Harbin Cuisine

BY CchattyArticleChinese Culture
Release time:2018-03-31
Tag: Regional Cuisine 2
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Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province is in north China. It established the Jin Dynasty and Qing Dynasty both grew up in this land. There are many unique cuisines in Harbin.
part 1

Harbin Cuisine

Harbin Cuisine

The Harbin people's congress is mainly the descendants of Shandong immigrants, Shandong people brought the culture, including Shandong cuisine. There are also indigenous Manchurian culture and some Russian food culture. The three kinds of food culture meet and merge, gradually forming the unique Harbin food culture.

Harbin has a reputation for "Oriental Moscow", the architecture combines many western elements. And Harbin dialect is one of the most closely Mandarin in China, for this reason, some foreigners rather like to go to Harbin to learn the Chinese language.

part 2

Braised Pork with Vermicelli 猪肉炖粉条

Harbin Cuisine - Braised Pork with Vermicelli

According to “Annals of Heilongjiang”, Heilongjiang people started to raise pigs a long time ago they named the whole set of dishes that was made when butchering pigs “Pork Stew”. Today the name has been used by the main course in the whole set of dishes. In this course, the cabbage that has been fermented for a very long time becomes the hero.

Family-style “Pork Stew”: Quick-Boiled Meat with Pickled Chinese Cabbage

How to cook the method of family-style “Pork Stew”, which is also called Braised Pork with Vermicelli, or “Quick-Boiled Meat with Pickled Chinese Cabbage”. The meat must be streaky pork. Because the streaky pork with both fat and lean is very delicious, the meat should not be too thin not too thick. If it is too thin, it will not taste chewy. The chef usually uses cooked streaky pork to make the dish. Stir-frying meat is an instant cooking method. After the streaky pork changes color, add an appropriate amount of cold water and some simple condiments such as salt and pepper powder, then add the sliced pickled Chinese cabbage. After it is boiled, add an appropriate amount of vermicelli. Stew then with small fire. Twenty minutes later, a bowl of steaming hot “Quick-Boiled Meat with Pickled Chinese Cabbage” is done. The pickled Chinese cabbage and meat complement each other. It is not the flavor of the pickled Chinese cabbage or the meat. The two complement each other and produce this kind of sour and delicious flavor.

“Pork Stew” in the restaurants

The “Pork Stew” in the restaurants is the traditional stewed pickled Chinese cabbage dish. Generally, the Pork Stew in the restaurants is handed down from the original Pig Butchering Cuisine of Manchu. The traditional stewed pickled Chinese cabbage is made by braising boiled meat and soup with pickled Chinese cabbage, adding boiled pork meat, pork liver, and pork intestines and so on in it according to their own flavors, and then stewing them together with slow fire for over three hours. What surprises us is that the pickled Chinese cabbage, though having been stewed for over three hours, is not broken or melted and even absorbs the meat flavor. Manchu people have the custom of butchering pigs for the New Year. They butcher the pig that they have raised last year, divide it into parts, clean them and then put them in a large boiler to boil it with clear water. Nowadays, the traditional pork stew restaurants carry forward this tradition of Manchu’s and cook various dishes with the meat, including some dozens of different dishes. Therefore, this series of “Pork Stew” must be an important cuisine Manchu people usually had before they entered the Central Plain.

Harbin Cuisine - Chinese cabbage

The origin of pickled Chinese cabbage

The origin of pickled Chinese cabbage. At that time, people lived in cellars, and the stored vegetables were mostly Chinese cabbage. One year, the snow water flew into the jars stuffed with cabbage, so the cabbage was fermented. The housewife was reluctant to throw away the sour cabbage. What did she do? She removed the rotten outside part of the cabbage, washed it with snow water, sliced it and stewed it with pork meat. Surprisingly, the stewed dish smelt very delicious. A miracle happened. The pickled Chinese cabbage that was made by accident became Harbin people’s favorite in the following winter.

How to make the pickled Chinese cabbage

So, how on earth is this seemingly ordinary yet legendary pickled Chinese cabbage made? First, you should quick-boil the cabbage to make the fermentation better. In ordinary families, they often pickle the cabbage with cold water. One minute later, take out the cabbage from the boiled water quickly and then wash and cool it with cold water. The jars to store the cabbage are better to be thick and solid large jars. Put a layer of salt every time and put a layer of cabbage. There should not be too much or too little salt. If it’s too little, the cabbage is easy to go bad, if it’s too much, it’s not helping fuel for fermentation. After compacting the orderly laid-out cabbage, seal up the jar opening tight and put the jar in a place with a temperature of 5 to 10 degrees. 35 days later, a jar of pickled Chinese cabbage is then made.

How to cook the pickled Chinese cabbage

There are many ways to cook pickled Chinese cabbage. You can stir-fry, stew and quick-boil it. Sauté pickled Chinese cabbage shreds with boiled vermicelli and lean. It’s a dish commonly seen in families and restaurants in Harbin. It’s called “Stir-fried Vermicelli with Pickled Chinese Cabbage”. The pickled Chinese cabbage, which is stir-fried for a short time, tastes crisp, refreshing and sour, making it a perfect match of the rice.

part 3

Harbin fish

Harbin Cuisine - Stewing fish in a big iron pan on firewood

According to experts, the name “Harbin” was transliterated from Manchu language, which means “fishing nets drying ground”. Before the 19th century, the fisherman villages making a living by fishing spread all over both sides of the Songhua River. Today, the fishermen who make a living by fishing have reduced significantly, but the techniques of making fish and the custom of eating fish have been kept. Therefore, the fishing village which runs the business of Songhua River wild fishes has a flourishing business.

