Suan Tang Yu (Boiled Fish in Sour Soup)

suan tang yu (boiled fish in sour soup)

Suan Tang Yu (酸汤鱼), translated as boiled fish in sour soup, is a traditional dish of the Miao and Dong ethnic groups in the Qiandongnan Autonomous Prefecture of Guizhou Province. According to historical records, this dish originated from the Ya Shuang area of Leidong Town in Liping County. The main ingredients for making Suan Tang Yu include fish, sour soup, and fragrant spices such as mountain pepper. The finished dish is slightly sour, fragrant, refreshing, and appetizing, making it one of the representative dishes of Guizhou’s “Qian-style” cuisine. Typically, this dish starts with the preparation of homemade sour soup, followed by cooking the fresh fish in the sour soup.

Located in a mountainous area, Qiandongnan faces challenges in transportation and external communication, which severely restricts trade and exchange of goods. Shortages of daily necessities, especially salt, prompted people to overcome these challenges and create their own culinary culture. Over time, the locals developed a method of seasoning their food “with sourness instead of salt.” This not only alleviated the shortage of salt to some extent but also diversified the variety of dishes. The unique geographical conditions and traditional ethnic dietary habits have formed a distinctive sour food culture in Qiandongnan.

Initially, sour soup was made from the dregs of brewed liquor, but later, it was prepared using naturally fermented hot rice water or the inherent sourness of ingredients. Cooking fish in sour soup has been a favorite among the people of Guizhou for a long time. With the popularity of Suan Tang Yu restaurants, dishes such as sour soup pig trotters, sour soup spare ribs, and sour soup beef offal have emerged, greatly flourishing the culinary market.

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