not mix with the vegetable, but the flavor is enhanced.



Pickled Vegetable


Air-dry mustard greens, then slightly pickle them. Add sugar, vinegar, and mustard to put in the jar with the juice.  One can add a little soy sauce.  When having a meal, this side dish can wake up the spleen and stomach after the guests feel full and drunk.



Tai Vegetable Hearts [again, this obviously refers to some Chinese cabbage relative, not seaweed]

Use the spring tai vegetable hearts. Pickle them, then squeeze out the juice, put it in small bottles, for summer eating. Air-dry the flowers of the tai vegetable, called tai flower head.  This can be cooked with meat.



Pickled Mustard Roots [tubers of the rape-turnip]


Pickled mustard roots from Nanjing Cheng En Temple are better as they get older. Cooking it with hun ingredients will bring out the best flavor.



Turnips [actually the large Chinese radishes]


Use the big and fat turnips to preserve with sauce for one or two days, then eat.  They taste sweet, crisp and lovely. Sometimes, the mashed turnip can be made into shapes of dried fish, and  the slices of turnip for frying can be shaped like butterflies.  Some [presumably the radishes, not the butterflies] are as long as one zhang [3.3 meters], which is quite a spectacle. Cheng En temple sells turnips which are pickled in vinegar, the older the better.



Fermented Bean Curd


The best frmented ban curd is sold at the front gate of General Wen Temple in Suzhou.  It is black in color, with a good flavor. There are dry and wet kinds. There is also a kind with shrimps in it.  I dislike this somewhat, because of its fishing smell. Guangxi produces the best white fermented bean curd.  Bank Overseer Wang’s household also makes tasty fermented bean curd.



Three Nuts Fried with Sauce


Peel walnuts and almonds; no need to peel the hazelnuts. First fry them in oil over a high fire till crisp, then add in sauce.  Don’t overcook the nuts.  Determine the amount of sauce according to the amount of the nuts.


(A typically unhelpful Yang suggestion.)



Agar with Sauce


Wash the agar well, then marinate it in sauce. Wash it only just before eating. It has another name, “kylin dish.”



Agar Cake


Boil the agar till really soft, then mash it to make a cake. Cut it with a knife.  The color looks like beeswax.



Little Matsutake


Use mild sauce to cook small matsutake till boiling and the juice is absorbed, then remove from the wok, add some sesame oil, and put it in a jar. It can last up to two days.  If kept too long, the flavor becomes bad.



Mud Snail


Mud snails are from Xinghua and Taixing. Use the newborn tender mud snails.  Soak them in fermented glutinous rice, add sugar.  The snails will automatically spit out the oil. Although called “mud snails,” but the best ones are not muddy.





Use tender jellyfish, marinate in sweet wine.  They are very delicious. The bell part is white, and called “white skin.”  Thinly slice it, mix with wine and vinegar, and eat.




Shrimpfish come from Suzhou. This little fish has roe when it’s born. Cook it when fresh.  It tastes better than dried fish.


(The comment about roe confuses us.  Either the fry still have some yolk not totally absorbed, or the fish breeds when very young.)



Young Ginger Preserved with Thick Soy Sauce


Use raw young ginger, slightly marinate, first in rough [thick, heavy-flavored] sauce, then in fine sauce. Repeat this three times.  Then it’s done.  There is an old trick of putting a cicada’s shed skin in the sauce; the gingers will remain tender for a long time.


(Probably magical thinking.  We are unaware of preservative value in a cicada skin, but cicadas live underground for years, and people might have naturally assumed the cicadas had a secret of preserving themselves for long periods.)



Cucumber Preserved  in Thick Soy Sauce

First pickle the cucumbers, then air-dry them, then put into soy sauce, the same way as with young gingers. It’s easier to preserve them sweet than crisp. In Hangzhou, Shi Luzhen’s household makes the best thick-soy-sauce-preserved cucumber. I heard that re-preserving the cucumber, after it’s been preserved once, will make the thin skin shrink. 

It tastes crisp and delicious when eating.



New Broad Beans


The new broad beans are tender.  Fry with preserved sherpherd’s purse.  This is the best. The right way to eat broad beans is to pick them only when you plan to eat them [very soon].



Pickled Eggs


The best pickled eggs are from Gaoyou [a small town in Suzhou].  They are of  red color and preserved in plenty of oil. They are Gaowen Duangong’s favorite dish.  At dinner, he always serves the eggs to his guests first. The eggs are placed in plates, cut in halves, with the shells still on.  They are served with egg yolks and whites; one cannot only use yolks and throw away whites,  If so, the flavor would be gone, and the oil taken away too.


(Evidently the pickle softens the shells enough that they can be sliced.)



Mixed Match

Make a small hole in a raw egg, empty out the yolk and white.  Use only the white.  Mix it with thick chicken broth.  Then put the mixture back to the shells, seal with paper, and steam in a rice-cooker type of steamer. When done, peel the eggs.  They still look like whole eggs. This way of cooking gives the best flavor.



Preserved Water Bamboo Shoot Slices


Marinate the water bamboo shoots in sauce first, then pick them out to air-dry, slice to eat, as in making preserved bamboo shoots slices.



Niushou’s Dried Tofu


A monk at Niushou makes first-class dried tofu. However, there are seven places selling dried tofu.  The Xiaotang Monk’s is the best of the seven.



Pickled Japanese Snake Gourd


When Japanese snake gourds are still young, pick the thin ones to pickle in sauce.  They are crisp and fresh.



Part 12. Snacks


Liang Shao Ming (first son of the northern and southern dynasty emperor Liang Wu Di) ate snacks as small meals.  Zhen Cansao [another historic figure] also persuaded her uncle to do the same.  As we can see, snacks originated from long time ago.  Thus I write my section on “Snacks”.



Sea Eel Noodle


Take a big sea eel, steam till very soft, get rid of the bones, mix the meat in flour, add some chicken broth to make the dough, roll flat, cut into thin noodles. Add chicken broth, ham broth and mushroom broth to boil.



Warm Noodle


Boil thin noodles, then drain, then place in a bowl. Use chicken and black mushroom to make thick sauce. When eating, scoop the sauce and cover on top of the noodles.



River Eel Noodles


Slowly stew the eel in sauce, then add the noodles and boil. This is Hangzhou style.



“Skirt” Noodles

Use small knife to shred the dough to thin and wide pieces, called “skirt noodles.”  Normally, for noodles, more soup than noodles is better.  It is good not to see the noodles in the bowl; rather finish the noodles, then add more.  This way it will make people want to eat more. This is very popular in Yangzhou, which makes some sense.


Vegetarian Noodles


Stew mushrooms heads to broth one day ahead,.  Strain.  Next day, stew the bamboo shoots in broth, then add the noodles to boil. This method is best done by the monk at Yangzhou’s Dinghui Temple, but he wouldn’t teach it.  However, it certainly can be copied. The dish is pure black.  Some people said he added shrimp broth and mushrooms broth, only making sure the sand and dirt were cleaned well.  Do not change the water for washing the mushrooms.  Once it is changed, the flavor will be thinner.



Straw Rain Cape Cake


Use cold water to make the dough, not too much. Flatten the dough thinly, then roll up, flatten it again, scatter some pork lard and white sugar evenly on top, then roll it up, and flatten to a thin cake. Fry it with pork lard. If you choose salty-flavor style, then add pepper and salt.


(The lard, sugar and dough create a rough surface like that of a straw raincape.)



Shrimp Cake


Raw shrimps, green onion salt, Chinese brown pepper, and a bit of wine.  Add some water to make the shrimp cake.  Use sesame oil to fry thoroughly.



Flat Cake


In Shandong, Accountant Kong’s household makes flat cakes, thin as cicada’s wings, big as tea plates, and soft with a rich flavor.  Nothing can compare with them.  My household tried to copy, but ours were still not as good as his.  I cannot find the reason.

A tin can from Shanxi can hold thirty flat cakes. Each guest gets one can. The cake is the circumference of an orange.  The can has a lid for easy storage. The filling is shredded meat and green onion, thin as hair. It could be pork and lamb together, in which case it is called western cake. [Lamb is a western Chinese dish.]



Pine Cake [Shortcake]


In Nanjing, the best shortcake is made by Jiao Men Fang store.



Flour Mouse


Use hot water to make a dough.  When chicken broth is boiling, use chopsticks to put the pieces of dough in.  The size doesn’t matter.  Cook with fresh vegetable hearts.  The dumplings taste particularly flavorful.


(Simple dumplings, very possibly from sticky rice flour, more or less the size and shape of mice.)




Flatten dough pieces.  Fill with ground meat and steam. The key to good dumplings is the filling. Use fresh, tender meat, get rid of sinew, then season it. I was once in Guangdong, and had dumplings at Guang Zheng Tai.  These were the best. They used filling made from  pig skin paste.


Meat Wonton


To make wonton, make the same way as for dumplings.



Fried Leek Dumplings


Mince the leek finely, mix it with ground pork, add seasonings, then wrap it in dough wrappers. Fry in oil. It would be better to add some butter to the dough.


(A very unusual reference to butter.   Leek dumplings are a central Asian specialty; is there a Tibetan influence here?)



Fried Sugar Pancakes


Use sugar water to make the dough.  Heat oil in a pan.  Put the dough in the pan with chopsticks, and fry. Make the dough into pancake shapes.  It is called Soft Wok Cake.



Sesame Seed Cake


Crush pine nuts and walnuts, add sugar [for the stuffing].  Use pork lard in the dough [for wrapping].  Fry it till both sides turn golden color, then sprinkle sesame seeds on the dumplings. Kou Er (a girl’s name, apparently one of Yuan’s servants) is very good at making this. She sifts the flour four or five times.  The color will be as white as snow.  You must use a sizable pan, to fry them on both sides.  If there is butter [in the dough or perhaps in the filling], the cake tastes better.


(This is a thoroughly west-Asian recipe, up to and including the butter, and reminds us of western recipes in Yuan and Ming cookbooks.)



Thousand Layers Buns


Staff Advisor Yang’s household makes buns, as white as snow, with what seems like thousands of layers. Nanjing people don’t know how to do it. The method is half from Yangzhou, half from Changzhou and Wuxi.



Seasoned Millet Mush


Brew some tea, add in roasted flour [evidently meaning—or maybe replacing—the parched meal of Tibetan usage], fried sesame seed paste, and milk. Add a little salt. If there is no milk, use butter or milk skin.


(This is a central Asian recipe, an elite form of Tibetan tsampa or its Mongolian descendent zompa.  The milk skin reprises the qaymaq of central Asia.  Yuan did have eclectic tastes.) 



Apricot Kernel Custard


Mash the aproicot kernels to paste, then get rid of the dregs. Add the rice powder to the juice, cook it with sugar.


(Another western Asian recipe; in China, apricot kernels normally replace the almonds of the western world.  This recipe, or various forms of it, remains common, as a dessert or for soothing a sore throat.)



Powder pancake


Made the same way as fried sugar pancakes. Add sugar or salt depending on which is wanted at the time.



Bamboo Leaf Rice Pudding

Use bamboo leaves to wrap the sweet rice and boil. It has a pointy point, like new water chestnuts.


(A totally inadequate recipe for the familiar zongzi.)



Turnip [i.e., radish] Dumplings


Shred the turnip.  Boil it to get rid of the smell. Dry it, add green onion and sauce, and mix. Use it as fillings to wrap in sweet rice dough. Then deep fry in sesame oil or cook it thoroughly in broth.  Kou Er learned how to make Chun Pufang’s household’s turnip dumplings.  She can make leek dumplings and pheasant dumplings with this method.



Sweet Rice Dumplings


Use sweet rice flour to make dumplings.  Make them very smooth. Fillings can be made with pine nuts, walnuts, pork lard and sugar. Or make the fillings from tender pork without any veins, ground, with  green onion mince and soy sauce. To make the sweet rice powder, soak the rice in water for a day and night, then ground the rice with water, using a cloth bag to strain the rice liquid.  Under the bag, layer some wood ash to help drain the liquid out faster.  Until the contents of the bag are thoroughly dry, use previously dried rice powder.



Pork Lard Cake


Mix sweet rice powder with pork lard,  place on a plate to steam, then add bits of  rock sugar in the powder, and keep steaming till done. Use knife to cut it open.



Snowflake Cake


Cooked sweet rice, mashed, is filled with sesame seeds and sugar, shaped into cake, then cut into squares.



Soft Fragrant Cake


The first-ranked soft fragrant cake is made at Suzhou’s Duling Bridge.  Second is Huchou cake made by Xishi House.  The third is from Nanjing, from Southern Gate Bao En Temple.



Hundred Nuts Cake


In Hangzhou, the best nut cakes can be found at the North Gate.  It is best with soft sweet rice, plenty of pine nuts and walnuts, and without orange bits. The cake’s sweetness is hard to define; one cannot tell whether it is honey or sugar.  It can be stored for a long time. My household has not been able to find the recipe.



Chestnut Cakes

Boil chestnuts to very soft, then mash.  Add sweet rice powder and sugar to steam. On top of the cake, add some sunflower seeds and pine nuts. This is a traditional food for the Chongyang festival.


Green Cake


Mash some green leaves to get the juice, mix it in rice powder to make balls. The color is as green as jade.



Happy Together Cake


Steam the rice paste as one would steam rice. Press the rice paste to make the shape of a gongbi  Roast it on an iron rack, adding a little oil to prevent it sticking on the rack.


(A gongbi is a jade piece for ritual ceremony; see (http://pic.chinajade.cn/up/jade/2011/09/22/982_110449137d.jpg).)



Chickpea Cake


Grind chickpeas, add some sweet rice powder to make the cake, place it on a plate to steam till well done. When eating, cut it with a small blade.



Chickpea Congee


Grind chickpeas to make congee.  Fresh peas are the best, older ones are fine also. Add Chinese yam and Poria cocos [a medicinal fungus].  This will make the congee taste much better.



Gold Sweet Rice Balls


To make Hangzhou-style gold sweet rice balls, carve shapes of peaches, apricots and gold ingots on pieces of wood to make the molds.  Press the dough in to shape the gold sweet rice balls.

The fillings can be either meat or vegetable.



Lotus Powder and Lily Powder


If the lotus powder is not homemade, one cannot trust that it is really made from lotus. The same is true of lily powder.



Sesame Balls


Steam sweet rice till very soft, then make balls. Use sesame seed powder and sugar for fillings.


(If these are then fried, they are the familiar sesame balls of Chinese snack shops today.)



Taro Balls


Grind taro, then dry it, mix it with rice powder.  Chao Tian Temple’s Daoists make the best taro balls.  They use pheasant for fillings, which is very delicious.


(Apparently the “taro horns” of today’s snack shops—again, assuming they are fried.)



Lotus Roots [actually rhizomes—underwater stems—not roots]

To make lotus roots, one should make them at home.  Cook with sugar and rice. Eat with soup; this is the best. The lotus roots sold by vendors are cooked with filthy water, the flavor is bad, and they not edible. I love to eat baby lotus roots, because even if been cooked too long and overly soft, I still need to bite it with teeth, and the flavor is all there. But if the old roots have been cooked too long, they become mushy, with no flavor at all.


(Evidently the candied rhizomes found in snack shops then and now.)



New Chestnuts and New Water Chestnuts


Stew new chestnuts  till very soft.  They then have a pine nut flavor. Some cooks do not want to stew till soft, so some Nanjing people never have tasted the real flavor of chestnuts.  It is the same with new water chestnuts; some Nanjing people have to wait until the water chestnuts  become old to eat them.



Lotus Seeds


Fujian lotus seeds are expensive and not cooked as easily as Hunan lotus seeds. When cooking, by the time the seeds just begin to get cooked, separate kernels from skins, and put back to the soup to stew on slow fire. Cover with lid, do not open it to check and do not stop the fire. Cook like this for about two sticks of incense time.  The lotus seeds should be well done, and when eatent should not taste rough.





When it is sunny in October, sun-dry the taro until very dry.  Then store in dry grass.  Do not let it get frozen in winter.  Cooked next spring, it still tastes sweet and delicious. Not everyone knows about this method.



Xiao the Beauty’s Dim Sum


At Yizhen South gate, there is a store owned by Xiao the Beauty.  She is good at making desserts such as buns, cakes, dumplings and such things.  They are small and delicate, and snow white in color.


(Dianxin, Cantonese tim sam, corrupted to “dim sum,” is now a familiar word in the western world.  It literally means “dot the heart,” and is equivalent to “hit the spot” in English.  In religious art, dotting the eyes—painting the pupils in—is the last stage in painting an image; it brings the life and soul into it.)



Liu Fangbo’s Mooncakes


Use the best fine flour from Shandong to make buttery skins.  Fillings are made with pine nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, sugar, and pork lard. When eating, they taste mild sweet, soft and fragrant—incredible!



Ten Types of Tao Fangbo’s Desserts


At the end of every year, Mrs. Tao makes ten desserts, all made of Shandong fine flour.  They are of strange shapes, colorful, sweet and fragrant.  One can’t praise them enough. Governor Sha said:  “After I ate Kong Fangbo’s flat cake, other flat cakes taste like nothing; after had Tao Fangbo’s ten desserts, other desserts from around the world taste like nothing.”  After Tao Fangbo died, the recipe of the desserts disappeared just like [the long-lost song] “Guang Ling San.”  How sad!



Yang Zhongcheng’s Western Pancake


Mix egg whites, water, and fine flour to make a batter.  Create a pancake maker: Use the tips of copper tongs to make pancake shapes of butterfly size, on both top and bottom. When you close the tips, the space left should be less than one centimeter. Over a high fire, heat the tongs, add the mixture, close it, then open it: the pancakes are made. White as snow, transparent as cotton paper. Add some crystal sugar and crushed pine nuts to eat with this.


(This recipe is particularly interesting since it is not only a European one but specifically identified as such [xiyang, lit. “western ocean”].  It is, not surprisingly, a rather confused account.  The tongs have wide, round, flat tips with a shallow depression, or mold shapes, on the inside.  The pancake batter is put in these when the tongs are hot.  The tongs are closed and the pancakes are almost instantly cooked.  The tongs are then opened and the pancakes taken out.  See Waley 1956:196-197; he was rather confused by this recipe too.  I have seen these made, and thus at least know what is involved.)



White Cloud Flakes


Make white rice crust, thin as cotton paper.  Fry it with oil, add a bit of sugar.  It tastes very crisp. Nanjing people know how to make it best.



Wind Xiao  (Glutinous Rice Crust)


Glutinous rice powder is mixed with water, made into small thin pieces, then fried in pork lard.  Before removing from the wok, add some sugar. Its color as white as frost. It melts right after being put in the mouth. Hangzhou people call it Wind Xiao.



Three-layerd Jade Stripe Cake


Use pure glutinous rice powder for making this cake. Divide it into three layers: one layer of rice powder, one layer of pork lard and white sugar, and one layer of rice powder.  Bind them together, steam, then cut. This is the Suzhou method.



Yunsi Cake  [a Yunsi is an official in charge of water traffic]

When Lu Yayu was a Yunsi, he was really old.  A Yangzhou bakery made this cake for him.  He praised it highly, so the cake got its name.  This cake as white as snow, on top of it decorated with a little rouge, red as peach flowers. The filling is made with a small amount of sugar, mild but tasty. This kind of cake is best made by the store in front of the Yunsi department [presumably the one in Yangzhou]; other stores’ Yunsi cakes are rough and of poor color.



Sand Cake


Use glutinous rice powder.  Steam the cake.  The inside is filled with sesame seeds and sugar crumbs.


(Like “sandy cookies” in English and sandtorte in German, this name refers to the sandy, crunchy texture of the granulated sugar.)



Small Buns, Small Wonton


Make small buns the size of walnuts, steam, and eat. Chopsticks can pick up two at a time. This dish is from Yangzhou. Yangzhou makes the best fermented dough, pressed by hand.  They flatten it down to no higher than a half inch, release the dough, and it rises high again. Small wontons are as small as longan fruit, and are cooked with chicken broth.


Snowy Steaming Cakes


When grinding the rice, use a proportion of glutinous rice and normal rice of 2:8; that is the standard.  Mix the powder.  Place it on a plate.  Sprinkle some cold water on the powder until it can easily be formed into rice balls, and easily separated as well.  First sieve the rice powder.  The fraction that is sieved out should be ground again and re-sieved.  Then use the rice powder that has been sieved twice.  Mix it well with water, not too dry or too wet.  Cover it with a towel to avoid drying it up.  Save the dough for use. Add some sugar in the powder to enhance the flavor, mixing the powder as for Zhen Er cake’s sold in the markets. Wash a tin steamer and tin cake molds well.  Before using, spray with a layer of water and oil, then wipe with a piece of cloth. You must wash and wipe for every steaming time. In one tin steamer, place the molds.  Put in half the dough [in a flat layer], then layer on some fruity filling, then cover up with more dough.  Gently tap the surface flat.  Then cover the steamer, steam above a pot of boiling water till steam comes straight up.  Then it’s done. Place the steamer upside down, remove the steamer, then the molds.   Decorate the cakes with red food coloring.  One can use two steamers in turns. Wash the water pot well, fill it with water till reach the shoulder of the pot. The more steaming, the less water is left in the pot, so carefully watch and prepare for adding hot water when in need.



Crispy Cakes Recipe


Take one bowl of cooled butter, one bowl of hot water. Mix the butter and water first, add in a piece of raw dough, completely knead it till very soft.  As if rolling pieces of small dough, knead cooked steamed dough with the butter well.  Do not let it become hard. Then make pieces of small raw dough as big as walnuts. Make the cooked steaming dough into slightly smaller balls.  Then wrap the cooked steaming dough inside the raw dough.  Then roll it flat, to a length of eight inches, and width of two or three inches.  Then fold it like a bowl, filled in with fruits.


(This confused recipe seems to suggest that you mix the butter and water and some dough till that dough is hot, or possibly use pre-steamed dough; then make balls with raw dough stuffed with steamed dough, as if for central European fruit bread; then roll it all out into a flat sheet, presumably with the balls showing up as tiled patterns.  This would have to be cooked somehow.  This seems wrong, but the recipe resists clear interpretation.)



Original Cake


In Shanxi Jingyang, Ming Fuzhang’s household makes very good “original cakes.”  They choose first-class white flour, add some sugar and butter to make buttery dough, then knead it to cake shapes the size of bowls, either round or square, about two centimeters thick. Then they bake them on top of clean small heated cobblestones, regardless of the uneven levels.  The cakes can thus be either concave or convex. When the color turns slightly yellow, remove from the stones.  They have an amazing flavor. One can use salt instead of sugar.


(“Original” is literally “Heaven-generated” or “Heavenly spontaneity.”  The name mystifies us; possibly these have a religious significance.)



Flower-Petal Moon Cakes

Ming Fu’s household’s flower-laced moon cakes are as good as Liu Fangbo’s in Shandong. I often invite Ming’s lady chef to use my own sedan chair to come my place to make the cakes. She uses fine flour mixed with raw lard to knead with hundreds of strokes, then uses jujubes for filling. inside. Then she cuts the dough into the size of a bowl, making the four sides look like flower petals. Use two fire basins, she bakes the cakes on both sides. Using the jujubes with peel gives a delicious favor.  Using the raw lard gives a fresh flavor. Once it gets in the mouth, it melts right away. It’s sweet but not greasy, not dense but not falling apart. The secret is in the skill of kneading the dough.  The more you knead, the better the dough.


Chinese Steamed Bun Recipe


I happened to eat Xin Ming’s household’s steamed buns.  They are white as snow, glowing like silver on the surface. I thought it was because they used fine flour from the north.  Long Yun told me that there’s no difference from flour from south or north, as long as it has been finely sieved five times.  Then the flour will be naturally white and fine.  It is not necessary to use northern flour. The only difficulty is rising the dough.  I have invited their chef to teach us, but we still can’t manage getting the same result, with cakes as soft and well-risen as theirs.


(Many a baker will relate to that last confession.)



The Hong Household’s Zongzi

The Hong household in Yangzhou makes superior Zongzi.  They use the best glutinous rice. Choose long and white and no damaged ones.  Throw away half-damaged or crushed ones. Wash well, wrap in big bamboo leaves, fill in one big piece of good ham, seal and cook in a pot for one day and one night, keep adding firewood without stopping. When rice and ham are all well cooked till soft and melting, it tastes incredibly smooth and good.  Another option: use the ham fat, chop it up to mix in the



Part 13.  Rice


Congee and cooked rice are the basic foods, dishes should be on the side.  Once the basics are established, the [proper eating] Way is produced. Therefore, I write the Rice section./




Wang Mang [briefly Emperor, 9-23 AD]  said: Salt is the essential of hundreds of dishes. I said: Rice is the fundament of hundreds of flavors.  The Book of Songs says: “The sound of washing the rice is swish, The steam [of cooking rice] floating, floating.”  As we can see, ancient people also like to eat steamed rice, and dislike it if there’s no moisture in the rice. Whoever is good at steaming rice knows how to cook the rice separately with liquid locked in.  When chewing it, it tastes soft and fragrant. There are four keys: first, use good rice, such as fragrant rice, or winter frost rice [a.k.a red rice, which mentioned in A Dream of Red Mansions, a very expensive kind], or late rice, or Guanyin xian [a type of rice that is long and thin, a very good kind] or peach flower xian [reddish, short rice]. Rice needs to be washed well until it is really white.  In humid weather, you need to lay out the rice on the ground to dry.  Do not let the rice get moldy and stick together. Second, wash the rice really well.  Don’t feel that it is wasting time to wash the rice.  It must be rubbed to wash off foreign substances.  Keep washing until the water becomes transparent and clear, with no rice color. Third, know how to use the fire: high power first, then small fire.  Gradually turn down the fire till it is very low. Fourth, add the right amount of water according to the amount of rice, not too much or too little.  The cooked rice should be neither too hard nor too soft.  I often see rich families who care only about how fancy their dishes are, but tolerate poor cooking of the rice.  Such attending to trifles and neglecting the essentials is very funny.  I do not like to soak my rice in soup, because in this way I can’t taste the original flavor of rice. If there’s good soup, I prefer one spoon of soup, then one bite of rice.  Take them one after another to satisfy both appetites.  If I have to, I would soak the rice in tea or hot water! In this way, I would still taste some of the rice flavor.  The essential taste of rice is above hundreds of flavors; Those who know how to appreciate the rice like to eat just rice without any dishes.


(Good advice!  One need only add that the rice should be soaked for an hour between washing and cooking.  The horrible wallpaper paste that passes for “rice” in American kitchens and restaurants can be banished forever by using this simple advice—especially the part about really caring for and appreciating good rice.)




It is not congee if you can see only water, not rice, or if you can see only rice, not water.  You must combine and blend rice and water well.  Exquisiteness grows in silkiness! This is real congee. Yin Wen Duangong said: “ It’s better to wait to eat congee than to make the congee wait to be eaten!”  These are true words.  Avoid waiting a long time after the congee cooked.  Its flavor goes bad, and gets dry.  Recently, some people make duck congee, adding meat in congee; some people make eight treasures congee, adding fruits in it.  Both lose the true flavor of the congee. If you have to add some other items in congee, then it is better to use green beans in summer. In winter, use millet. You can add any of the “five grains” [i.e. any grains], it doesn’t ruin the congee. I once had dinner at an Inspector’s place, at which every dish was good enough except the cheap rice—I barely made myself eat it. After I went home, I got sick from eating it. I joked it with my friend: My five internal organs’ spirits suffered—indeed I couldn’t take it!



Part 14 Tea and Drinks


Drinking seven bowls of beverages feels like riding the wind.  Drinking even one cup helps one forget all worries. When talking about drinks, these must be the “six clear things” [water, milk, sweet liquor, rice juice and tea, unfiltered liquor and watery congee].  So I write my Tea and Drinks section.




To make good tea, you must use good water. Water is best from Zhong Leng and Hui Quan. Ordinary families can’t afford transporting this water, but natural spring water and snow water are easy to get and store.  Fresh water can have a bit of strong flavor, but the longer it is stored, the sweeter and milder it gets.  I have tasted all kinds of tea around the world.  The best is the white tea from the summits of the Wuyi Mountains. However, this tea is for the  royal court, and really rare. How can commoners easily get it?  Second, no other tea is better than Longjing.  The teas picked before Qingming time [the third day of the third lunar month, around April] called “lotus-heart” tea is really mild. The tea picked right before the rain is the best, with one leaf on the sprout tip, green like jade.

When storing tea, wrap it in small paper packets, four liang for one pack.  Put it in a pot of lime, and change the lime every ten days.  Seal the pot opening with paper and press it tight to avoid leaking scent and flavor and to prevent color change. When boiling the water, use a high flame. Once it’s boiling, pour in tea right away.  If the water is boiled too long, the water flavor changes. If the water is not boiling, the tea leaves will float on the surface. Once the tea is made, drink it right away.  Don’t cover with a lid, or the tea flavor goes bad.

The key to making tea is to be precise and make no mistakes. In Shanxi, Fei Zhongchen had said: “I passed by Shuiyuan yesterday, and finally had good tea.”  [Shuiyuan produces good tea.]   E ven Fei Zhongchen, a person from Shanxi, said such words. I have seen a Shidafu [a senior official] who grew up in Hangzhou drink boiled tea every time he attends court. The tea tastes bitter like Chinese medicine, red as blood. This is the vulgar way for those fat and cheesy people who like to eat areca. 

Except the Longjing from my hometown, every other kind of tea is ranked below it.  [Unclear referent here, probably referring to the material on Wuyi.]


(Again, good tips on tea.  The water would be jut beginning to bubble, not boiling in our sense, when the tea is put in.  I would not recommend the lime, but it may have been necessary in Yuan’s time, to keep bugs and mold out.  Many a gourmet would still rank Wuyi white tea at the top.  The Wuyi mountains were so important in the tea trade that the English in the old days often referred to tea as Bohea [pron. “bohay”], from the way “Wuyi” is pronounced by the people in the mountain range itself.)



Wuyi Tea

I used to dislike Wuyi tea for its bitterness.  It is as bitter as Chinese medicine. However, in 1786, I was traveling in Wuyi and got to Tianyou temple on Manting summit. The Daoists there all rushed to serve me their tea. The cup is as small as a small walnut, the teapot is as small as a citrus fruit. Each cup has less than one liang of tea water. Every sip that I had I could slowly enjoy. First, I smell its aroma.  Then I took a small sip, tasting its flavor slowly and meditating on it. It’s absolutely fragrant and fresh.  The aroma swirled in my nose, leaving sweetness on my taste buds. After I finished the first cup, I had one and two more. It made me feel calm and refreshed. At this time, I realized that Longjing was refreshing but tasted really mild, and Yangxian tea was good but lacking in sweet tones. It’s like comparing jade with crystal: totally different styles. So Wuyi tea has its good reputation, as it should. The teapot could be refilled with boiling water three times, and the flavor still lasted.


