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Red Mansions banquet

Updated: 2020-12-24

Yangzhou State Guesthouse has presented this food in more than 20 countries and regions over the years.

There are four parts in the banquet: decoration dishes, cold dishes, main dishes and dim sum. Daguan Yipin, or first-class dishes of Daguan Garden, where Jia Baoyu lives, is a set of dishes showcasing delicate and elaborate cooking skills, mostly for appreciation.

One example is "pine tree and crane for longevity", a dish that looks like a painting made with egg, mushroom and cucumber slices. "Peacock flaunting its tail" is made entirely with prepared flour.

The Red Mansions Banquet has a set of simple but delicious cold dishes, such as eggplant with nuts, and duck tongue flavored with yellow rice wine.

Qiexiang, diced eggplant with nuts, is a dish Wang Xifeng, a domineering woman in the novel, shows off to Liu Laolao, a distant relative from the countryside. It is a typical dish reflecting how elaborate an apparently simple dish can be, using ordinary ingredients but complicated cooking methods. An eggplant is peeled, diced and deep-fried with chicken oil. Then it is fried together with diced mushroom, bamboo shoots, bean curd and an array of nuts such as pine nuts, which are first soaked in chicken broth for its flavor and then dried.

The grand banquet itself features big dishes that used to only appear on important occasions, or only to treat important guests. Some of these are clear-steamed Reeves shad, and lion head pork meatball in clear soup.

The fourth part of the banquet has various dim sums recorded in A Dream of Read Mansions.

The banquet is now available at the guesthouse for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Because the preparation is complicated, the hotel offers it only to groups of more than five people. Patrons can order a set meal, or a la carte dishes.

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