The Cuisine of Wuhan, China: Recipes from The Land of Rice and Fish

By Ying Chang Compestine, "The Land of Rice and Fish," July/August 2007

Returning to her roots, Ying Chang Compestine rediscovers one of China’s most delicious regional cuisines.

The Flavors of Wuhan Cuisine
Although the landscape of Wuhan has changed, the food remains the same. During our three-week visit, my family and I went from street vendors to 12-course meals, eating with family and friends. The dishes we ate were the same as what my mother had served. My son was just as wild about garlic frog legs and mijo, a dessert made from fermented rice, as I had been as a child.

I came to America as a graduate student in 1986, and in the years since then I’ve found sometimes weeks pass by when I don’t have a chance to speak or write Chinese. I read Western literature, listen to jazz and play tennis. Yet, almost every day I eat Chinese food and it transports me right back to Wuhan. When I cook Pocket Eggs with Soy-Sesame Sauce or Lion’s Head Meatballs, I remember my mother telling me how fresh the eggs were and how long the line was at the butcher’s shop. When I make Long-Life Noodles with Green Tea, I recall my grandmother explaining that green tea stimulates the mind and calms the soul.

I have always believed that food not only satisfies our hunger, it connects us to others and to our past. It is by cooking the foods of my childhood that I keep the ties to my beloved China alive.

—Ying Chang Compestine’s latest book, Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party (Henry Holt & Co., August 2007), is a novel based on her childhood in Wuhan. Her website is:

Travel: Cruise the Yangtze

Viking River Cruises has a 15-night tour of “China’s Cultural Delights,” including 3 nights in Beijing and a 9-night river cruise from Chongqing to Nanjing aboard the 153-cabin Viking Century Sun. The cruise features visits to Wuhan, the Three Gorges Dam and the Great Wall, with meals at local restaurants as well as on board. The trip starts at $3,192 per person, all inclusive. (877) 668-4546,

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