(Many a traveler has had this experience, ENA included.  The use of tiny pots and cups is Fujian standard, and truly does make one appreciate the tea.)





Tea from Hangzhou is all fragrant. The best is still Longjing. Every time when it is Qing Ming time in my home town, the tomb keeper will serve us with a cup of tea.  Clear water, green tea—this is the tea that even rich families can’t get.


(Tombs were cleaned up and maintained on Qing Ming day.)



Changzhou Yangxian Tea


Yangxian tea, as green as jade, shaped like sparrows’ tongues, and appearing as very large grains. It tastes sronger than Longjing.



Dongting Jun Mountain tea


The tea from Dongting Jun Mountain tastes similar to Longjing. The leaf is wider, the color is greener. It is hard to get.  The official Fang Liuchuan once gave me two containers of this tea; they were extremely good.  Later someone else gave me some of the tea, but it was not the true original one.

In addition,  Lu’an, Silver Needles, Mao Jian, Borneolum, and Anhua Tea all rank after the first cut.



Alcohol (Jiu)


From birth I disliked alcohol, so I am really strict on picking it.  This helps me to better know how good or bad the alcohol is. Nowadays, Shaoxing jiu is very popular around the country, but Cang jiu’s mildness, Xun jiu’s coldness and Chuan jiu’s freshness are also as good as Shaoxing jiu. Generally speaking, Jiu is like a well educated scholar: the older, the better.  The best is froma jar that is just opened, as the saying “Head start for jiu, foot for tea” [i.e., freshly opened jiu, cured and aged—or possibly reinfused—tea] indicates. To warm the alcohol, inadequate warth makes the taste cold, too hot a warming makes it dull, and setting it too close to the fire makes the flavor bad [smoky]. It must be warmed in water [i.e. the closed bottle put into a pan of water and the water warmed slowly].  It cannot contact the fire directly.  It must be covered tightly to avoid the fragrance [and the alcohol] evaporating away.  That is best.

I have picked a few that are drinkable; descriptions follow.


(Jiu is usually translated “wine,” but it is almost always grain alcohol—technically beer or ale when brewed, vodka when distilled.  The word “wine” in English is correctly restricted to fruit wines, which do exist in China but were rare until modern times.  China now has a substantial grape wine industry with rapidly improving quality, and there is every reason to use words correctly in this context.  The jiu described below are noncarbonated ales or beers except for the shochu, which is distilled, and thus technically are vodka [unaged] or whiskey [aged]).


Yu’s Gold Jia Jiu

Yu Wen Xianggong’s household makes sweet and spicy two kinds of jiu. The spicy one is better.  It tastes spicy and lively, and reaches to our bones.  The color looks like crystal flowers. The flavor is similar to Shaoxing but spicier.



Dezhou Lu Jiu (Dezhou used to be part of old China; it is now part of Vietnam)


Lu Yayu’s household made Lu jiu at home.  The color is normal, like ordinary jiu, but it tastes richer.



Sichuan Pitong Jiu (Pi is a county in Sichuan Province; tong is a bamboo tube;

people in Pi supposedly made wine in bamboo tubes)


Pitong jiu is extremely cool and crystal clear.  It tastes like pear juice and sugar cane juice.  It’s hard to tell that it’s wine. But it is transported from thousands miles away, in Sichuan, and almost no Pitong jiu can stand so much travel without changing flavor. I have had Pitong jiu seven times.  The one jar carried by governor Yang Li Hu’s raft was the best.  [It was least disturbed by the travel.]



Shaoxing Jiu


Shaoxing Jiu is like an official who is free of corruption, authentic and honest.  The flavor is mellow and normal.  Also it is like famous old people, who have lived long and experienced more.  Its quality is thick and flavorful.  Shaoxing Jiu takes at least five years to make.  If aged less than that it’s not drinkable.  Fake Shaoxing Jiu, with added water, cannot be stored for five years. I often say Shaoxing Jiu is a celebrity, and Shochu is a hoodlum.


(Shochu is distilled jiu—basically, at least in Yuan’s day, raw vodka—and if it isn’t a hoodlum itself it has certainly made many people act so!)



Huzhou Nanxun Jiu  (Huzhou is a district in Zhejiang)


Huzhou Nanxun Jiu tastes like Shaoxing, but spicier. The best Nanxun Jiu is that which is more than three years old.


Changzhou Lanling Jiu

Tang poems has sentences such as: “Lanling Jiu is pretty as a tulip; a jade bowl holds it and it shines like amber.”  When I passed throiugh Changzhou, Prime Minister Liu Wending shared his eight-year-old Lanling Jiu.  Indeed it had amber color, but tasted too thick and strong, no longer containing a fresh lasting flavor. Yixing has a similar brew, Shushan Jiu.  Wuxi Jiu is made with second-rate spring water; it should have top quality, but the market businessmen make it roughly.  This leads to poor taste and watery jiu.  It’s such a pity. It is said hjat there is good Wuxi Jiu, but I have not had it so far.



Liyang Black Rice Jiu


I do not usually like drinking.  But in 1766, in Liyan, at Mr. Ye’s house, I drank sixteen cups of black rice jiu. People around me were shocked.  All tried to stop me.  But I couldn’t help drinking it.  I thought they were ruining my mood. This jiu is black, and it tastes sweet and lively.  I can’t find words to express my amazement.  It is said in Liyang: When a family has a newborn baby girl, they must make a jar of this jiu with fine-quality new rice. Wait till the day of the girl’s wedding day; then it can be opened. So the least time for making this jiu is 15 years. When the jar is opened, there is only half the volume left.  It is thick and sweet and is sticky on the lips. The fragrance swirls out from the house.


(Waley 1956:197 provides a freer translation.  He assumes fan—literally, cooked grain—means millet here, since millet was usually used for wine, but fan could just as well have its usual south-Chinese meaning of cooked rice.

Chinese wine cups hold only an ounce, but downing sixteen of them is still a truly impressive accomplishment.  Yuan’s claims to be unused to drinking must obviously be taken with, as Mark Twain put it, “a few tons of salt.”)



Suzhou Old Three-White Jiu (the “three whites” are white rice, white water, white flour)


In Qianlong’s thirteenth year, I was drinking at Zhou Mu’an’s house. His jiu tasted really delicious, and stuck to my lips.  When the cup was filled, it still won’t flow. When I was having the 14th cup, I still didn’t know the name of it, asked the owner, he said: “This is my three-white jiu, more than ten years old.”  Because I really liked it, he sent another jar to me the next day,  However, it tasted quite different. My lord!  The treasure of the earth can not be obtained more than once. Accoding to Zheng Kang Cheng’s  Zhou Guan definition of  “Ang Qi” [white jiu]: ”Jiu is really old and white.” I think it was talking about this jiu.



Jinhua Jiu (Jinhua is a place in Zhejiang)


Jinhua jiu has Shaoxing jiu’s clearness but no spiciness; it has women’s jiu’s sweetness, but is not cheesy. This jiu is also the older, the better. Perhaps it’s because the water along Jinhua is clear.



Shanxi Fen Jiu  

To drink Shochu, the best is to drink one with really high alcohol content. Fenjiu has the highest among shochu varieties.  Speaking of shochu, I refer to it as like a hoodlum among people, and cruel officer in government. To defeat the bandits, one needs cruel officers; to chase away chill and cold, one needs shochu. Fenjiu ranks on top, Shandong sorghum shochu follows next.  When it has been stored for ten years, the color changes to green, and it tastes sweeter—just as a hoodlum eventually ages out of it, has no more bad temper, and becomes easy to get along with.  I once saw Tong Ershu’s family making medicinal shochu, using ten jin of shochu to infuse herbal medicines.  They used four liang of Chinese wolfberry, two liang of atractylodes, one liang of Indian mulberry, to a jar of shochu.  They wrapped up and sealed the jar for a whole month.  When they opened it, it smelled fantastic. When eating pig’s head, lamb’s tail, Tiaosheng Meat, and such types of dishes, shochu is a proper match.  This is called eating the dishes with the right drinks.


(Chinese distilled shochu does indeed vary in strength, or used to, from about 20 to 40% alcohol or even more.  I have encountered shochu well over 50%.  Shochu of various kinds is still used very commonly to produce medicinal tinctures, including the ones mentioned.)


Just to mention a few more jiu:  There are Suzhou’s women’s jiu, Fuzhen jiu, Yuanzao jiu, Xuanzhou’s soybean jiu, Tongzhou’s red jujube jiu, but these are all bad types. The worst one is Yangzhou quince jiu.  It tastes bad as soon as it touches the lips.


(The jujubes and quinces are put in the jiu to infuse; it is not made from them.)







Gao Lian

September 1st, 2014



Essays on Drinks and Delicacies for Medicinal Eating

Yin Zhuan Fu Shi Jian 飲饌服食箋


By Gao Lian (Ming Dynasty)


Chinese edition edited by T’ao Wentai


Translated by Sumei Yi, 2008-9


English version edited by E. N. Anderson, 2009-2011


Editor’s Note:

            Gao Lian was a 16th-century playwright, litterateur and practitioner of the arts of healing and longevity. He wrote or compiled several treatises on these matters, collected in his “eight treatises” published in 1591 (Wikipedia).  The present translation is of the material on food and drink from this collection, including a good deal of alchemy and medicine.  Gao’s approach is totally eclectic.  He reproduces a great mass of odd advice and recipes, many of the latter so hard to follow that one doubts strongly if Gao ever tried them or even knew anyone who had. Reproducing any old advice that might help someone live long was a Ming Dynasty practice.  In this book, thoroughly practical village advice is mixed with arcane alchemy.

            The book is of interest largely to show what a refined gentleman of the 16th century would think worthy of attention, but some of the recipes are good or historically important.  Particularly interesting is the Sweets section, for it includes several Near Eastern recipes, including several for halwah—specifically so called (“hai luo”) in one case.  Evidently, Near Eastern foods continued to be of interest in China, as they had been in Yuan (Buell et al. 2010).  The nativist reaction after the fall of Yuan had largely eliminated this interest, but it persisted, as shown not only by recipe books like this but also by government reprinting of Yuan works.

            In the medical sections, Gao shows a striking fascination with Solomon’s seal, lilyturf, Atractylodes spp., and a few other plants. Sumei Yi and I are not aware if this is his personal devotion or a general Ming idea, but the Yinshan Zhengyao of the Yuan Dynasty also liked Solomon’s seal, reprinting a long paean of praise to it from Ge Hong.  Gao is also interestingly careful about separating the three kinds of cardamom:  baidoukou (the white cardamom familiar in the west), caokou (Ammomum tsaoko, a large round brown cardamom), and sharen (Ammomum villosum and sometimes similar species), very large coarse musky cardamoms from south China and southeast Asia.  He carefully distinguishes their uses and often calls for two kinds in one recipe. 

The Wikipedia entry intriguingly says he described bipolar disorder; we eagerly await details on this.

            In translating, we have given scientific names and common popular ones but have not been exhaustive (so far) about identifications (or consistent about citing “authorities” with names).  A cleaned-up translation with all this made consistent will take time, and the editor is lacking that commodity at this point, but needs to make the work available.  Further time and research is sorely needed.

            Gao’s health writings have been the subject of an article we have not seen, cited in the Wikipedia entry “Gao Lian, dramatist” (retrieved Oct. 20, 2009):

Carpenter, Bruce E.  1990.  “Kao Lien’s Eight Treatises on the Nurturing of Life,” Tezukayama University Review 67:38-51.

            See also:

Buell, Paul D.; E. N. Anderson; Charles Perry.  2010.  A Soup for the Qan.   Leiden:  Brill.

            Clunas, Craig.  1991.  Superfluous Things:  Material Culture and Social Status in Early Modern China.  Urbana:  University of Illinois Press.


            This translation is made from an edition published in 1985 by the China Commercial Press in Beijing.

            Translator’s and English-language editor’s comments in text are in square brackets.  Comments in parentheses are parenthetical notes by Gao Lian or his sources.  This includes Chinese characters and names, which are in regular parentheses, being part of the original text.   Most of the footnotes are by the Chinese editor, Tao Wentai, and consist largely of explanations or relevant quotes from other sources.  The translator, Sumei Yi, has contributed footnotes that are confined to brief comments on translation, including identification or failure to identify.  Many of Gao’s plant names defy all search through dictionaries and encyclopedias in Chinese or English; we have searched a wide range of sources. This is unsurprising, as a great deal remains to be recorded about local and specialized usages even in contemporary Chinese.



            Gao Lian’s preface


            Mr. Gao said: “drinking and eating are the basis of living human beings.” Therefore, in the body, yin and yang move and are used, the five elements grow mutually, and this is not unconnected with drinking and eating. After drinking and eating, the qi of grains will fill one. When the qi of grains is full, the qi of blood will thrive. When the qi of blood thrives, the tendons and strength will be improved. The spleen and stomach are basic to the five internal organs. The qi of the four internal organs come from the spleen. The four seasons are based upon the qi of the stomach. Drinking and eating helps support the qi. When qi is generated, the essence is improved. When the essence is generated, the qi will be nourished. When the qi is full, the spirit will be generated. When the spirit is full, the body will be completed. This is because they need and use each other.

            A man should feel indifferent to his daily uses and nourishment of his life養生. He should not let those nourishing him harm him or turn the five flavors into the slaughter of the five internal organs. Then he obtains the way of nourishing life.

My collected works put teas first, then conjee and vegetables, and briefly describe meat dishes, liquors, flours, cakes, fruits and so on. I have only collected what is proper and useful and do not seek the abnormal. As for cooking living creatures or flavoring precious food with pepper and fragrance, these are for chefs serving the Office of Grand Official[1] under the Son of Heaven.  Such things are not for a hermit mountain-man山人 like me. I do not collect them at all.

As for other foods recorded in the literature about immortals, they have benefited the world. Recipes consistently proved effective should be made and used in the correct way. It is up to the cook to make the recipe in a magical and wise fashion. One should choose what can be eaten, and record ones that help cure illnesses and prolong life. Individuals are different based upon their hidden yin (yincang阴藏) or hidden yang (yangcang阳藏). They should take cold or hot medicines accordingly. One must have one’s qi and nature harmonized and peaceful, and have simple desires. The power of what have been taken and eaten will be then effective. If the six desires are too strong, the five sense organs[2] will malfunction. A person will be recorded in the register of ghosts even if he takes food made based on the immortal recipes. Then what is the benefit of taking it? The knowledgable should think by themselves.

I have edited the recipes into one group of notes: drinks and foods and how they can be taken and eaten.



Preface on Various Previous Treatises



            The Perfected Man[3] said: “the spleen is able to nourish the other organs like a mother.” Men knowing how to nourish life called it Yellow Granny (huangpo黄婆)[4]. Sima Chengzhen taught people that one should keep the yellow qi and cause it to enter into the Muddy Pill (niwan泥丸)[5], which enables him to achieve longevity. Chuyu Yi said that if one can eat when he is ill (angu安穀), he will live beyond his allotted span.  If he cannot eat when he is ill, he will not live up to his allotted time. Therefore, we know that if the spleen and stomach are complete and strong, there will be no illness.

            An old man in Jiangnan was seventy three years old and as strong as the youth. When asked how he nourishes himself, he answered, “I have nothing special. I have not been used to drinking soup or water for my whole life. Ordinary people will drink several sheng a day. I reduce this to several he and only let it touch my lips. The spleen and stomach dislike wetness. If one drinks little, his stomach will be strong and the qi will thrive and the liquid flow. If he risks taking a long journey, he will not feel thirsty either.” This can be called true words that are not trivial [or boring].

            Eating and drinking should have time. The degree of hunger and fullness should be proper. Water and food should change. Conflicting qi flows (chongqi沖氣) should be harmonized. Then the essence and blood will grow. The circulation of qi and that of blood (rongwei榮衛) will keep going smoothly. The internal organs will remain balanced. The spirit will be peaceful. The upright qi will be full inside the body. The mysterious and pefected will meet the outside [world?]. The inner and outer vicious illnesses (xieli邪沴)[6] will not attack him. All kinds of illnesses will not be able to arise.

            For proper drinking and eating: if one does not take food till he feels hungry, he will not be satisfied with chewing sufficiently. If one does not drink till he feels thirsty, he will not be satisfied with drinking slowly. One should not wait to eat till he feels very hungry and he should not overeat. One should not wait to drink till he feels very thirsty and he should not drink too frequently. One should not be satisfied with [concerned about?] how delicate the food is or how warm the drink is.

            The sixth in the “Essay on Seven Taboos” (qijinwen七禁文) composed by the Perfected Man of Grand Unity (taiyi zhenren太乙真人) says: Refining the drink and food will nourish the qi of stomach. Peng Helin said that the spleen is an internal zang [7]organ and the stomach is an internal fu organ. The qi of spleen and stomach will compensate each other. The stomach is the sea of water and grains, mainly receiving water and grains. The spleen is in the middle, grinding and digesting them. They will turn into the blood and qi, nourishing the whole body and irrigating the five internal organs. Therefore, the man practicing the technique of nourishing his life cannot eat without refining his food. This does not mean preparing all sorts of things growing in the water and on the ground, or strange and precious dishes. It means not eating the raw or the cold, nor

the gross or the hard, nor forcing oneself to eat or drink. One should eat when he feels hungry and should not overeat. One should drink when he feels thirsty and should not overdrink. Otherwise, he will encounter the situations mentioned by Confucius, such as the food spoils, the fish stinks, and the meat decays that cannot be eaten. All these situations harm the qi of stomach. Not only will they make people sick, they harm life. If one hopes to gain longevity, he should be deeply alarmed about this. Those who want to support their elder relatives, or those who want to live happily and support themselves, should also know it.

            Huang Tiingjian said:  “In Tongzhou, people steam lamb till it is mashed and then add almond conjee (xinglao杏酪) and eat it with a knife instead of chopsticks. In Nanyang, they add sophora sprouts to the Stirring-Heart Noodle (boxinmian撥心面) and wash them with warm water. The adept’s rice-covered dish (san) should be the plastered pork (mozhu抹豬) from Xiangyang. The rice (chui) should be the fragrant rice from Gongcheng. The offering (jian) should be steamed young goose. Let the chief from Wuxing chop the perch caught in the Songjiang River and then cook it with the water taken from the King Kang Valley in Mt. Lu. Use a small amount of the highest ranked tea from Zengkeng. Then take off your clothes and lie down. Let someone read aloud the first and second Rhymed Essays on the Red Wall (qianhou chibi fu前後赤壁賦) composed by Su Shi. These are enough for one to have an enjoyable break.”  [Lit. “a laugh,” but Su’s essays on the tragedy of the Red Wall are anything but funny, so something gentler is intended.] Although this is a parable (yuyan寓言) told by Huang Tingjian, we can imagine the refinement of those foods. How might we gather all of them together and offer them to the elder as delicious nutrition?

            It is said in the “Rhymed Essay on Gourmets,” composed (laotao fu老饕賦) by Su Shi: “The chef is waving a knife and Yiya is cooking and stewing. The water should be fresh and the pot clean. The fire must not be old and firewood must not be rotten. Steam and then dry in the sun for nine times. Boil and let it float and sink in the hot water for one hundred times in order to make the soup. Taste a piece of meat from the neck. Chew the two pincers [of a crab] before the frost descends (shuangjiang霜降). Cook the mashed cherry with honey. Steam the lamb with almond conjee. The clam is to be half cooked with liquor. The crab is served a bit raw, with dregs. Therefore, gather the tenderness and tastiness of every food and nourish me as a gourmet. The pretty girl is docile and her face is as fresh as plum and peach. She is playing the jade se of Consort Xiang and the cloud ao (yun’ao云璈)[8] of the draughts of the Heavenly God. Ask the immortal lady E Lühua萼綠華 to dance according to the ancient song of Yulunpao郁輪袍. Take the glasses from the southern sea and hold the wine from Liangzhou. They wish me longevity when I divide the remaining wine among the attending boys. My face gradually turns red and I am surprised when the pipa made from sandalwood is played. The song is as wonderful as a string of pearls and as distant as a thread taken out of a cocoon. I feel pity for her tired hands and ask her to rest for awhile. I suspect that her lips are dry and some ointment should be applied. Pour a jar of milk, which is as white as snow. Place as many as one hundred jade ship-shaped serving trays. The guests’ eyes are as wet as the water in the fall. The salted bones are mashed in the liquor made in the spring. The pretty girls ask for leave and then the clouds are dispersed. The gentleman suddenly escaped into Zen. The wind passing through the pine trees as the water is boiled with bubbles as tiny as crab eyes. The rabbit-hair brush is floating above the snow-white paper. The gentleman rises up with a laugh. The sea is broad and the sky is high.”  [This disconnected stream of images needs to be checked.]

            A perch dish from Wu Prefecture: collect perch no longer than three chi during the eighth and ninth month when the frost descends. Mince it. Wash it in water and wrap it with a piece of cloth. Let the water qi totally get out of it. Spread it on a plate. Pick both flowers and leaves of  (xiangrou香柔) [9]. Mince them and add them into the minced fish. Stir it till it is even. The perch caught when the frost descends has meat as white as snow and is not smelly. It is called gold [?] and jade minced fish. It is a wonderful dish from southeast.

            It is said in Youyang zazu酉陽襍俎 [The Youyang Miscellany, a well-known Tang Dynasty work by Duan Changshi]:  “A [good] pastry food (geshi餎食) is wonton made by the Xiao family. When the soup is filtered, it is not greasy and can be used to cook tea. The zongzi粽子 made by the Yu family is as white as jade. The cherry biluo made by Han Yue will change its color. He can also make cold fish pastes (leng hutu kuai冷胡突膾), thick soup of snakehead fish (liyu yi鳢鱼臆), continuously steamed deer (lianzheng lu連蒸鹿), and rive deer skin noodle (zhangpi suobing麞皮索餅). General Qu Lianghan can make roasted (zhi) donkey and camel hump.”

            He Ying was luxurious in taste. When he ate, he had to have food that filled a square one zhang on each side. Later he reduced his food intake somewhat, but still had white Hemiculterleucisculus fish (baiyu白魚)[10], dried eel (shanla鱓腊), and sugared crab (tangxie糖蟹). Zhong Yuan held that when the eel is dried, it bends abruptly. When the crab is added to sugar, it moves restlessly. When the benevolent man uses his mind, he would have deep empathy.  [This is one of those striking parallelisms so universal in Chinese literature.]

As for the che’ao clam (che’ao車螯)[11], blood clam (ark shell; han), and oyster, they do not have eyes or eyebrows inside, which shows the strangeness of the undivided (hundun渾沌). Their mouths are closed outside but not because they are bronze men who cannot speak. They neither thrive, nor turn weak, unlike grass and woods. They make no voice or smell. What is the difference between them and tiles and gravel? Therefore, they are suitable for being used in kitchen as food at any time.  [This idea that motionless shellfish are more mineral than animal and thus fair game for vegetarians survives today.]

            During the Later Han, Guo Linzong used to stay in the house of Mao Rong (his zi is Jiwei). The next morning, Mao Rong killed a hen and made a dish with it. Guo Linzong thought it was made for him. However, it turned out to be that Mao Rong offered the whole hen to his mother and had a vegetarian meal with Guo Linzong. Thus Guo Linzong rose and bowed to him, saying: “You are really virtuous!” Mao Rong accomplished virtue by showing filial piety.

            It is said in Tiaoxi yuyin苕溪漁隱 that Su Shi composed poems and rhymed essays to describe the wonderfulness of food and drinks; for example, the Rhymed Essay on Gourmets, and Poem on Bean Conjee. The Poem on Bean Conjee reads:

            There are one thousand qing of snowwhite reeds at the entrance of the river,

            The lonely smoke is visible sometimes and invisible other times around the thatch.

            The mortar and pestle set on the ground is used for hulling the non-sticky rice, which has a jade-like luster.

            The pottery pot is used for cooking beans, which are as soft as butter.

            I am old and do not have any place to go,

            I sold books in order to approach the landlord to stay at his place.

            I lie listening to the crowing rooster, till the conjee is ready.

            I head to your house with disheveled head and slippers.

Another poem [still by Su] on a fried pastry (hanju寒具)[12] reads:

            The slim hands twist up jade-like stuff several xun in length.

            After being fried with greenish oil, it turns light yellowish.

            On a spring night, the girl tosses about unconsciously,

            With her gold bracelet pressed flat.[13]

Hanju is also called “twisted head” (niantou), which comes from a much-told story recorded by Liu Yuxi.

My son came up with a fresh idea that he uses wild yams to make the Jade Crumb Soup (yusan geng玉糝羹). Its color, fragrance, and taste are extremely good. It is unknown how its taste is compared to the Heavenly Cheese (tiansutuo天酥酡)[14]. In this world it is can be confirmed that there is no match for it. The poem reads,

            The fragrance is like the Dragon’s Slaver and [the color is] pure white.

            The taste is like that of milk but it is totally clear.

            Do not hastily compare Golden Minced Fish from the Southern Sea (nanhai jin?kuai南海金?膾),

            To Dongpo’s Jade Crumb Soup.

The Poem on Vegetarian Soup (caigeng菜羹) composed by Yang Wanli also reads,

            Use a spoon to take mica-like rice, which is fragrant and fresh and has the color of jade.

            The vegetarian soup is newly cooked; in it are thin kingfisher-green slices.

            There is no meat or roast like this in the human world–

            The Sutuo from heaven might be as sweet.

            The Song Emperor Taizong ordered Su Yijian to explain Wenzhongzi文中子[15] to him. In this book, there was a saying about “wild herb soup and solid food (gengli hanqiu羹藜含)” from the Classic of Food composed by Yang Su杨素 and intended to be handed down to his son. The emperor therefore asked, “which food is the most precious?” Su Yijian replied, “the food does not have a set flavor. Those suiting one’s taste are the precious ones! I only know that the [strange plant name; character unknown, possibly a miswriting] juice is delicious. I can remember that one night it was extremely cold. I drank a lot by the stove. At midnight, I was thirsty. The moon in the courtyard was bright and there was a basin of [?] juice covered in the remaining snow. I ate several pieces without interruption. At the time I told myself that the phoenix meat made by the immortal chef in heaven would not be as good as what I had eaten. I have tried to compose a biography of Mr. Jade Bottle and record this story, but have not found opportunity and thus have no results to report.” The emperor laughed and agreed with him.

            At Tang times, Liu Yan went to the court at the fifth beating of drum. It was in the middle of the coldest days at the time. On the road he saw a shop selling steamed Iranian pancakes (hubing; [Iranian nan or something similar]). The pancakes were steaming. Liu Yan asked people to buy it for him.  He wrapped it in his sleeves and [then] ate it. He told his colleagues that it was so delicious that it could not be described in words. This is also because food does not have a determined flavor hierarchy; whatever suits one’s taste is the precious kind!  [Food can taste different to different people; each to his own.]

            Ni Si [Song Dynasty] said that Huang Tingjian composed an essay of Five Seeings at Meal Time (shishi wuguan时五观). His words were deep and profound. He could be called a person who knew shame. I[16] used to enter a Buddhist temple and saw fasting monks. Whenever they ate, they would have three bites of little flavor. The first bite was to know the right taste of rice. If a person ate too much and mixed up the five flavors, he would not know the right taste. If he ate light-flavored food, the food was delicious by itself and did not need to borrow other flavors. The second bite was to think where food and clothes came from. The third bite was to consider how strenuous the farmers were. These were the five seeings and the meanings were prepared in the process. It was very simple to use this method when eating. If one had three bites first, the rice was eaten for more than a half. Even if there was no soup or vegetables, he could also finish eating by himself. This was a way of being satisfying with poverty.  [Also a way of satisfying the standard Buddhist directive to think seriously about what you eat, every time you start eating.]

            In the Essay on Thinking of Returning (sigui fu归赋) Wang Fengyuan [of whom little is known] said:

My father was eighty years old and my mother’s hair had also turned white. I am still a clerk, staying far away from my parents. The black bird chirping in the morning even knows to feed his parents. How can I be less than a bird? Whom can I tell my sorrow? The qi of autumn is chilly and moving. In the day my sorrowful thoughts arose and I looked askance at the river bank. I remember that when I was a child, every kind of fruit had been just ripe and the precious ones were offered frequently. Sometimes there were long-waist purple water chestnuts (ziling changyao紫菱長腰), round and solid red foxnuts [17](hongqian yuanshi紅芡圓實), persimmons in shape of a cow’s heart, with green pedicels (niuxin ludi zhi shi牛心綠蒂之柿), chestnuts individually wrapped in yellowish skin (dubao huangfu zhi li獨包黃膚之栗), greenish taros growing in linked [levee-divided?] fields (qingyu lianqu青芋連區), blackish barnyard millet (Echinochloa crus-galli) with five calyxes (wubai wuchu烏稗[18]五出), colorful duck-claw wood with small seeds (yajiao shoucai hu weihe鴨腳受彩乎微核), quinces that grow as if carved out of cinnabar (mugua loudan er chengzhi木瓜鏤丹而成質), breast-like greenish pear (qingru zhi li青乳之梨), oranges in shape of a reddish bottle, salted bee pupae (fengyong yancuo蜂蛹醃), honey-covered areca nuts and crab apples [19](binzha zimi檳楂). Meat dishes included cormorant[20] (jiaojing鵁鶄) wild goose (yeyan野雁), ducks living in a lake, chirping quails, fatty crabs from a pure river, fresh fish from cold water, covered with purple fronds[?] and mixed with wild rice stem (jiaoshou茭首). There were dogwood berries (Cornus officinalis) (yu[21])  and chrysanthemums floating in cups of liquor. Turnips (jing[22]) and leeks (jiu) were displayed on the table. I sat by the pines and bamboos in the mountain with streams, sweeping under the paulownias (tong) and willows in the field in front of my door. My boy servants would not be noisy and I had books by my sides. Sometimes I had kept quiet for a whole day, while other times I had pleasant conversations with my friends. I believed in what my parents liked and had been in the community for long. My heart earnestly desires to decline the official seal and ribbon, but I definitely do not want to imitate the self-locked heart of Tao Yuanming, who was ashamed to bow down for five pecks of grain.  [All the treats mentioned are rustic mountain-and-river foods.  Tao Yuanming famously rejected office, thus nobly following his true nature but less nobly denying the world his services; Wang wants to follow him but is too moral.]







A thesis on teas


There are many kinds of tea in the world. There are the Flower-on-Stone Tea石花from the top of Mountain Meng in Jiannan[23], Purple-Bamboo-Root Tea 紫筍in Guzhu (Hu Prefecture[24]), Bright-Moon Tea in Bijian (Shan Prefecture), Missing-the-Peace Tea of Huojing in Qiongzhou, Thin-Flake Tea in Qujiang, True-Fragrance in Badong, Cedar-and-Rock in Fuzhou, White-Dew in Hongzhou, Yangxian Tea in Chang Prefecture, Juyan Tea in Mao Prefecture, Yangpo Tea in Mountain Yashan, Riding-the-Fire Tea in Long’an, High-Stalk Tea in Duru, Qianyang, and Plum-Slope Tea in Naxi, Luzhou, which are well-known.

Speaking of ranks, the Flower-on-Stone Tea is the best, the Purple-Bamboo-Root second.  The Bright-Moon Tea in Bijian and the others rank after them respectively. It is a pity that all of them cannot be obtained. In recent years, the tea grown on Mountain Huqiu is said to be surprising; unfortunately we cannot get more of it. If its slender sprouts are picked before the Festival of Grain Rain and withered (lit. “roasted,” but withering is the correct technical English term here) with the correct method, the Heavenly-Lake Tea is green and fragrant. It would satisfy your thirst just to smell it. The real Jie Tea is extremely expensive, twice as expensive the Heavenly-Lake. I regret the difficulty of obtaining it. It would be wonderful if one could pick by himself as needed. As for the Lu’an Tea in Zhejiang, its taste is delicate. However, it is not good for withering and turns bitter if withered even if its nature is really good. The real Dragon-Well Tea grown in Hangzhou cannot be matched by the Heavenly-Lake. There are only a few families whose skill in withering it is excellent. Nearby, the tea withered by monks living in the mountain is also good.

The Dragon Well is better. However, Mountain Dragon-Well occupies merely over ten acres. The tea grown outside of the mountain seems not as good. The tea grown nearby is used as pretended Dragon-Well.  Teas such as the tea grown in Northern-Mountain and West-River are used to replace the Dragon-well. Even the Hangzhou natives who know the taste of the Dragon-well are few, since there are too many fakes. I think that the beautiful spring of the Dragon-well is made by heaven.  The wonderful tea is grown for the miraculous qi of the mountain and thus can match the mountain. For those that cannot obtain it, the Heavenly-Lake and [ordinary] Dragon-Well[25] are the best. Tianzhu and Lingying tea are ranked next. The Yuqian tea grown in Mountain Tianmu, Hangzhou, is similar to the tea in Shuzhou, both of which are of the second rank.

Tea has become popular in the north, but one should be careful about drinking water and tea if he is in the south, in Fujian and Guangdong. In the past, Lu Yu [the great tea conoisseur] did not recognize the [problems with] teas grown in Lingnan and said that the tea grown in Lingnan tasted very good. We now know that Lingnan has much poisonous qi.  It affects the grass and trees. If northerners eat it, they can easily get sick. Therefore, one should be careful. Anyone wanting to pick some should wait till the sun is up and the mountains are visible. When the mist is gone from the mountains, one can start to pick the tea.

Tea balls and tea bricks are produced by grinding and lose most of the true taste.

Tea is wonderful when it is dried in the sunshine, green and fragrant, much better than withered tea.


[Notes:  The belief that southeast China had poisonous mists is an old and widespread one, not entirely gone today.  The major source for the idea was malaria, which is, of course, associated with mosquito-breeding marshes, and thus with mists.

            Withering tea leaves involves heating them—“roasting”—in shallow pans, over fires or sometimes with charcoal.  It is the normal first step in preparing green tea.]


Picking tea


Tuanhuang “has one flag and one gun,” which means one leaf and one sprout. When it is picked in the morning, it is called “tea,” but is called “chuan” if picked in the evening. The tea picked around the date of Grain Rain is best. Both the rough and the slender can be used except that it should be picked when it is sunny, withered properly, and preserved in the correct way.


            [The first sentence here appears fragmentary; what is meant is that people say that the tea should be picked “when it has one flag and one gun,” as explained. The very finest tea still is picked at this stage:  one new leaf and a bud.]


Preserving tea


Tea is compatible with ruo bamboo leaves, but should be kept away from fragrances and medicines (xiangyao香藥). It likes warm and dry and hates cold and wet. Therefore, tea-gathering household use ruo bamboo leaves to pack it, and warm it every two or three days. The temperature of the fire should be close to the body temperature. When it is warm, it can get rid of the humidity. If the fire is too hot, the tea is burned and cannot be consumed.

            It is said that one can put the tea in bottles, ten jin per bottle, and then put the bottles in a jar. Every year, put the ashes of burned straw into a huge barrel. Put the tea bottles into the barrel and insert the ashes around the bottles. Put the ashes above the bottles and pack down tightly. Whenever wanting to use the tea, open the bottle and take out a little, then put the ashes on it. The tea will not be rotten. In the second year, change the ashes.

            It is also said that one can hang a frame in an empty room and put the tea bottles upside down. Because steam comes from the sky and goes down, they are put upside down.  [Steam rises, of course; evidently something like “drizzle” is meant here.  The text appears to be corrupt.]

            If two kinds of sprout teas are served, they should be cooked with clean spring water, and flowers, fragrances, and fruit should not be added.. Some like to add flowers to tea. They should use tea that is even and delicate [i.e. small, even-sized leaves]; the taste of tea will not be decreased and the mouth will be filled with the fragrance of the flowers, so the tea will not be insipid (脱俗tuosu).

For orange tea and lotus tea, open the half-blossoming lotus at dawn and add a pinch of delicate tea. When the flower is full of tea, tie it up in a hemp skin [sic; evidently a web or sack made of hemp cloth) and leave it overnight. Next morning pour out the tea. Use paper made in Jian to wrap the tea and bake it with slow fire till it is dry. Repeat the previously-mentioned method with another flower. Repeat it for several times and bake it till it is dry. Its fragrance will be unsurpassed when it is tasted.

            Osmanthus (muxi), jasmine, rose, wild rose (qiangwei), orchid (lanhui兰蕙), orange flower, gardenia, muxiang木香 (costus, Vladimiria souliei or Saussurea lappa), and mei (Prunus mume) flowers, all can be used in tea. When the flower is blossoming, pick the half-opened blooms, which have the most fragrance. Measure the amount of the tea and add a proper amount of flowers to it. If the flowers are too many, it would be too fragrant and lose the taste of the tea. If the flowers are too few, it would not be fragrant and not good enough. Use three portions of tea and one portion of flowers and it would be fine. With osmanthus, one should get rid of its branches and pedicels and dust and worms and ants. Take a porcelain jar and put one layer of flower and then one layer of tea till it is full. Tie it tightly with paper and put it into a boiler. Boil it with a large amount of water. Then take it out and wrap it with paper when it is cooled down. Bake it on fire till it is dry and then preserve it. Other flowers are treated similarly.


            [Most of these flowers, especially osmanthus or sweet-olive, are still commonly used in tea.  Mei or flowering-apricot—often mistranslated “plum”—has a delicate carnation scent.]


Four knacks in cooking tea

1. Select water

            When a mountain spring is not sweet, it will devastate the taste of the tea. Therefore, people of old thought that the selection of water is of utmost importance. Mountain water is the best, river water next to it, and well water the worst. As for mountain water, springs dripping from stalactites and flowing slowly is the best. If the water flows fast, don’t use it, or it will make people have neck ailments. As for river water, use that which is far from human beings. For well water, take that which is abundant. If the water is as yellow as a crab or turbid or salty and bitter, don’t use it.

The water taken from the middle of the lake in Hangzhou, the number one spring in Mount Wu, Guo Pu’s Well, The Hupao Well, the Dragon Well, and the Immortal Ge Well, are very good.


2. Wash the tea

            Whenever cooking tea, wash the tea leaves with hot water, so that the dust and cold qi [“breath” or essence that cools the body, but actual bitter dust is probably intended too] will be eliminated.  Thus it will be wonderful when cooked.


3. Then to the brew

            The tea should be cooked by slow and “living” fire. Living fire means fire coming from burning charcoal and having flames. One should not let the water boil.  Thus the tea will be properly prepared. At first, the water has dispersed fish-eye [bubbles] and a low sound can be heard. In the middle of boiling, the water gushes like a spring from the edge and [the bubbles] are like pearls. At the end, the water is surging and the water qi disappears.  This is called old water [i.e., overboiled for the purpose]. This method of three-stage boiling cannot be made without living fire. The most serious thing to prevent is smoking the tea by burning firewood—the Five-Bandit-and-Six-Demon Brew mentioned in Qingyilu清异 (N. Song).


4. The equipment

            When the pot is small, it is easy to get the brew ready. Soaking the tea leaves and pouring the brew should match each other. [I.e., don’t steep more than you are going to drink—always good advice.]  If the pot is large and the tea is left over after drinking, the tea stays too long and thus will not remain tasty. The tea boiler and pot made of porcelain and pottery is the best, bronze or tin is worse. Porcelain pots are best for making tea, while pottery boilers are best for cooking the water. It was said in Qingyilu清异 that the brew made by the wealthy and prominent people should be cooked by silver boilers, and is wonderful. It is worse when using a bronze boiler to cook the soup or a tin pot to pour the tea.  [The metal leaches out and its taste and chemical action ruin the tea.]

            For tea utensils, the cups and plates made from Xuan kiln is the best. They are of thick material and white and shiny, while the style is ancient and delicate. There are white pots stamped with flower patterns that are similar to those from the Xuan kiln. Their style is acceptable, and they shine like jade. Second best are those from kilns of the Jiajing period. When there is a small design [character unclear, probably corrupt] in the middle of it, it is especially beautiful. If one wants to test how the tea is yellow or white, how could he make the assessment harder by using qinghua [either blue-and-white or bluish-white, here] porcelain? For liquor, the same theory applies; only pure white vessels are of the highest quality, and others should not be used.


            [All the above is good advice, still to be highly recommended.]


Three methods to use for tea


  1. 1.      Wash the vessels

When tea pots, cups, and spoons become dirty, they will devastate the taste of the tea. They should be washed till they are clean; then it will be wonderful.


  1. 2.      Warm up the cups

Whenever the tea is poured out, the cups should be warmed.  Thus the tea will show a cream-like surface.  If the cup is cold, the color of the tea will not appear on the surface.


  1. 3.      Concerning fruit

Tea has real fragrance, good taste, and right color. When it is cooked or poured, it should not be served with precious fruits or fragrant grasses. Those that can complement its fragrance are pine nuts, orange, lotus seed kernels, Chinese quince, mei flower, jasmine, wild rose, osmanthus, and so on. Those complementing its taste are cow milk, dragon peach, round eye (yuanyan圓眼—longan?), loquat and so on. Those complementing its color are dried persimmon, dried date, fire [-colored] peach, red bayberry, orange and so on.  [These are all ordinary, common items, not “precious” exotica.]  Whenever taking good tea, I feel pure after moving away the fruits. When they are mixed, I cannot distinguish one from another. If one wants to have fruits and nuts with tea, he should try walnut, hazel, melon seeds, apricot kernels, Canarium seed, chestnut, chicken head (jitou雞頭, seeds of the Euryale waterlily), ginkgo seed (yinxing銀杏) and so on. These can be used with tea.


[Again, all good advice, and most of it still practiced in China.]


The uses of tea


When one drinks tea, it can satisfy his thirst, help digestion, get rid of the ailment of having phlegm or insomnia, benefit the “water way” [sic], brighten his eyes, enhance his thinking (this comes from Bencao shiyi本草拾遺), get rid of irritation and greasiness. One should not spend a day without having tea. However, there are things to avoid. It will get rid of irritation and greasiness and will not damage his spleen and stomach when one washes his mouth with strong tea after having a meal. When there is meat between teeth, one should use tea to wash it. Then the meat will be diminished and fall down. He would not even notice it or feel anxious of picking it out. The nature of teeth is bitter [in the Chinese fivefold correspondence theory]. Therefore, his teeth will grow stronger and denser and poison will disappear by itself. However, only Chinese tea (zhongcha中茶) should be used. (The foregoing comes from Mr. Su’s writings.)


The tea set


A tea set includes sixteen vessels, which are collected in a container and work for the “bitter upright man” [a literary term for a furnace, see below]. I name them here and want to manage them as one set, for those that have pure hearts and fine conduct and can manage by themselves.

Shangxiang: the ancient Zhao tripod, used for cooking the tea.

Guijie: baboo brushes, used for washing the pot.

Fenying: ladle, used for measuring the weight of the water.

Dihuo: bronze fire dipper, used for moving fire.

Jianghong: bronze fire sticks, used for piling up the fire.

Zhiquan: balance for measuring tea, use one liang of tea when using two jin of water.

Tuanfeng: white bamboo fan, used for fanning the fire.

Chuchen: tea washer, used for washing the tea.

Jingfei: bamboo frame, a stomach support mentioned in the Classic of Tea.

Zhuchun: pottery pot, used for pouring tea.

Yunfeng: knife, used for cutting fruits.

Gandun: wood chopping block.

Chuoxiang (tasting the fragrant): porcelain cup, used for drinking the tea.

Liaoyun (teasing the cloud): bamboo tea spoon, used for taking fruits.

Najing (showing respect): bamboo tea container, used for containing cups.

Shouwu (receiving the dirty): dishcloth, used for cleaning the cups.


Tea containers (seven in total)


Kujiejun (bitter, upright man): bamboo furnace used for cooking the tea. It is also collected by the travelers.

Jiancheng: cage made from Indocalamus leaves, used for containing the tea to store in a high place.

Yuntun: porcelain bottle, used for taking the spring water for the purpose of cooking.

Wufu: bamboo basket, used for containing charcoal, the material for boiling the tea.

Shuicao: porcelain or pottery urn, used for containg the spring water which is used for boiling.

Qiju: a square box braided from bamboo sticks, used for collecting the tea set.

Also, pinsi: a round basket braided from bamboo sticks, used for collecting every kinds of tea leaves available for cooking and tasting.



Treatise on spring water


Tian Ziyi said: the spring that comes from the mountain foot is called mengxi, wuxi is heaven-given, water xi has the complete taste.  Lu Yu said: mountain water is the best. Meng refers to a spring coming from bell-like rocks and rocky ponds with a slow flow. When the spring flows fast and violently, it is not a meng. Therefore, one should avoid consuming it.

The obscure cannot be abandoned since there is a god for everything [obscure and possibly corrupt; we suspect that “obscure” was originally used in its root meaning, “turbid water,” and that a direction to avoid turbid water has gotten mixed with an originally separate sentence on the gods]. The heavenly god produces the myriad things. The Book of Han mentioned three gods. The mountain god is one of them.

Spring water should be heavy [i.e., mineralized].  Good spring water is especially so. The Hermit Xu in Yuhang used to tell me that the mountain spring from Phoenix Mountain and the One-Hundred-Flower Spring in Amudun are not as good as the Five Springs; one can see the advantages of the immortals’ springs.

When the mountain is thick, the spring is thick.  [I.e., a large wide mountain produces a large spring.]  When the mountain is outstanding, so is the spring. When the mountain is pure, so is the spring. When the mountain is serene, so is the spring. All of them are of good nature. When it is not thick, it would be thin. When it is outstanding, it would be stupid. When it is not pure, it would be turbid. When it is not serene, it would be noisy. These will not be good springs. 

When the mountain does not come to an end, the water will not. If it ends, there will be no source. When there is a drought, it will dry quickly.



Stone and Stream


Stone is the bone of the mountain. A stream is moving water. The mountain spreads qi and thus the myriad things grow. Qi spreads and thus mai [“pulse”] grows. [The flow of qi in the mountain means it naturally has a pulse; this idea was universal in China until recently, and the folk view was that mountains contained actual dragons that had actual pulses.] Therefore, the mountain water is the best. It is said in Bowuzhi博物志 that stone is the source of metal. When the essence of jia [lit. “nail” or “shell,” unclear here] and stone flows out, there is water. It is also said that the mountain spring brings out the qi of the earth.

If the spring does not come out from stone, it cannot be good. So it is said in Chuci (Poems of Chu, ca. 3rd century BCE):  “drink the water of the stone spring and stay in the shade of pine and cypress.” Huangfu Ceng wrote a poem for Lu Yu:

Distant temple—in the mountain a calm time,                        

Cooking in the wild with clean and clear water from the stone spring.

Mei Yaochen’s poem on the tea on Peak Blue Sky:

            The stone spring is good where I cook [the tea].

It is also said that:

            Small stones and the cold spring hold the early taste.

These can really be appreciated.

            Sometimes, there are springs that hide in the sand and earth. If one takes it and it is not exhausted, it can be used. Otherwise, it is sinking rain water.  Even if it is clean, do not use it.

            If the current flows a long way, its taste will be light. If it stays in a deep pond, its taste is doubled and can be used.

            If the spring does not move, it is harmful to drink it. It is said in Bowuzhi博物志 that people living in mountainous areas will have goitre if taking water that does not flow [a common belief; water in the west China mountains is often deficient in iodine, with the result that goitre is common; the Chinese early realized that something was wrong with the water and/or the salt, since they recognized that iodine-rich sea salt prevented the condition while iodine-lacking Sichuan mountain salt was associated with it; but they had no idea what the actual problem was]. 

            When the spring gushes out, it is called pen. When the spring falls down suddenly, it is called pu. Both the water curtain in Mountain Lu and the waterfall in Tiantai, Hongzhou, are recorded as ranked waters, which betrays the Classic of Tea written by Lu Yu. Therefore, Zhang Jiuling wrote a poem on the waterfall in Mt. Lu, saying that:

            I heard of the meng water at the foot of the Mountain,

            It is said by those now living in the wild woods

            That the nature of things is mysterious and unstable,

            The life-giving attribute kun [a power of the earth] is often diverse and transforming.

            I put it away and leave quietly,

            Who can understand the transformations?

Therefore, the knowledgeable will not have it. However, a waterfall is truly a precious screen and silk curtain when one lives in the mountains. Used for ears and eyes, who would say that it is not suitable?  [I.e., it is fine for scenery, though not for drinking.]


            Pure and cold


            “Pure” means clean and quiet, which is how the pure water looks. “Cold” means chill and frozen, which is how the water having been poured out looks. It is not difficult to find pure springs but it is hard to find cold springs. Pure as the water that is shallow and flows over sand, it is not of a good grade. Cold as the water coming from deep rocks and having accumulated enough yin, it is not of a good grade.

            When stones are few and earth much, or when the sand is sticky and the mud congealed, it cannot be pure and cold.

            The image of the meng water is said to be its fruit. A flowing well’s image is said to be cold. If the spring does not fruit, the qi will be stagnant and its radiance will not be pure. If it is cold, the nature will be dry and the taste will be bitter.

            Ice means hard ice. When the qi of yin gathers in a deep canyon and cannot get out, it will be congealed and turn into hidden yin. Water lies bright and light on the ground, while ice is condensed and cold. Therefore, ice is the ultimate status of the pure and cold. The poem composed by Xie Lingyun is:

            Chisel the ice and cook the breakfast.

Shiyiji拾遺記 (Record of collecting what has been forgotten):

            For the icy water in Mt. Penglai,

            One who drinks it will live for a thousand years.

When there is sulfur under the water, it emerges as a hot spring. There are many of them here and there. Besides, there are many cases in which springs come out from the same valley but half are warm and half are cold. Not all of them are of potable grade. An exception is the vermilion spring in Mt. Huang, Xin’an, which can be drunk. It is said in the Illustrated Classic of Herbals that Mt. Huang used to be called Mt. Yi and there is a vermilion spring under the east peak that can be used for cooking tea. In the spring, it is pinkish. It is the liquid cinnabar of nature. [Actually it is ferric iron that stains hot spring water red; red algae may also be involved.]  It is said in Shiyiji拾遺記 that: if one drinks the boiled water in Mt. Penglai, he will live up to one thousand years. This is the drink for immortals. When there is gold, the water must be pure. When there are pearls, the water must be lovely. When there are carp, the water must be foul [as every fisherman knows!]. When there is a dragon, the water must be deep, dark, and mildly bad. One cannot use waters without distinguishing them.


Sweet and fragrant


Sweet means beautiful. Fragrant means of good smell. In the Book of History it is said that: make the crops grow and get sweet grains. The sweet means fragrant. The grain is sweet and fragrant and thus can nourish people. The spring is sweet and fragrant. Therefore, the spring can nourish people, too. However, it is easy to find sweet spring that is also a fragrant spring. There is no fragrant spring that is not sweet.

Those tasting good are called sweet springs. Those having fragrant smells are called fragrant springs. One can find them here and there. When there is a noxious plant growing above a spring, its leaves will be nourished and roots moistened. All of them will damage the sweet and fragrant. The ultimately noxious plants can even make the liquid poisonous. So they should be moved away.

Sweet water is praised for its sweetness. In Shiyiji拾遺記it is said that there is a sweet river passing by the north of Mountain Yuanqiao. Its taste is as sweet as honey. In Shizhouji十洲記 (the record of ten continents) it is said that the water from the Dark Canyon in Yuan Continent is like honey. If one drinks it, he will live as long as heaven and earth. It is also said that the water from Sheng Continent is like maltose and cheese.  [Buddhist and Chinese cosmology postulate several continents beyond the bounds of the known world.  They have truly unearthly properties, such as flavored water.  Possibly the visions of shamans or spirit mediums were the sources for the information.]

When there is cinnabar in the water, not only the taste is not normal, but can elongate one’s life and cure his illnesses. It can be found only in the famous mountains and great rivers, where the immortals stayed and practiced. In his youth, Ge Xuan used to be the magistrate of Linyuan. In the county, there was a family named Liao whose members enjoyed longevity for generations. He suspected that it is because of the particularly reddish well water. So he tried to dig around the well and got dozens of hu of vermilion cinnabar covered up by ancient people.

Ge’s Well at Lake West was the place that Ge Gong made cinnabar [pills? Elixirs?]. At the Majia Garden, a stone jar was found when people dredged the well. There were several pieces of cinnabar in it. They were like wild lotus seeds and had no taste when tasted. They had been abandoned. Someone gave a fisherman a pill and he lived as long as one hundred six years. This cinnabar water is extremely difficult to gain. It cannot be contained in unclean vessels.

If one cooks the tea properly but does not know how to drink it, it is like taking springs from stalactites to irrigate wormwood [i.e., using the finest grade of water to irrigate a bitter herb]. The sin cannot be more serious. When the drinker has it in one sip and does not take time to distinguish the taste, it cannot be more vulgar.


Spiritual water


“Spiritual” means pertaining to the gods. The heavenly Unity gave birth to water, which is essential and bright and not turbid. Therefore, water falling down from heaven is really spiritual water. Isn’t it called the water of the upper lake in the ancient? When inspected, they are drinks for the immortals. Use a big jar to collect rain water during the Yellow-mildew period [the rainy period in spring when mildew grows], and also use snow water. Insert above ten pebbles under it. It will not spoil for years. Take a piece of charcoal about three-or –four-cun in length and burn it till it is red. Throw it into the water and let it quench. The water will not grow fleas. [Both the heat and the adsorptive qualities of charcoal would purify the water.]

The spiritual is that which has yang qi dominant and spreading. The color is as strong as sweet dew, as congealed as grease, as tasteful as maltose. It is also called paste dew, or heavenly liquor.

“Snow” is the coldness accumulated in heaven and earth. In the Book of Fan Shengzhi it is said that the snow is the essence of the five grains.  [Fan was giving practical advice for cold, dry northwest China:  snow is the best source of soil moisture.]  In Shiyiji拾遺記 it is said that when the King Mu went east and arrived at the Great Xi Valley, the Queen Mother of the West came to submit sweet snow from Qianzhou. This is spiritual snow. Tao Gu took snow water to cook tea balls. In a poem on cooking the tea, Ding Wei wrote that:

I cherish it and preserve it in the bookcase,

Insisting on keeping it till snow falls.

In a poem on the Jian Tea submitting to the scholar, Li Xuji wrote that:

            I try to use the snow of the Liang Garden,

            To cook and stir the spring tea from Jian.

Therefore, snow is especially good for tea drinks. Men without official titles ranked it as the last grade; why? I think that it might be about the taste of dryness. If one thinks it is too cold, I do no think so.  [Snow is pure, a commodity rare in old Chinese waters.  Even today, snow and rain make the best tea, far better than our chlorine-laden and sediment-sullied tap water.]

            Rain is harmony between yin and yang. Heaven and earth give the water from the cloud above, which supports the time, gives birth, and nourishes the living. The wind is mild and the rain is proper. The cloud is bright and the rain is sweet. In Shiyiji拾遺記 it is said that when fragrant clouds moisturize everywhere, they become fragrant rain, which is spiritual rain and surely can be drunk. If the rain is made by dragons, or it is heavy and continuous, or dry and frozen, or foul and black, or the dripping from the eaves, it cannot be taken.  [Mostly good advice—rain often picks up dust and soot in the air, as it falls—but the dragon issue is a difficult one.  Many Chinese believed all rain was made by dragons.  We suspect that Gao considered slow or gentle rains to be natural, but violent storms to be dragon-caused.]

            The place close to tides must not have good springs because saline-alkali soil is plentiful there. The most famous tides in the world are in Wulin. So there are no good springs. However, there are good springs in the mountains near West Lake.

            The Yangzi is a river. The Nanling [flowing into it] has layered rocks and deep canyon and is taken into the best rank, as an exception [to the general rule that river water is contaminated]. I used to taste it and it was really not different from those found east of the mountain [that the Nanling is west of]. The water from the Wusong River is the lowest grade of water. Inexplicably, it has also entered the ranks [of waters that some people consider acceptable].


            Well water


When the well is pure, it is because the spring is pure. “Tong” [to go through, circulate] means materials circulating [getting through].  “Law” means limits. The law regulates the residents, forbidding them from eating and drinking without limits. The purity [of the well] comes from yin. What has gotten through into the well makes it turbid. The law sets up limits [on the well].  Its mai [pulse, in the qi system] is dark and the taste is stagnant. Therefore, Lu Yu said that the well water is ranked lowest. He said that the well has been taken by too many people. When too many people take it, their qi gets in and flows actively there. So it is definitely not a good class. When using the water, put white stones into a jar. This will not only enrich its taste, but can keep the pure water from turning turbid.

            Gaozi said:  The beautiful well water known to the world is the Zhongling well. However, I have tasted the well on Mt. Jiao for four times and it is no worse than that of the Zhongling well. The taste of the water from Mt. Hui is light and pure, and can be safely put into the highest grade. As for the water in our Hangzhou, it is the Running-Tiger well that is best among all the wells. The old Dragon well and that of the Pearl Temple are sweet, too. The taste of the Immortal Ge’s well in Mt. Bei is dense. As for the water inside the city, the number one well in Mt. Wu is the best. When I tasted it, it was not as pure as Mr. Shi’s well or Granny Guo’s well, which are good for tea. As for the water close to the two bridges in the south lake, one should take it in the early morning. It is very good for cooking tea and does not require anything else.




[The recipes in this section are for medicinal preserves, not soups in the usual sense.]


            Green and crisp mei soup


            Take three jin twelve liang of green and crisp [underripe] mei [flowering apricot or “plum”] fruits, four liang of the raw liquorice powder, one jin of baked salt, one jin four liang of raw ginger, three liang of green Sichuan pepper, half liang of dry pepper. Get rid of the seeds of the mei and cut them in half. Probably every family has a recipe for green mei soup and their ingredients are largely identical, though with minor differences. When starting to make it, the fragrant smells are similar too. When it is preserved for several months, it must become fully ripe just like yellowish mei soup. There is an explanation for this. First, the green mei should be collected before the festival of Xiaoman (Grain Fills). Pestle them till mashed. Discard the seeds, but do not use your hands; use a dry wooden spoon instead. When stirring, use a wooden spoon also. After mashing them, spread them out on the sifter. Let the liquid strain off. Second, use raw liquorice. Third, use baked salt–only when it is cooled down. Fourth, use raw ginger and mash it without being saturated in water. Fifth, use green pepper right after it was picked and dried. Fry and stir all the previous ingredients and use a wooden spoon to move them into a new bottle. Only materials slightly more than the quantity for ten cups can be preserved in one bottle. Leave some salt in the power. Cover it with double-layered oilpaper and tie the bottle neck tightly. Only when this has been done, one is able to have crisp mei. If the mei and ginger stick to your hands [i.e. if the mashed paste is too difficult to work with], you can cut them into bits instead. 

            [This would not produce a “soup,” but a preserved paste very much like—and in fact ancestral to—the “liquorice plums” or “liquorice crack seed” so abundant in Asian and Hawaiian markets today.]


            Yellow mei soup


            Take round and large yellow [i.e., ripe] mei and steam them till fully cooked. Discard the seeds. Take one jin of clean meat, three qian of baked salt, one and a half qian dry ginger powder, two liang of dried purple mint [perilla], liquorice and sandalwood, adjusting to individuals’ taste. Stir them till the flavor is even and put them in porcelain. Dry them in the sun and then preserve them. When eating them, one should add some salt. In the summer, it is even better if water is added.

            [Again, this is a preserve, not a soup; it is the salted and dried version of a common dish of meat with flowering-apricot sauce.]


            Phoenix-Pond soup


Take one jin of pitted black [fermented] mei, four liang of liquorice, one liang of baked salt, and cook them till they become creamlike. One method is to divide them equally into three. Pestle them into powder and stir till they are even. Press them into the bottle tightly. In the twelfth month or in the middle of the hottest days, blend them together. After half a year, bake them till they become powder and take it after cooked with hot water. Otherwise, it also can be taken after it is cooked with water and turns into creamlike stuff.

[Another version of preserved liquorice mei, not a soup.]


Mandarin orange soup


Take one jin of mandarin oranges and take off the skins, discarding the white membranes inside. Cut the skins into bits and mash them with the pulp. Use one liang of baked salt, one liang of liquorice, and one liang of raw ginger. Mash them till the juice comes out and stir them till it is even. For oranges, the method is the same. Dry it in the sun and seal tightly. When it is cooked in hot water, it tastes very good.


Apricot soup


Take any amount of apricot kernels and boil them till the skins peel off. Soak in water overnight, just as in making mung bean jelly. Drain the water. Or add a little of ginger juice as well as butter and honey. Another method is to use three liang of apricot kernels, two liang of raw ginger, one liang of baked salt, one liang of liquorice powder, and mash them together.


Fennel spice soup


Take six qian of fennel and the skins of Chinese pepper, two qian of dried salt, half sheng of fully cooked sesame, one jin of roasted flour. Mash them into powder.  Make up as soup with boiled water.

[This would be a thin, highly spiced paste or thick soup.]


            Mei-and-Perilla soup


            Take one and a half jin of black mei fruit, four liang of baked salt, two liang of liquorice, ten liang of purple mint [perilla] leaves, half liang of sandalwood, twelve liang of fried flour. Blend them evenly.  Blend in boiled water.


            Heavenly-fragrance soup


            When the white osmanthus blossoms, use a wood stick to strike off the flowers when they still have dew on them in the early morning. Hold them in a piece of cloth and take off the pedicels and calyx. Put them in a clean container. Use a new basin and mash them into mud-like paste. Squeeze water out and collect it. Add one liang of liquorice and ten salted plums to every jin of this material. Mash and make into cakes. Put the cakes into a jar and seal tightly. Use after making up as soup in boiled water.  [This seems to explain why the recipes are called “soups”:  one can beat up the preserved items in water for a hot drink.  However, they are, in our experience, eaten as they are prepared, not made into drinks.]


