Shandong cuisine, also popularly called as Lu Cuisine is one of the Eight Culinary Traditions of Chinese Cuisine. It is one of the four Great Traditions and is derived from the native styles of cooking of Shandong, which is a northern coastal province of China.
Shandong cuisine is famous for its wide selection of material and usage of different cooking methods. Domestic animals and birds, seafood and vegetables are the most common raw materials, while the common cooking techniques are Bao (quick frying), Liu (quick frying with corn flour), Pa (stewing), Roasting, Boiling, Caramelizing, Crystallization with honey, etc.
Shandong Cuisine is considered to be one of the most influential schools in Chinese Cuisine. It is said that most of the country’s culinary styles. Modern cuisines in North China like in Beijing, Tianjin and other North Eastern areas, are branches of the Shandong cuisine, and most Northern Chinese households using simplified Shandong methods.
The Shandong Cuisine as we know it today, was created by the Yuan Dynasty, and it gradually spread to northern and northeastern China, Beijing, Tianjin and the Emperor’s Palace where it greatly influenced the imperial food.
Apart from seafood, for which Shandong cuisine is popular, the special chewy and starchy maize grown locally is also a chief ingredient. It also uses a lot of locally grown peanuts which are fragrant and naturally sweet. Large dishes of peanuts, either roasted with shells or shelled and stir fried with salt are served frequently with dishes. It is even served raw with some cold dishes. The staple vegetables in Shandong cuisine are potatoes, cabbages, mushrooms, onions, garlic, egg plant, sea grasses, bell peppers, etc.
Shandong cuisine’s great contribution to Chinese cuisine would be Vinegar. Hundreds of years of experience and unique local methods have led to the region’s prominence in Chinese vinegar production. Unlike the lighter, sharper vinegars popular in the south, Shandong vinegar has a complexity which some consider fine enough to stand alone.
Shandong cuisine has four sub-groups –
- Jinan Cuisine – generally sweet, aromatic, fresh and tender
- Jiaodong Cuisine – More focused on cooking and cutting
- Kongfu Cuisine – The family of Kong is the descendant of Confucius (孔子). The family of Kong was the largest family in Chinese history, lasting about 2000 years. The family of Kong always got rewards from the emperor, so the family of Kong had high standards for the quality of every dish. This is the reason why all Kongfu dishes look beautiful, and are prepared with excellent cutting skills.
- Luxinan Cuisine – Health food with Chinese medicines and raw materials
Lu Cuisine emphasizes taste experiences based on distinct flavor combinations rather than permitting everthing to taste of a hodgepodge of “regional flavors”. Onions are used judiciously alongside other seasonings to bring forth distinct taste experiences; “with Onions” is one of the most common additions to a dish’s title in Shandong Province. Lu Cuisine excels in its soups, from clear, rich-tasting broths to hearty, creamy chowders and other soups made with milk or cream.
Lu Cuisine is characterized by its clear fragrances and tastes, its succulently tender fish, fowl and meat cuts, and its crisp yet tender (al dente) cooked vegetables. Behind the success of this lies a mastery of the relevant cooking methods, whether it be boiling, stewing, steaming, sautéing, roasting, baking or stir-frying. Lu Cuisine is also famous for its snacks, one of which is Wu Ren Stuffed Bun which stems from the Jinan style. It consists of a bun stuffed with kernels/ seeds from the following: ginkgo, melon, sesame, peanut and walnut. Other famous Lu Cuisine snacks available at fast-food eateries in the province include Stir-Fried Clam, Steamed Vegetables with Green-Bean Starch Noodles, and Chinese Fried Dumplings, the latter of which come in up to 30 different flavors.