Hakka Food Primer

August 18, 2012 Updated: September 29, 2015

Hakka cuisine is innovative, healthy, and takes advantage of the fruits and vegetables grown in the surrounding areas of wherever the Hakka people may live.

The cuisine is generally characterized as fatty, salty, fragrant, and well-cooked. Fat is important, because the Hakka people work hard and need to keep up their energy levels.

A heavier-than-normal use of salt in dishes like salt-baked chicken is used to replenish the minerals lost while working in the fields.

Having been useful during the migrations of the Hakka people, pickling and drying are a long-treasured Hakka custom. It is also useful when living in mountainous areas, or ensuring that a variety of off-season foods are stocked up.

When using pickled or dried foods, the custom is to use items that have been preserved for about a year.

Incorporating fragrant seasonings and spices in Hakka dishes is elemental, because there are dried foods used like squid jerky, or pickled foods that need specific handling and attention paid to the finished aroma.

Hakka is a migrating ethnic culture. Throughout different regions of China and Taiwan, you will find that, in the spirit of adaptability, they incorporate modern cooking methods and natural and seasonal local items into traditional dishes.

Given their virtuous frugal nature, the Hakka do not like to waste, and so many Hakka dishes are created with thoughtfulness to ease of reheating, and reuse in other dishes.

Even in times of plenty, the Hakka are frugal. But do not mistake frugality with miserliness. Hakka cuisine is made to be filling and satisfying, as well as delicious.

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