            Secret-fragrance soup


            When the mei blossoms, one should pick half-open flowers with petals in the early morning. Put them into porcelain bottles. Sprinkle every liang with one liang of baked salt. Don’t use hands to take them, or they will be spoiled. [They are extremely fragile.] Use layers of thick paper to seal. Put in the shade. In the next spring and summer, open, and add a little of honey first in the cup. Then put two or three flowers in it. Pour boiled water in it. The flower will blossom by itself just as lovely as if fresh. When it is added to the tea, it is extremely fragrant. It is said that pistils also can be dried in the shade and juice added as in the above method.

            [Opening mei flowers have a delicate carnation fragrance that is wonderful in tea.]


            Need-to-ask soup [i.e., soup you should ask for]


            Su Shi composed a song, saying:

            Three qian of raw ginger (dried for use) and one sheng of jujubes (dried and pitted for use),

            Two liang of white salt (fried to be yellowish) and one liang of liquorice (burned to get rid of the skin),

            Nail spice, wood spice, each half qian,

            Mash with the right amount of orange skins (get rid of the white membranes),

            When cooked well,

            When made up well,

            It will redden and whiten your face even when you’re old.

[We have translated “clove” (lit. “nail spice”) and “muxiang” (“wood spice,” Vladimirea or Saussurea) literally above, to keep the parallel construction]


            Apricot kernel cheese soup


            Take three and a half liang of apricot kernels and saturate them in two sheng of repeatedly-boiled water. Cover them with a lid. When the water is cooled down, replace it with more repeatedly-boiled water. Repeat this for five times. Then pinch off the skins and grind the kernels carefully in a small pottery basin. Then take one jin of good honey and cook them in a boiler till they boil three times. When boiled for the third time, collect them. When they are half cooled, add some more mashed kernels. Grind again.  Add [still more] mashed kernels and grind till even. Eat after mixing thoroughly in boiled water.


            [This produces a cheeselike substance; it is a form of nut butter, probably a Near Eastern contribution to Chinese cooking; see Buell et al. 2010.]


            Phoenix marrow soup (nourishing the lung and curing coughing)


            Use one liang of pine nuts and walnuts respectively (soaked in hot water and then peeled), and half liang of honey. Grind the above mentioned materials till they are mashed and then add honey to it. Stir till evenly blended. When using it, mix up in boiled water.


            [Another nut butter.  Pine nuts are associated with longevity, because pines live long and the nuts are genuinely highly nutritious.  Walnuts are, at least in modern China, considered brain food, because the kernel halves look like small brains.]


            Finest cream soup (satisfying thirst and generating saliva)


            Use one jin of black mei (mashed. Cook them with two large bowls of water till the soup can be contained in one bowl. Let it settle down. Don’t use iron vessels.), two liang of susha[石宿][26] (ground fine), one qian of white sandalwood power, one fen of musk, and three jin of honey.

            Put the mei water, susha, and honey all three together. Cook it in a sandstone vessel with slow fire till it turns reddish. When it is cooled down, add white sandalwood and musk. When using, take one or two spoons of it and mix in boiled water.


            Watery-Miraculous-Mushroom soup (opening the qi of heart and benefiting the essence and marrow)


            Use one jin of dried lotus seeds (wither them with skins on till they are extremely dry. Mash them into fine powder) and one liang of fine liquorice (slightly withered). Grind the above mentioned materials into powder. Add a pinch of salt to it every two qian. Saturate it in boiled water and use. Mash the blackish skins of lotus seeds till they are as hard as iron. If they cannot be mashed any more, get rid of them then. People usually get rid of the blackish skins when using lotus seeds. They do not understand. When one remains sitting at night, too hungry and tired to take any food, have one cup of this soup and it will greatly compensate for weakness and enhance the qi.  Formerly the immortal Wuguangzi took this and then achieved the Way.


            Jasmine soup


            Spread honey in the middle of a bowl. Spread it evenly and do not let it flow. Pick twenty or thirty jasmine flowers every early morning. Cover the honey bowl on the flowers and use their fragrance to smoke it. At noon get rid of the flowers. Pour hot water into the bowl.  It is very fragrant.


            Fragrant orange soup (widens the Middle Jiao, improves the movement of qi, and cures the discomforts of drunkenness)


            Use two jin of large oranges (got rid of the seeds, cut into slices, and use with skins), one half liang of sandalwood power, one liang of raw ginger (cut into slices and withered), one liang of liquorice powder, and three qian of salt. Grind the oranges and ginger in a clean sandstone basin till they are mashed. Then add white sandalwood powder and liquorice powder. Mix them and make cakes out of them. Bake the cakes till they are dry. Grand them into powder. Whenever using, take one qian of it and make it up in boiled water.


            Chinese olive (Canarium album) soup


            Use one liang of baiyaojian (百藥煎)[27], one qian of white angelica 白芷, five qian of sandalwood, and five qian of honey liquorice甘草炙[28]. Grind the above materials into fine powder. Mix in boiled water and then take it.


            [Presumably the ingredients are used to preserve the “olive,” or are used with a preserved one; the “olive” is the preserved fruit of a south Chinese and southeast Asian tree that also has an edible kernel in the seed.]


            Cardamom soup


            This soup cures every kind of cold qi, fullness in heart and stomach, stagnancy in chest midriff, hiccup and vomiting, diarrhea and weakness and slipperiness[29], indigestion of water and grains, tiredness and powerlessness, lose of appetite (this comes from Jufang局方[30]).

            Use one jin of cardamom seeds (baked in flour), four liang of roasted liquorice [here and in the following, “roasted” means parched or toasted in a pan], one jin of roasted white flour, five qian of clove branches and sticks (just use the branches), two liang of dried salt. Grind them into powder. Whenever using it, take two qian of it and mix in boiled water. It is wonderful when used before meals.


            Sobering-up soup (use after getting drunk)


            Use one and half qian of white tuckahoe [a fungus], five qian of cardamom seeds, three qian of muxiang, one and half qian of dried orange skins, one fen of greenish lotus skins 蓮花青皮, one qian of zexie澤瀉[31], one qian of shenqu神曲 (withered till it turns yellowish), three qian of susha, half liang of kudzu flowers葛花, one and half qian of cocklebur猪苓 (get rid of the black skins), one qian of dried ginger, and two qian of large-headed atractylodes (Atractylodes macrocephala) .

            Grind them into fine powder and stir them till they are even. Whenever using, take two qian of it and saturate it in hot water. After taking it, the patient will sweat a little bit and then the drunken illness is gone. One should not take too much of it.


            Quince soup (getting rid of wetness, satisfying thirst, and improving the movement of qi)


            Use four liang of clean, peeled, dried quince, five qian of white sandalwood, three qian of gharu-wood, five qian of roasted [pan-toasted, parched] fennel, five qian of cardamom, five qian of susha, one and half liang of fine liquorice, and half liang of dried raw ginger.

            Grind them into extremely fine powder. Take half qian of it everyday. Add salt and boiled water when using it.


            No-dust soup


            Use two liang of crystal sugar水晶糖霜 and two fen of mei-like borneol梅花片.

            Pestle the sugar into powder and sift it. Add borneol and grind it till it is even. Whenever using, take one qian and mix up in boiled water. One should not use too much. If one uses too much, it makes people feel full.


            Green-cloud soup (one should not take this soup when eating fish)


            Use four liang of catnip ear荆芥穗, two liang of large-headed atractylodes, and two liang of liquorice.

            Grind them into powder. When using it, add salt and saturate in hot water.


            Arborvitae leaf柏叶 soup


            Pick tender leaves of arborvitae [Thuja orientalis—though pai can sometimes mean similar evergreens with flat needle sprays]. Tie them with thread and hang it in a large jar. Seal the jar with paper. Use it after several months. If it is not dry yet, seal it till it is dry. Grind it into power. The color is like that of tender grass. If the jar is not used, it can also be put in a closed room. But it won’t be as green as that made in a jar. It turns yellowish when meets the wind. This soup can be used to replace tea, especially if people talk at night and are frightened [presumably because of drinking too much tea]. If one drinks too much tea, it will harm his health, consume the qi of essence, and harm the spleen and stomach. Arborvitae leaf soup is very beneficial. It is even better if it is picked freshly, cleaned, and mixed in boiled water.


            Three-goodness soup


            Use one sheng of glutinous rehmannia地黄 juice and Chinese wolfthorn枸杞 berry juice respectively, and half sheng of honey. Cook them in silver till it is like thin maltose. When using it, take a large spoon of it and saturate it in hot water or liquor. It enriches the qi and nourishes the blood. It is good for a person when taken over a long time.


            Dried Lichee荔枝soup


            Use two jin of white sugar, five liang of large black mei pulp (steam it with boiled water and get rid of the sour liquid), a small amount of cinnamon powder, a small amount of raw ginger thread,, and a small amount of liquorice.

            Pestle the sugar and black mei pulp till they are mashed. When using it, mix it in boiled water.


            Pure charm清韻 soup


            Use three liang of susha, one liang of stone calamus powder石菖蒲末, and five qian of liquorice powder. Add a small amount of salt. Mix in clear boiled water and take.


            Orange soup


            Use fifty oranges, one liang of dry yam powder山藥末, one liang of liquorice powder, and four liang of white mei pulp.

            Mash them and bake until dry. Make it into cakes. Mix it in clear hot water and use.


            Osmanthus soup


            Use four liang of osmanthus (baked and made into powder), a small amount of dry ginger, and a small amount of liquorice. Make them into powder and stir it till it is even. Add proper amount of salt and contain it in porcelain jar. Do not let the qi get out of the jar. Use it frequently after mixing in white hot water.


            Dongting soup


            Use four liang of aged orange skins (peeled) and four liang of raw ginger.

            Mix the orange skins and ginger for one night. Toast them and add six qian of liquorice powder, thirty white plum pulps, as well as five qian of baked salt. Stir them till they are even.  Mix in boiled water and use.


            Quince soup (second recipe)


            Use ten liang of quince, two liang of raw ginger powder, two liang of baked salt,two liang of liquorice powder, and ten liang of purple mint powder.

            Merge them and stir till they are even. Mix in boiled water and use. If one’s hands and feet are sour [sour perspiration?], he will feel better after drinking it.

            Another recipe: add two liang of susha powder and three liang of yam powder. This enhances digestion, dissolves the qi化氣, and strengthens the spleen.


            Ginseng and dwarf lilyturf soup


            Use one qian of ginseng, six fen of dwarf lilyturf门冬, and three fen of five flavors五味.

            Put them in a small jar and cook. As the soup is ready, drink it.


            Green mung bean soup


            Sift and clean green [but dry] mung beans and put them in a pot and add water. Boil it once over a high fire. Take the soup and wait till it is cooled down. The color is green. It cures heatstroke/insolation. If it boiled for several times, the color will become turbid and one cannot bear to eat it.  [This is still an extremely common folk remedy, or at least was in Hong Kong 30-40 years ago.]



BOILED WATERS (twelve kinds)


            Paddy-leaf boiled water (daoye shushui稻葉熟水)


            Pick seedlings of paddy plants and dry them in the sun. For use, pour boiled water in a pot. Burn the paddy leaves and throw them into the pot while still alight. Cover tightly. After a short while, pour the water out.  It is extremely fragrant.


            Tangerine-leaf boiled water


            Pick and dry in the sun. Make as above.


            Osmanthus-leaf boiled water


            Pick and dry in the sun. Make as above.


            Purple-mint-leaf boiled water


            Pick purple mint [perilla] leaves and toast them over fire with a piece of paper inserted between the leaves and fire. Do not stir them. When the fragrance can be smelled, collect them.  For use, wash quickly in boiled water. Then pour away the water. Add the saturated purple mint into a pot and then pour boiled water in it. After using this water, the breast can broaden out and the stagnant can be guided through (kuanxiong daozhi寬胸導滯).


            Gharu-wood boiled water


            Use one or two pieces of gharu-wood of the best grade. Burn in a stove and let it smoke. Cover the stove with the mouth of a pot and do not let the smoke escape. When the smoke does not come out any more, add boiled water into the pot immediately. Cover it tightly and then pour it out and drink it.


            Clove boiled water


            Use one or two cloves. Mash and put in a pot. Pour boiled water into the pot. The fragrance is thick; it is a little heating (shaore少熱).


            Large cardamom (sharen砂仁) boiled water


            Use three to five sharen and one or two qian of liquorice. Mash them and add them into a pot. Add boiled water. This is fragrant and can be eaten.  It can eliminate blockage (xiao yongge消壅隔) and remove what has congealed and been detained in the stomach region.


            Flower-fragrance boiled water


            Pick jasmines and roses with half-opened buds. Use one bowl of boiled water and let it cool down. Saturate the buds in the water and cover it with a bowl tightly. Remove the flowers next morning. Fill a pot with boiled water and then add one or two small cups of flower-saturated water. Then the whole pot is fragrant and the water can be taken.


            Sandal-wood boiled water


            Use the same method as for gharu-wood boiled water


            Cardamom boiled water


            Use one qian of cardamom, three qian of liquorice, and five fen of sweet flags growing on rocks (shichangpu石菖蒲). Slice them and add them into a clean pottery vessel. Pour boiled water on them, then drink. If the taste is too strong, add boiled water and then it can be used.


            Cassia liquid (guijiang桂漿)


            Use one liang of royal cassia (guan gui官桂, Chinese cinnamon) powder and two bowls of white honey (baimi白蜜). Boil two dou of water till only one dou remains. Pour it into a porcelain jar and wait till it is cooled down. Add cinnamon and honey and stir it for more than two hundred times. First cover it with a layer of oil paper. Then add several layers of cotton paper. Seal the jar tightly. After five to seven days, the water can be used. Otherwise, wedge a piece of wood into the jar and seal it tightly. Put it in a well. After three to five days, it is cool and tasty. Drink one or two cups frequently. Heat will be dispelled (qushu祛暑) and anxiety resolved. The hot will be removed and the cool will be generated (qure shengliang去熱生涼). Hundreds of illnesses will be prevented.


            Medicinal citron (xiangyuan香櫞) soup


            Use any amount of of large fragrant (medicinal) citrons and set twenty of them apart. Cut them in half. Use a bamboo knife to scrape out the pulp. Remove the part resembling a bag(nangdai囊袋). And the membrane resembling a tendon (jin). Collect it. Peel it till there is no white pith. Mince totally. Take it with a bamboo strainer and put it into boiled water. Scald it briefly once or twice. Squeeze it and let it dry. Collect it into the bag-shaped part. Add four liang of baked salt, one liang of liquorice powder, three qian of sandal-wood powder, one qian of gharu-wood powder (it will also be suitable if gharu wood is not used), and two qian of white cardamom powder. Mix evenly and seal tightly in a bottle. This can be preserved for a long time. Use chopsticks to get out one or two spoons of it and pour fully boiled water (baiguntang白滾湯) into it. It cures swelling and inflation in the diaphragm area (xiongge zhangman pengqi胸膈脹滿膨氣), sobers one up from drunkenness, improves digestion (xingjiu huashi醒酒化食), removes phlegm and dissolves congealed (daotan kaiyu導痰開郁). Its wonderfulness cannot be described in words. It cannot be taken in too large quantities, or it will hurt one’s original qi (yuanqi元氣).



CONJEES AND PORRIDGES (zhoumi粥糜), thirty-eight kinds


            Gordon euryale (foxnut or chicken-head, the edible fruits of a water plant; qianshi) conjee


            Use three he of peeled Gordon euryale. If they are new crop, grind them into paste. If they are old, make them into powder. Mix it with three he of japonica rice. Cook it as it turns into conjee and eat it. It will enhance the essence and qi, strengthen the intelligence, and sharpen ears and eyes.


            [Still commonly used in soups and congee; highly nutritious and digestible, it does provide benefits, though possibly not great intellectual supplement.]


            Lotus seed conjee


            Use one liang of lotus seed pulp. Peel and cook it till it is mashed. Pestle it carefully. Add three he of sticky rice. Cook them till it turns into conjee. Eat it and the curative effects are the same as the above.


            Bamboo leaf conjee


            Use fifty pieces of bamboo leaves, two liang of gypsum (shigao石膏), and three bowls of water. Cook them till it can be contained in two bowls. Let it settle down and remove the sediment. Add three he of rice and cook them into conjee. Add one or two spoons of white sugar and eat it. It cures the wind and heat above the midriff (or diaphragm; geshang fengre膈上风热) and red eyes (toumuchi头目赤).


            Turnip seed (manjing蔓菁, possibly including a kind of beet) conjee


            Use two he of turnip seeds and mash them. Add two large bowls of water and stir. Take the clean juice and add three he of rice. Cook it into conjee. It cures difficulty in urination (xiaobian buli小便不利).


            Cow milk conjee


            Use one zhong of raw real cow milk [as opposed to soybean milk, etc.]. First make a conjee with japonica rice and cook it till it is half cooked. Remove a little of the soup. Add cow milk. When it is fully cooked, contain it in a bowl and add one spoon of butter (su) and eat it.  [An interesting recipe, appearing thoroughly Indian; it probably came from India with Buddhism.]


            Sugar cane conjee


            Extract three bowls of sugar cane juice and add four he of rice. Cook it into conjee. Eat it with empty stomach. It cures cough, heat accompanied with weakness (xure虛熱), dry and hot mouth (kouzao口燥), thick phlegm (tinong涕濃), dry tongue (shegan舌幹).


            Yam (shanyao山藥) conjee


            Use four liang of lamb and mash it. Add one he of yam powder, a small amount of salt, and three he of japonica rice. Cook them into conjee. Eating it will cure illness caused by long-term weakness (xulao虛勞) and hot bones (gezheng骨蒸).[32]


            Wolfthorn (gouqi枸杞) conjee


            Use one he of wolfthorn [presumably berries] from Ganzhou甘州 and add three he of rice. Cook it into conjee and eat it.


            Perilla (zisu) conjee


            Use Perilla frutescens crispa powder and add water to get the juice. When one is cooking [rice] conjee and it is about to be fully cooked, add proper amount of juice and mix them evenly. Eating it will cure old men’s foot qi (laoren jiaoqi老人脚气). (It is wonderful using domestic perilla.)


            Glutinous rehmannia (dihuang地黄) conjee


            Use more than ten jin of glutinous rehmannia newly grown by the tenth month. Mash them till the juice comes out. Add four liang of white honey to every jin of the juice. Slowly cook it till it turns into paste. Collect and seal it. When cooking three he of conjee, add three or two qian of glutinous rehmannia paste and a small amount of ghee. Eating it will moisturize yin and moisten the lung (ziyin runfei滋阴润肺).


            Sesame conjee


            Use peeled sesame and steam them till full cooked. Toast till the fragrance can be smelled. Use three he of rice and wash. Add two he of sesame and grind juice out of the mixture. Fully cook it into conjee. When eating, add butter to it. [“Grinding juice out” may be a miswriting for grinding up the sesame and rice, or, more likely, for putting all in water.]


            Mountain chestnut (shanli山栗) conjee


            Fully cook chestnuts and powder them. Add rice and cook into conjee. Then one can eat it.


            Chamomile seedling (jumiao菊苗) conjee


            Use new born sprouts of chamomile (ganju甘菊) with clustered leaves. Pick and clean them. Mince finely. Add salt and cook with rice into conjee. Eating it will clarify the eyesight and pacify the heart (qingmu ningxin清目宁心).


            Wolfthorn leaf conjee


            Use new tender leaves of wolfthorn. Cook it as the above method. It is also wonderful.


            [Chinese wolfthorn leaves and berries are extremely rich in vitamins and minerals, and have many of the benefits claimed for them in Chinese medicine.]


            Job’s tears (yiyi薏苡) conjee


            Wash job’s tears and add the same amount of white rice. Cook them into conjee. When eating, add one or two spoonfuls of white sugar.


            Sandy-husk rice (shakemi沙殼米) [rice with rough, sandy-feeling husks] conjee


            Collect sandy-husk rice and wash it roughly with water. Add it to boiled water. When it is boiled again, take it out immediately. Therefore it will not turn into paste. It cures diarrhea (xiali下痢) and is extremely effective.


            (wulou芜蒌) conjee


            Fully cook red beans (chidou赤豆) in a pottery jar. When the rice conjee is slightly boiled, add the cooked red beans to it and cook. Eat it.


            Mei flower conjee


            Collect fallen mei petals and clean them. Use snow water to cook conjee. When the conjee is fully cooked, add petals to it. When it is boiled again, take it up immediately and eat it.


            Tumi 荼蘼 conjee


Pick petals of tumi [a small tree with white flowers, according to note in text; unidentified] and boil briefly with hot liquorice soup. When the conjee is fully cooked, add them to it and reboil.

Or pick tender leaves of muxiang木香, and boil them briefly with hot liquorice soup. Add oil, salt, ginger, and vinegar to make a dish. It has two kinds of pure fragrances and is truly a food that should be offered to the immortals.


            River-god (heqi河祇) conjee


            Fully cook Chinese herring (haixiang). Remove the sticks and cut it finely. When the conjee is fully cooked, add the fish to it and cook together. Stir till evenly mixed, and eat.


Wild yam (shanyao) conjee


            Use yam from Huai and make it into powder. Add rice to it with the ratio four to six. Cook them into conjee. Eating it will compensate the lower cinnabar field (xiayuan下元)[33].


            Goat or sheep kidney (yangshen) conjee


            Use half jin of wolfthorn leaves, three he of rice, two goat/sheep kidneys, five minced green onion heads (it is also suitable if dried). Cook them with rice into conjee. Add some salt. Eating it will effectively cure pains in waist and feet.


            Elk horn (mijiao麋角) conjee


            Use elk horns that have been cooked to produce glue. Grind them into fine powder. Add one qian of powder to every cup of conjee. Add a small amount of salt. It cures the weakness in the lower cinnabar field (xiayuan xuruo下元虚弱).


            Deer kidney conjee


            Use two deer kidneys. Remove the fat and membranes. Mince them finely and add a small amount of salt. Cook till very soft. Add three he of rice and cook into conjee. It cures the weakness of qi and deafness (qixu erlong气虚耳). Another recipe: add one liang of desert cistanche (congrong苁蓉), which has been washed by liquor and peeled. Cook it with kidneys and rice. It is also good.


            Pig kidney conjee


            Use two fen of ginseng, a small amount of green onion white (congbai葱白), and one fen of (fangfeng防風)[34]. Mash all of them into powder. Cook them with three he of japonica rice (jingmi粳米) till they are half cooked. Remove the membranes from a pair of pig kidneys. Cut them into thin slices and salt them. Let stand for a while. Add them into the conjee pot. Do not stir after the kidneys have been thrown into the pot. Cook it with slow fire for a long time. Eating it will cure deafness.


            Lamb conjee


            Use four liang of cooked [?] lamb (lanyangrou烂羊肉). Mince it finely. Add one qian of ginseng powder, one qian of tuckahoe powder, two jujubes, and finely minced membranous milk vetch (huangqi黃耆)[35]. Add three he of japonica rice and three or two fen of good salt. Cook them into conjee. Eating it will cure weakness (leiruo羸弱) and enhance the yang (zhuangyang壮阳).


            Dolichos bean (biandou扁豆) conjee


            Use half jin of white dolichos beans and two qian of ginseng. Mince them into thin slices. Cook them with water till the juice comes out. Add rice to it and make it into conjee. Eating it will improve one’s essence and strength (yi jingli益精力). Also, it cures children’s cholera (xiao’r huoluan小儿霍乱). 


            Tuckahoe (fuling茯苓) conjee


            Make tuckahoe into powder. Use one liang of it and two he of sweet rice. Fully cook the rice into conjee. Then add the tuckahoe and cook them together. Eat it after taking it up. It treats insomnia (“the symptom that one wants to sleep but cannot,” yushui budeshui欲睡不得睡).


            Perilla and cannabis conjee


            Use five qian of real Perilla frutescens crispa seeds (zhen zisuzi真紫苏子) and cannabis seeds (damazi大麻子) respectively. Wash them with water. Bake them till the fragrance comes out. Add water and grind them into mud-like stuff. Take the juice. Use the juice taken from the two kinds of seeds to cook conjee. It cures every kind of weakness that has congealed in an old man’s body for a long time (laoren zhuxu jiejiu老人諸虛結久), wind that cannot been terminated (fengmi bujie風秘不解), the stagnancy gathered in the diaphragm area (yongju gezhong壅聚膈中), inflation in the stomach and sickness in heart (fuzhang exin腹脹噁心). 


            Bamboo trickle (zhuli竹瀝)[36] conjee


            Cook conjee as normal. Add a half bottle of bamboo trickle. Eating it will cure the fire accompanying the phlegm (tanhuo痰火).


            Dwarf lilyturf (mendong門冬) [37]conjee


            Wash raw dwarf lilyturf till it is clean. Extract one cup of juice out of it. Take two he of white rice, one he of Job’s tears (yiyiren薏苡仁), two he of extracted raw glutinous rehmannia (dihuang地黄) juice, and half cup of raw ginger juice. First, fully cook Job’s tears and white rice. Then add the other three sorts of juices. Cook them into thin conjee. It cures nausea and vomiting (fanwei ouni翻胃呕逆).


            Daikon (luobo萝卜) conjee


            Use daikon that is not spicy. Add salt and boil it till it is fully cooked. Mince it into bean-shape bits. Add it to conjee that is almost cooked and it can be eaten when it is boiled.


            Lily bulb (baihe百合) conjee


            Use one sheng of lily bulbs. Mince them and add one liang of honey. When the conjee is almost ready to eat, add three he of lily bulbs and cook them together. Eating it is wonderful.


            Heshouwu (何首) conjee


            (The red heshouwu is the female and the white is male. The bigger, the better.)

            When picking the bigger, iron tools cannot be used. Use a bamboo knife to peel and slice it. Collect the slices. Use five qian of it and cook it in a pottery jar till it is mashed. Add three he of white rice and make them into conjee.


            Cornel (shanzhuyu山茱萸) conjee (it can also be made into powder)


            Peel and mash it. Grind it into mud-like stuff. Whenever using one cup of it, add two spoons of honey. Bake them together and let them congeal. When eating, mix it with conjee and stir evenly.


            Breast milk (renru人乳) conjee


            Use breast milk from a fat person (feiren肥人). When the conjee is half cooked, remove the soup and add breast milk to it. Replace the soup with breast milk and cook it till it is fully cooked. Contain it in a bowl. Add one or two qian of butter (suyou酥油). Stir immediately. It is sweet and tasty. It greatly supplements the original qi (dabu yuanqi补元气). It is also suitable if butter is not added.


            Wolfthorn berry (gouqizi枸杞子) conjee


            Use raw wolfthorn berries and grind them into mud-like stuff. If they are dry, grind them into powder. Add half cup of the powder to every basin of conjee. Add one or two spoons of white honey and stir it till it is even. Eating it is greatly beneficial (dayi大益).


            Meat and rice (roumi肉米) conjee


            Use white rice and cook it into soft rice. Use chicken soup (jizhi鸡汁), meat soup, or shrimp soup. Mix them and let it become limpid. Mince fully cooked meat into bean-like bits. Add wild rice stem [i.e. sliced swollen stems of “wild rice,” Zizania; jiaosun茭笋], hispid arthraxon (xiangjin)[38], or (songrang松穰). Mince them finely. Add them and the rice to the soup. When it is boiled, take it immediately and serve it. Use pickles to add flavors to it (guowei过味). It is very good.


            Green bean conjee


            Wash green beans till they are clean. Put them into a boiler. Add a lot of water and cook them till it is mashed. Then add rice. Use high fire (jinhuo紧火) to cook them into conjee. When it is cooled down, it is good for eating. In the summer months, one should stop when having enough of it. It should not be eaten too much.


            Counted-member (koushu口數) conjee[39] [i.e. conjee for everyone in the household]


            At the night of the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month, use red beans to cook conjee with the same method of cooking green bean conjee. Share it with the whole family. For those that have been out and returned, one should have them eat too. It is called koushu conjee. It can repulse epidemics and vicious demons (ligui疠鬼). This comes from Tianjia wuxing田家五行.




            STARCHES AND POWDERS (fenmianlei粉面), eighteen kinds


            Lotus root starch (oufen藕粉)


            Take any amount of thick lotus roots. Clean and cut them off. Soak [in water] for three days. Change the water every day. When the water is clean and clear, take the lotus roots out. Mash them into mud-like stuff (dao ru nijiang捣如泥浆). Use a piece of cloth to get the juice. Then mash the dregs. Then extract the juice, sift the remaining, and remove any contaminants. Add clean water, slightly mix and stir them. Then let it settle and remove the water. What has settled is good starch.


            Jitou Starch (jitoufen鸡头粉)


            Use fresh jitou and dry them in the sun. Remove the husks and mash them into powder.


            Chestnut starch (lizifen栗子粉)


            Use mountain chestnuts. Slice them and dry them in the sun. Grind them into fine powder.


            Water caltrop starch (lingjiaofen菱角粉)


            Peel the water caltrops and make them into powder as in making the lotus root starch.


            Ginger starch


            Mash the raw ginger and extract the juice. Let the starch settle. It can be added to soup (hegeng和羹).


            Arrowroot starch (gefen葛粉)


            Peel the arrowroots. Obtain starch by using the above method. It stimulates the appetite and terminates anxiety and thirst (kaiwei zhi fanke开胃止烦渴).


            Tuckahoe starch (fulingfen茯苓粉)


            Slice tuckahoe. Soak, and remove the red juice. Change the water and soak for one day. Get the starch by using the above method. When it is stirred with uncooked conjee (weizhuzhou未煮粥), its benefits are best (buyi zuijia补益最佳).


            Pine and cypress starch (songbofen松柏粉)


            Take leaves when they still have dew on them. If picked overnight, it will not produce starch. Use the tender leaves and mash them. Let the starch settle down. It is like the tender leaves, green and lovely.


            Yam starch (shanyaofen药粉)


            Use fresh yams. Follow the above method. The dry can be grinded into starch.


            Brake [presumably bracken fern root] starch (juefen蕨粉)


            Use it to make cakes, which are wonderful. There are such made-cakes (zhichenghuo治成).


            Lotus seed starch


            The dry lotus seeds can be ground into powder.


            Taro starch (yufen芋粉)


            Use white taro (baiyu白芋). Make them into powder by using the above method. The purple ones should not be used.


            Caltrop starch (jilifen蒺藜粉)


            Mash it in a wood mortar till its sticks and skins are off. Take the starch out of it as the above method. It can lighten the body and remove the wind (qingshen qufeng轻身去风).




