Fujian cuisine was a latecomer in southeast China along the coast. The cuisine emphasizes seafood, river fish, and shrimp. The Fujian coastal area produces 167 varieties of fish and 90 kinds of turtles and shellfish. It also produces edible bird's nest, cuttlefish, and sturgeon. These special products are all used in Fujian cuisine.
The Fujian economy and culture began to flouring after the Southern Song Dynasty. During the middle Qing Dynasty famous Fujian officials and literati promoted the Fujian cuisine so it gradually became known to other parts of China.
The most characteristic aspect of Fujian cuisine is that its dishes are served in soup. Its cooking methods are stewing, boiling, braising, quick-boiling, and steaming, The most famous dish is Buddha Jumps Over the Wall. The name implies the dish is so delicious that even the Buddha would jump over a wall to eat it once he smelled it. A mixture of seafood, chicken, duck, and pork is put into a rice-wine jar and simmered over a low fire. Sea mussel quick-boiled in chicken soup is another Fujian delicacy.
Cutting is important in the Fujian cuisine. Most dishes are made of seafood, and if the seafood is not cut well the dishes will fail to have their true flavor. Fujian dishes are slightly sweet and sour, and less salty. For example, litchi pork, sweet and sour pork, soft fish with onion flavor, and razor clams stir-fried with fresh bamboo shoots without soy sauce all have this taste. When a dish is less salty, it tastes more delicious. Sweetness makes a dish more tasty, while sourness helps remove the seafood smell.
In the Fujian cuisine, an important flavoring and coloring material is red distiller's grain. It is a glutinous rice fermented with red yeast. After being kept in a sealed vessel for one year, the grain acquires a sweet and sour flavor and a rose-red color. Chicken, duck, fish, and pork can be flavored with the red grain as well as spiral shells, clams, mussels, bamboo shoots, and even vegetables. When the red distiller’s grain is used for flavoring, the fishes can be cooked in many ways, including quick-frying, frying, quick-boiling, and pickling.
Fujian cuisine comprises three branches – Fuzhou, southern Fujian, and western Fujian. There are slight differences among them. Fuzhou dishes are more fresh, delicious, and less salty, sweet, and sour. Southern Fujian dishes are sweet and hot and use hot sauces, custard, and orange juice as flavorings. Western Fujian dishes are salty and hot. As Fujian people emigrate overseas, their cuisine has become popular in Taiwan and abroad.