Zengcheng (增城) is a county-level city of Guangzhou. The privileged mild weather and fertile earth of the Pearl River Delta region plain have formed a natural habitat for sub-tropical crops and poultry. 53% of the city is covered by forest and other greenery with a branch of the Pearl crossing the city.
It is hard to decide the most well known agricultural products in Zengcheng city. With the excellent natural environment, the region is the heaven of sub tropical fruits and vegetables that you might never have tasted before. Poultry such as Chicken and geese are all naturally bred in the beautiful environment.
The fruits Lychee, longan, pawpaw, guava and banana are the most recommended. Mango, star fruit, orange, watermelon, plum, sugarcane, wampee, white olive, black olive, strawberry…all of these are fruits that cannot be missed.
Lychee or Litchi (荔枝)
These red-skin-white-meat fruits were originally planted in the South of China only. They are fresh, sweet, and juicy but not necessarily that easy to store. Conghua and Zengcheng are the two dominant planting regions in Guangzhou.
Lychee has many different names for different varieties, approximately 60 sorts. Zengcheng Gualu Lychee is small in size and crowned to be the king of its kind for its fresh taste and rarity.
Gualu (挂绿) literally means "hanging green." A green strip is on the skin when it is mature so that is why it is given this name. The legend of a local girl who was said to be a fairy explains the "reason" of the green strip because she left a green silk thread on the Lychee tree.
Many people know there is a millennium lychee tree in the Zengcheng city. Every year, only several pieces are harvested and these are then auctioned off. The fruit on the tree has even been auctioned at the price of RMB 550, 000, breaking the Guinness record for the most expensive fruit.
Lychee can be eaten fresh, cooked in a dish, or even mixed with a cocktail or dessert. Dried lychees are used as an ingredient for soup. But don't eat too much because you will feel uncomfortable in your throat. The solution is to drink some salty water or Chinese herbal tea.
Zhengcheng Longan grows in abundance each year. The bite-sized fruit has a small core and very sweet flesh. It is said the nutrition is very high and it has a medical function. During the fruitful harvest, people will dry them under the sun so that they can be kept for a long time.
Chi Choy Sum or Late Choy Sum (迟菜心)
This vegetable is one of Zengcheng's most famous products and is mostly planted in the Xiaolou county (小楼镇). Choy Sum plants are always flourishing in summer but the vegetable is only ready to be harvested in the early winter. Thanks to the late arrival, the vegetable weighs up to 10 kilogram and has a much fatter stem. Chi Choy Sum does not need complicated cooking water and is usually found in stir-fried dishes and soups.
Compared to the price of Choy Sum, Chi Choy Sum can be sold at almost twice as much, up to RMB 30 to 50 per kilogram.
Grain Rice (丝苗米)
The rice has a nickname "silk seed", referring to the silky and smooth taste. Zengcheng Rice is very similar to the Thai Jasmine Rice. Since 2004, the product has been certified as a local produce. All the products in the region will be labeled with this certification after a series of strict checks.
Zengcheng's other famous products include black olive, winter melon, persimmon, and many more!
Purple sweet potato
(By Jessie Huang, Rik Glauert, photos from internet)