DRIED MEAT AND FISH (puzhalei鲊类), fifty kinds


            One thousand mile dry meat (qianlipu千里脯)


            Beef, lamb, or pork can be used. Use one jin of thin meat, two cups of strong liquor (nongjiu秾酒), one qian of thin vinegar (dancu淡醋), four qian of white salt, three qian of dong , one qian of fennel and Chinese pepper powder. Stir them overnight. Cook them with slow and high fire (wenwuhuo文武火)  till the juice is dry. Dry it in the sun. It is extremely wonderful. It can be preserved for one month.  [Presumably good for a journey of a thousand li, about 300 miles.]


            Meaty dry fish (rouzha) it is also called willow-leaf dried fish (liuyezha柳叶)


            Use one jin of thin meat (remove the tendons) and one liang of salt. Add a small amount of rice starch (mifen米粉)—it will turn sour if too much rice starch is added. Use three jin of pig skins (roupi肉皮). Boil them briefly with water. Slice them into thin pieces. Mince them with the thin meat. Stir them. Use a piece of bamboo shoot (ruo) skin to wrap a meat cake of the weight of four liang. Bake it above the ashes in the winter (dongtian huihuo冬天灰火) for three days. Use a cover and keep a small hole on it. In the summer, it can be eaten after one week.


            Pestled dry meat (chuipu槌脯)


            Use one jin of thin meat from a pen-raised pig that has been just slaughtered, while still warm. Chop it into four or five pieces. Add half liang of baked salt. Press them into the meat till the tendon and pulse cannot take them any more. Half dry them in the sun. Measure and use good liquor and water, Chinese pepper, dill (shiluo莳萝), orange skins (jupi橘皮). Cook them with slow fire till it is dry. Then mash it into bits.


            [This spiced, pemmican-like dried shredded meat is still a common snack food.]


            Fire meat (huorou火肉)


            Use the four thin legs from a pig that has just been slaughtered and used to be raised in the pen. Add salt when they are still warm. Add one liang of salt to every jin of meat. Rub the salt from the skin into the meat. Let it turn soft. Press down with bamboo fencing [woven slats] and stones. Put it in a jar. After about twenty days, add ashes burned from paddy stalks (daochaihui稻柴灰) to each layer of meat. Repeat this for three or five times. Burn paddy stalks to smoke the meat for one day and one night. Hang the meat in the place for smoking. In early summer, soak it in water for one day and one night, clean it, and hang it up as before.


            [Modern Chinese huotui “fire leg” is ham, but here we have a more complex recipe.]


            Twelfth-month meat (larou腊肉) [La is a general term for preserved meats]


            Use ten jin of fat, tender pork from a castrated pig (fenzhu?). Cut it into twenty pieces. Use eight liang of salt and two jin of liquor. Mix them evenly and rub them with high pressure into the meat till it turns soft. Use a big stone to force out the liquid. Air it till dry. Spread the remaining liquor and dregs on the meat. Use a piece of bamboo strip to piece the meat and hang it in a well-ventilated place.

Another method: use ten jin of meat. Cook twenty liang salt with water till the water is clean. Take the liquid and add it to the meat. Take it out after twenty days and hang it up in a well-ventilated place. Another method: summer-month salty meat. Rub baked salt into the meat. Let it evenly salted for one night. Then hang it up. If any trace of liquid is visible, use a big stone to extrude the liquid. Then hang it in the wind.


            Roasted fish (zhiyu)


            Use long-tailed anchovy (jiyu鲚鱼)[40] just caught from the river. Clean it. Roast it on burned charcoal till it is fully dried, and gather it up.

Another method: remove the head and tail of the long-tailed anchovy. Cut it into pieces. Fry it with oil till it is fully cooked. Use the skin of bamboo shoots to separate the fish, and arrange them in a pottery jar. Use mud to seal the jar.


            Fish in salted water (shuiyanyu水腌)


            In the twelfth month, cut a carp (liyu鲤鱼) into large pieces. Wipe off the water. Use four liang of baked salt for every jin of fish. Rub the salt on the fish and let it stay for one night. Then wash it and air it till it is dry. Then use two liang of salt and one jin of dregs. Mix them evenly and put them in a jar. Use paper and mud to seal the jar.


            Raw crab (xiesheng蟹生)


            Mince fresh crab into bits. Cook the sesame oil till it is cooked. Let it cool down. Use (caoguo草果), fennel, large cardamoms (sharen砂仁), Chinese pepper powder, water ginger (shuijiang水姜), pepper powder. Then add green onion, salt, and vinegar. There are ten kinds of flavors. Add them into the crab and stir it evenly. It can be eaten immediately.


            Dry fish (yuzha鱼鲊)


            Carp (liyu鲤鱼), herring (qingyu), weever (luyu鲈鱼), or sturgeon (xunyu鲟鱼) all can be used to make dry fish. Remove the scales and intestines. Use old bamboo brush to brush away the fat and blood till it is very clean. Hang it in the wind for one or two days. Cut it into small squares. Add one jin of raw salt for every ten jin of fish. In summer months, use one jin four liang of salt. Stir it evenly and let it be salted in a container. In the winter, it should be salted for twenty days. In the spring and autumn, it should be salted for less time. Wrap it with a piece of cloth and press it with a rock. Let the liquid go out till it is fully dry, not slippery (hua) or pliable (ren). Use two liang of Sichuan pepper skins, half liang of dill (shiluo莳萝), fennel, large cardamoms, and red beans (hongdou红豆) respectively, a small amount of liquorice. Make them into rough powder. Wash seven or eight he of white japonica rice and cook it. Use one and half jin of raw sesame oil, one jin of purely white green onion slices, one and half he of red distiller’s yeast (hongqu红曲). Mash them and stir evenly. Press them into a porcelain or wood jar tightly. Cover it with lotus leaves. Insert bamboo strips to fix it. And then press small stones on it. Wait till it is gradually ready. It is suitable to be made in the spring or autumn. In the winter, one can prepare salted fish as a base. When it is used, add other materials to it immediately. This is the method used in the capital. Long-tailed anchovy (jiyu鲚鱼) can be made in the same way. But it should be dry; then it will be good.


            Meat that is like dry fish (rouzha)


            Cook fresh pig or goat lean legs. Slice them and pestle the slices with the back of a knife blade for twice or three times. Cut them into squares. Boil them and then take them out immediately. Wrap them in a piece of cloth and twist it till dry. For every jin of meat, add one cup of good vinegar, four qian of salt, a small amount of Chinese pepper oil, caoguo草果, and sharen砂仁. It is also tasty when it is served [at dinner].


            Large stewed meat (dalurou卤肉)


            Choose a pig that has been raised in the pen and is about forty jin in weight. Use only the fore legs. Remove the fat, bones and the (tuodu拖肚). Pick a piece of pure meat (jingrou净肉) and cut it into pieces about four or five jin in weight. Then cut two times in a cross shape and then make them into squares (qie shizi wei sifang kuai切十字为四方块). Boil them with pure water till they are about seventy or eighty percent cooked. Take them out and let them cool down. Slice them and let each slice have both fat and lean meat and one finger in thickness. Remove the grease on the surface and add a small amount of water. Use the original soup (yuanzhi原汁) [that was used to boil the meat]. Put the soup in a pot. First add spices (luliao卤料), then add the meat, and then add soy sauce, and then add the original soup. Boil them. Then add fine spice powder (mozi xi luliao末子细卤料) to the meat, and then add red dreg powder (hongqumo红曲末). Let it soak in the meat juice and get thinner. Pour the juice onto the meat. Use slow and high fire to boil them till the meat is red all over. Then add previously cooked sauce (suzhi宿汁). Add some salt, remove (jiangban酱板), and then add shrimp sauce (xiazhi虾汁). Remove the grease floating on the surface. Measure how clean (qing) the sauce is and cook it till it is proper. Use when it is warm. The meat and sauce should not be warmed in a pot again.

            Fermented-soybean-sauced goose (chizhi e豉汁) is made as the above method. But the red dreg should not be used. Instead, add some fermented soybeans to the sauce.

            The method of extracting a thin sauce (qingzhi清汁): how to remove the grease previously. Mash raw shrimps and soy sauce and add them to the soup. Boil the soup and let it boiled in the pot. At the same time, skim what is floating on the surface. (If there is no shrimp sauce, mash pig liver and add water. Replace the shrimp sauce with the liver sauce.) After three or four times, it is all right, when there is no floating grease, if the shrimp sauce is added.

            The method of preserving previously cooked sauce (suzhi宿汁): boil the previously cooked sauce everyday. Let it settle down for awhile and it is usable when clean. If it is not used, contain it in a tin container or pottery jar and seal it. Then hang it in a well.

            The method of using the red dregs (yong hongqu fa红曲法): use about a cup of liquor for every yeast ball (qu). Let it soak in the liquor overnight and turn soft. Grind it into mud like stuff. Use the meat soup to dilute it.

            The method of making rough spices (cu luliao卤料): use equal amount of royal cinnamon, white angelica (baizhi白芷)[41], and fine ginger (liangjiang良姜). Do not cut them and use up all of them.

            The method of making fine spices (xi luliao细卤料): use as much as liquorice, and equal amount of royal cinnamon, white angelica, fine ginger, osmanthus flowers, sandal wood, ageratum (huoxiang藿香), asarum (xixin细辛), nard (gansong甘松), Chinese pepper, susha[石宿], red beans, and apricot seeds. Make them into fine powder for usage.

            The meat soup should be very clean. It is wonderful when there is no floating grease. But the meat should not be dry or shriveled.



Salted vinegar fish in jelled stock (daidong yancu yu帶凍鹽醋魚)


            Cut fresh carp into small pieces. Salt them. Cook in soy sauce. Add the fish scales and catnip (Schizonepeta tenuifolia,jingjie荊芥)[42] to the sauce and boil them. Remove the dregs. When the soup is thick, flavor it according to one’s taste. Keep the soup in a tin container. Put it in a well or in [cold] water [to jell it]. Pour thick gingered vinegar on it.


            Cucumber sauce (guaji瓜齏)


            Use equal amount of cucumber [or gourd] pickles (jianggua醬瓜), raw ginger, green onion (congmian蔥面), unsalted dried bamboo shoots (dansungan淡筍乾) or wild rice stem (jiaobai茭白), baby shrimps (xiami蝦米), and chicken breasts. Cut them into long slices. Fry them with sesame oil and then it can be served.


            Dried moorhen (a duck-like wild bird; shuiji ganzi水雞幹子)


            Clean a large moorhen. Boil it in the water and take it out immediately when it is boiled. Press it with a stone. Let it dry totally and then store it.


            Abacus-strip cake (suantiao bazi算條巴子)


            Use fat and lean pork and cut them into pieces three cun in length, in shape of abacus strip. Use proper amount of granulated sugar (shatang砂糖), Chinese pepper powder, and susha宿砂 powder. Blend them evenly. Dry them in the sun and steam them till fully cooked.


            Minced pork and clam (saozi hali臊子蛤蜊[43])


            Use half fat and half lean pork. Cut into small squares like dices. Add some liquor and half-cook these. Add soybean sauce and then Chinese pepper, large cardamoms, green onion white, salt, and vinegar. Blend them evenly. Then mix green bean powder and water evenly. Add them into the pot and contain it when it is boiled. Use this as the sauce (ni). Boil the clams in the water and remove the shells. Place them one by one in a boiler (tangguzi湯鼓子). Place the sauce above the clams and serve them. The same method can be applied to fresh leek (xinjiu新韭), onion (hucong胡葱), bok choy hearts (caixin菜心), pig kidney (zhuyaozi猪腰子), bamboo shoots, and wild rice stem.


            Oven roasted chicken (lubeiji炉焙)


            Use one hen. Boil it till it is eighty percent cooked. Cut it into small squares. Add a small amount of oil in a pot and fully heat it. Place the chicken in the pot and fry it briefly. Use a metal plate (xuanzi鏇子) or a bowl to cover it. Cook it till it is extremely hot. Add equal amount of liquor and vinegar, a small amount of salt. Cook. When it is dry, [add water and] cook it. Repeat this for several times till the chicken is very soft and full cooked. It can be used.  [The “oven” thus appears to be a large pot. The idea here is to cook the chicken pieces down to preserve them.]


            Steamed hilsa herring (or Reeves shad; shiyu鲥鱼)[44]


            Remove the intestines of the hilsa herring but not the scales. Use a piece of cloth to wipe off the blood. Place it in a boiler. Mash Chinese pepper, large cardamoms, and soy sauce. Add liquor (shuijiu水酒) and green onion and blend them till the flavor is even. Steam the fish with the sauce. Remove the scales and serve it.


            Soft-bone fish (suguyu酥骨)


            Clean a large crucian carp (jiyu鲫鱼). Add a small amount of soy sauce, a large pinch of perilla leaves (zisuye苏叶), and a little liquorice. Cook for half a day [evidently braising over very low heat; this would soften the otherwise extremely annoying small bones of this fish]. When it is fully cooked, it can be served.


            Sichuan pig head (chuanzhutou川猪)


            Boil the pig head with water till it is fully cooked. Cut it into strips. Blend granulated sugar, Chinese pepper, large cardamom, and soy sauce with it evenly. Boil it in the original soup [boiling stock]. When it is as soft as if mashed, remove the bones and tie it with threads. Press a large stone on it tightly and make it into cream-dreg like stuff (gaozao膏糟). Then it can be eaten.


            Stuffed stomach (niangduzi肚子)


            Clean a pig stomach. Stuff dried lotus seeds (shilianrou石蓮肉)[45] into it. Wash the bitter skin (kupi苦皮) [of the lotus seeds] till it is very clean. Wash white sweet rice as much as the lotus seeds. Stuff them into the stomach. Tie the stomach with threads. Full cook it and press it tightly. When it is cooled down, slice it. Place the cooked stomach above a piece of paper on the floor. Spray fine vinegar on the stomach and cover it with an earthen bowl. After a while, it can be eaten. Both the stomach and the pulp are thick and edible.


            The method of making salted meat (yanrou腌肉) in summer months


            Use baked warm salt to scrub the meat till the meat turns soft. Place it in a jar and press stones on it evenly. Press it overnight and then hang it up. If there is any trace of liquid, use a big stone to press it till it is dry. Hang it in a windy place and it will not spoil.


            The method of making salted pig tongue and ox tongue


            Use eight qian of salt for every jin of tongues. One recipe: use five qian [of salt][46], a bowl of fine liquor, a small amount of Sichuan pepper, dill (shiluo莳萝), fennel (huixiang茴香), and sesame oil, and minced green onion white. Blend them and let them be for five days. Stir them for three or four times. Pierce the tongues, then use a piece of thread to hang them up in a windy place. Let them dry in the shade and wrap them in paper. Boil them and they can be used.


            Recipe for air-dry fish (fengyufa风鱼法)


            Cut open the stomach of herring (qingyu) or carp (liyu鲤鱼) and remove the intestines. Use four or five qian of salt for every jin of fish. Salt it for seven days and then take it up. Clean it and wipe off the liquid. Cut below the gills. Scrub the gills and inside and outside of the abdomen with Sichuan pepper, fennel, and baked salt. Wrap it with paper. And then use a piece of hemp skin (mapi麻皮) to wrap all the fish into one bundle. Hang it in a windy place. It would be wonderful if there are more spices stuffed in the fish abdomen.


            Recipe for raw meat (roushengfa肉生法)


            Cut lean pork into narrow, thin slices. Wash them with soybean sauce. Fry them quickly in a red-heated pot. When the blood disappears and the meat turns white, it is prepared. Take it out and cut it into threads. Then add pickles, radish pickled in lees (zaoluobo萝卜), garlic, Amomum villosum cardamom (sharen砂仁), Amomum tsaoko cardamom (caoguo草果)), Chinese pepper, orange slices, and sesame oil. Mix them and fry. When eating it, one should add vinegar to the meat threads and blend them evenly. It is very tasty.


            Recipe for making fish paste (yujiang鱼酱)


            Use one jin of fish. Mince it and wash it till it is clean. Use three liang of baked salt, one qian of Chinese pepper, one qian of fennel, one qian of dried ginger, two qian of (shenqu神曲), five qian of red dregs (hongqu 红曲). Add liquor to them and blend them evenly. Blend them with fish and contain it in a porcelain jar and seal it tightly. After ten days, it can be used. When eating, one should add some minced green onion.


            Recipe for making mashed and/or lees-cured pig head and feet (zaozhutou tizhua糟豬頭、蹄爪)


            Boil pig head and feet till they can be easily mashed. Wrap them in a piece of cloth and spread them. Add a big stone on it and press the stone, flattening them for one night. It is very good when brewing lees are used (zaoyong糟用).


            Recipe for making liquor fish (jiufayu酒發魚)


            Cut a large crucian carp (jiyu鯽魚) open. Remove the scales, eyes, and intestines. Do not let unboiled water touch it. Use a piece of cloth to wipe off the water. For one jin of fish, use one liang of shenqu神曲, one liang of red dreg (hongqu红曲) powder, two liang of baked salt, one liang of pepper, fennel, Sichuan pepper, and dried ginger. Blend them and insert them into the abdomen of the fish. Add one more layer of spices and place it in a jar. Wrap it and seal it with mud. If it is made in the twelfth month, it should be opened after the fifteenth day of the first month. Turn the fish over and add fine liquor to it and let it saturate in the liquor. Seal it with mud till the fourth month. By then it is ready and can be eaten. It can be preserved for one or two years.


            Recipe for making liquor-soaked shrimps (jiuyanxia酒腌)


            Use large shrimps and do not wash them with water. Clip the antennae and tails. Use five qian of salt for every jin of shrimps. Salt them for half day. Let them dry and put them in a bottle. When placing one layer of shrimps, add thirty Chinese peppercorns. It would be wonderful if more peppercorns are added. Or it would be wonderful if one blends peppercorns with shrimps and place them in a bottle. After placing them in the bottle, one should use three liang of salt for every jin of shrimps and dilute the salt with fine liquor and pour the salted liquor into the bottle. Seal it with mud. It will be tasty after five to seven days in the spring or autumn. It takes ten days in the winter.


            Huguang recipe for making dried fish (huguang yuzha湖广鱼鲊)


            Use ten jin of large carp (liyu鲤鱼). Cut them into small squares like cloves (dingxiang丁香). Remove the bones and other wastes. Stir and toast old yellow rice till dry. Grind into powder. Use a half sheng of it.  Add one and a half sheng of baked red dregs (chaohongqu红曲). Make into powder for use. Measure ten jin of the fish pieces and use two bowls of fine liquor, one jin of salt (use one jin and four liang of salt in summer months). Blend them with the fish and put them in a porcelain container. Let it be salted for half of a month in the winter, ten days in the spring or summer. Then take it up and wash it till it is clean. Wrap it in a piece of cloth and extract water out of it till it is very dry. Use two liang of Sichuan pepper, one liang of Amomum villosum cardamoms (sharen砂仁), five qian of fennel, five qian of red beans, a small amount of liquorice that is made into powder, one jin and eight liang of sesame oil, and one jin of white stalks of green onions. First, add one sheng of rice-koji powder (miqumo米曲末) to them and blend them evenly. Contain them in a jar and press a stone on it. It can be eaten after fifteen days in the winter and seven or eight days in the summer months. When eating it, it would be wonderful if spices and rice vinegar (jiaoliao micu椒料米醋) are added.


Deep-fried meat in water (shuizharou水煠肉); also called “split-and-burned” (boshao擘燒)


Cut raw pork into large strips of two fingers in width. Carve patterns like brick stairs [i.e., cut little notches] on both sides of the strips. Then use sesame oil, sweet sauce (tianjiang), Chinese pepper, fennels, and blend them evenly. Rub them on the carved meat till they are evenly spread. After a while, add a bowl of oil obtained by cooking the pig fat, a bowl of sesame oil, a large bowl of water, a small bowl of liquor to a pot. Add the spiced meat till it is saturated in the juice. Then add one liang of garlic (suanlang蒜榔) and stew it with a cover on the pot. When the meat turns soft, take it up and eat it. The meat seems to have no grease at all because the grease turns into gas.


Water steamed meat (qingzhengrou清蒸肉)


Boil a piece of fine pork once. Take clean squares. Wash it by water and scrape it till it is clean. Carve the skin with a knife. Wrap anise seeds, fennel seeds (daxiaohuixiang大小茴香),  Chinese pepper, Amomum tsaoko cardamoms (caoguo草果), and royal cinnamon in a piece of sparsely-woven cloth. Put it in a boiler and press the meat on it. First, boil chicken or goose meat to get the pure broth and flavor it properly. Pour the broth onto the meat. Then cover it with scallion (dacong大葱), pickles (yancai腌菜), and garlic (suanlang蒜榔) in the boiler. Steam it with the boiler covered. When eating it, remove the scallion, garlic, wrapped spices, and so on.


Fried goat stomach (chaoyangdu炒羊肚)


Wash a goat stomach till it is clean. Cut it into narrow strips. Boil a large pot of water. At the same time, cook oil in a pot. First, put the stomach in the boiler and boil it quickly by holding it in a bamboo strainer (zhaoli). Then use a piece of coarse cloth (cubu粗布) to extract the water in the stomach. Put it immediately into the wok with oil in it and fry it with high fire. When it is about to be fully cooked, blend green onion, sliced garlic, Chinese pepper, fennels, soybean sauce, liquor, and vinegar evenly and add them to stomach. Take it up immediately after it is cooked. It is delicious and crisp. If one is slow in doing this, the stomach will be slick like a strip of skin.  It is then disgusting.


Fried kidney (chaoyaozi炒腰子)


Cut a pig kidney open and remove the white membrane and tendons. Carve patterns on the outside of the kidney. Place it in boiled water and boil it briefly. Take it up and let the water go. Fry it quickly in a wok. Add spices (xiaoliao小料) such as minced green onion, coriander (yuansui芫荽), sliced garlic, Chinese pepper, ginger, soybean sauce, liquor, and vinegar. Take it up immediately when it is cooked.


Razor clam and dried fish (chengzha蛏鲊)


Use one jin of razor clams and one liang of salt. Let the clams be salted for one day and one night. Then wash the clams and let them dry. Wrap them in a piece of cloth and press a stone on it. Add five qian of cooked oil, five qian of ginger and orange slices, one qian of salt, five fen of sliced green onion, a large cup of liquor, and one he of rice (fanshen飯糝) that is made into powder. Blend them evenly. Put in a bottle and seal it with mud. It can be served after ten days. Dried fish can be made in the same way.


Wind-dried fish (youfengyu风鱼)


Use four qian of salt for every jin of fish. Add Chinese pepper, Amomum villosum (sharen砂仁), minced green onion, sesame oil, sliced ginger, and finely sliced orange. Let them be salted for ten days and then hang the fish up in the smoke.


Sugar-roasted meat (tangzhirou糖炙肉) and roasted meat strips (hongrouba烘肉巴)


Remove the skin and bones in a piece of pork and cut it into large slices of two cun in thickness. Use a small amount of granulated sugar to remove the smell [of the pork]. Blend soybean sauce, aniseeds, fennel seeds (daxiaohuixiang大小茴香), and Chinese pepper with the meat. Dry it for one day and collect it. Cook sesame oil and add the meat to it. Cover the wok and do not burn firewood. It is ready when it turns soft.

Cut lean and tender pork into slices or strips. Salt them for awahile and blend them with Chinese pepper. Dry them for one day. When eating, roast them on iron grill above burning charcoals.


Three recipes for soybean sauce crab (jiangxie醬蟹), dreg crab (zaoxie糟蟹), and drunk crab (zuixie醉蟹)


Add sesame oil in soybean sauce, which can make the crab be preserved longer without turning granulate (jiuliu busha久留不砂). Use one bowl of dregs, vinegar, liquor, and soybean sauce, respectively. When the crabs are many, add a plate of salt. Another recipe: use seven bowls of liquor, three bowls of vinegar, and two bowls of salt. Drunk crabs are delicious too. Place a piece of charcoal at the bottom of the jar and the crab fat (xiegao蟹膏) will not granulate. Add one qian of angelica root (baizhi白芷) to the crabs in liquor dregs and then the crab fat will keep firm. But the crabs will probably be tainted with a smell of medicine, which is not good.


How to dry shrimps in the sun without letting their redness fade away


Stir and bake shrimps with salt till they are fully cooked. Put them in a bamboo basket. Wash away the salt with well water. Dry them in the sun and their redness will not fade away.


Recipe for boiling a fish (zhuyufa鱼法)


For river fish (heyu), place in water and boil till bones turn soft. For fish of big rivers and seas (jianghaiyu江海), first flavor the boiler soup and then place the fish in it. So the fish bones will be hard.


How to boil crabs and let them remain green in color; how to remove the meat from clam (geli蛤蜊)


Use three to five persimmon pedicels (shidi柿蒂) to boil with crabs and the crabs will remain green in color. Boil loquat kernels (pipaheneiren枇杷核内仁) with clams and the clam meat will fall from the shell.


Recipe for making meat paste (roujiang)


Use four jin of lean pork and remove the tendons and bones. Use one jin and eight liang of soybean sauce, four liang of finely ground salt, one bowl of finely minced green onion white, five or six qian of Sichuan pepper, fennel, and preserved orange peels (chenpi陈皮) respectively. Blend these spices with liquor and add the meat into it till it is like a thick conjee. Place it in a jar and seal it tightly. Dry it in a scorching sun. After more than ten days, open it and see whether it is dry or not. If it is dry, add liquor. If it is light, add salt. Seal it with mud again and dry it in the sun.


Dried yellowbird (huangque黄雀) [Yellow buntings or siskins]


Clean every bird. Wipe it with liquor and do not let it be touched by water. Use yellow wheat yeast (maihuang麥黃)[47], red rice starter (honhqu红曲), salt, Chinese pepper, and sliced green onion. Taste it till the flavor is right. Place the birds in a flat jar. Spread one layer of spices on every layer of birds. Stuff the jar and fasten it with bamboo leaves and stalks. When the brine (lu) comes out, pour it away and add liquor to it. Seal it tightly and it can be used for a long time.


List of cooking knacks (zhishi youfa tiaoli治食有法条例)


Use flour to wash pig liver and use granulated sugar to wash pig bowels and there will not be any smell.

When boiling bamboo shoots, add mint to them and add less salt or ashes. Then the bamboo shoots will not taste sour.

Place a half piece of the fruit of Chinese honeylocust (zaojiao皂角) on the jar containing dregs and soybean sauces (zaojiang糟醬), and it can be preserved longer. [Possibly the saponins in the pod have some preservative effect.]

Add one or two drops of raw oil to the water and use it to wash the fish. The there will not be any sticky liquid (xian).

When boiling fish, add ground incense (moxiang末香)[48] to it and it will not be smelly.

When boiling goose, add several slices of cherry and then it will turn soft easily.

When boiling old dried meat (chenlarou陈腊肉) that is about to be fully cooked, throw several pieces of burning charcoal into the boiler and then the meat will not have a sour, greasy smell.

When boiling any kind of meat, cover the boiler and cook them with one or two pieces of paper mulberry fruit (Broussonetia papyrifera, chushizi实子). Then the meat will easily turn soft and become delicious.

In summer months, boil meat with vinegar alone and it can be preserved for ten days.

Flours (mian) should not be eaten along with unboiled water (shengshui生水). Use boiled water and let it cool down and eat it.

When cooking meat, do not use mulberry branches as firewood. [Most of the tips in this section are practical, but this one seems magical.]

Do not place crabs in soybean sauce or crabs in dregs in the light of a lamp. Otherwise, the meat will turn coarse (or sandy, sha).

If the liquor turns sour, bake one sheng of red beans (xiaodou小豆) till they are burned. Put them in a bag and place the bag in the liquor jar. Then the liquor will be good.

Dry the light ashes (danhui淡灰) extracted from a dye house in the sun. Use to cover raw cucumbers or eggplants completely, and they will be edible till the winter.

Wrap oranges with pine needles (songmao松毛) and the oranges will not dry up for three to four months. It is also possible to use green beans to cover oranges.

On the fifth day of the fifth month, boil wheat flour into conjee. Add a small amount of salt and let it cool down. Pour it into a jar. Collect recently picked unripe red peaches and place them in the jar. Seal the jar. The peaches will be fresh in the winter months.

For yellow apricots in honey (mijian huangmei蜜煎黄梅), one should change the honey frequently. Place asarum (xixin细辛) on top of them and worms will not grow in them.

Use the water taken in the twelfth month (lashui臘水), a handful of mints, and a small amount of potassium alum (mingfan). Place them into a jar. Soak loquats枇杷, apples, or waxberries (yangmei) in it and their color will not change. They taste cool and are edible.








These are what I have made by myself and thus I know how they taste. These recipes are collected in my notes, not recorded randomly (fei manlu ye非漫录也). If they are different from what is circulated, it is a difference of opinion (xiting zhidu悉听制度).


Salted gourds and vegetables (peiyan guashu盐瓜蔬)


Use fifty jin of old gourds and tender eggplants. Use two and a half liang of pure salt. First use a half liang of salt to salt the gourds and eggplants for one night in order to let the water go. Then use five jin of orange peels, two jin of fresh perilla (zisu) with roots, three jin of raw ginger, two jin of peeled apricot kernels, four liang of osmanthus flowers (guihua桂花), two liang of liquorice, and one dou of soybean. Boil them. Blend them with five jin of liquor and place them in a jar. Stuff the jar and press five layers of bamboo leaves on them. Use bamboo strips to fasten them. Use bamboo leaves with mud to seal the jar. Dry it in the sun. Take them out after two months. Add half jin of Chinese pepper (dajiao大椒), half jin of fennels and Amomum villosum (sharen砂仁) respectively. Spread them and dry them in the sun light. When they glow [probably:  turn a glowing color], they turn soft and delicious. For soybeans, one should use large ones and fully cook them till they can be easily mashed. Use bran (fupi麸皮) to cover the cooked soybeans till they glow. Then remove the bran and use the pure soybeans.


Sugar steamed eggplants (tangzhengqie糖蒸茄)


Use tender and large cow-breast eggplants (niunaiqie牛奶茄). Do not remove the pedicels. Cut them into six-side shape (liuleng六棱). Use one liang of salt for every fifty jin of eggplants. Blend them evenly. Then boil them firefly in boiled water and let their color change. Strain them. Use mints and fennel powder, two jin of granulated sugar, and half cup of vinegar. Soak them in it for three nights. Dry them in the sunlight and then use above spices to salt them again (lu). Till the spices have been used up and the eggplants are dry, flatten the eggplants and collect them.


Garlic apricots (suanmei蒜梅)


Use two jin of green and hard mei (qingying meizi青硬梅子) and one jin of peeled garlic. Add three liang of stirred-and-baked salt to proper amount of water and boil it. When it is cooled down, soak the mei and garlic in it. After five to ten days, the brine (lushui卤水) is about to change color. Pour it out and boil it again. When it is cooled down, saturate the mei and garlic in it again. Contain them in a bottle. Eat them till the seventh month. The mei will not taste sour and the garlic will not have a rank smell (hunqi荤气).


[Suanmei are still a common delicacy.]


