Every movement and fine detail of the recent first meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and the top leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un has been dissected online. For one, during their working lunch, one of the dishes they shared is a specialty that originated in China. That dish was Yangzhou fried rice.
Many countries around the world have different varieties of rice dishes, from Spain to Thailand to India, each with its own distinct features. And the Yangzhou fried rice dish from China carries its particularly exquisite quality of fine dining. It typically uses the highest quality long-grain rice, with fresh eggs as the main ingredient, complemented with no less than eight other ingredients, including soaked sea cucumbers, Chinese cured ham, batter-coated prawns, fresh bamboo shoots and green peas. The dish is presented in an array of subtle and vibrant colors, bringing together a pleasant blend of fresh and salty flavors on the palate. Different from other fried rice dishes, traditional Yangzhou fried rice dish usually does not include special sauces to enhance its color or flavor; master chefs create the dish with its own unique, mouth-watering aroma.
Being one of China’s most iconic specialties, Yangzhou fried rice is offered in most Chinese restaurants around the world, as well as within China. Many people have learned to appreciate Chinese cuisine through this “gateway” introduction of Yangzhou fried rice. It is also enjoyed by many world leaders.
In the year 2013, the United Nations appointed Yangzhou fried rice, along with other Chinese specialties, as the official cuisine on offer. They received special compliments from the U.N. Secretary General at the time, Ban Ki-moon. And in 2014, during a visit to China, the American first lady Michelle Obama specially requested Yangzhou fried rice as the main dish for an official banquet held in her honor. Yangzhou fried rice was also one of the favorite dishes of attending officials during the Beijing APEC summit in 2014.
Then, during the Trump-Kim meeting, Yangzhou fried rice was once again chosen to represent Chinese gourmet food culture, put on display before the top American and DPRK leaders, as well as the whole world. It was reported that a special “XO sauce” or top-shelf soy-based seasoning sauce was introduced into the cooking process on this occasion. This unique version of the dish represents the potential for creativity and cultural awareness within the traditional dish.
Yangzhou fried rice was named for the city of Yangzhou, which in past eras served as the transit point of merchant ships traveling between the north and south. As a result, Yangzhou cuisine has a unique character with its mixing together of flavors and ingredients. Yangzhou fried rice carries with it a rich, historically refined process of preparation techniques as well. It is a fine representation of the qualities of inclusiveness, harmony and creativity in Chinese gourmet cooking, which has made Chinese culture famous around the world.
Why Yangzhou fried rice was served at the Trump-Kim dining table?