Rainbow trout and coloured tofu for adventurous visitors in Beijing

Liugou village in Yanqing district attracts visitors with its homemade delicacies.
PHOTO: China Daily/Asia News Network

If you are in Beijing for a short holiday, a visit to the suburbs will enhance your travel experience with its natural beauty, its historical sites and its distinctive delicacies.

Among the various delicacies is the rainbow trout.

The Huairou district in northern Beijing, which has mountains and abundant water resources, produces some of the best rainbow trout in China, although the fish is not a native specimen.

It was brought to the region from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in 1959.

Nowadays, visitors can catch the fish and have a restaurant cook it for them.

Chefs in Huairou have developed myriad of ways to prepare the fish.

You can enjoy the fish barbecued, pan-fried or deep-fried.

Or go for rainbow trout soup, rainbow trout skin salad sided with vegetables, stewed rainbow trout, rainbow trout dumplings or sashimi.

With so many different ways to cook the fish, many restaurants in the area also offer a rainbow trout feast, where diners can sample dishes all made from the rainbow trout.

Meanwhile, as the only district in Beijing with a Manchu township, Huairou offers you authentic Manchu dining culture.

One of the best-preserved Manchu dining traditions is er ba xi, which means two eight-dish feasts, because the dishes must be served in eight bowls and eight plates respectively.

The delicacies in the eight plates are four hot dishes and four cold dishes that change according to the season.

The delicacies served in the bowls are typically made using pork, tofu and mushroom, and are a fixed menu.

The pork is usually boiled and fried before being cooked to get rid of its greasiness.

There is a fixed order to serve the dishes, and famous dishes from the feast include "cedar wood smoked pork", a dish that legend says Empress Dowager Cixi first tasted during her escape from the Eight-Power Allied Forces invasion of the capital in 1900.

Another must-try from among the delicacies is tofu from Liugou village, in Yanqing district.

The village is located in a place which used to house an important military fortress during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and thus has a lot of historical sites, such as ancient temples and ruins of a fortress.

The tofu made there, based on an ancient method, is very tender, but will not break no matter how long it is boiled, fried or steamed.

It is said that Yanqing tofu tastes better because the area grows high quality beans, and has water that tastes slightly sweet.

The village is now a famous tourism destination due to its "tofu feasts", a meal comprising dishes containing tofu.

The most popular tofu feast dish is huo pen guo, which literally means fire pot.

Here, cabbage, fresh tofu, frozen tofu, pork and other foods are boiled in a ceramic pot and when the food is ready to eat, it gives off distinctive aromas and flavors due to the combination of different ingredients in the same pot.

Besides common white tofu made from yellow beans, Yanqing has tofu of different colors made from black beans and green beans.