Stewing fish in a big iron pan on firewood

Stewing fish in a big iron pan on firewood is a traditional method to stew fish among the fishermen living beside Songhua River. The burning firewood boiled soup in the pan and warmed the heated brick bed, making the dinners waiting for food in winter get rid of cold. The dishes here are all wild fishes. The fish scale on normal ones are black is a river catfish. The rive catfish is yellowish in color, while catfish raised in fishponds are also black. How to make this soup? Actually, the raw materials of the soup are also fish-based. It’s made of small crucians, instead of the soup which is made from wild crucian and head of variegated carp.

When chef noticed that the fish soup is turning white. The first step to have the stewed love fish in the big iron pan is to put in a little three minced kinds of stuff, the minced green onion, ginger, and coriander. Attention should be paid to the skill of scooping up the soup. You have to scoop the soup from the place where the soup is boiling, otherwise, the soup you drink won’t be fish soup but fish oil instead. The nutrition in the fish is mainly integrated into the soup by hydrolysis. It’s not over yet while finishing the fish meat. Put various vegetables like Chinese cabbage, eggplant vermicelli, and bean curd into the iron pan and a bowl of specially-made sauce in Northeast to stew together for about 10 minutes. The flavor will be no less tasty than fish meat. Stewing by iron pan is also called big pan stewing, which is a distinctive feature in the diet of us Harbin people. Stewing is not limited to fish, there’re stewed pickles, stewed potato with eggplant, and stewed ribs with green bean. Stewing is a most common cooking method among Harbin people. In the freezing winter, a heated brick bed, a bowl of hot soup and a pan of stewing food make people feel warm.

The sauced raw fish

However, there’s also a sharp contrast to Harbin diet here, since they have hot stewing food on the one hand and cold sauced raw fish on the other hand. The sauced raw fish in Harbin was originated by Hezhe people(A native ethnic group).

The sauced raw fish in Harbin is different from Japanese sashimi in the cooking method. It’s particular about the fresh fish from fresh current but its cooking method is very simple. You only have to put in various condiments into the shredded fish meat after soaked in white vinegar for sterilization with some side vegetables according to personal preferences. And similar cold sauced vegetable dishes like this can be genuine only when matched with strong white spirit. This (fish) meat is very fresh and very chewy.

High-degree white spirit and Homely cold dish

It’s widely known that people in the northeast are good at drinking, which is actually due to the local climatic features. In the freezing winter, a sip of high-degree white spirit is the quickest way to get warm. And the pungent white spirit is not appropriate to go with hot dishes or spicy food, so the refreshing cold sauced dishes are the most suitable choice. As for the cold sauced dishes in Harbin, the relative traditional and typical one is a homely cold dish as is called. It’s a must for Harbin people to eat on new year’s day and other festivals as well as the best dish to go with wine. Drinking white spirit to get warm with refreshing cold dishes is supposed to be a distinctive eating habit in this freezing district.

part 4

Russian food in Harbin

Harbin Cuisine - Harbin sausage

Harbin sausage

The sausage was maroon, so it is also called red sausage, more because of origin in Harbin, more and more people call it Harbin sausage. The Songhua River water cultivates sausage of the raw material of high quality, make European processing of traditional production methods. Harbin sausage once launched immediately by foreign nationals, also won the local people love.


"Gwas" originated in Russia, it has a history of one thousand years. Gwas is a Russian food culture of the soul. "Gwas" is a low alcohol beverage, bread dry fermentation brewed beer, similar color and slightly red, sweet and sour moderate, taste and fragrance

Harbin Cuisine - Dalieba

Dalieba 大列巴

The history of Dalieba

The name Dalieba is a transliteration from Russian. At the end of 18th century, there’s a close contact between Harbin and European countries, like Russia for the construction of Middle East Railway. About 160,000 foreign settlers from more than 30 countries swarmed into this city successively, which occupied more than half of the total population of the city at that time. As the foreign settlers built houses, did business and settled down in Harbin, they infused vast European elements into the urban construction in the starting period and brought the custom of eating western-style food and bread to Harbin. The Harbin big loaf has a history of more than 100 years in Harbin. All the outsiders coming to Harbin would say the big loaf in Harbin is like a pot cover. Its standard diameter is 23 to 26cm and 16cm thick. Its most distinctive feature is that it’s made with the cooking method of traditional bread in Russia.

There are three times of fermentation in total. This is a traditional craft. The three times of fermentation takes about 24 hours. In fact, the core secret to make Dalieba lies in fermentation. The leavening used to be a hundred-year-old leavening, which contained many kinds of probiotics. Their fermentation technique was closely related to this plant called Humulus Humulus. So, the taste of bread made from Humulus Humulus is bitter and fragrant.

And Humulus Humulus is a requisite raw material growing in Heilongjiang for beer brewing. According to the introduction in “Grand Dictionary of Chinese Medicine”, it has the function to induce diuresis and xeransis, strengthen the spleen and stimulate appetite. As the firewood has been dried, only a lit paper can light all the firewood in the whole stove. It took about 40 minutes from the moment the firewood was lit to the time of complete combustion. While the following 40 minutes would be the most nervous period of time for the production staff. There were 4 chefs, with one in charge of weighing to ensure each Dalieba is at least 2 kilograms. And the other 3 are in charge of kneading the dough. They knead the dough with two hands and two Dallas should be finished kneading within every 8 seconds until all the semi-finished dough in numbers more than 300 were shaped up. Meanwhile, the semi-finished dough which had been shaped up was undergoing the last fermentation.