Hakkasan Restaurant » Chinese heritage http://hakkasan.com Hakkasan Restaurant serves Michelin Star awarded Cantonese Cuisine Mon, 11 Dec 2017 15:35:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 The Mid-Autumn Festival http://hakkasan.com/blog/the-mid-autumn-festival/ http://hakkasan.com/blog/the-mid-autumn-festival/#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2015 15:03:10 +0000 http://old.hakkasan.com/?p=4540 The Mid-Autumn Festival is arguably one of the two most important festivals in China. The other, Chinese New Year, is widely recognised and acknowledged globally, with people around the world flocking to their city’s Chinatown to watch brightly coloured dragons dance down the streets to the sound of crashing cymbals. In contrast, the Mid-Autumn Festival […]

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The Mid-Autumn Festival is arguably one of the two most important festivals in China. The other, Chinese New Year, is widely recognised and acknowledged globally, with people around the world flocking to their city’s Chinatown to watch brightly coloured dragons dance down the streets to the sound of crashing cymbals. In contrast, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a more sedate celebration, primarily observed in mainland China and Vietnam, and little is known about this romantic festival further afield.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the night of the full moon on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese Han calendar, within 15 days of the autumnal equinox. This year the festival falls on Sunday 27th September. Because of its association with the moon – the festival is said to be held on the night of the brightest and fullest moon – the Mid-Autumn Festival is sometimes referred to the Moon Festival or Harvest Moon Festival, and its history dates back to the traditions of moon worship in the ancient Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC).

The modern Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations are centred on family and reunion, with many gathering outdoors to eat mooncakes and look up at the moon. Historically, however, the festival was a time to enjoy and give thanks for the harvest, and Morris Berkowitz, who spent a long time studying the Hakka people, conceives that the original Mid-Autumn celebration began with worshipping the Mountain Gods after the harvest was completed.

As with many of the celebratory Chinese festivals, there are ancient folklores surrounding the festivities. The story of Chang’e and Hou Yi is the most widely accepted tale about the origin of the Mid-Autumn Festival, and it is this story that is the most often told, although the version differs slightly from location to location.

Chang’e and Hou Yi

A long time ago there were 10 scorching suns in the sky that burnt all the plants on Earth and killed lots of people.

The protagonist of the legend, a young man called Hou Yi, used his bow and arrow to shoot down nine of the 10 suns, thus saving everyone and everything. Upon hearing of Hou Yi’s tremendous and brave story, the queen of heaven, Wagmu, gave Hou Yi a bottle of elixir that could make him become an immortal.

However, this bottle of elixir would only work for one person. Although Hou Yi did want to become a god, he decided he’d rather stay with his beautiful wife Chang’e, such was his love for her. Instead of taking the potion, he went home and presented it to Chang’e, asking her to keep it for him.

Hou Yi had gained notoriety after shooting down the nine suns. More and more people wanted him to be their master, and he readily accepted most of them as his students.

Unfortunately, not every student of Hou Yi had good morals. Feng Meng, one such student, had noticed Hou Yi giving the elixir to Hou Yi and wanted to get his hands on it for himself, so one day when Hou Yi was out hunting Feng Meng pretended to be ill to stay at home. He crept over to Hou Yi’s house and demanded Chang’e hand the elixir over. Knowing that she could not defeat Feng Meng with strength alone, Chang’e drank the elixir herself. The moment she drank it, she flew out of the window and up into the sky towards the moon.

On realising his wife’s fate, Hou Yi was so grieved that he shouted Chang’e’s name to the sky, and was amazed to see her looking back at him from the moon. After hearing that Chang’e had become a goddess, people offered sacrifices and prayed to her for good luck and peace.

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Seasonality in Chinese cuisine http://hakkasan.com/blog/seasonality-in-chinese-cuisine/ http://hakkasan.com/blog/seasonality-in-chinese-cuisine/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 15:44:17 +0000 http://old.hakkasan.com/?p=4190 Chinese cuisine is as diverse as its many regions and inhabitants. Traditional northern Chinese food is glutinous and meat-heavy, with an emphasis on dumplings, either steamed or deep fried in hot oil, and sticky-sweet braised braised pork belly or shoulder. Szechuan cuisine is famous for the tingling, numbing heat of Szechuan pepper, while Guangdong is […]

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Chinese cuisine is as diverse as its many regions and inhabitants. Traditional northern Chinese food is glutinous and meat-heavy, with an emphasis on dumplings, either steamed or deep fried in hot oil, and sticky-sweet braised braised pork belly or shoulder. Szechuan cuisine is famous for the tingling, numbing heat of Szechuan pepper, while Guangdong is known for its dim sum and Beijing for its Peking duck. A multitude of skills and techniques are utilised, from searing hot wok frying at exact temperatures to slower, gentler methods of roasting and poaching.

Chinese cuisine also reflects the changing seasons. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are specific ingredients and flavours that should be eaten each season to counteract the changing weather. This relates in some way to the ancient Chinese philosophy of yin yang, suggesting that the complementary forces in the world need to be balanced to maintain harmony. This theory extends to seasonal ingredients and methods of cooking: natural harmony is achieved by eating or drinking foods that are similar in nature to the environment.

Derived from the yin and yang philosophy, many foods are described as hot or cold (or somewhere in between). This is used to describe the ‘energies’ of the food and drink rather than their specific temperatures, and it is a concept used widely in China.

Spring

Spring is the season of new birth and growth. It is important during this time to eat cool and sweet foods as opposed to the warming foods of winter, such as spinach, celery, onions, lettuce, mustard leaf, wheat, dates, peanuts, coriander, bamboo shoots and mushrooms.

Summer 

In summer, plants grow fast and people act more energetically. The Chinese suggest eating ‘yin’ or cooling foods during these months. However, if the temperatures climb, it is recommended that cold foods are consumed, such as bitter gourd, watermelon, peach, strawberries, tomatoes, mung beans, cucumber, pumpkin, ginger, lotus root, lotus seeds, wax gourds and Job’s tears.

Autumn

In the autumn, trees start to shed their leaves and fruits mature. During these months, the Chinese cook with neutral and sour foods, such as sesame, honey, pineapple, pear, loquat fruit, sugar cane, banana and white fungus.

Winter

Living things start to slow down to save energy during winter. Some animals hibernate, while humans conserve energy and concentrate on building strength. Warming or ‘yang’ foods that are high in starch and calories should be eaten during this time, such as red meat and dark coloured foods to restore chi. Mutton, goose, duck, Chinese yam, glutinous rice, dates, eggs, longan fletch, black fungus, leeks and nuts are all warm foods that are eaten to stave off the cold in winter.

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