Stuffed gourds (nianggua酿瓜)


Choose hard, old, and large green gourds (qinggua青瓜) and cut them into halves. Remove the pulp and salt them briefly to get rid of excess liquid. Slice raw ginger, orange peels, mints, and perilla (zisu). Stir and bake fennel and Amomum villosum cardamoms (sharen砂仁). Add granulated sugar to them and blend evenly. Stuff these into the gourds. Use threads to tie them into whole pieces. Then place them into a jar. After five or six days, take them out and dry the stuffed gourds in the sunlight. Collect the withered gourds. Mince them and dry them in the sunlight.[49]


Garlic cucumbers (or gourds; suangua蒜瓜) [the recipe seems to be for cucumbers]


Use one jin of small cucumbers picked in the autumn. Boil them briefly in calx and white alum water (shihui baifan tang石灰白矾汤). Strain them and use half liang of salt to salt them for one night. Use another half liang of salt, three liang of peeled, mashed garlic. Blend them with the cucumbers evenly. Place them in the water that is obtained from the previously salted cucumbers. Slowly cook liquor and vinegar. Saturate them in it and place them in a cool place. The same method can be applied to wax gourd (donggua冬瓜) and eggplants.


Boiled-for-three-times gourds (sanzhugua三煮瓜)


Cut hard, old green gourds into halves. Use half liang of salt, one liang of soybean sauce, a small amount of perilla (zisu) and liquorice for every jin of gourds. During the hottest days (fushi), boil them with the brine water at night and dry them in the day. After three times of boiling and then drying in the sunlight for two days, steam them in a pot. Preserve them after they are withered in the sunlight.


Dried garlic sprouts (suanmiaogan蒜苗干)


Cut one jin of garlic sprouts into pieces of one cun in length. Use one liang of salt to salt them and remove the smelly water. Strain them briefly. Add some soybean sauce and sugar. Steam them and dry them in the sunlight and collect them.


Preserved mustard plants (cangjie藏芥)


Use thick mustard plants (jiecai芥菜) that do not touch water. Dry them in the sunlight till they are sixty to seventy percent dry. Remove the leaves. Use four liang of salt for every jin of mustard. Salt them for one night and take them out. Wrap plants in small handfuls and place them in a small bottle. Pour out all the water and boil it with the mustard. Take the clean liquid and let it cool down. Put it in a bottle and seal the bottle tightly. Eat in summer months.


Green bean sprouts (lüdouya绿豆芽)


Soak green beans in cold water for two nights. When they are swelling, change the water and wash them twice. Bake them till they are dry. Sweep the floor and make it clean. Spread water on the floor and place a piece of paper on the wet floor. Then place the beans on the paper. Cover them with a basin. Spread water on them twice every day. When the sprouts grow, wash them and remove the peels. Boil them briefly in water. Add ginger and vinegar to them. It is especially good when ground meat is added.


Spicy mustard (jiela芥辣)


Finely grind two-years-old mustard seeds (jiezi芥子). Add water to them and pack tightly in a bowl. Seal tightly with a piece of firm paper (renzhi韧纸). Saturate it in boiled water twice till the water turns yellowish. Place the bowl upside down on the cold floor. After a while, there will be gas. Add light vinegar (dancu淡醋) to it. Unwrap it and use a piece of cloth to remove the dregs. Another recipe is to add two or three fen of asarum (xixin细辛) to it and then it will be more spicy.


Buddha’s-hand citron (foshou佛手), citron (xiangyuan), or pear (lizi梨子) preserved in soybean sauce


Place pears without peels in a jar of soybean sauce and they will not spoil for a long time. Place citron peels after removing the pulp in soybean sauce. Place the whole Buddha’s-hand citron in soybean sauce. Fresh orange peels, edible lichens (shihua石花), and wheat gluten (mianjin面筋) can also be soaked in soybean sauce and their taste will be better.


Recipe for making brewed eggplants (zaoqiezi糟茄子)


With five jin of eggplants, six jin of dregs, and seventeen liang of salt, plus river water, [the brewed eggplants] are as sweet as honey.[50]

Use five jin of eggplants, six jin of dregs, seventeen liang of salt, and two small bowls of river water that is used to blend with the dregs. This eggplant is tasted sweet by itself. This is a method of preserving eggplants and not for heavy eating.

Another recipe: soak middle-sized eggplants that are picked late in season (wanqiezi晚茄子) in water for one night. Use four liang of salt and one jin of dregs for every jin of eggplants. It also tastes good.


Recipe for making brewed ginger (zaojiang糟姜)


Use one jin of ginger, one jin of dregs, and five liang of salt. Pick a day before Earth Day (sheri社日)[51] to saturate them in the dregs. Do not let water get into it. Do not damage the ginger peels. Use a piece of cloth to wipe off the mud on the ginger. After half-drying them in the sunlight, blend dregs and salts with them and contain them in a jar.


Sugar-and-vinegar gourds (tangcugua糖醋瓜)


Use white long-crooked gourds (baishenggua生瓜) that are just picked in the sixth month. For every fifty jin of gourds, cut them in halves and remove their (lian). Cut them into squares about one cun in length and three fen three li in thickness. Then use water and a bamboo strainer to wash them till they are clean. Use five liang of salt for every ten jin of gourds. Salt them in a jar for about two hours. Then stir them and salt them for another hour. Strain them and spread them on a piece of reed mat. Dry them in scorching sunlight and let them half dry. First, slice orange peels and gingers, sift Chinese pepper peels and baked salt till they are pure. Boil fine vinegar in a pot and use twenty two liang five qian of vinegar for every ten jin of gourds. Add ten liang of fine granulated sugar to the salt and vinegar. Pour them into a container. When they cool down, add gourds, ginger, Chinese pepper and so on to the vinegar and blend them evenly. After one night, stir them. After another night, stir and collect them. As long as the containers are clean and have not water in it and they are kept in the shade, they will be fine.


Vegetarian bamboo-shoot that is like fish (susunzha素笋)


Use six or seven fine haofu (好麸) [unclear; fron the context, presumably a kind of bamboo shoot] and pull them into strips like little fingers. Measure five jin of them and add them into boiled water. Boil them till boiled for four times and place them in a bamboo strainer. Dry them when they are still warm. First, bake half a he of dill (shiluo莳萝) and fennel in total. Grind them till they cannot be ground further. Pick slightly less than a half he of Chinese pepper peels. Use more than a half he of red yeast rice (chiqumi赤曲米) and soak them in boiled water till they turn soft. Cut a half bowl of green onion heads. Use about one he of apricot kernels and remove the tips and mash them. Use liquor to flavor the soup. Cook two liang of oil. Put out the fire when the oil is fully cooked. Pour the apricot kernels into the oil, and then the yeast rice and spices. Use an iron turner to stir them three or four times. Taste it and decide whether it is salty or light. Then pick it up with a bamboo strainer and keep it in a container. Add the warm red yeast rice to it and press it. Cover it with lotus leaves and fasten it with bamboo strips. Press a stone on it. It can be eaten after three or four hours.


Another recipe for bamboo-shoot like fish (sunzha)


Use tender bamboo shoots in the spring and remove the old heads. Cut them into strips about four fen in thickness and one cun in length. Steam them in a bamboo steamer till they are fully cooked. Wrap them with cloth and extract water out of them till they are extremely dry. Place them in a container. When using them, add them to oil. The recipe is the same as the preceding.


Recipe for making lees-cured turnip (zaoluobo萝卜)


Use one jin of turnip and three liang of salt. No water should get onto the turnips. Wipe them clean. Keep the roots and fibrils. Dry them in the sunlight. Blend lees and salt. Then add the turnips. Stir them and place them in a jar. This recipe cannot be used for heavy eating.


per, one liang of nter, ten days in the spring or summer.

Recipe for making garlic sprouts (suanmiao蒜苗)


Use a small amount of salt to salt garlic sprouts for one night. Strain them and then boil them briefly in water and then strain them again. Blend them with soup having liquorice in it. Steam them and then keep them in a jar, after drying them in the sunlight.


Three harmony vegetables (sanhecai三和菜)[52]


Use one portion of thin vinegar (dancu淡醋), one portion of liquor, one portion of water, and proper amount of salt and liquorice. Blend them to get the right flavor. Boil them. Then add a small amount of vegetables (cai, almost certainly meaning Chinese cabbage greens here), sliced ginger and orange peels, one or two small pieces of Dahurian angelica (baizhi白芷) to the vegetables. steam them with water (chongtang重湯) and do not let it boiled. When they are fully cooked, eat them.


Quick-fried bits (baoji暴齏)


Boil briefly the tender stalks of young pakchoi (songcai菘菜) until half cooked. Strain till dry. Mince them into small bits. Add a small amount of oil and fry quickly. Then put them in a container and add a small amount of vinegar. After a while, eat them.


Carrot dish (huluobocai胡蘿蔔菜)


Slice red, slim carrots and mustard greens (jiecai芥菜). Saturate them in vinegar for a while. They are crisp when eaten. Add a small amount of salt, aniseed and fennel (daxiao huixiang大小茴香), ginger, and sliced dried orange peel. Blend them with vinegar and let them be for a while. Then they can be eaten.


Carrots (huluobozha胡蘿蔔鮓), commonly called red carrots, with fish flavorings


Slice [carrots] and boil them briefly in boiled water. Strain them and add a small amount of minced green onion, aniseed and fennel (daxiao huixiang大小茴香), ginger, dried orange peels, Chinese pepper powder, and mashed red yeast (hongqu紅麴). Stir them with salt evenly. Let them stand for two hours and eat them.


Another recipe


Cut white turnips and wild rice shoots (jiaobai茭白). Boil bamboo shoots till they are fully cooked. Apply this recipe[53] to all the three materials. It can be offered when they are salted.


Sun-dried light bamboo shoots (shaidansungan曬淡筍乾)


Use any amount of the tips of fresh bamboo shoots. Peel them and cut into slices or strips. Boil briefly in boiled water. Dry in sunlight and collect them. When using them, saturate them in water that have been used to wash rice (miganshui米泔水) till they are soft. Their color is as white as silver. If they are boiled in [heavily] salted water, they will be salted bamboo shoots.


Garlic dish/pickles (suancai蒜菜)[54]


Cut tender, white winter vegetables (dongcai冬菜) into strips about one cun in length. Use four liang of stir-baked salt [rock salt crystals stirred in a pan over a fire till heated to high temperature], one bowl of vinegar, and two bowls of water, for every ten jin of vegetables. Marinate the vegetables in a jar.


Recipe for cooking gourds [gua, general term for gourds, melons, cucumbers; China’s firm, nonsweet cooking melons possibly meant here, or perhaps this is just a general recipe for gourds.]


Cut hard, raw gourds open and remove the pulps. Wipe them till they are dry and do not let water get onto them. Carve them into triangular pieces. For every ten jin of gourds, use a half jin of salt and place them in a large tub for one night. In the next morning, place them in a bag made from hemp cloth and press stones on it till the slices are dry. Use five qian of dill seed (shiluo蒔蘿), fennel, Chinese pepper, dried orange peel, perilla (zisu紫蘇), and raw ginger respectively. Slice all of them and blend them evenly with the gourds. Use ten liang of fine granulatedd sugar and two bowls of vinegar. Grind the sugar as fine as possible. Place [evidently all the above] in a porcelain container. Dry them in the sunlight and stir them frequently. When the juice is dried up, collect them in a bottle.


Recipe for making light eggplants (danqiegan淡茄幹)


Wash large eggplants. Boil them in a pot and then do not let water[55] get into them. Cut them in halves and then press stones on them to let them dry. When it is sunny, put tiles in the sun till they are warmed up and then place eggplants on the tiles. When they are dry, collect them. Preserve them till the first or second month and blend them with other food. Their taste is as good as fresh eggplants.


Recipe for making the ten-flavor salted fermented soybeans (shixiangxianchi十香鹹豉)


Use equal amount of raw gourds (shenggua生瓜) and eggplants. For every ten jin of them, use twelve liang of salt. First, use four liang of the salt to salt the gourds and eggplants for one night. Then strain them. Use half jin of sliced raw ginger, half jin of fresh perilla (zisu紫蘇) that has stalks and has been cut up, half liang of liquorice powder, two liang of ground Chinese pepper with sticks and seeds removed, one liang of fennel, one liang of dill seeds (shiluo蒔蘿), two liang of large cardamoms (sharen砂仁), and a half liang of agastache leaves (huoye藿葉) (it is also acceptable if there are no agastache leaves).  Five days earlier [or:  in the first five days ?] boil large soybeans and mash. Use one sheng of cooked bran (chaofupi炒麩皮) and blend with the soybeans, and make them into yellow bits (huangzi黃子). [Presumably means roll the slices of gourds and eggplants in the soybean mash, but this recipe seems corrupt, and in fact may be two recipes run into each other.]  After heating, sift them and remove the bran. Use only fermented soybeans. Use a bottle of liquor and more than half a bowl of vinegar dregs (cuzao醋糟). Blend them with the fermented soybeans. Clean a jar and stuff the mixture into it. Use four or five layers of bamboo leaves to cover it and fasten it with bamboo strips. Then use paper and bamboo leaves to wrap the mouth of the bottle. Seal it with mud and dry it in the sunlight. After forty days, take them out and slightly dry them in the shade. Then collect them in a jar. For drying them in the sunlight, one can turn around the jar after twenty days and this will let the sun reach every part.


Another recipe for making spicy mustard (jiela芥辣)


Use one he of mustard seeds and finely grind them in a grinder. Use a small cup of vinegar and blend them with water. Use a piece of fine silk cloth to extract water out of it. Place it in a cool place such as a water cylinder. When using it, add soybean sauce and vinegar and stir till evenly mixed. This is as spicy as it can get, and the taste is very good.


Recipe for making sesame paste (zhimajiang芝麻醬)


Mash one dou of fully cooked sesame. Boil it with water taken on the sixth day of the sixth month. When it cools down, blend evenly in a jar till the water is as deep as one finger. Seal the jar and dry it in the sunlight. After five to seven days, open the jar and remove the blackish peels. Add three bowls of fine liquor dregs (haojiuniangzao好就釀糟), three bowls of fine soybean sauce, two bowls of fine liquor, one sheng of red yeast powder (hongqumo紅麴末), one sheng of stir-baked green beans, one sheng of stir-baked rice, and one liang of fennel seed powder (xiaohuixiangmo小茴香末). Blend all of them and use after fourteen days.


Recipe for making piled gourds and eggplants in soybean sauce (pan jianggua qie fa盤醬瓜茄法)


Use one jin of yellow bits (huangzi黃子 [from the recipe above?]), one jin of gourds, and four liang of salt. Rub the gourds with the salt. Use the water that is obtained by salting the gourds to blend the yellow soybean sauce (jianghuang醬黃). Pile them up twice every day. After forty-nine days, place them in a jar.


Dry sealed-in-a-jar vegetables (ganbiwengcai幹閉甕菜)


Use ten jin of vegetables and forty liang of stir-baked salt. Salt the vegetables in a jar. Whenever placing in a piece of vegetable, place equal amount of salt. When they are salted for three days, take up the vegetables and rub them in a basin. Place them in another jar. Collect the brine for future use. After another three days, take up the vegetables and rub again. Place them in another jar and keep the brine for future use. After repeating this for nine times, place them in a jar, applying one layer of Chinese pepper and fennel (xiaohuixiang小茴香) to every layer of vegetables while placing the vegetables [and spices] in the jar. Repeat this step and pack in tightly. Pour three bowls of the previously prepared brine into each jar. Seal the jar with clay. It can be eaten after the New Year.


Pouring, stirring and blending vegetables (sabanhecai撒拌和菜)


Add sesame oil to Chinese pepper. Use after bringing to boil one or two times. When using it, measure out one bowl of the oil and add a small amount of soybean sauce, vinegar, and white sugar to it. Blend properly and save. For any food that is to be stir-fried with oil, pour some of this oil to it and stir. It is delicious. If stirring with bok choy (baicai白菜), bean sprouts (douya豆芽), water dropwort (Oenanthe javanica) (or achillea; shuiqin水芹; normally the dropwort), one should boil the vegetables briefly [i.e. blanch them] in boiling water and soak them in pure water. When using them, strain them and stir(-fry) them with the oil. The vegetables will remain green and will not turn blackish. They are crisp and delicious.


Recipe for making fermented soybean in water (shuidouchifa水豆豉法)


Use ten jin of yellow bits (huangzi黃子)[56], forty liang of fine salt, and ten bowls of sweet liquor made in Jinhua. One day in advance, add the salt to twenty bowls of boiled water to make brine. Let it cool and settle down, for future use. Place the yellow bits into a jar and add liquor to it. Then add the salted water. Set in sunlight for forty-nine days. Then add three liang of aniseeds and fennel (daxiao huixiang大小茴香) respectively, five qian of large cardamom (caoguo草果), five qian of royal cinnamon, three qian of muxiang (木香), one liang of preserved orange peels, one liang of Chinese pepper, half jin of withered sliced ginger, and one jin of apricot kernels. Place all the spices into a jar. Dry it in the sunlight while beating it. After three days, store it in a jar. It tastes good after one year. It is even better if it is used as a dipping for meat.


Upside-down hairy vegetables (daodaocai倒纛菜)


Use one hundred jin of vegetables. Blend burned-hair ashes (maohui毛灰) like flour with salt brine (yanlu鹽鹵) for sealing [the jar]. Arrange the vegetables and then seal the jar. There is no need to put grass in the jar.  [The idea seems to be to produce a bacteriostatic seal.  The “grass” can then be assumed to be some sort of preservative herb.]


Pure-boiled spicy mustard (lajiecai qingshao辣芥菜清燒)


Use mustard stalks that water is not got onto. Dry them in the shade till they turn soft. Boil them briefly with boiled water and take them up immediately. Use a bamboo strainer to scoop them up and place them in a sifter. Let them cool down. Add some puffy salt (songyan松鹽) to them and stir. Contain them in a bottle. Then add dried, cold vegetables. Pour the brine on them and wrap them tightly. Place the bottle on the cold floor.


Steamed wilted vegetables (zhenggancai蒸乾菜)


Use large, fine vegetables. Pick, wash, clean, and dry them. Boil them briefly in boiled water till they are fifty to sixty percent cooked. Dry them in the sunlight. Boil them with salt, soybean sauce, dills (shiluo蒔蘿), Chinese pepper, granulatedd sugar, and orange peels till they are fully cooked. Then dry them in the sunlight again. Steam them for a while and preserve them in a porcelain container. When using them, rub them with sesame oil and add some vinegar. Steam them over rice [when cooking rice].


Quail-like eggplants (anchunqie鵪鶉茄)


Pick tender eggplants and cut them into slim threads. Boil them with boiled water and strain them. Blend them with salt, soybean sauce, Chinese pepper, dills (shiluo蒔蘿), fennels, liquorice, preserved orange peels, apricot kernels, and ground red beans. When they are evenly flavored, dry them in the sunlight. Then steam and gather them. When using them, soak them in boiled water till they turn soft. Dip them in sesame oil and quickly fry them in oil.  [The resemblance to quail is hard to find; possibly the spicing was that used for quail in those days.]


Good-tasting gourds and eggplants (shixiang guaqie食香瓜茄)


Use any amount of [gourds or eggplants] and cross-cut them into pieces. For every jin of them, use eight liang of salt. Blend “taste-good” (or “eating fragrance”; shixiang食香)[57] and the gourds evenly. Salt them in a jar for one or two days. Then take them out and dry them in the sunlight. At night, place them in the brine again. On the next day, take them out and dry them in the sunlight again. Repeat this three times; do not let them get too dry. Keep them in the jar for future use.


Gourds and eggplants in dregs (zaoguaqie糟瓜茄)


For every five jin of gourds or eggplants, use ten liang of salt. Blend them with brewing dregs (zao) evenly. Spread fifty bronze coins on every layer of gourds or eggplants. After ten days, take away the coins. Do not replace the dregs.  Keep all in a bottle. They will keep as green as if fresh for a long time. [Not to be recommended; the green would come from copper salts, which are poisonous.]


Salted wild rice stems (jiaobaizha茭白鮓)


Cut fresh wild rice stems (jiaobai茭白) into slices. Boil them briefly and strain them. Blend them with finely sliced green onion, dill seeds, fennel, Chinese pepper, ground red yeast (hongqu紅麴), and salt. Eat them after two hours. Use the same method to make salted lotus root tips (ousaozha藕梢鮓).


Sugar-and-vinegar eggplants (tangcuqie糖醋茄)


Cut fresh eggplants into triangular pieces. Boil these in water and strain them. Wrap them in cloth and extract the water. Salt them for one night. Then dry them in the sunlight. Blend them with sliced ginger and perilla (zisu紫蘇). Fry them and pour the mixture of sugar and vinegar on them. Then place them in a porcelain container. The same method can be applied to gourds.


     Ginger in dregs (zaojiang糟薑)


     Use any amount of tender ginger before the Spring or Autumn Festival for the Earth God[58]. Remove the leaves and clean them. Blend them with liquor, dregs, and salt. Place them in a porcelain jar and add one block of granulated sugar (shatang沙糖) on top. Wrap the jar with bamboo leaves and seal it with mud. After seven days, they can be eaten.


Pickled and salted vegetables (yanyancai醃鹽菜)


Remove the roots and yellow, old leaves of bok choy (baicai白菜). Wash and strain them. For every ten jin of vegetables, use ten liang of salt and several pieces of liquorice. Place them in a clean jar. Spread the salt into the leaf junctions of the vegetables and place them in the jar. Add a small amount of dill seeds (shiluo蒔蘿). Press tightly with hands. When half of the jar is filled, add more several pieces of liquorice. When the jar is full, press the vegetables with bricks and stones. Salt them for three days and then pour the vegetables out. Squeeze the brine out and place the vegetables in another clean container. They should be kept from contact with unboiled water. Pour the brine over the vegetables instead. After seven days, follow the previous step and pour out the vegetables and soak them in the brine that is newly squeezed out. Keep pressing bricks and stones on top of them. The leaves will be delicious and crisp. For those that have not been used up, blanch them in boiled water and dry them in the sunlight and preserve them. In the summer, soak the vegetables in warm water and squeeze them till they are dry. Add sesame oil to them and blend. Put in a porcelain bowl and place the bowl over rice. Eat them after steaming.


Wax gourd with garlic (suan donggua蒜冬瓜)


Choose large ones and remove the peels and pulp. Cut it into pieces as wide as one finger. Add alum and calx (baifan shihui白礬石灰) to boiled water. Blanch the vegetables in the water. Then take them out and strain them. For every jin of vegetables, use two liang of salt and three liang of garlic. Mash the garlic and put together with the wax gourd in a porcelain container. Soak in boiled fine vinegar.


Recipe for making salted, pickled leek (yanyanjiufa鹽醃韭法)


Before frost comes, choose large leeks without yellowish tips and wash them. Then strain them. Place one layer of leeks in a porcelain basin and then spread one layer of salt till the leeks and salt stuff the basin. Salt them for one or two nights. Stir them for several times and then place them in a porcelain container. Use the original brine. It will be even better if a small amount of sesame oil is added. One can also salt small cucumbers and small eggplants with the leeks. Salt them to extract the water and then blend them with the leeks. Put in a jar and preserve them.


Recipe for making vegetables with grains (zao gucai fa造穀菜法)


Use spring stalks of caitai [a mustard-green-like vegetable] that are not yet old (chunbulao caitai春不老菜苔) . Remove the leaves and wash them. Mince them into bits as big as the hole in a coin. Dry them in the sunlight and let the vapor go off. Do not let them get too dry. Add fried soybean halves (huangdouban黃豆瓣) with sliced ginger. For every jin of vegetables, use one liang of salt. Add the same amount of “taste-good” (see above; shixiang食香)[59]. Knead the vegetables with the salt (rouhui luxing揉回鹵性). Keep in a jar. Use them when they are ready (houshu suiyong候熟隨用).


Yellow sprouts of vegetables (huangyacai黃芽菜)


Cut the stalks and leaves of bok choy and keep only the hearts. From two cun away, pile earth (fentu糞土, wet soil) around the hearts, as high as they are piled. Cover with a large jar and pile soil outside of the jar tightly. Do not let gas in. After half a month, pick it and it tastes the best. The same method can be used to produce yellow sprouts of leeks, ginger, turnips, and Sichuan rhizome (Cnidum, chuanxiongya川芎芽)[60].


Recipe for making fermented soybeans in liquor (jiu douche fang酒豆豉方)


Use one dou five sheng of yellow bits (huangzi黃子)[61] and sift them to remove the flour. Use five jin of eggplants, twelve jin of gourds, one jin fourteen liang of ginger, sliced oranges as much as one wants, one sheng of fennel (xiaohuixiang小茴香), four jin six liang of stirred-and-baked salt, and one jin of green pepper. Blend them and place them in a jar. Press them tightly. Pour the Jinhua liquor (jinhuajiu金花酒) or fermented rice (jiuniang酒娘) into it till the liquor is about two cun higher than the vegetables. Wrap the jar with paper and bamboo leaves and seal it with mud. Place it outside for fort- nine days. Write down something[62] on the jar and mark it (tanshang xiedongxi zi jihao壇上寫東西字記號). When they have been dried for enough days, pour the vegetables into a large tub. Dry them in the sunlight and cover them with a mat made from yellow grasses.


Red salted beans (hongyandou紅鹽豆)


First, place a flowering-apricot fruit frosted with salt (yanshuangmei鹽霜梅) at the bottom of a wok. Use large green beans (qingdou青豆) that have been washed, to cover the apricot. Make a pit in the middle of the peas and add salt to it. Add a small amount of alum (baifan shihui白礬) to boiled water that is cooked with sapanwood (sumu蘇木). Pour the water around the rim of the wok till it is as high as the beans. Heat it till the water is gone. When the beans are fully cooked, the salt will not be visible, and they turn red.


Five-beauties ginger (wumeijiang五美薑)


Slice one jin of tender ginger. Mash half jin of white flowering-apricots (baimei白梅) and remove the kernels. Add two liang of stirred-and-baked [rock] salt to it and blend them. Dry them in the sunlight. Then add to it one qian of nard/spikenard (gansong甘松), five qian of liquorice, and two qian of sandal powder (tanxiangmo檀香末). Again blend them and dry them in the sunlight for three days. Then take and contain them.


Salted mustard greens (yanjiecai醃芥菜) (the principle is to use eight liang of salt for every ten jin of vegetables)


Use fresh, tender mustards that are picked in the tenth month. Mince and blanch them in boiled water. Scoop them up with the boiled water in a basin. Blend them with raw lettuce (celtuce, i.e. thick-stemmed lettuce; woju萵苣), cooked sesame oil, mustard flowers (jiehua芥花), sesames, and salt. Pack them in a jar. After three to five days, eat them. They will not spoil till spring.


“Taste-good” (“eating-fragrance,” shixiang食香)[63] turnips (shixiang luobo食香蘿蔔) (use eight liang of salt to salt every ten jin of turnips)


Cut the turnips into dice-like squares. Salt them with sea salt (dayan大鹽) for one night. Then dry them in the sunlight. Slice ginger and oranges. Blend them with aniseeds and fennel (daxiao huixiang大小茴香). Boil vinegar and pour it onto the vegetables. Contain them in a porcelain bottle and place the bottle in the sun. Preserve them after they are dried.


Turnips, wild rice stems, bamboo shoots, gourds, eggplants, and so on in dregs (zao luobo jiaobai suncai gua qie糟蘿蔔,茭白,筍菜,瓜,茄等物)


Add alum and calx (baifan shihui白礬石灰) to boiled water and let it cool down. Soak above vegetables in it for one day and one night. Warm up liquor and add salt to dregs. Also add one or two bronze coins to them. Measure out the dregs and add them to the vegetables. After ten days, take up the vegetables and replace the previous dregs with fine dregs. Add salt and liquor to them. Blend them and place them in a jar. Wrap it with bamboo leaves and seal with mud.


Recipe for making five-spice vinegar (wula cu fang五辣醋方)


Use one spoon of soybean sauce, one qian of vinegar, one qian of white sugar, five to seven Chinese peppers, one or two peppers, and one fen of raw ginger. It would be even better if one or two cloves of garlic.




WILD VEGETABLES (yesulei野蔌類) (new section)


What I have selected is totally different from what Wang Pan[64] has done.  I dare record only those that people recognize and are edible, not what Mr. Wang has selected. This is because I want to accomplish something.  [The hapless Wang must have recommended some pretty inedible items.]


Yellow fragrant daylily (Hemerocallis flava, huangxiangxuan黃香萱)


Pick the flowers in the summer and wash them. Blanch them in the boiled water and then they can be eaten when blended with spices. If they are added to vegetarian food that have been boiled in flavored sauce (aosupin熝素品), such as Toufu, the taste is very good. If one wants to eat this wild vegetable, he should wash it and make it clean. He should still look for small worms hiding on the back of the leaves and not eat them by mistake. First, prepare a flavored sauce (liaotou料頭). For every large cup of vinegar, add three fen of liquorice powder, one qian of white sugar frost (baitangshuang白糖霜), and half cup of sesame oil. Blend them and use this as a flavored sauce to stir with the vegetables. Adding some mashed ginger to it gives another recipe. For flowers that have picked and cleaned, blanch them in boiled water and rinse them in water for two hours. Then take them up and squeeze them till they are dry. Blend them with spices and then they can be served. Their color will not change and be as if fresh. At the same time, they are crisp, tender, not mashed, and have more flavor. The same method can be applied to domestic vegetables. As for the roasted, the quickly-fried, and the minced (zhibozuoji炙煿作齏), they are included in this recipe.  [Daylily flowers are still a common food in China, and are excellent eating.  The buds or just-opening flowers are used.  These have to be gathered early, since, as the name implies, the flower opens, blooms, and fades in a day.]


Chamomileshoots (“sweet chrysanthemum,” ganjumiao甘菊苗)


Pick tender tips of well-grown chamomile shoots in the spring and summer. Blanch them in the boiled water as previous recipe. Then eat them. If they are coated with the mixture of liquorice liquid (gancaoshui甘草水) and yam powder (shanyaofen山藥粉) and then deep-fried, they will be extremely delicious.


Wolfthorn heads (gouqitou枸杞頭)


Use tender wolfthorn leaves and sprouts. Follow the above cooking method. They will taste even better if they are used in cooking conjee. Of the four seasons, eat only in winter.


Water caltrops (lingke菱科)


Pick them in the summer and autumn. Remove the leaves and roots and only keep the round clusters on the stalks (gengshang yuanke梗上圆科). Use the above method. It tastes delicious when fully cooked. It tastes even better when blended with dregs (zaoshi糟食). It is of the first rank in the wild vegetables.


Water shield (Brasenia, chuncai蓴菜)[65]


Pick [shoots] in the fourth month and blanch them in the boiled water. Then rinse them in water for future use. These can be eaten with ginger and vinegar. They can also be used in cooking meat conjee (rougeng肉羹[66]).


