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Delicacies in Yuanyang Rice Terraces


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Delicacies in Yuanyang Rice Terraces

元阳梯田里的美味



大鱼塘民俗村,位于元阳哈尼梯田申报世界文化遗产的核心区域内,全村有90余户人家。村后的梯田依山而筑,随着山脊的起伏,每一块田地的形状都不规则,长期以来只能依靠人工收割,辛劳成倍付出。即便如此,世代生活在这里的哈尼人依然静守着这片梯田,按时令插秧、收获。那些来自田间的食材,是梯田赠予他们的美味。


Dayutang Folk Village is located in the core area of Hani Terrace in Yuanyang County to declare world cultural heritage, with more than 90 households. The terraces behind the village are built according to the mountains. With the rise and fall of the ridges, the shape of each field is irregular. For a long time, they can only rely on manual harvesting, and the work is hard and doubled. Even so, Hani people who have lived here for generations are still living on the terrace, transplanting seedlings and harvesting in time. The food from the fields is the delicacy of terraces.



Fragrance of Red Rice 

红米香


Villagers are usually transplant rice seedlings in April, since it is the season for recovery. Hani people have the custom of “open the gate for seedlings” to pray for a good harvest. They believe that no singing no harvest, no dancing no lively village during the rice transplanting. Therefore, women are working hard with their sleeves rolled up, and the sounds of cattle driving and the hoes are constantly in the ears. A strong atmosphere of production and life is fulfilled in the air. The soil in the field is very fertile, no hard things scratching the feet when step into the field, because Hani people always clean up the stones and sticks when doing the plough works. 

The time around Mid-Autumn Festival is the harvest season of red rice. Rolling waves of golden rice with strong fragrance take the place of  hills. Steaming the red rice with spring water from mountain, and the hot air scattered everywhere when uncovering the pot lid. The red spots attached to the rice are dimly visible, and the grains are distinct, non-sticky, fragrant and soft. For the villagers who work hard in the fields, a bowl of delicious red rice is the best reward for them.

When harvesting the red rice, Hani people will held “New Rice Festival”, “We get the paddy to pray for the God, and thank nature for its gift.” Villager Li Xue told us that Long Street Banquet on the festival is enthusiastic and joyous. Tables are placed one after another form each households in the open area.“Villagers start to work in the early morning. They prepared many delicious food, such as pork, chickens, ducks, fish, beef and so on.” Li Xue said, in addition, red rice, duck eggs, fish and loach from the terrace are indispensable, as well as the rice wine brewed with red rice. It is delicate and sweet with endless aftertaste.



Fish in the Terraces

梯田鱼

Terrace fish is a traditional food that can not be missed in Yuanyang. It is also the most authentic delicacy in the fields.

When transplanting the rice seedlings, villagers will put finger-length crucian and carp into the paddy field, and the falling rice flowers will be the natural feed for the fish. When the rice is ripe in August, the fish will be caught. It is the most vivid memory for Hani people to pull up their trousers and roll up their sleeves to catch fish in the fields.

Guo Zhongliang, a chef of the village restaurant, has his own way of cooking terrace fish. “The selected fish are provided by villagers,” he said. “The fish production is not complicated and scaling is not necessary in order to keep the crisp taste.” Both sides of the fish should be thoroughly fried first, it will taste more fragrant after that. After fried, the fish will be boiled in the pot, and the water must be the spring water from mountain. “We have a constant mountain stream here all the year round, and the taste is fresh and sweet.”

It usually takes half an hour to cook the fish, so the fish soup is in rich milky white, instead of clear soup. “When the fish is ready to serve, coriander, scallion and chili will be put as seasonings.” The stewed fish will not rot after a long time. It can still keep its appearance intact when it is served. The perfect combination of all kinds of seasonings also improves the appearance of the dish. The fish meat is sweet, tender, without any fishy smell, and the side dishes enrich the taste of the fish. The fish soup is rich in aroma, and goes well with rice.



Field Tastes

田间野味

Hani people are full of respect for water. They think that everything is alive. Water not only made the unique Yuanyang red rice and terrace fish, but also provides home for loaches and eels.

“The loaches and eels in the terrace are not fed.” Guo Zhongliang said, “During the harvest season, catching loaches and eels is our favorite activity.” Pull up your trousers, roll up your sleeves, walk into the mud with bare feet, and groping with hands in the field...There won’t be much to gain for an entire morning.

The loach will be made into a dish called Hani Loach with Fermented Soybean, together with taro, tofu, eggplant, bamboo shoots, green chili and so on. The loaches should be fried first, then cooked with ginger, garlic and other condiments. Finally, stewed with different vegetables for about 10 minutes. Also, the eels are usually burned with firewood ash, removed viscera and strung with a wire to become a unique local dish called dry eels. Another way to cook dry eel is boil, filter out the water and mix it with ginger and garlic. It tastes spicy and goes well with rice and wine. Dry eels also can be stewed with sour bamboo shoots, taro, pepper, chili and mint. The taste is sour, spicy and refreshing.


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