Suzhou – Taihu Lake

Taihu Lake is a large freshwater lake located in Jiangsu province. Three major cities are situated close by; Suzhou, Wuxi and Huzhou. Most tourists stop by Wuxi to take in the beautiful scenery of Taihu, home to many national parks, gardens and historic sights. While Wuxi is right on the lake, Suzhou is inland, about an hour drive from city centre to lakeside. During my visit home this summer, my aunts and uncles organized a day trip to Taihu Lake that included fishing and a lunch filled with local delicacies.

From the region, the famous ingredients are referred to as the “Taihu Lake Three Whites” or “Three Treasure of Taihu Lake”. These are white fish, whitebait and white shrimp.

Lunch began with a selection of cold dishes, including a pickled Chinese mustard greens that were crunchy, sweet and sour. The first treasure I got to try was white shrimp, boiled whole and lightly seasoned. Each tiny shrimp had a delicate, mild flavour. Even though they were difficult to eat (having to peel each one), mp chopsticks kept reaching for more. Every so often, I’d hit jackpot and find a female shrimp brimming with roe.

The second delicacy was Taihu whitebait, immature fry of fish, with scrambled eggs. So early in development, the whitefish added only a light fish flavour to the eggs. A full-grown white fish was served steamed with ginger, garlic and green onions. Being right next to the lake, the fish doesn’t get much fresher.

Other dishes that rounded out the meal included braised tofu, freshwater snail (another finicky dish that was worth the effort), bamboo sprouts with pickled cabbage, stir fried cucumber slices, deep fried freshwater sunfish, garlic chives with clams and a pot of chicken soup. All of the dishes used fresh local ingredients and were incredibly fragrant. The little sunfish were fried to a perfect crisp, to be eaten bones and all, and seasoned with salt and pepper. I loved biting the heads and tasting the burst of flavour. We ended up getting seconds of this dish. Another highlight was the free-range chicken soup, which was a deep golden yellow. I’ve always found chicken in China to have a stronger, natural chicken taste. The Hubby ladled up bowl after bowl of the fragrant broth until the last drop.

If you’re in the area, there are many local restaurants along Taihu Lake that offer these specialty dishes. The home style cooking was comforting, delicious and extremely satisfying.

Suzhou – Taihu LakeSuzhou – Taihu Lake
Suzhou – Taihu LakeSuzhou – Taihu LakeSuzhou – Taihu LakeSuzhou – Taihu LakeSuzhou – Taihu LakeSuzhou – Taihu LakeSuzhou – Taihu LakeSuzhou – Taihu Lake

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