When I went to my hometown, Shunde in Foshan city in Guangdong province, for tomb-sweeping in early April this year, I was lucky to enjoy the seafood that was in season－river shrimp.
River shrimp, as the name suggests, are creatures that live in rivers. One can find many kinds of them in the Pearl River Delta.
The fact that they normally lay their eggs between April and May makes them taste especially delicious at the time of the year.
But of course, it takes good cooking skills to make a delicacy out of them.
That’s why the owner of the Hewan farm situated on Flower Avenue in Shunde recommended boiled rift shrimp, a kind of river shrimp that can be found in the cracks of stones, when I was treated to a lunch there by my relatives after worshipping our ancestors.
Rift shrimp, which inhabit the basins of Xijiang and Beijiang, are not big but their meat is tight and sweet.
While shrimp are a common food loved by many people in the world and there are various ways of cooking them, the best way to cook rift shrimp, I believe, is by boiling because only that can keep the taste of their meat unspoiled.
After they are boiled and served, one just needs to dip them in a garlic paste and enjoy the meat.
In fact, river shrimp are not only good to eat but also good to make sauce, namely shrimp sauce.
A large amount of little hairy shrimp can be found in the Pearl River Delta. While they are not suitable to be served on the plates, they however make for a perfect ingredient of the unique sauce.
The way of make it is to grind the shrimp into paste then marinate it.
It tastes so good that even Zhang Zhidong, a famous provincial governor during the late Qing dynasty, could not resist it.
According to folklore, Zhang got off his horse and stood by the roadside in Guangzhou to enjoy a dish called braised tofu with roast pork that was accompanied with the shrimp sauce.
The top official became so enamored of the food that he didn’t mind eating it along with a bunch of low-level workers.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 5.
Translation by Taka Liu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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