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Friday, December 23, 2011

Fuzhou, capital of Fujian Province: Food & Heroes

Took train from Xiamen to Fuzhou, passing famous ancestral hometowns of Chinese-Singaporeans, such as Jinjiang, Quanzhou, Putian and Fuqing (Fook Ching). These places used to be sleepy farming villages when our ancestors left them; they are now huge cities with modern malls, office towers and luxurious condos. Now in Fuzhou before I set off for Matsu Island which belongs to Taiwan R.O.C. tomorrow.


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You must have heard about Foochow or Fuzhou Fishball. So, when I walked into a restaurant in Fuzhou, I wanted to have a bowl of that, I was asked how many fishball I wanted. How about 5? The waitress replied, that would be too much. Fuzhou fishballs are huge, she said.


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I see fried noodle everywhere in Fujian. I recall our Singapore favourite, Hokkien Mee and I wanted to see if they are the same. Yes and no. They share the same yellow wheat noodle that we call Hokkien noodle or sheng mian in Singapore, and both are fried with lots of eggs and sheds of lean meat. But the Singapore version has prawns and squid (sotong) and is fried in prawn broth. That makes the SG version more fragrant and flavourful, or perhaps I'm biased:)  SG and MY version also has belachan chili, which I really miss. It's like the SG version of Hainanese chicken rice, that has influences from Cantonese and Southeast Asian cuisines, which made so much nicer than the original Wenchang chicken rice in Hainan.

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Yam is also one of Fuzhou's famous dishes. I just rumbled off famous dishes from my guidebook, forgetting that I couldn't finish all. I had to takeaway this dish. Like most dishes in China, it's oily. I miss the healthier Teochew version found in Singapore.

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I have bought my ferry tickets to the (used-to-be) heavily fortified Taiwanese controlled Matsu Islands, located at the entrance of Min River on which Fuzhou is located. Very expensive boat tickets - RMB 300 (S$60) for an hour long journey.

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Despite countless trips to China (1st trip in 1987; between 2 and 10 trips a year in the last decade), I still get annoyed with hearing people clearing their throats, spitting and quarreling with each other on the streets

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The Museum of Lin Zexu in Fuzhou. This is the viceroy of Guangdong who burned opium belonging to British merchants thus sparking off the opium war. Viceroy Lin is today a national hero of China. His home museum lies in the middle of a well preserved district of grand mansions, surrounded by shopping malls and high rise apartments. I even spied well-stocked pirate DVD/CD shops, perhaps a modern day revenge against Western capitalism by an even more powerful local capitalism with Chinese characteristics.












































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