Food in Hainan


Jessica, please tell us more about the food in Hainan.

With pleasure.
But first, let me ask you a question.
How much do you know about Hainan?

Well, it’s a good question.
Hainan is an island… yes, I certainly know that.
Hainan is in the south of China.
Not that far from Hong Kong and Guangdong province.

Yes, that’s a good start.
Right… Hainan is an island,
but also a province in China.
Yes, it’s in the south.
The weather is basically tropical.
It rains a lot here, especially in the summer.
But we have a lot of tropical fruits.
So, there are upsides and downsides of living here.

Haikou. Image by thomas fischler at Flickr, CC-BY

OK… let’s talk about food in Hainan.

Back to food…
Yes! Every province in China…
has it’s own variety of food.
Hainan is no exception.
Let’s start with these four, most popular, dishes…

Yes, tell us, please…
I have no idea at the moment.

Ha…ha… you will learn it soon.
All right… the famous dishes are…
Wenchang chicken…
Jiaji duck…
Dongshan lamb…
and… Hele crab.

Wow… sounds delicious.
I actually never had a chance to try any of those.

Yes… you should…
you definitely should…

Image by kudo88, Flickr, CC-BY-ND

So, let me guess…
These names… they refer to…
the places in Hainan, right?

Excellent guess.
These are the places…
where these dishes come from…
For instance… Wenchang…
It’s a city and a district in the northeast of Hainan.
This is where the Wenchang chicken comes from.
Jiaji duck is originally from
the place in the eastern part of the island.
and Hele crab…

Yes… Hele is in the east too. Right?

That’s right. How did you guess?

Ha…ha… it’s easy.
People mostly live in the eastern part of Hainan.
The west is pretty much… the mountains.

True… we have two large cities here…
Haikou in the north…
and Sanya in the south.
And people live mostly on the East coast.

All right… So, Wenchang chicken…
What’s so special about it?

What is special?
The taste, I guess.
And the way it’s cooked.
They put chicken in almost boiling water.
And cook it in such a way…
so that the meat remains soft.

Image by Anna Frodesiak at Wiki_Commons, Public Domain

And do you eat it with sauces, right?

That’s right.
They serve the chicken chopped into the small pieces.
And you dip a piece of chicken into the sauce…
The sauce has ginger in it.
And… you eat it…
with rice, of course, and veggies on the side.

What about the duck?

Oh… the duck… Jiaji duck…
They use specially selected grains to raise the ducks.
And there are even a few different ways of cooking this dish.

Image by drs2biz at Flickr, CC-BY-SA

Fantastic. Now the lamb…

Dongshan lamb is special too.
The meat has no unpleasant smell…
The smell that lamb meat usually does have…
And it is cooked in coconut milk.

Well, Hainanese food…
I am pretty sure it has some seafood dishes too.
So, I guess… Hele crab is the most famous, right?

Right… Hele crab…
The crab meat, plus a lot of ginger and garlic.

Image by lalomartins at Flickr, CC-BY-SA

Great. But, I think the food in Hainan…
it’s not just limited to four famous dishes.

Of course, not.
These are just the most famous ones.
We have so many other dishes.
Hainan-style hot pots — there are so many different ones.
We have our own techniques of cooking
pork dishes, and goose, and lamb.
And the seafood is really good.
But you already know that.

Image by kudo88, Flickr, CC-BY-ND

Yes, now I do.
May be next time you could tell us more
about fruits and drinks in Hainan.
After all, it‘s a tropical island.
There must be a lot of tropical fruits there.

Yes, we have a lot of tasty fruits here.
Will tell you next time.

Thanks so much, Jessica.

You are welcome.


Head image by Michael Gwyther-Jones at Flickr, CC-BY