Wild amaranth (yexiancai苋菜)


Pick it in the summer [when young] and eat it when fully cooked. It can also be blended with pices or fried. It is more delicious than domestic amaranth.


Wild white mustard (Sinapis alba or Brassica hirta, yebaijie野白芥)


Pick [sprouts] in the fourth month. The tender ones can be eaten when they are raw or fully cooked.


Wild radishes (yeluobo萝卜)


The vegetable is like the radish [or turnip]. One can pick the root and shoots. Fully cook it and then it can be eaten.


India wormwood herb (Artemisia selengensis /Artemisia absinthium /Artemisia vulgaris, louhao蒌蒿)


Pick the hearts in the early spring. These are most fragrant if added to tea. The leaves are edible when fully cooked. In the summer and autumn, the stalks can be used to make a minced mixture (ji)[67].


Chinese goldthread heads (Coptis, huangliantou连头)


It is the same as the huanglian used for medical purposes. Pick the heads and salt them. Dry them in the sunlight. It tastes best when added to tea. It is also delicious when fully cooked.


Bengal water-dropwort herb or water-cress (shuiqincai水芹菜)


Pick them in the spring months and boil them in boiled water. Blend them with ginger, vinegar, and sesame oil. it is very delicious. Or one can also add salt to the boiled water and blanch the vegetables in it. Dry them in the sunlight. It is also good if it is added to tea.


Jasmine leaves (moliye茉莉葉)


Pick tender jasmine leaves and wash them clean. Boil them with toufu in the flavored sauce (lushi熝食) and it is of the best grade of food (juepin絕品).


Goosefoot flower (ejiaohua鵝腳花) [an unidentified plant called “goosefoot” in Chinese, not the familiar plant called “goosefoot” in English]


Pick the univalve [?  Obscure character, hard to understand] flowers, which are edible. The multivalve flowers are harmful. Blanch them in the boiled water. Add salt and blend them with spices. It can also be boiled in flavored sauce (lushi熝食). [If like the modern lushi, this is a rich stock.]  It can also be fried with minced gourds. In the spring, the sprouts are edible.


Gardenia (zhizihua栀子花), also called yanpu檐葡


Pick the flowers and wash them clean. Rinse them in water to remove the smell (xing). Add sugar and salt to flour and make it into a paste. Coat the flowers in the paste and deep-fry them and then they can be eaten.


Cassia seeds (jindour金豆儿); the same as juemingzi决明子


Pick the beans (dou) and blanch them in boiled water. They can be added to tea and taste delicious and sweet.


Broom flowers (jinqiaor金雀兒)


Pick the flowers in the early spring. Blanch them in salted boiled water. They can be added to tea. They can also be blended with spices and become a dish.


Purple flowers (zihuar紫花兒) [unidentified]

Both the flowers and leaves are edible.


Cedrela sinensis A. (a.k.a. Toona sinensis; xiangchunya香春芽)


Pick the heads and sprouts and blanch them in the boiled water. Add a small amount of salt and dry them in the sunlight. They can be preserved for more than one year. Blend them with sesame and serve. The fresh ones can be added to tea. They are most suitable for adding to fried gluten (chaomianjin炒麵觔). Toufu and vegetables can also be added.


Penghao(a sagebrush; 蓬蒿)


In the second or third month, pick the tender heads and wash them clean. Salt them in a small amount of salt. Blend them in flour and make them into cakes. Deep-fry them and they are delicious.


Grey amaranth (huixiancai灰莧菜)


Pick the whole plant and boil it. It can be boiled or fried (jianchao煎炒). It is more delicious that the domestic amaranth.


Ear fungus on mulberry and agaric growing on willow (sangjun liujun桑菌柳菌)[68]


Both of them are edible. Pick them and boil them with vegetarian food in flavored stock (lushi熝食).


Aquatic malachium herb /Malachium aquaticum Moench /(echangcao鹅肠草)


Use the thick ones.  Pick them and blanch them in boiling water. Blend them with spices and then they can be eaten.


Eritrichium pedunculare(jichangcao鸡肠草) can also be cooked in the same way as the above.


Cotton fiber tips (mianxutou綿絮頭) [unidentified]


These are white and grows on the field levee (tiangeng). Pick them and wash them clean. Mash them till they are like cotton. Add them into flour or powder and make cakes with them.


Buckwheat leaves (qiaomaiye荞麦叶)


In the eighth or ninth month, pick the newly growing tender leaves . They can be eaten after being fully cooked.


Western ocean great purple (seaweed? xiyangtaizi西洋太紫)


In the seventh and eighth month, pick the leaves. Use them to boil toufu in the flavored soup. It is wonderful.


Mushroom (mogu蘑菇)


Pick and dry them in the sunlight. When raw or made into a thick soup, these are so delicious that they cannot be described in words. This is the best among vegetarian foods.


Dictyophora (zhugu竹菇)


This is even more delicious.  [Than the best?]  It can be eaten when fully cooked.


Trollius chinensis Bunge? (jinlianhua莲花; the name now refers to nasturtium, but that flower was unknown to China in Ming)


In the summer, pick the leaves and stalks that are floating above the water. Blanch them and blend them with ginger, vinegar, and oil. Then they can be eaten.


Solanum indicum L. (tianqier天茄兒)


Blanch them in salted, boiled water. Add them to the tea. It can also be made into a dish after being blended with ginger and vinegar.


Alopecurus aequalis Sobol (Amur foxtail, kanmainiang看麥娘)


It grows along with wheat in the field. Pick it in the spring. Eat it after fully cooked.


Cochinchina leaf-flower herb (goujiaoji狗腳跡)


At frost time, its leaves are like the footprints of a dog. Pick them and eat when fully cooked.


Xie artemisia (xiehao斜蒿)


It grows in the third and fourth month. For the small ones, the whole plant can be used. For the large ones, pick the tender tips. Blanch them in boiling water and dry them in the sunlight. When eating them, soak them in boiled water and blend them with spices.


Potamogeton distinctus (pondweed, ganzicai眼子菜)


Pick them in the sixth and seventh month. It grows in the water and marsh. The leaf is green and the back is purple. The stalk is soft, smooth, slim, and as long as several chi. Pick it and blanch it in the boiled water. Eat it when fully cooked.


Nostoc commune /T.japonicum (Bluml)Makino (ditaye地踏葉) [an alga]


It is also called di’er地耳. It grows when it rains in the spring and summer. Pick it after the rain. Fully cook it and blend it with ginger and vinegar. When the sun is out, it disappears and withers.


Snail mustard (woluojie窩螺芥)


In the first and second month, pick it and fully cook it.


Purslane  (Portulaca oleracea, machixian馬齒莧)


Pick it in the early summer. Blanch it in the boiled water. Dry it in the sunlight. Eat it when the winter comes.


Kalimeris indica heads/sprouts (malantou馬蘭頭)[69]


It grows in clusters in the second and third month. Fully cook it. It can also be made into a minced dish (ji).


Artemisia apiacea (yinchenhao茵陳蒿) it is the same as qinghaor青蒿兒


Pick it in the spring. Add it to flour and make it into cakes.


Wild goose intestines (yanrchang雁兒腸) [unidentifiable]


It grows in the second month. It is like green bean sprouts. Fully cook it. It can be eaten when it is raw.


Wild rice stem (yejiaobaicai野茭白菜)


In the early summer, it grows in the marsh. It is the same as jiaoyar茭芽兒. Fully cook it.


Shepherds’ purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris, daoguanji倒灌薺)


Pick it and fully cook it. It can also be minced for eating.


(kumatai苦麻台) [unidentified]


Pick it in the third month. Mash the leaves and add it to flour. Make cakes with it and eat.


Cole flowers (huanghuar黃花兒)[70]


Pick it in the first and second month. Fully cook it.


Wild water chestnuts (yebiqi野荸)


Pick them in four seasons. They can be eaten when they are raw or fully cooked.


Wild green beans (yelüdou绿豆)


Its leaves and stalk are like those of green bean but smaller. It grows in the wild field and has many vines. It can be eaten when it is raw and fully cooked.


Lustrous herb (youzhuozhuo油灼灼) [unidentified]


It grows by the water. The leaves are glossy (guangze光澤). It can be eaten when it is raw or fully cooked. It can also be salted and then dried. Steam it when eating.


Bannqiaoqiao(板蕎蕎) [unidentified]


Pick it in the first or second month. When eating, cook it. It cannot be eaten in the third or fourth month.


Cardamine hirsuta L. /(suimiji碎米薺) [a small mustard of good flavor]


Pick it in the third month. It can be eaten only when it is minced and mingled with spices.


Heavenly lotus roots (tian’ou’r天藕兒)


Its root is like that of the lotus but smaller. It can be eaten after it is fully cooked and blended with spices. The leaf cannot be eaten.


Broad bean (Vicia faba) sprouts (candoumiao蠶豆苗)


Pick it in the second month. Fry in sesame oil and then boil it with soybean sauce and salt. Add a small amount of ginger and green onion.


Broad cocklebur leaves (Xanthium sibiricum, cang’er cai蒼耳菜)


Pick tender leaves and wash them clean. Blanch them in the boiled water. Blend them with ginger, salt, and bitter liquor (kujiu苦酒). It cures the rheumatism/wind-damp illness (fengshi风湿). The seed can be blended with rice powder and made into dry provision (qiu)[71].


Lotus flower (furonghua芙蓉花)


Pick the flowers and remove the pistil and petal. Blanch it once or twice in boiled water. Blend it with toufu and add a small amount of pepper. It is red and white and lovely.


Mallow (?Althaea rosea or Malva spp.; kuicai葵菜) this is the Sichuan mallow (shukui蜀葵). The cluster is short and leaves are larger. Its nature is mild (xingwen性温).

Pick the leaves. it can be eaten when cooked in the same way as cooking thick vegetarian soup (caigeng菜羹).


Osmanthus (danguihua丹桂花)


Pick the flowers and spread liquorice liquid on it. Blend it with mashed rice and make it into cakes (gao). Its pure fragrance will fill the mouth.


Lettuce stem (wojucai莴苣菜)


Pick the stem and remove the leaves and skin. Cut it into pieces one cun in length. Soak them in boiled water. Add ginger oil, sugar, and vinegar to them and blend them.


Great burdock (Arctium lappa Linne, niupangzi牛蒡子)


In the tenth month, pick the root and wash it clean. Avoid to boiling it too much. Take it up and mash and flatten it. Press it till it is dry. Blend it with salt, soybean sauce, dill (luo), ginger, Chinese pepper, cooked oil. Soak it in the spices for one or two days. Then take it and bake it till it is dry. It tastes like dried meat.


Pagoda-tree Pod (Sophora japonica L)  leaves (huaijiaoye槐角叶)


Pick narrow, clean, tender leaves and mash them till the juice comes out. Blend it with flour [and make it into flour food]. Rinse it in the mixture of vinegar and soybean sauce (xijiang) . Add fully cooked, minced food to it and it can be eaten.


Cedrela chinensis root (chunshugen椿樹根)


Pick the root before the autumn. Mash and sift it. Blend it with flour and make it into small dough/patches. Boil it in pure water and eat it.


Lily bulbs (baihegen百合根)


Pick the bulb and dry it in the sunlight. Blend it with flour and make it into noodle. Steam the noodle and eat it. It enhances the qi and blood.






Snake gourd (Trichosanthes kirilowii Maximovich) root (kuolougen括蔞根)


Dig deeply to get the large root. Peel it till it is white. Cut it into pieces one cun in length and soak them in water. Change the water every day. After five to seven days, take them and mash them into pulp. Use a piece of thin silk to sift through thin pulp and powder [sic; “powder” here seems likely a scribal error of anticipating the next sentence]. When it is dried, it turns into powder. Mix it with non-glutinous rice powder (jingfen粳粉) and make it into conjee. If it is added with cheese, it will be very tonic (bu).


Few-flowered wildrice fruit (diaogumi調菰米)[72]


Few-flowered wildrice is now called Barbarian Rice (huji胡穄). Dry it in the sunlight. Hull and wash it. Steam it and its fragrance cannot be expressed in words.


Weigela florida (jindaihua錦帶花)


Pick the flowers and use them to make a thick soup. They are soft, crisp, and edible.


Sweetgrass Acorus calamus and/or Acorus tatarinowii  Schott,changpu菖蒲)


Boil sweetgrass (shichangpu石菖蒲) with atractylodes (Atractylodes macrocephalaor A. ovata, baishu白術) together till they turn into paste. Use three jin of Chinese yam rhizome (shanyao山藥) for every jin of this powder. Add honey water (mishui蜜水) to the flour and make cakes with it. Steam the cakes and eat.  [This would be a medicinal recipe. Presumably the rhizome of the sweetgrass is used; the leaves do not cook down to pulp.]


Plum (lizi李子)


Take large plums and remove the pits. Take white mei (baimei白梅) and liquorice and soak them in boiled water. Blanch the plums in the boiled water. Add white sugar to ground pine nuts (songzi松子) and terminalia (Terminalia superba or T. catappa L., lanren欖仁). Stuff them in a steamer and eat it when it is fully cooked.


Yam tubers (shanyutou山芋頭)


Pick yams and slice them. Boil them with torreya nuts (feizi榧子). Make bitter apricot seeds (kuxingren苦杏仁) into powder. Add a small amount of soybean, water, and salt to the bitter apricot seed powder and make into a paste. Dip the sliced yams in the paste. Then deep fry them and eat.


“East-wind vegetable” (dongfengji東風薺) [the author’s note:] it is the same as shepherd’s purse (jicai薺菜)


Pick one or two sheng of shepherd’s purse and wash them clean. Add three he of taomi(淘米), three sheng of water, and one ginger sprout to them. Mash them and blend them in a pot till it are even. Pour one clam shell (xianke蜆殼) of sesame oil to it. Then do not move it any more. Boil over fire. If it is moved, there will be a greasy flavor. Do not add any salt or vinegar. If one tastes this, he will feel that the eight precious foods of seas and lands (hailubazhen海陸八珍) are as nothing.  [Hyperbolic praise for a boiled-down weed.]


Plantain lily (Hosta fortunei, yuzanhua玉簪花)


Pick the half-blossoming flowers and split them into two pieces or four pieces. Dip them in paste and deep fry them. If add a small amount of salt and white sugar to the paste and blend them evenly. It is very delicious after being dipped in the paste [and deep fried].


Gardenia (zhizihua梔子花) [the authors’ note:] another recipe, recorded for a second time.


Pick the half-blossoming flowers and blanch them in alum water (fanshui礬水). Add thinly sliced green onions, aniseeds and fennel (daxiaohuixiang大小茴香), Chinese pepper, red yeasts (hongqu紅麴), and yellow steamed rice (huangmifan黃米飯) to them. Grind them till they are mashed. Blend evenly with salt. Salt it for half a day and eat. When it is blanched with alum water and soaked in honey, it is very delicious.


Wood fungus /timber fungus (mujun木菌)


            Use decayed mulberry wood (sangmu桑木), camphor wood (zhangmu樟木), and Persea nanmu Oliver/phoebe zhennan wood (nanmu楠木). Cut them into pieces one chi in length. In the twelfth month, sweep decayed leaves and choose a rich and shady place (feiyindi肥陰地). Bury the wood and leaves deeply at the place, using the same method of planting vegetables. In the spring months, irrigate it with water that has been used to wash rice. Soon, fungus grows. Irrigate it three times every day. Then it will grow as large as a fist. Pick it and fry it with vegetarian food. It is also delicious when withered. It grows on the wood and is not harmful.


            Sollya (Wistaria?)  (tenghua藤花)


            Pick the flowers and wash them clean. Pour salted water on them and blend them evenly. Steam them in a steamer till they are fully cooked. Then dry them in the sun. They can be used to make a stuffing. It is delicious. When it is mixed with meat, they are also delicious.


            River Shepherd’s-purse (jiangji江薺) [Presumably a riparian form of, or close relative of, shepherd’s-purse]


            It grows in the twelfth month. It can be eaten raw or fully cooked. Do not eat the flower. However, the flower can be made into minced dish (ji).


            Poke Phytolacca arinosa Roxb. Or Phytolacca esculenta van Houtte (shanglu商陸)


            Pick the seedling and stalk. Wash them clean and steam them till fully cooked. Add salt and spices to them. The purple ones are tasty.


            Achyranthes spp. (?) (niuxi牛膝)


            Pick the seedlings using the same method of cutting leeks. It is edible.  [Achyranthes is a genus of rather small, tender herbs.]


            Lotus rhizomes growing in a lake (hu’ou湖藕)


            Pick raw lotus rhizomes and cut them into pieces about one cun in length. Blanch them in boiled water. Then salt them to remove some water. Add a small amount of green onion, oil, sliced ginger roots, sliced orange peel, aniseeds, fennel, and yellow steamed rice (huangmifan黃米飯). Mash them and blend them carefully. Wrap them with lotus leaves tightly. Leave overnight, then eat.


            Ledebouriella seseloides (=Saposhnikovia divaricata) (fangfeng防風)


            Pick the seedlings. These can be made into vegetarian food. Blanch them in boiled water and blend them with spices. It is very good at removing the wind (qufeng去風).


            Plantain/Chinese banana (bajiao芭蕉)


            There are two kinds of plantains (jiao). Those having sticky fruits (gen) are glutinous plantains (nuojiao糯蕉). They are edible. Pick the fruits and cut them into pieces about the size of a hand. Boil them in the ash-liquid (huizhi灰汁)[73] till they are fully cooked. Remove the ash-liquid and boil them in clean water. Replace the water twice till the smell of ashes disappears. Take the leaves and press them till they are dry. Grind salt, soybean sauce, aniseeds, fennel, Chinese pepper, dried ginger roots, and cooked oil, carefully. Blend them with the plantains. Salt them in a jar for one or two days and then take them out. Bake them for a while till they are almost cooked and turn soft. When one eats it, it tastes exactly like fatty meat (feirou肥肉).


            Water cress (shuicai水菜)


            Its shape is similar to bok choi (baicai白菜). It grows in the seventh and eighth month, in the field or on the water bank. It grows in clusters and its color is dark green. Blanch it in boiled water. Boil it with soybean sauce and then it can be eaten.


            Lotus seed pod (lianfang蓮房)


            Pick the tender ones. Remove the peel, seeds, and stalks. Boil it with ashes and boil it in clean water in order to remove the taste of ashes. Bake them with the plantains till they are dry. Flatten them with stones. Then slice them and eat.


            Sesame leaves (kupencai苦盆菜) [the author’s note:] it is also called huma胡麻


            Pick the tender leaves and make them into thick soup. It is large, sweet, crisp, and smooth.


            Pine-needle-shape vegetable (songhuarui松花蕊)


            Pick it and remove the red skins. Use the tender and white ones and soak them in honey. Bake them for awhile till the honey is fully cooked. But do not let it be overcooked. It smells good and it is crisp and tasty.


            Angelica dahurica Benth. et Hook (baizhi白芷)


            Pick the tender roots. Soak them in honey or preserve them in dregs. Then they can be eaten.


            Ledebouriella sprouts (fangfengya防風芽)


            Pick the scarlet-colored sprouts (yanzhi胭脂). Blend them with spices like normal vegetables and eat.


            Lilyturf  (ophiopogon) sprouts (tianmendongya天門冬芽)


            Use ligusticum sprouts (chuanqiongya川芎芽), sokji (Cassia?) sprouts (shuizaoya水藻芽), Achyranthes sprouts (niuxiya牛膝芽), chrysanthemum sprouts (juhuaya菊花芽), and Villarsia nymphaeoides (? Or Nymphoides spp.) sprouts (xingcaiya荇菜芽). Blend them with spices. Eat it when fully cooked.  [The identification of these wild sprouts is dubious.]


            Sphagnum moss? (shuitai水苔)


            In the early spring, pick the tender tips. Wash and trim them till they are very clean. Wash away any sand, gravel, and worms. Press them with stones till they are dry. Add salt, oil, Chinese pepper, and minced leeks. Blend them and place them in a bottle. Add vinegar and ginger. It is very delicious. It can also be fried with oil. It is also good when it is added with salt and soybean sauce.


            Pulu sprouts (puluya蒲蘆芽)[74]


            Pick the tender sprouts and cut them. Blanch them in boiled water and wrap them in cloth. Press them till they are dry. Then add spices. It tastes like dried fish and it is very delicious.


            Garden Balsam (Impatiens balsamina)stalks(fengxianhuageng鳳仙花梗)


            Pick the thick stalks and peel them. Peel them till they are clean. Add them into dregs in the morning and eat at noon.


            Safflower seeds (honghuazi紅花子)


            Pick the seeds. Soak them in water and remove those floating on the surface of the water. Mash them in a pestle and soak the mashed material in boiled water to get the liquid. Mash it again. Boil the mash and liquid. When the water is boiled in the pot, add vinegar into it in order to let it coagulate. Use a piece of thin silk cloth to strain it. What has been obtained [i.e., the residue after straining] is like fatty meat. If it is added to vegetarian food, it will be extremely delicious.


            Golden-bird flower (jinquehua金雀花) [broom]


            It blossoms in the spring. The appearance of the flower is like a golden-bird (siskin, canary or goldfinch; jinque金雀). Each flower is worthy of being picked. Blanch them in boiled water and they can be served as tea food (chagong茶供). If it is blended with frost sugar [fine crystallized sugar], oil, and vinegar, it can be served as a dish. It is very pure (qing).


            Cold bean sprouts (handouya寒豆芽) [presumably a kind of pea, not literally cold sprouts]


            Wash peas till they are clean. Wrap them in the container made from cattail (pu) leaves when they are still wet. In the spring and winter, place them near the kang (raised household platform, ), where is close to fire. In the summer and autumn, this is not necessary. Spray water on it every day. When the sprouts grow, remove the shells and wash them till they are clean. Blanch them in boiled water and serve them as tea food. If the sprouts are long enough, they can be made into a regular dish.


            Soybean sprouts (huangdouya黃豆芽)


            Use large soybeans and follow the above method. When the sprouts grow a little bit, take them and remove the shells. Wash them till they are clean and fully cook them. Add Arthraxon hispidus (?) (xiangjin香藎), sliced oranges, wood-ear fungus (muer木耳), and sliced Buddha’s-hand citron (foshougan佛手柑) to them. Blend them till they are even. Add as much as possible of sesame oil and frost sugar. Then add vinegar. Serve it after blending them.

            BREWS (niangzaolei釀造類)


            These are liquors made in the families of Mountain Persons [i.e. immortals, hermits, or the like; shanren山人] for the purpose of nourishing life. Either they are sweet, or they are medicines. They are very different from those tasty foods. Those who booze [lit. “drink immoderately”] should not join our conversation here.

[These are basically medicinal or herbal ales.  Most old brewing recipes are hard to follow, and translations below are highly tentative. One often suspects that our author had not tried these himself. A brewing expert would have to look at them and try them before serious translation.]


            Liquors (jiulei酒類)


            “Peach flower stream” liquor (taoyuanjiu桃源酒) [The name refers to Tao Yuanming’s famous story of a fisherman who followed a trail of peach flowers up a stream and found a land of Mountain Folk]


            Use twenty liang of white yeasts (baiqu白曲) and cut them into almond shape[75]. Soak them in one dou of water and let them ferment (fa). Wash one dou of sweet rice till it is very clean. Steam it till it is mashed. Spread the rice and let it cool down. Add it to the yeast liquid according to the changing weather of the four seasons (yi sishi xiaoxi qihou toufang quzhi zhong以四時消息氣候投放曲汁中). Stir it and make it into a thick conjee. When it ferments, add two dou of steamed rice. if it does not [yet] taste like liquor, one should not feel surprised. Let it ferment and two more dou of steamed rice. Then the liquor is ready. If the weather is warm, there will be clean liquid emerging in the jar three to five days after it is ready. Take the liquid and drink it. Even if one boozes this liquid, it will not be harmful. This recipe was originally [hyperbolically said to be] obtained at Peach Flower Stream, Wuling. Then it was recorded in Qimin yaoshu齊民要術. Neither entry catches the full wonder of this liquor. This recipe is the only true version. Now I think that it will be even better if one uses only water to soak the rice. When making the liquor, boil one dou [presumably of sweet rice][76] and then take one sheng of clean liquid. Then soak the yeast in it. One day after it ferments, steam rice and let it cool down. Take [the rice] out of the jar and mix it with yeasts. Then place it back into the jar. Repeat this step for every time of brew (dou). For the third and fifth brew, place the rice in the jar one day after liquor emerges. When it has been moved for five times, press it one or two days after liquor emerges. Then more than half of the rice has transformed into liquor. If the taste is hard (ying), steam three sheng of sweet rice for every dou [of rice]. And use a large spoon of yeasts made from shoots growing from old barley (damai niequ大麥櫱曲) and a large fen of white yeast powder. Blend them evenly and place them in a cambric bag. Contain it in a liquor jar. When it becomes sweet and tasty, remove the bag. However, since it is cold in the north, it is proper to brew at one’s will. Since it is warm in the south, it is proper to make liquor when the weather is extremely cold [otherwise it goes off to vinegar easily]. 


            Fragrant-snow liquor (xiangxuejiu香雪酒)


            The requires one shi of sweet rice. First, use nine dou of sweet rice and wash it till it is very clean and there is no sediment in the water that was used to wash the rice. Contain the carefully measured sweet rice in a barrel. Add the same amount of water to the sweet rice. It is proper to add one more dou of water in order to compensate the washed-away sediments of sweet rice. Soak the sweet rice in a jar. Then use one dou of sweet rice. Wash it as previously it has been done. Steam rice and place it on the sweet rice. Cover the jar with grasses. After more than twenty days, [the steamed rice] floats [indicating top-fermentation here, as in ale]. Take the steamed rice dregs (fanke飯殼) first and then the sweet rice. Let them dry. Then steam the rice and use it when it is just fully cooked. Use the water that was used to soak the rice and remove the sediments in it. Use twenty jin of white yeasts that have been cut into small pieces. Blend them. Place the steamed rice dregs (mike米殼) at the bottom of the jar. If it is warm, let the warmth [of the steamed rice] come out for awhile and then stir and blend them till they are even. Then cover the jar. After one day and one night, rake over the rice for the first time and do not cover the jar. After one day or one night, rake it over for the second time. If it is warm, one should rake it to let the warm gas get out. Rake it thoroughly for the third time. Then cover the jar and wait till it is ready. If one uses a normal recipe, the rice must normally be fine and white. The rice should be washed and clean. When raking over, the warm gas should be let out completely and then the rice will not spoil.


            Greenish-and-Fragrant liquor (bixiangjiu碧香酒)


            Use one sheng of sweet rice and wash it till it is clean. Use nine sheng of the sweet rice and soak them in a jar. Use one sheng of steamed rice and blend four liang of white yeast power with it. Bury a bamboo sifter (chou) in the soaked rice. When the steamed rice floats, dredge it out [with the sifter]. Steam nine sheng of rice and blend sixteen liang of white yeast powder with it. First, place the clean steamed rice at the bottom of the jar. Then place the soaked sweet rice and steamed rice in the jar. Use ten jin or twenty jin of the liquid that was used to wash the rice. Use four or five layers of paper to seal the jar tightly. In the spring, it takes several days. If the weather is cold, it will be ready in one month.


            The twelfth-month liquor (lajiu臘酒)


            Use two shi of sweet rice, two hundred jin of yeast-in-water (shuiyujiao水與酵)[presumably concentrated starter liquid] in full measure (zucheng足秤), forty jin of white yeast in full measure, two dou of sour steamed rice (suanfan酸飯) or two dou of fermented rice. The liquor tastes thick (nong) and spicy. It is made in the twelfth month. When boiling it, use two baskets with large meshes to hold liquor bottles and place them in the boiled water. When the liquor is boiled, take them out.


            Red liquor from Jianchang (jianchang hongjiu建昌紅酒)


            Use one shi of fine sweet rice and wash it clean. Place the sweet rice in a jar and make a small pit in the middle of the sweet rice. Pour one shi and two dou of water in the jar. Use another two dou of sweet rice and boil it till it is fully cooked. Spread it and let it cool down. Make it into a ball and place it in the pit. Then cover the jar. After more than twenty days, the cooked rice starts to float and the liquid in the jar becomes sour. Remove the floating cooked sweet rice and dredge out the soaked sweet rice. First, wash five dou of rice till it is clean and spread it at the bottom of a steamer. Place wet rice on it. Spread a little bit the cooked rice and let the gas out. Then cover the jar. Use eight dou of the liquid that was used to soak the rice and one liang of Chinese pepper that is fried and just comes out of pan. When [the Chinese pepper] is cooled down, use three jin of white yeast, three bowls of finely mashed yeast (jiaomu酵母), and proper amount of rice just as in brewing normal liquor. Do not make it too thick. If it is very cold, place it in a warm place. Wrap it with grass for one night. Divide the cooked rice into five portions in the next morning. Place each portion in one small jar and use one sheng of red yeast, half sheng of white yeast. Divide the yeast (jiao) into five portions too. Blend each portion with each portion of the cooked rice till they are even. Force them down in the jar and place the remaining cooked rice on top of it. Then cover the jar. After two days, beat and rake over it. If the surface is thick and it cannot be thoroughly beaten in three or five days. After being beaten, the surface will float and puff up. Then beat it one more time and still cover the jar. It will be ready in twenty days if it is in the eleventh month, in one month if it is in the twelfth month, and in twenty days in the first month. In the other months, it is not appropriate to make this liquor. Squeeze it and let it settle down. Then add a small amount of white sandalwood (baitan白檀). Wrap [the jar and seal it] with mud. Use boiled water for the original dregs (touzao頭糟) and add any amount of dregs to it at will. After two nights, the mixture can be squeezed.


            Five-flavor distilled liquor (wuxiang shaojiu五香燒酒)


            For each brew, use five dou of sweet rice, fifteen jin of thin yeast, three large jars of white distilled liquor, sandalwood (one liang) and five qian of muxiang (木香), frankincense (ruxiang乳香), ligusticum (chuanxiong川芎), and myrrh (moyao沒藥) respectively, five qian of cloves (dingxiang丁香), four liang of ginseng, fifteen jin of white frost sugar, two hundredwalnut kernels, and three sheng of red jujube with the seeds removed. First, steam the rice till it is fully cooked. Let it cool down. Follow the normal way to make liquor and stuff the jar with the rice till it is almost to the brim. Seal the jar tightly. When it starts to spread heat slightly, add sugar, distilled liquor, spices, walnuts, jujubes, and so on, to it. Seal the jar with thick wrappers. Do not let the gas out. Open it for every seven days. Seal it for forty-nine days. Squeeze it as in the above method. When one drinks one or two cups and eats the foods soaked in it, it feels like the genial wind in the spring.


