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Old Traditions of Making Huangyao Douchi

2024-06-04 15:15:00 Source:China Today Author:staff reporter MENG JIAXIN
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Huangyao Douchi is being airdried on a vacant lot.

The ancient town of Huangyao located in Zhaoping County, Hezhou City, south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, is renown for its time-honored Douchi processing techniques. Douchi is a kind of popular Chinese food made from fermented and salted black beans, which is commonly used as a condiment or seasoning for a variety of dishes. The history of Huangyao’s Douchi processing techniques can be traced back to the late Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). According to a historical record of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), “Huangyao is famous for its Douchi and has no rivals.”

The process of making Douchi in Huangyao involves about a dozen steps. The skills and procedures used to make it have evolved and been improved by generations of Huangyao people over the past 300 years. They have been passed down by verbal tradition as no related written documentation has been found to this day. Today, in an industrialized era, Huangyao Douchi is still made by traditional handmade process. In November 2008, Huangyao Douchi processing techniques were included in the list of intangible heritage items of Guangxi.

The unique flavor of Huangyao Douchi is attributed to the local natural environment. High-quality black beans are essential for the production of Douchi, so Huangyao Douchi is generally made from local premium black beans. Since the soil in Huangyao is high in selenium, a trace mineral which is vital to good health, the beans are also rich in nutrients. To make Huangyao Douchi, black beans are normally first soaked in well water from the town. The area of Huangyao is characterized by an unusual topography called karst which makes the underground water rich in minerals. As a result, Douchi made with this well water has a unique flavor.

Following the traditional steps that include steaming in wooden barrels, cooling, fermenting in a fermentation room, cleansing off enzymes in well water, fermenting with tree leaves, and air drying, it normally takes people over fifteen days to produce a batch of premium handmade Huangyao Douchi. After it is cooked, Huangyao Douchi becomes dark black in color and gives off an appetizing aroma.

Douchi is a commonly used sauce and ingredient of Huangyao cuisine. Local residents often eat it at breakfast with white rice porridge and rice noodles. In Huangyao, Douchi is not merely a simple condiment, it is an integral flavor of this ancient town that dates back a thousand years.

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