Anhui cuisine is characterized by its heavy use of oil, deeply flavored sauces, and superior soups and stock. The main cooking style is braising or roasting, with masterful manipulation of heat and fire.
The people of Anhui value the inextricable link between life and health. Anhui cuisine, or Huicai in Chinese, is known not only for its healthy way of cooking, but also for its traditional culinary arts featuring pleasant aromas, crisp and mellow textures, and salty and slightly spicy flavors.
Chefs specialize in ingredients available locally, so from its mountains come wild game such as civet cats, stone frogs, pigeons and birds. Young bamboo shoots, regularly harvested, also are a major ingredient in Anhui cuisine. Turtles, eels, fish, snails and whelks come from the rivers and streams.
Anhui dishes preserve most of the original taste and nutrition of their raw ingredients. The general flavor is slightly spicy and salty. Some master dishes are usually stewed in brown sauce with stress on heavy oil and sauce. Ham is often added to improve the taste and sugar candy added to accentuate freshness.
High up on the menu are stewed soft shell turtle with ham, Huangshan braised pigeon, steamed stone frog, steamed rock partridge, stewed fish belly in brown sauce, bamboo shoots cooked with sausage and dried mushrooms.