As is known to all, the ancestors of the Manchu were the Jurchen and Mohe. In the past, the Mohe enjoyed eating pork, practiced pig farming extensively, and were mainly sedentary, and also used both pig and dog skins for coats. In addition to literary and artistic accomplishments, they developed agriculture, fishery and animal husbandry for their livelihood, except hunting; therefore, the Manchus was predominantly farmers and grew soybean, wheat, millet, and rice.
Although their Mohe ancestors did not respect dogs, the Jurchen people began to respect dogs around the time of the Ming Dynasty and passed this tradition on to the Manchu, it was prohibited in Jurchen culture to use dog skin, and forbidden for Jurchens to harm, kill, and eat dogs, since the Jurchens believed that the "utmost evil" was the usage of dog skin by Koreans. The dog consumption of Koreans marked them apart from the Manchus.
Manchu Women Preparing Meal
The Manchus staple food mainly includes corn, broomcorn, millet, broomcorn millet, soybean and pea. One unique Manchu diet is “Suan Tangzi” (a kind of Sour Soup). To make Suan Tangzi, the Manchus first ferment the corn flour till it taste a little sour, and then make noodles with the fermented flour, to make the Suan Tangzi have a distinctive flavor.
Besides, another traditional Manchu diet is Suziyie Doubao (steamed bun, stuffed with sweetened mashed-beans, wrapped with perilla leaves outside). The scientific name of Suziyie is Perilla Frutescens. Normally, the Manchus wrap weetned mashed beans with sticky rice, and the buns with perilla leaves before steaming them. Suziyie Doubao has the aroma of perilla leaves.
Inside of Suziyie Doubao
During the region of Emperor Qianlong during the Qing Dynasty, the economy was quite developed, and the market for food was prosperous. A variety of new dishes were developed during that time, among which were the "Eight Major Manchu Nationality Dishes", including:
① Stir-fried tofu with preserved vegetable;
② Marinated shrimp with tofu and egg;
③ Grilled pork trotters;
④ Poached frog;
⑤ Braised mushroom with chicken;
⑥ Braised pork with picked vegetables
⑦ Braised yellow croaker;
⑧ Chinese tuna with stewed pork chitterlings
These dishes have developed into home-style classics of the region, and are all favored by locals.
The Eight Major Manchu Nationality Dishes
And of course, the Manchus has various kinds of typical local dishes, and among them, saqima (a kind of candied fritter), Mung-bean cake, Lvdagun (ie. fried chop rice cake, which is a kind of steamed roll made of bean flour and sweetened bean paste), Niushebing (a kind of tongue-shaped cake) are still loved by people nowadays because they are delicious and tasty.
The most representative Manchu food is the Banquet of the Manchu and Han dishes, called "The Manchu Han Imperial Feast". This grand imperial banquet has a history of 200 years, combining the best cuisine from the Manchus and the Hans, as well as that of the Mongols, the Huis and the Tibetans. This royal sumptuous feast is the greatest classical banquet in China.
The Manchu Han Imperial Feast includes many notable dishes in Manchu cuisine with 108 dishes (of which 54 are northern dishes and 54 are southern dishes) that would be eaten over three days.
The Manchu Han Imperial Feast
The Manchu palace banquets were subdivided into six grades. The first, second and third grades were prepared for deceased imperial ancestors. The fourth grade food was served to imperial family during the Chinese New Year and other celebrations. The fifth and sixth grades were served on all other occasions.
What’s more, the principal vegetables of the Manchus are Chinese cabbage and radish. They often eat pickled Chinese cabbage. The dish of the Manchu hot pot was made with the pickled Chinese cabbage, as well as pork and mutton as principal materials. People boil thin slices of meat in boiling water and eat them with its special flavor.