Dazhu Gansi (Simmered Tofu Noodles) – A Classic Huaiyang Cuisine

Dazhu Gansi (Simmered Tofu Noodles)

Dazhu Gansi (大煮干丝), also known as “Chicken Broth Simmered Tofu Noodles” or “Chicken Fire Simmered Tofu Noodles,” originated from a dish called “Jiusi Tang (Nine Kinds of Slices Soup)” and belongs to the Huaiyang cuisine, renowned for its meticulous knife skills and precise cooking techniques. This dish stands as a representative masterpiece within the Huaiyang culinary tradition.

Historical Roots:

The predecessor of Dazhu Gansi was the “Jiusi Tang.” Legend has it that during the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Qianlong visited Yangzhou. Local officials, eager to please the emperor, spared no expense in hiring skilled chefs from local restaurants to prepare dishes for Qianlong. Among the array of culinary delights, there was a dish named Jiusi Tang, made by simmering dried tofu and chicken strips. The tofu, finely cut, absorbed the flavors of the chicken broth, creating a dish with a unique, tender, and flavorful taste. Emperor Qianlong was highly pleased with this creation, and henceforth, it became a must-eat dish whenever he visited Yangzhou. Over time, Yangzhou chefs evolved this “Jiusi Tang” into the contemporary Dazhu Gansi.

Exquisite Preparation:

The meticulous preparation of Dazhu Gansi involves several steps. Initially, 2.7-centimeter-thick dried tofu is sliced into 23 uniformly thin pieces. These slices are then cut into slender strips, resembling matchsticks. After blanching twice in boiling water, the tofu strips are combined with chicken broth, cooked chicken strips, cooked chicken gizzards, cooked chicken liver slices, bamboo shoot slices, shrimp, rendered pork fat, soy sauce, and refined salt. The mixture is simmered on low heat for a brief period. The final presentation involves arranging the dish on a plate, topped with stir-fried shrimp, shredded ham, and cooked pea shoots. The result is a visually stunning dish with pure white, soft, and tender tofu strips complemented by flavorful and aromatic side ingredients.

Seasonal Variations:

The seasonality of Dazhu Gansi is reflected in the variation of ingredients. In spring, traditionally, bamboo clams were used to enhance the flavor with a hint of seafood. During the crisp summer season, the dish is prepared with crispy shredded bamboo shoots to add a refreshing taste. Autumn calls for the addition of crab roe, resulting in a golden-hued broth with rich flavors. In winter, the dish is complemented with wild vegetables, offering a delicate and vibrant green color, harmonizing both appearance and aroma.

Conclusion:

Dazhu Gansi stands as a testament to the culinary artistry of Huaiyang cuisine, highlighting not only the historical roots of its creation but also the precision and attention to detail in its preparation. With a blend of textures, flavors, and seasonal variations, this dish exemplifies the richness and complexity of Chinese gastronomy, making it a delightful experience for those who savor the intricacies of fine cuisine.

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