I wrote the Hangzhou entry for the World Atlas of Street food, published in September 2017 by Thames and Hudson Ltd.
Hefang Street Market, Hangzhou
Hangzhou’s scenic West Lake in eastern China may boast elegant bridges, picture-perfect pagodas and delicate weeping willow trees, but it also has a distinct lack of eating options. So, after circumnavigating its 17-kilometre (101⁄2-mile) shoreline, visitors would do well to head to nearby Hefang Street to sample typical Chinese street food, including Hangzhou specialities. This 500-metre-long (1⁄3 mile) food street has, like much else in China, an ancient history. Modelled on Song Dynasty (960–1279) architecture, the street was in use when Hangzhou was the capital of the Song emperors and many of the city’s longest- established businesses still have a presence here. Three-hundred-year-old Fang Hui Chun Tang sells traditional Chinese medicine and is one of the area’s oldest stores. As well the touristy souvenirs on sale, there’s a mind-boggling amount of food to sample, from beautiful ‘dragon-whisker’ candy and handcrafted nougat to all manner of things – meat, squid, crabs, spiralized potatoes – barbecued on sticks, to a seemingly endless supply of delicate cakes and biscuits, beautifully crafted and packaged, and delicately flavoured with red bean paste, fruits and aromatic flowers. TH
Where: Hefang Street (Wushan Square – Zhongwe Road), Hangzhou
When: Daily 8a.m.– 9p.m.
Don’t let the pungent odour put you off – the taste is milder and more pleasant than you might believe.
Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 5 minutes
200 g / 7 oz fermented tofu cut into thick slices (around 10 pieces) 150 ml / 5 fl oz cooking oil
150 ml / 5 fl oz cooking oil15 g / 1⁄2 oz douchi (fermented
15 g / 1⁄2 oz douchi (fermented black soybeans), roughly chopped
10 g / 1⁄4 oz douban jiang (spicy broad bean paste) Spring onion (to taste), roughly
Spring onion (to taste), roughly chopped
Root ginger (to taste), finely sliced
- Wash the tofu thoroughly and drain off the water.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok to a high heat. Reduce the heat and shallow fry the tofu on both sides until it turns golden brown. Remove from the oil and set aside (shown left).
- To the hot oil, add the fermented black soybeans, spicy broad bean paste, spring onion and ginger, and stir-fry briefly until the ingredients are combined.
- Add the tofu back into the pan along with a small amount of water. Turn up the heat, if needed, and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes until the sauce thickens.
- Remove from the pan and serve immediately.