The story appears on

Page B3

December 28, 2016

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » Travel

Go fishing in Digang, where it’s a way of life

FOR the residents of Digang, fishing is more than an industry — it is a culture they live.This culture first makes its way into the local diet, known as Chen’s Cuisine.

Here in Digang and Nanxun, zongzi
(粽子, glutinous rice dumpling stuffed with different fillings) is often sold with black carp stuffing. Meatballs give way to fish-balls. Even fish scales, which are usually discarded elsewhere, are made into a delicious jelly — rich in organic collagen.

The fishing culture also finds place in Digang’s traditional performing arts.

Boats and fishermen’s various wooden tools are cleverly used as musical instruments, inspiring an entire gamut of folk dances.

These instruments, collectively known as “fisherman’s sizhu” (sizhu means traditional Chinese string and woodwind instruments), weave joyous melodies to which the villagers sing songs about their fishing life.

Since 2009, the village has been holding the Fish Culture Festival every winter — usually around Chinese New Year — as a way to celebrate the fishing culture with rituals, performances and feasts.

But this year, the festival was held on December 2 and attracted a large number of tourists.

Local fishermen hauled their seines from Digang’s mulberry dyke-fish ponds to provide for the evening’s meal.

As the sun set, the festive crowds sat down around dinner tables, beside a large campfire, in the open air. All the dishes were made from fresh fish.

The highlight of the feast was yutangfan (鱼汤饭), a soup specialty in Chen’s Cuisine. Hundred kilos of fish, layered in a colossal cauldron 3 meters wide, were stewed together with rice and vegetables, all flavored with ginger, garlic and other spices.

Also popular on the dinner table was lanhu shansi (烂糊鳝丝, shredded eels) — a Digang delicacy whose reputation traveled far and wide.

In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), when Emperor Qianlong (1711-99) stopped by Nanxun, he summoned a chef from Digang just to get a taste of the dish, which was then added to the royal kitchen’s recipes.

During the Republic of China (1912-49) era, Digang native Shi Qingsheng, who worked as a private chef for high-ranking Kuomintang official Chen Guofu, popularized the dish across Shanghai.

Accompanying the food was a series of fishing-inspired folk performances.

Candles, incenses and fireworks were lit according to the customs. The villagers also offered food to the God of Fishing as a sacrifice, in exchange for another good year — at the end of which, they commence the celebrations all over again.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend