Lu Cuisine, also called Shandong Cuisine or Lu Cai, is originated from the native cooking styles of East China’s Shandong Province. Lu Cuisine is the most prevalent distinct regional cuisine in China, popular through out Beijing, Tianjin and Northeast China.
Lu Cuisine (Lu Cai, 鲁菜) or Shandong Cuisine （山东菜）ranks the first of Eight Chinese Cuisines. It has a long history. As far back at least as Xia Dynasty, salt was used for seasoning in Shandong. The Book of Songs in Zhou Dynasty has recorded the eating of lumpfish and carp in the Yellow River. Today Yellow River Carp Prepared with Sugar and Vinegar is still among the best dishes of Lu Cuisine, which shows how long a history Lu Cuisine has. Through generations of refinement, Lu Cuisine developed into a representative cuisine in the north China. During the periods of Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties, Lu Cuisine entered the imperial court as rare delicacies in the court and spread in different northern areas.
Lu Cuisine is more inclined to keep the freshness of ingredients than other cuisines and fond of salt flavor, featured with tender, savory and crisp. It is particular about making soup.
Seafood is the most notable ingredient of Lu Cuisine as Shandong is a costal province, including scallops, prawns, clams, sea cucumbers, and squid, which are all local ingredients of exemplary quality. Besides seafood, corn, peanuts, grains such as small grains, millet, wheat, oat and barley, and staple vegetables of Shandong province including potatoes, tomatoes, cabbages, mushrooms, onions, garlic and eggplants.
There are over thirty cooking techniques applied in Lu Cuisine, among which Bao technique (煲, quick-fry) and Pa technique are frequently and well used in Lu Cuisine. In Bao (quick-fry), foods are deep-fried in very hot oil over high heat and then the oil is poured out and seasonings are added to the food, which is left in the wok. Pa technique, derived from Shandong Province, is first to cut the well-cooked ingredient into a particular shape, then stick some powder and fry it into golden, finally add some kind of sauce to sauté it while stirring continuously.
Lu cuisine is the local flavor of Jinan City and Jiaodong peninsula derived from the use of shallots and garlic. Both restaurant chefs and those in families are expert in cooking seafood, soups, meat and offal. The recipes are those that once delighted the royal court and were served to the emperor.
The typical menu in Lu Cuisine can include many delicate dishes such as:
Braised abalone - smooth, delicate, fresh and savory
Sweet and Sour Carp - with crisp exterior and tender fish interior, a little sweet and sour
Bree with a complex - clear, mild and fresh
'Eight Immortals Crossing Sea teasing Arhats' - This is a starter before a celebration feast. It is luxurious and traditionally uses as its eight main ingredients: fin, sea pumpkin, abalone, asparagus, prawns and ham. The stock is flavored with fish's swimming bladder and fish bones. These symbolize the eight immortals and the Arhats [Buddhist saints] are symbolized by the inclusion of chicken breast.
In the years of Emperor Guangxu of Qing Dynasty, the owner of Jiuhualin Hotel in Ji’nan got famous for the soy sauce braised pig’s large intestines, which is prepared by first boiling the cleaned intestines in the water added with spices until they are soft and tender, then picking them out and cutting them into sections, and finally braising the intestines added with soy sauce, sugar, spices and the like. Later improvement has been made in methods of preparation—the cleaned large intestines are fried in oil after being well boiled, then seasoning and spices are added for the braising. This dish prepared in such a manner is more delicious. Scholars named it “Nine-procedure Large Intestine” for the meticulous preparation of the food, which is comparable to Taoist “Nine Procedures to Refine Gold Pills”.