Enshi Hezha – a local specialty

Enshi Hezha

Enshi Hezha (恩施合渣), also known as “Lazy Bean Residue,” is a dish primarily made from soybeans. It is a common dish among the people of Enshi and other southwestern mountainous regions of Hubei, China. The Tujia people of Enshi have a deep affection for Hezha, especially during times of turmoil when food was scarce. Hezha saved many lives during those difficult times, hence the local saying, “Chili as salt, Hezha for New Year,” highlighting its significance in sustaining life during hardships.

The process of making Hezha is relatively simple, though the initial stage, known as “tuī” (pushing), requires some effort. Tujia people refer to the process of making Hezha as “tuī hezha.” It involves soaking soybeans in water until they swell, then grinding them on a stone mill to extract soy milk. The soy milk is diluted with water in a pot, brought to a boil, and then mixed with finely chopped vegetables. After boiling again, a pot of creamy white Hezha with specks of green is ready to serve.

Due to its simplicity in preparation, high nutritional value, and delicious taste, diligent Tujia people hold Hezha dear. During busy farming seasons, they often “push” a pot of Hezha, which serves as a hearty meal after long hours of toiling in the fields. A single pot of Hezha can sustain a family for several days.

When you visit a restaurant in Enshi, you’ll likely find “Hezha” listed among the signature dishes. It’s almost a rite of passage for visitors to Enshi to try Hezha; it’s as if visiting Enshi without tasting Hezha is incomplete.

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