China News Service, Kunming, March 5th: Grilled tilapia with lemongrass, Dai cuisine blends southern charm

  Author Chen Xuelian

  As the moon rises, the Xingguang Night Market in Jinghong City, the capital of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in southern Yunnan, welcomes the busiest moment of the day.

Tourists from all over the world sit around the barbecue stalls and enjoy the unique local Dai barbecue.

The lemongrass grilled tilapia, an affordable delicacy that combines Yunnan Dai flavor with South and Southeast Asian flavors, is the representative dish to judge the quality of the barbecue stalls at Starlight Night Market.

The picture shows Li Liusan, the chef of the Kunming main store of "Yunhai Cuisine", a representative restaurant brand of Yunnan cuisine, cooking grilled tilapia with lemongrass.

Photo by Chen Xuelian

  This dish is not complicated to make.

Li Liusan, the chef of the Kunming main store of "Yunhai Cuisine", a representative restaurant brand of Yunnan cuisine, introduced that to grill lemongrass tilapia, you only need to choose a fresh tilapia weighing about 1 catty, wash it, cut it open, and stuff it. Use special "tomato nanmi" sauce such as tamarillo, coriander, millet, garlic, etc., then tie it with lemongrass, clamp it with bamboo slices, and then bake it over charcoal fire.

When it is cooked, apply oil and continue baking for about 5 minutes, and a fragrant lemongrass grilled tilapia will be ready.

  In fact, tilapia and lemongrass are both imported.

One originates from Africa and was introduced to Yunnan in the late 1950s; the other originates from South Asia, Southeast Asia and Australia, and is also known as "lemongrass" and was later introduced to Yunnan.

  Tilapia reproduces quickly, has high yields, has few spines and fresh meat, and is rich in protein and amino acids. It can promote brain development, improve vision and regulate blood pressure. It has been welcomed by Chinese diners as soon as it was introduced.

  Lemongrass has medicinal values ​​such as dispelling wind and dampness, strengthening the stomach and eliminating cellulite, sterilizing and anti-toxic. It can also remove fishy smell and deodorize dishes. It has been used as a cooking and herbal medicine in South and Southeast Asia for at least 5,000 years, and is widely used. Used in Thai Tom Yum soup, Vietnamese spring rolls, Indian curry, milk tea and other dishes, as well as in soaps and aromatherapy.

In Yunnan, lemongrass is also one of the soul seasonings of Dai flavor.

Pictured is Grilled Tilapia with Lemongrass.

Photo by Chen Xuelian

  Grilled tilapia with lemongrass is not only a combination of tilapia and lemongrass, but also a fusion of Yunnan Dai flavor and southern charm.

"The fusion of cuisine is a process of penetration and gradual combination." American historian Robert Parker said.

The charm of grilled tilapia with lemongrass lies in its combination of "tasteless" lemongrass and "tasteless" tilapia. Grilled over an open fire, the aroma of lemongrass penetrates into the fish, complementing each other and very consistent with the Qing Dynasty. Gourmet Yuan Mei's cooking method: "Bring out the flavorful food, and let the tasteless food in."

  According to legend, grilling fish with herbs is related to Jiang Taigong.

Jiang Taigong once used herbs to raise fire to grill fish, which made King Wen of Zhou full of praise.

In ancient China, people also used various herbs in various areas of life.

For example, the Emperor of Zhou used "Baomao" paid tribute by the Chu State to filter pure wine and offer sacrifices to his ancestors; Wang Wei, a poet of the Tang Dynasty, wrote in his poem "Wenxingguan" that people used the precious and rare "lemongrass" to build houses. Symbolizes an otherworldly ideal state.

  At the same time, this dish is not only a physical fusion of lemongrass and tilapia, but also reflects the cultural fusion of Yunnan and South and Southeast Asia.

In Dai cuisine, lemongrass not only creates sparks with tilapia, but is also often paired with chicken, ribs, pork, beef, mutton and other meaty meats, or made into drinks and soups to quench thirst, eliminate fatigue and aid digestion.

  "Yunnan food is inextricably related to the food of South Asia and Southeast Asia. Especially in Xishuangbanna, Dehong and other areas in southern Yunnan, lemongrass has been planted and used very early." "Taste of China: A Natural History of Spices and Condiments" 1 Introduction by the author Zhou Wenhan.

Baoyu, a Dai girl born in the 1990s in Dehong, also told reporters, "You can find some lemongrass in front and behind almost every house in our village." She likes lemongrass ice drinks and popsicles very much, "the taste is sweet and refreshing."

  "In the 1990s, as Yunnan cuisine and Thai food gradually entered China, lemongrass and lemongrass grilled tilapia became known and loved in a wider range. At the same time, Asian spices such as lemongrass are also used in Western food ." Zhou Wenhan said that the combination of ingredients allows cultures to be integrated easily and naturally.

  Interestingly, in the Hollywood movie "Dune", the final resource that humans compete for is not gold, but spices.

Maybe it has something to do with the magical fusion of spices.

The prophecy that “spice is better than gold” has already reflected the reality of Yunnan people.