            Yam liquor (shanyujiu山芋酒)


            Use one jin of yams (shanyao山藥), three liang of ghee (suyou酥油), three liang of lotus seed pulp (lianrou蓮肉), and half fen of borneol (bingpian冰片). Grind them together and make them into pills. For every bottle of liquor, throw one or two pills in it. It is good for health if one drinks it when it is warmed up.


            Grape wine (putaojiu葡萄酒)


            Use one dou of grape juice and four liang of yeast (qu). Blend them evenly and place them in a jar. Seal the jar and it will become wine naturally. It has a special fragrance.

            Another recipe: use three jin of honey and one dou of water. Boil them together and then pour them in a bottle. When it is mildly warm, add two liang of yeast powder (qumo曲末) and two liang of white yeast (baijiao白酵) to it. Seal the bottle with wet paper and place the bottle in a clean place. In the spring and autumn, it takes five days. In the summer, it takes three days. In the winter, it takes seven days and it is also good. When one is practicing kongfu and doing exercises of guiding qi and stretching the body (xinggong daoyin行功導引)[77], he should drink one or two cups. Then he will feel dozens of pulses grow fluid and open, and will feel the qi move without obstruction. The wine is what one should not abandon if he wants to take care of his own health.  [Excellent advice.]


            Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum spp.) root liquor (huangjingjiu黃精酒)


            Use four jin of polygonatum root, three jin of Chinese asparagus (tianmendong天門冬) with the hearts removed, six jin of pine needles (songzhen松針), four jin of Atractylodes macrocephala (baishu白術), and five jin of wolfthorn [presumably berries]. All of them should be raw. Contain them in a pot and add three shi of water to it. Boil it for one day and remove the dregs. Use the liquid to soak yeast (qu) as homemade brews. When the liquor is ready, use the clean liquid. One can eat at will. It cures the hundred illnesses, prolongs life, changes one’s beard and hair [i.e. from gray back to black], and makes teeth grow. It has wonderful functions that cannot be exhausted.  [The ingredients are particularly famous “Mountain Folk” medicinal foods.]


            Atractylodes macrocephala liquor (baishujiu白術酒)


            Use twenty five jin of Atractylodes macrocephala. Slice them and soak them in two shi and five dou of flowing water (shuliushui束流水) in a jar for twenty days. Then remove the dregs and pour the juice into a large basin and place it in the inner yard (tianjing天井) at night. After five nights, the juice turns blood-colored and then it can be used to soak yeast. Make it into liquor and drink it by itself. It cures illnesses and prolongs life, changes hair and strengthens teeth, and makes face radiant. One will live longer if he drinks frequently.


            Rehmannia glutinosa Libosch liquor (dihuangjiu地黃酒)


            Use a large dou of thick, large rehmannia roots. Mash them. Cook five sheng of sweet rice, use a large sheng of yeast (qu). Knead these three materials in a basin till they are evenly mixed. Pour it into a jar and seal it with mud. In the spring, it takes twenty-one days. In the autumn and winter, it takes twenty-five days. When the date comes, open the jar and take a look. There will be a cup of green liquid on the surface, which is the essence. Drink it first. Squeeze the remaining material with a piece of new cloth (shengbu生布) in order to get the liquid. Preserve the liquid. It tastes sweet and delicious. It has functions as the above.


            Sweetgrass liquor (changpujiu菖蒲酒)


            Use sweetgrass (Acorus calamus) with nine nodes (jiujiechangpu九節菖蒲) and squeeze out five dou of raw juice by mashing it. Cook five dou of sweet rice and blend five jin of thin yeast (xiqu細曲) with it evenly. Place them in a porcelain jar and seal it for twenty one days. Then open the jar and drink it after warming it up. Drink it three times a day. It will open veins and pulses, nourish stomach, cures the illness of migratory arthralgia/”wind and numbness” (fengbi風痹), the illness of being as thin as “standing bones” (guli骨立) and the illness of losing functions for some part of body and being yellowish (weihuang痿黃). It cures those that cannot [otherwise] be cured. If one takes one prescription [every day], after one hundred days his skin will have brighter color and be radiant, his feet will have strength several times than they had previously, his ears will be able to catch subtle sounds and his eyes become brighter, his white hair will turn black, his falling teeth will grow again, he will have brightness at night (yeyouguangming夜有光明; see clearly at night?) , his lifespan will be extended and he will achieve longevity. Its functions cannot be totally described here.


            Lamb liquor (yanggaojiu羊羔酒)


            Use one shi of sweet rice and soak it [in water] to get the liquid following the normal method. Use seven jin of fat lamb, fourteen liang of yeast (qu), one jin of apricot-red (xinghong杏紅; apricot flowers?), which has been boiled in order to remove the bitter liquid. Then boil it with the lamb in plenty of water till the meat can be easily mashed. Keep seven sheng of the soup and blend it with the sweet rice mentioned previously. Add one liang of muxiang(木香) to it and brew them together. Do not let water get into it. After ten days, it can be eaten. It tastes sweet and smooth.


            Lilyturf liquor (tianmendongjiu门冬酒)


            Use one dou of ripe liquor (chunjiu醇酒), one sheng of yeast powder (qumo曲末) [made on] the sixth day of the sixth month, and five sheng of sweet rice.  Make them into a drink. Boil five sheng of lilyturf root. The rice should be washed and dried in the sunlight. Use the boiled soup of lilyturf root to soak the rice. First, soak the rice in the liquid with yeast as the normal recipe. When it is ripe, cook rice and blend the cooked rice with the boiled liquid according to proper heat so that [their flavors will] penetrate each other. In the spring and summer, it takes seven days. One should frequently check it because it can easily get too warm. In the autumn and winter, it takes ten days to be ripe. Su Shi’s poem reads: “when the lilyturf [liquor] is ripe, a happy new year comes. The yeast and rice are so fragrant that they can be smelled all over the house.” This is true.


            Pine blossom liquor (songhuajiu松花酒)


            Use pine blossoms [pollen cones] like mouse tails in the third month. Scrape and use one sheng.  Place in a bag made from thin silk cloth. When one makes distilled liquor (baijiu白酒) and it is ready, place the bag in the middle of the liquor and then place [the liquor jar] in a well. Soak it for three days and then take it out. Pour out the liquor and drink it. It tastes pure, fragrant, sweet, and delicious.


            Camomile liquor (juhuajiu菊花酒)


            Pick camomile (ganjuhua甘菊花) in the tenth month and remove the petals. Use only two jin of the flowers and trim them. Then them in liquor in which dregs have not been removed (pei) and blend them evenly. In the next morning, it is fragrant and limpid after being squeezed. For flowers having fragrance, such as osmanthus, orchids, and wild roses (qiangwei蔷薇), liquor can be made with them in the same way.


            Brewed-three-times liquor with wujia bark (Acanthopanax spinosus) (wujiapi santou jiu五加皮三骰酒)


            Use a large sheng of wujia roots and stalks, Achyranthes (niuxi牛膝), red sage root (danshen丹参), wolfthorn roots, honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica Thunb.) (jinyinhua银花), turpentine (songjie), orange (zhike枳壳, referring to various citrus spp.) branches and leaves, respectively. Boil three large shi of water in a pot and use six large dou of it. Remove the sediments and let it settle down in order to get the pure water. Then soak yeast (qu) in the water for several times. Cook five large dou of rice. Then use one dou of raw rehmannia roots (dihuangjiu地黃) and mash all till it is like mud. Blend it with the rice and place it in a jar. For the second time, cook five dou of rice. Then use two dou of finely minced great burdock (niupangzi牛蒡子) roots and mash it into mud-like stuff. Blend it with the rice and place it in the jar. For the third time, cook two dou of rice and boil one dou of bimazi蓖麻子; lit. “castor bean fruits” but these are poisonous, so something else must be implied). Then finely mash the castor beans and blend with the rice and place in the jar. Follow the normal recipe when it becomes too cold or too warm. The taste of the liquor is good. One should drink it after removing the dregs. If the liquor is too cold to be fermented, add yeast powder (qumo曲末) into it. If the taste is bitter and thin, cook another two dou of rice and brew it. If the rice is too dry to be fermented, boil those herbs (yaowu药物) and receive the liquid and add them to the rice when they are still warm. When the liquor is ripe, the dregs should be removed. If one drinks it for a long time, the flavor of the liquor will not disappear (時常飲之多少,常令有酒氣). Both men and women can drink it. There is no food that he cannot eat because of drinking it. If one drinks, it can remove the wind, the tiredness, and the cold qi (qufenglao lengqi去風勞冷氣). It cures illnesses that have accumulated and persisted in the body for a long time. It makes people gain weight and health, and walk as does a running horse. Its functions and benefits are numerous.





            Whether the liquor tastes good or bad is determined by the fineness of the yeast and the purity of water. Therefore, yeast is an important material (yaoyao要藥). If the yeast is not good, how can the liquor [that is produced with it] be good? So I record wonderful recipes of making the yeast, below.


            White yeast (baiqu白曲)


            Use one dan of white yeast and one dou of sweet rice powder (nuomifen糯米粉). Add water to it and stir it till it is evenly wet. Sift it and tread (ta) it into cakes. Wrap it with paper and hang it in the wind. After fifty days, take it down. In the day, dry it in the sunlight; at night, place it outside and let the dew fall on it. For every dou of rice, use ten liang of yeast.


            Secret recipe of making yeast, from the royal inner palace (neifu michuan qufang內府秘傳曲方)


            Use one hundred jin of white flour (baimian白麵), four dou of yellow rice (huangmi黃米), and three dou of green beans (lüdou綠豆). First, grind the green beans till their shells are peeled. Toss them and remove the shells. Soak [the shells] in water for future usage. Second, grind the yellow rice and add it into the flour and the green bean powder. Place the soaked green bean shells into the mixture of rice, flour, and green bean powder. Blend them. If the mixture is dry, add more soaked green bean shells till it can be twisted together into dough. Tread it into square yeast (fangqu方曲). [I.e. press into square yeast cakes?] The more solid (shi), the better. Dry it in the sunlight on a rough board? (cuzhuo粗卓). It would be wonderful if it is made in the third hottest period (sanfu三伏). When one makes liquor, add seven jin of yeast to every shi [of rice]. Do not add too much yeast into it. Then the liquor will be pure (qinglie清冽).


            Lotus yeast (lianhuaqu蓮花曲)


            Use three jin of lotus blossoms, one hundred fifty liang of white flour, three dou of green beans, three dou of sweet rice (author’s note: all should be ground into powder), and eight liang of Sichuan pepper. Make and tread it (zaota造踏) as normal.


            Dew-on-the-golden-stalk yeast (jinjingluqu金莖露曲)


            Use fifteen jin of flour, three dou of green beans, and three dou of sweet rice. Make them into powder and tread [the powder].


            Xiangyang yeast (xiangyangqu襄陽曲)


            Use one hundred fifty jin of flour, three dou of sweet rice (author’s note: make it into powder), five jin of honey, eight liang of Sichuan pepper.


            Red-and-white liquor-making material (hongbai jiuyao紅白酒藥)


            Use five tsaokou cardamoms (caoguo草果), two jin of green tangerine peel(qingpi青皮), royal cinnamon (guangui官桂), large cardamoms (sharen砂仁), galangal (liangjiang良薑), cornel (or evodia; zhuyu茱萸), and (guangwu光烏) respectively, one jin of dried orange peels (chenpi陳皮), Amur cork tree bark (Phellodendron amurense; huangbo黃柏), Cyperus rotundus Linn. rhizome (xiangfuzi香附子), atractylodes (cangshu蒼術), dried ginger (ganjiang乾薑), camomile (ganjuhua甘菊花), and apricot kernels respectively, half jin of turmeric (jianghuang薑黃) and mints (bohe薄荷) respectively. For one jin of such a mixture, add one dou of sweet rice, three to five jin of smartwee (laliao辣蓼), two jin of mashed water ginger (shuijiang水薑), and one jin four liang of French chalk/talcum powder (huashifen滑石粉). Put in jar as usual. Add spices such as long pepper (bibo蓽撥), clove (dingxiang丁香), asarum (wild ginger, xixin細辛), four liang of Alpinia oxyphylla (yizhi益智), (dingpi丁皮), and large cardamom (sharen砂仁).


            Dongyang liquor yeast (dongyang jiuqu東陽酒麴)


            Use one hundred jin of white flour, three jin of walnut kernels (taoren桃仁), three jin of apricot kernels, one jin of aconite (caowu草烏), three jin of aconite [presumably a second species, but we have no way to tell what two species are meant here] (wutou烏頭)—if it is peeled, the amount can be reduced to half, and five sheng of green beans. Cook them till they are fully cooked. Use four liang of muxiang (木香), eight liang of royal cinnamon, and ten jin of smartweed (laliao辣蓼). Soak them in water for seven days and then let them dry. Use ten jin of mother’s vine (muteng母藤), cocklebur (cangercao蒼耳草) (author’s note: wrapped with two pieces of mulberry leaves, alongside with the previous prepared three kinds of spices: smartweed (蓼草) [why the different Chinese name here from the above?  We do not know], royal cinnamon, and muxiang (木香). Boil them together with the green beans. Add one jin of yeast to every shi of rice. It will not be good if one adds too much of yeast.


            Smartweed (Polygonum) yeast (liaoqu蓼曲)


            Use any amount of sweet rice and soak it in the juice of smartweed for one night. Take the rice out of the juice and blend it with flour. After a while, sift it and remove the extra flour. Kep it in a thick paper bag. Hang it in a windy place. In the summer months, it can be used after two months. If one uses it to make liquor, the liquor will taste very delicious.






SWEETS (tianshilei甜食類)—author’s note: fifty-eight sorts


            Recipe for making sugar syrup (qi tanglu fa起糖鹵法)


            [Author’s note:] Whenever one makes sweets, he should prepare sugar syrup first. This is a secret recipe coming from the Imperial inner palace (neifu內府).


            Use ten jin of white sugar (author’s note: or one can use any amount of sugar. I now use ten jin as a standard). Use a movable stove/hearth (xingzao行竈) to set up a large boiler. First, use two and a half scoops of cold water. If the scoop is small and the sugar is too much, add the proper amount of water. Stir it and break the sugar into pieces. Boil it with mild fire. Pour (dian)[78] two scoops of water that has been mixed with milk into it. If there is no milk, water mixed with egg white is also fine. When it is boiled, add the milk liquid (or egg white liquid) to it. Remove the firewood and quench the fire. Cover the boiler with a lid for enough time to eat a meal. Remove the lid and then set up the fire in the stove. When it is boiled, pour [the liquid] into it. After it is boiled for several times, one should have poured [the liquid] like this. If the foam in the sugar floats, use a skimmer to take it off. Be careful and do not let it burn. Use a brush to dip in the previously prepared liquid and brush [the boiler]. For the second time that the foam gathers, use the skimmer to get it out. For the third time, use high fire and pour pure water to the foam. The milk will be boiled and separated [from the foam]. When [the foam] gathers for the time that one meal takes, all the foam should be picked out. When the black foam is removed and white flower-like stuff can be seen, it is good. Use clean cotton cloth to sift it and contain it in a bottle. The utensils should be clean and avoid grease and pollution. Whenever one makes sweets and uses black granulated sugar (heishatang黑砂糖), he should boil it—no matter how much of it—thoroughly. Then use fine ramee cloth (xixiabu細夏布) to sift it. Otherwise, it is not good for making sweets. If one uses white granulated sugar, he should first dry it in the sunlight.

[The milk and/or egg are used to clarify the sugar—to get out any protein and other materials other than pure sucrose.  They clump with it and can be skimmed off.]


            Recipe for roasted flour (chaomian fang炒麵方)


            Sift white flour for three times. Place it in a large wok. Use a wood rake (mupa木耙) to stir it till it is fully browned. Place it on the table and grind it into fine powder. Then sift it again. Thus it can be used to make sweets.

Whenever one uses ghee, the ghee should be fresh. If it is old, it cannot be used.


            Recipe for pine-nut cookies (songzibing松子餅)


            For one serving of pine-nut cookies, use six liang of ghee, six liang of white sugar syrup, and one jin of white flour. First, melt the ghee and put it in a porcelain container when it is still warm. Pour the white sugar into it and rub it evenly. Then add white flour into it and blend them. Knead and rub it till it is even. Place it on the table and mould the dough (ganmian擀面) into a flat shape. Use bronze circle molds to print on it and make it into round pastes. Spread pine nuts on them and then place them in a tray, which is used to bake them.  [This is strikingly similar to New Mexico’s “pine-nut shortbread,” and must be a western recipe, almost certainly from the Near East—a rare bit of western borrowing in this book.]


            Recipe for oil-harmonized-with-flour [candies] (mianheyoufang面和油方)


            Use any amount of [flour]. Use a small pan, two scoops of sugar sauce, and any amount of ghee. Fry the sugar sauce in shallow ghee in the small pan. Sift it with thin cloth. Add uncooked flour (shengmian生面) to it with one’s hand till it is neither thin nor thick. Use a small rake to stir it till the flour is fully cooked. First, cook the sugar syrup over slow fire till one can draw threads of sugar from it. Use a stick to dip in it and test it. Add proper amount of the flour that has been fried in ghee. Stir it and then remove it from the pan. Spread it on the board when it is still hot. Mould it [with a rolling pin] and cut it into eye-shaped [or eye-sized] pieces (xiangyankuai象眼塊).  [This and several following recipes look suspiciously like Near Eastern halwah recipes.]


            Recipe for pine nut hailuo (松子海羅[口幹]) [hai luo, literally “sea radish,” clearly a transliteration of halwah]

One can also use both walnut kernels and gourd seeds (guaren瓜仁)


            Put sugar syrup in a small wok. Cook over slow fire for one meal’s time. Stir it till it is cooled down. Add fried flour to it with one’s hand. Then add chopped pine nut kernels and stir them till it is even. Spread ghee on the board and place [the dough] on the board. Mould it with a rolling pin and cut it into eye-shaped pieces. When one cuts the dough into pieces, he should do it when the dough is still warm. If the dough is cold, it is hard. It would be difficult to cut and one would be afraid of breaking it into crumbs.  [Again this looks like a Near Eastern recipe—and the transliteration clinches it.]


            Recipe for white and moist [candy] (bairunfang白閏方)


            Add a small amount of ghee to the sugar syrup and cook over slow fire. Add fried flour to it conveniently (suishou隨手) and stir it evenly. Place it on the board and flatten it with a rolling pin. Cut it into eye-shaped pieces. If one uses bronze circles as molds, it will be called Sweet-Dew Gluten (ganlujin甘露筋).  [It is sweet and looks like gluten cakes.]


            Recipe for snow-flake shortbread (xuehuasu雪花酥)


            Melt ghee in a small pan and sift it. Add heated flour to it with the hand. Stir it till it is even, neither thin nor thick. Then remove the pan from the fire. Spread white sugar powder on the mix and stir it. When they are mixed together, place it on the board and mould it with a rolling pin. Cut it into eye-shaped pieces.


            Recipe for Manchu candied fritter (shanshima fang芟什麻方)[79], called “poured-and-cut” in the south


            Cook sugar syrup in a small pan over slow fire till one can draw threads of sugar from it. First, peel sesame seeds and dry them in the sun light. Or bake them briefly and grind them into powder. Add them into the sugar conveniently. Stir and make it mix together, while it should be neither thin nor thick. Spread sesame powder on the board in advance and let it not be sticky. Place [the dough] on the board when it is still warm. Spread sesame powder on the dough, which will keep it from being sticky. Mould it with a rolling pin and cut it into eye-like pieces.  [This is straightforward sesame halwah!]


            Recipe for yellow and moisturized halwah (huangrun fang黃閏方)


            [It is] the same as the homemade (jiachang家常) ones. Sift black [dark brown] granulated sugar. Cook it along with sugar syrup over slow fire. Add a small amount of honey. Then let it cool down. Add toasted flour conveniently. Still spread ghee on the board. Mould it with a rolling pin and cut it into eyelike pieces.


            Recipe for slices with mint (boheqiefang薄荷切方)


            Dry mints in the sunlight and grind them into fine powder. Put sugar syrup in a small pan and cook over slow fire till one can draw threads of sugar from it. Add a small amount of toasted flour in advance. Then add mint powder and mix them together. Spread mint powder on the board in advance and place [the dough] on the board when it is still warm. Spread more mint powder on the dough. Mould it with a rolling pin and cut it into eyelike pieces.  [These mint candies look, once again, Near Eastern.]


            Recipe for a nest of threads [taffy] (yiwosi fang一窩絲方)


            [Author’s note:] prepare a piece of fine stone as a board and spread cooked sesame oil on it. Sift toasted flour till it is pure. Prepare them in advance.  [All candy makers will recognize this!]

            Fully cook sugar syrup over slow fire till one can draw threads of sugar from it and it is slightly burned (aocheng laosi熬成老絲). Pour it on the stone board. Use two chopping knives to scrape it up alternatively (zhuanzao lueqi轉遭掠起). When it is cooled down and gets thicker, pull (ba) it with hands till it is elongated. Fold it in half [and pull it again]. When it is pulled for more times, it becomes whiter. If it is cold and hard, bake it on fire. Stretch it for dozens of times and make it into a double-circle shape (shuangquan雙圈) and place it on the board. Spread toasted flour on it. Then it requires two persons, face to face, to pull it in opposite directions and turn it around clockwise (erren duiche shunzhuan二人對扯順轉). Pour toasted flour on it at his convenience. Pull it for dozens of times till it turns into thin threads. Sever them with knife, separate and make them into small nests. When one pulls the sugar and place it on the board, he should fold it in half and make it into a circle. Then pull it, fold it and make it into a circle. Repeat this for dozens of times and it will become thin threads.


            Recipe for comb-print crisps (su’eryin fang酥兒印方)


            Use uncooked flour and add soybean powder (doufen豆粉) to it. [add water to them and blend them](tonghe同和). Knead it into bars (tiao) as large as the tip of a chopstick (jintouda筋頭大). Cut it into pieces as long as two fen. Use a small comb to print patterns on them separately. Contain them and deep fry them with ghee till they are fully cooked. Pick them up with a sifter. Then spread white granulated sugar over, and mix.


            Recipe for puffed buckwheat (qiaomaihua fang蕎麥花方)


            First, bake buckwheat till it is puffed into flower-like [popped] kernels. Measure it. Add a small amount of honey to sugar syrup and put in a wok. Do not move them. Cook them till one can draw threads from it. Then [let the fire] higher (luedaxie略大些). Add the puffed buckwheat into it at one’s convenience and stir it evenly. Do not let it become thin. Spread puffed buckwheat on a board, which will prevent stickiness. Move the puffed buckwheat with sugar from the wok to the board and spread it. Mould it with a rolling pin and cut it into eye-like pieces.  [This is similar to Mexican “alegria”—a rather striking parallel, and again there must be some link via the Near East.]


            Recipe for goat marrows (yangsui fang羊髓方)


            Use half a bottle of goat/sheep milk (yangruzi羊乳子) or cow milk (niuruzi牛乳子) and add half a cup of water to it. Add three pinches of white flour to it. Sift it and place it in a wok. Cook over slow fire. When it is boiled, add white granulated sugar or sugar syrup at one’s convenience. Then use high fire [to cook it]. Beat it with a wood rake. When it is fully cooked, sift it and place it in a bottle. Pour it out in a bowl and serve it.  [This is evidently a form of the various milk sweets of India.]


            Recipe for black and moist [candy] (heirun fang黑閏方)


            Cook black granulated sugar with slow fire and sift it till it is pure. Add the same amount of sugar syrup and mix them. place them in a wok. Cook them for one-meal’s time, add half a bottle of ghee to it. Cook and add fried flour and Chinese pepper powder to them at one’s convenience. Blend them into one piece. Then place it on the board and knead it till it is flattened. Cut it into eye-like pieces.


            Recipe for (saboni fang灑孛你方)


            Cook material that has been used to cook mushrooms (aomoguliao熬磨古料) with slow fire. Do not use walnuts. Scoop it out and spread it on a board. Circle and fix it with sweet rice (jiangmi江米). Print it with bronze circles. This is saboni灑餑你. When one cuts it into eye-like pieces, it is called white sugar squares (baitangkuai白糖塊). [Saboni looks like a transcription.]


            Recipe for pepper-and-salt cookies (jiaoyanbing fang椒鹽餅方)


            Use two jin of white flour, a half jin of sesame oil, a half liang of salt, and one liang of good pepper peels [sic, probably a miswriting], a half liang of aniseeds (huixiang茴香). Divide [the flour] into three equal portions. For each one of them, use only oil, pepper, salt, and aniseeds to mix with the flour. Then make them into the stuffing (rang). If one adds some coarse sesame crumbs to it, it would be even better. For each cookie, insert one piece of the stuffing. Knead the cookie till it become thinner. Then place them in the oven. Another recipe: mix the same amount of boiled water and oil. For the stuffing, use sugar and sesame crumbs and the oil [mixed with boiled water].  [This is a thoroughly Near Eastern recipe; cf. kourabiyeh.  The lack of sugar in the dough is evidently a mistake; probably the “good pepper peels” were sugar until a bad copyist got at this recipe.]


            Recipe for crisp cookies (subing fang酥餅方)


            Use four liang of ghee, one liang of honey, and one jin of white flour. Blend them into pastes. Place it into molds and make it into cookies. Then bake them in a oven. Otherwise, one can also use lard. If he uses two liang of honey, it will be even better.


            Recipe for wind-dissolved cakes (fengxiaobing fang風消餅方)


            Use two sheng of sweet rice and mash it into very fine powder. Divide them into four portions. One portion is used to make a dough (米孛). Another portion is mixed with water, made into cakes and fully cooked. Blend the remaining two portions [of sweet rice powder]. Use a small half cup of honey, two pieces of fermenting liquor in which the dregs have not been removed (zhengfa jiupei正發酒醅), and white maltose (baixing白餳)[80]. Melt them and then mould it with the sweet rice cakes till it is as thin as a spring [roll] wrapper (chunbing春餅). If the wrapper is broken, there will be no problem. Bake it on a tray and do not let it burnt. Then hang it in a windy place. Measure how much [sweet rice] has been used, deep fry it in lard. When one deep fries it, use chopsticks to stir it. At the same time, mix white sugar and fried flour. Then use raw hemp cloth (shengmabu生麻布) to rub the mixed crumb onto the wrappers.  [I.e., thin tortilla-like cakes have crumbs shaken over them as topping.]

            Another recipe: use only a small amount of fine and cooked powder and boil it. Then spread it on a sifter and dry it one hundred percent in sunlight. For every dou of sweet rice powder, use twelve liang of yam powder (yumo芋末). This recipe is simple and wonderful.


            Recipe for meat-and-oil cake (rouyoubing fang肉油餅方)


            Use one jin of white flour, one liang of cooked oil, one liang of sheep and pig fat respectively ([the author’s note:] cut them into small-pea-like pieces). Use two cups of liquor that comes out in the summer (dajiu大酒)[81] and blend it with the flour. Divide it into ten pastes. Mould it into wrappers and wrap lean meat in the wrapper. Bake the pie in an oven till it is fully cooked.  [This rather resembles a moon cake.  Possibly an ancestral form.]


            Recipe for vegetarian oil cake (suyoubing fang素油餅方)


            Use one jin of white flour and one liang of real sesame oil (zhenmayou真麻油). Blend them and make them into pastes. Insert granulated sugar stuffing at one’s convenience. Then print patterns on the cake and bake them in an oven.  [Same comment.]


            Recipe for snow-flake cakes (xuehuabing fang雪花餅方)


            Use one hundred percent snow-white flour that has been sifted thoroughly when first sifted (shifen touluo xuebaimian十分頭羅雪白面). Steam it till it is fully cooked and it is one hundred percent white. For every jin of flour that has been used, use six liang of lard and half jin of sesame oil. Cut the pig grease into dice-like squares and mix it with a small amount of water and cook them with slow fire. When the grease is about to disappear and there is yellowish and burnt stuff, use a skimmer [scoop, sifter] to pick [the yellowish and burnt stuff] out. If [the grease] does not disappear, one should continue to cook it and then pick [the yellowish and burnt stuff] out with the skimmer. When one has done this, the lard will be white. Mix the lard with the flour and make it as the foundation of the wrappers (bingdi餅底). Place some grass and wood ashes (caochaihui草柴灰) on the bake tray and then place a piece of paper on it. Place the wrapper on [the paper] and bake it.


            Recipe for taro cake (yubing fang芋餅方)


            Mash raw taro (yunai芋奶)[82] and blend it with sweet rice powder and make into cakes. Deep fry them. Or one can stuff them with sugar and bean paste (dousha豆沙). Or one can stuff them with walnut and sliced orange peels that has been mixed with pepper, salt, and sugar.


            Recipe for leek cake (jiubing fang韭餅方)


            Use pork with fat and make it into ground meat (saozi臊子). Fry oil till it is half cooked. Use raw leek and mince it. Mince goat fat. Blend Chinese pepper, Amomum villosum cardamoms (sharen砂仁), and soybean sauce evenly. Mould [the dough into] two thin cakes. Stuff them with the stuffing and bake them. When one uses shepherd’s purse (jicai薺菜), the recipe is the same.


            Recipe for white crisp cakes (baisu shaobing fa白酥燒餅法)


            Use one batch of dough (mianyige面一個), two liang of oil, and good liquor in which dregs have not been removed. Use the liquor as yeast. When the dough is one hundred percent leavened, knead it. Make exactly as with sesame and sugar (zhimatang芝麻糖) above. When one uses one batch of dough and two liang of sugar, he can make sixteen baked cakes.


            Recipe for Solomon’s-seal cakes (huangjingbing fang黃精餅方)


            Steam Solomon’s seal root till fully cooked. Remove its peels and fibrous roots. Mix it with baked and fully cooked peeled soybeans. Mash them in powder. Then add white sugar sauce to it and make them in dough. When one uses it to make cakes, it tastes pure.


            Recipe for fried rolls (juanjianbing fang卷煎餅方)


            This wrapper is the same as a thin pie (baobing薄餅). For the stuffing, one should use two jin of pork, one jin of pig fat or chicken. It is similar to the stuffing in a bun (mantou饅頭) and uses a lot of green onion whites or withered bamboo shoots and so on. Wrap it in the wrapper and make it into a roll. On both ends, [seal the holes] with paste. Deep fry it and let it float on the surface of the oil (fuyou浮油) till it turns reddish and slightly burnt. Or one can just bake it till it is fully cooked. Serve it with five spices and vinegar (wulacu五辣醋). The vegetarian stuffing is made with the same recipe.  [Note that mantou still meant a filled dumpling at this time, as in earlier centuries.  Today it means an unfilled steamed bread roll, and filled dumplings are jiaozi.]


            Recipe for sugar Torreya nuts (tangfei fang糖榧方)


            Add yeast to white flour and leave it for leavening. Add boiled water to [the flour] and make it into paste. Cut it into pieces that look like Torreya nuts (feizi榧子). Pla