Grilled fish is now a district-level intangible cultural heritage item of Wanzhou. It was invented taking into consideration modern people’s eating habits and modern cooking techniques. The fish meat is first salted and then roasted and stewed, with seasonings from the traditional Sichuan cuisine and Chongqing hot pot. There can be dozens of flavors - spicy and numb, sauce-flavored, piquant, and fermented soya beans-flavored. It sees a cooking system of its own and has become popular all over China. It is a well-established title of the catering industry of Wanzhou. Wanzhou is thus known as the "Hometown of Grilled Fish in China."
"According to textual research, the techniques originated in the Southern Song Dynasty and therefore have a history of more than 700 years." Liu Xia, Deputy Secretary-General of Wanzhou Grilled Fish Industry Association, said that a local specialty though, Wanzhou Grilled Fish has been passed down and seen in most cities above the county level in China and even in other countries and regions such as the United States, France, Germany, and Singapore.
"According to incomplete statistics, the grilled fish industry in Wanzhou enjoyed an annual output value of 12 billion yuan in 2020." Liu Xia told us that among them, 5 billion yuan were from the planting and breeding industries that provide the main and auxiliary ingredients, and 7 billion yuan from seasoning processing and catering business operation.
According to Liu Xia, Wanzhou was awarded the title "Hometown of Grilled Fish in China" by the China Cuisine Association in 2018. Wanzhou focuses on the grilled fish business by improving the bases, building an industrial chain, and formulating the industry standards. Its agricultural bases, large and small, are integrated around the grilled fish.
Wanzhou has seized the opportunity as the water area for aquaculture has been greatly expanded, given full play to its rivers and reservoirs to develop ecological and recreational fisheries vigorously. Thus, it has seen a total annual fish output of 26 million kilograms. It boasts an area of 474.7 km2 for vegetable planting, and the output reaches 1.105 million tons. Vegetables to be turned into seasonings such as pickled mustard tuber, chili, Chinese prickly ash, wild allspice, ginger, shallot, and garlic occupy 210 km2 and enjoy an output of 596,000 tons. Wanzhou has provided great help for grilled fish seasoning processing enterprises and cultivated 15 leading manufacturers respectively of pepper oil, grilled fish seasoning, spicy ingredients, pickled pepper, pickled vegetables, pickled radish, pickled cowpeas, pickled scallion, pickled ginger, pickled mustard, and condiments, with a total annual output value of 1.41 billion yuan.
Up to now, Wanzhou District has cultivated 11 aquaculture bases, ten planting bases, and six ingredient processing bases, providing sufficient main and auxiliary food resources for the development of its grilled fish industry.
Furthermore, Wanzhou has launched grilled fish gifts and souvenirs. The grilled fish, designed as a gift for the first time, can be stored at room temperature for up to 6 months and is ready to be served. A dealer in Chengdu ordered 5,000 boxes at a time. The product is also welcome in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai and attracts a flood of distributors and major e-commerce platforms.
"Hometown of Grilled Fish in China"
In recent years, Wanzhou has been vigorously advertising its grilled fish: In 2011, its grilled fish was covered by CCTV in the program “A Tour of China - Wanzhou, Chongqing”; in 2017, it was reported in the program “A Discovery of Mainland China” jointly produced by CNR and Taiwan; in 2017, the micro-film Yiwei Fengchen, a story that revolves around Wanzhou grilled fish, was screened at the “Focus on China” at the 74th Venice International Film Festival; Wanzhou also held the Wanzhou Food Festival, Wanzhou Grilled Fish Festival, Wanzhou Tourism, and Culture Festival and others, and sent grilled fish seasoning processing enterprises to exhibitions such as the National Food & Drinks Fair, GIFMS and WCIFIT to enhance the influence of Wanzhou grilled fish further.
"Wanzhou Grilled Fish College is under construction. With systematic, standardized, and procedure-based training, it will cultivate many professionals for the grilled fish industry to promote its further development." Liu Xia said that they would also make great efforts to pass on the Wanzhou grilled fish culture, turn the dish into the main force in China’s catering business, and make Wanzhou deserve the title “Hometown of Grilled Fish in China.”
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