Fujian is a quaint coastal province in China known for its stonewalled houses, breath-taking landscapes and heart (and soul) warming food, which traces back to rich history. As a less trodden path, Fujian is ideal for the curious traveller who is interested in discovering new terrain and savouring robust flavours. Here’s the lowdown on why Fujian should be added to your gourmet bucket list.
Sha Cha Noodles (沙茶面) — Served in an unmistakable clay-coloured broth
Literally translated to ‘Sand Tea Noodles’ this seafood noodle dish is a crowd favourite among the locals for its rich aroma and flavour comprising ingredients like fresh seafood, shrimp sauce, chilli powder, wine vinegar and sweet bean sauce, to name a few. Of course the star ingredient is ground peanuts, which is what gives the dish its unique clay coloured broth. Best part? A satisfying bowl of Sha Cha Noodles is widely available in Fujian, from the main streets to narrow alleys!
The Sha Cha Noodles dates back to over 300 years!
Mee Sua (面线糊) — A humble bowl of wheat noodles and stewed broth
Soup lovers, rejoice! It’s no secret most Asians have grown up eating Mee Sua. For some, Mee Sua is a must-have during birthdays as an auspicious gesture (best served with two red eggs), which needs to be enjoyed with caution, to avoid breaking the noodles (as the long strands represent longevity). For others, it’s just the kind of comfort food you’d want to have on a cold day.
Even though the plain-looking dish was first introduced as a common man’s staple in Fujian, it has made its way into the hearts of many in the past 800 years. And while the original version made with simple ingredients like minced meatballs and vegetables remains popular, Fujian’s coastal city, Quanzhou, chooses to extravagantly top the noodles with succulent oysters and large prawns. And they’re not even that expensive!
Don’t worry about breaking the noodles, just focus on the goodness.
Buddha Jumps Over the Wall (佛跳墙) — A double-boiled delicacy for an indulgent meal
When it comes to extravagant Chinese delights, how can we forget the iconic ‘Buddha Jumps Over the Wall’, which is traditionally eaten during Chinese New Year? It’s the dish that gets brought out first because of its grandeur — and snatched up the quickest too!
While this gourmet dish is usually reserved for special occasions in Singapore, it’s so common in Fujian that even convenient stores have them. But get this: the restaurant where the original founder first created the dish still exists in Fuzhou, Fujian, today. With centuries’ worth of history dating back to the 1800s, this dish is packed with a mix of intense yet deeply authentic flavours. Pork tendons, dry scallops, abalone, cuttlefish, mushrooms, sea cucumber, shark’s fin, fish maw, and a double boiled soup from duck and pork bones — is your mouth watering yet?
It’s easy to understand why a monk jumped over the wall to try this decadent dish.
Peanut Soup (花生汤) — A local’s kind of breakfast
After indulging in these rich flavours, you may want to give your palate a break with something light and refreshing. Enter the peanut soup, a feel-good dessert that is tasty and comforting.
With peanuts being one of Fujian’s major crop yields, it makes sense that the peanut soup originated from there. Instead of dessert, the locals tend to have the soup for breakfast. Whether dessert or breakfast, the nutty fragrance from the steaming soup and sticky fingers from dipping the deep-fried dough sticks into the bowl is universally enjoyed. You have to try it to believe it!
Despite its simple flavours, making the peanut soup requires hours of tender loving care over the stove.
Chinese Tea (茶) — Tastes even sweeter when savoured with a view
Tea lovers, this is for you. Comforting isn’t enough to encompass the feelings you have when you end a tiring day with an aromatic cup of Chinese tea. There’s something about them that refreshes the spirit and brings us back to a simpler time when the world moved slower.
Although most of us would have enjoyed Chinese tea varieties such as Pu’er and Tie Guan Yin, there’s truly no place more serenading to sample these teas than in Fujian, China. In particular, the Da Hong Pao Scenic Area nestled in the Wuyi Mountains where tea plantations flourish. Not only do you get to taste some of the freshest tea leaves, you get to enjoy them against a breath-taking view!
Tip: If you’re looking to try something new, the Scenic Area offers one of China’s most expensive and highest quality teas, the Da Hong Pao (translated to ‘Big Red Robe’), at very affordable prices. You can even visit the last four original Da Hong Pao tea trees just a short scenic walk away.
Da Hong Pao, an exquisite, full-bodied oolong tea grown in Fujian.
Tea plantation specialising in oolong and black teas in Wuyi Mountains, a UNESCO cultural heritage site.
It’s no secret that the original is always better and more authentic when it comes to food. While some of these delicious treats are available in Southeast Asia, nothing beats tasting them at the source. It’s like being transported back in time and quite physically too with quaint, picturesque surroundings. Furthermore, with how rich the Fujian Chinese cuisine is, this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re getting hungry reading this, it’s time to explore the vibrant Chinese fare that Fujian has to offer, for yourself.
Best time to visit
Autumn and Winter, as Autumn has the best weather and clean air, while Winter is not too cold with temperatures ranging from 4 – 15 Degree Celsius. Best months: September to December.
With a fleet of 5,000 taxis in Fujian, it is a recommended mode of transportation for the time-strapped. There’s a standard flag down rate of RMB 10 for the first 3 kilometres. Before getting into the cab, do ask the driver to charge by metre.
City-buses are affordable and great too as they ply the routes of popular tourist destinations. Do note to have small change with you before boarding the buses.
China’s currency is the Renminbi (¥).
Fly to Fujian via Fuzhou, Xiamen and Quanzhou with Silk Air, China Eastern Airlines, Xiamen Airlines and Scoot. Search for airfare deals and book your tickets now!