The culinary culture of the Hakka People
The impression that most people have of Hakka cuisine is that it is “rich” but “unglamorous”. In fact, the Hakka people in the past cooked meals to fill up their stomach and is this not bother about the presentation of the dishes. As most of them lived in the misty hills, and had to carry out strenuous work that was exhausting and required salt and meat to replenish their strength. That is why Hakka cuisine is rich in taste, oily and salty. They also prefer to add preserved vegetables, such as pickled mustard green, salted vegetables and preserved turnip, to their dishes to improve the taste.
On the other hand, the Hakka cuisine is a blend of traditional Hakka food and the food of the places they chose to settle down. This indigenous integration formed a wide range of Hakka dishes that included spicy food, pickled food and sweet and sour food. Besides, the Hakka people value the importance of traditional festivals and seasonal diets, thus adding varieties to their culinary customs and food culture.
There is a wide range of Hakka cuisine that was derived from the different tribes that made up the Hakka community, such as Huizhou, Hepo, Meixian, Dapu. Each tribe has their individual signature dish, such as the Hepo’s Lei Cha (thunder tea), Dapu’s Yam Abacus, and Huizhou’s Braised Pork Belly with Pickled Mustard.
Authentic Hakka cuisine includes stuffed tofu, meatballs, braised pork with yam, braised pork with pickled mustard green, stuffed mushrooms, salty tang yuan, boiled chicken, yellow rice wine chicken, duck soup, yam abacus, thunder tea, deep-fried meat, and more. These Hakka food always offer diners a feeling of warmth and abundance.
Write-up adapted from Chong Moi Eng’s Truly Hakka Delights.