As Yue (Cantonese) cuisine grows in popularity around China and abroad, its main ingredient, dried seafood, is increasingly available outside of Guangdong.
Bottles of dried abalone are shown in a booth on Yide Lu. (Guangzhou Daily)
Yide lu, on which dozens of wholesale markets are concentrated, has existed for over a century and is the largest retail area for dried seafood and shellfish in the country. Two thousand booths line the road, vending items like dried scallop, cuttlefish, abalone, fish maw, shark's fin, and sea cucumber.
These dried marine products come from all over the world, from places as near as Shandong province to countries as remote as Argentina and Russia. Five percent of the goods are used locally, and 95% are sold to markets and restaurants in other parts of the country; annual turnover has reached four billion RMB.
As a staff member of the historic Guangzhou Restaurant explained, "Guangzhou is a place advocating exquisite catering culture which mixes with that from the adjacent Hong Kong and Macau. In the middle of 1990s, some local cooks went to the North China and popularized Cantonese food. From that time, the demand for dried marine materials increased. That is the reason why the Yide Lu has become the principle gatherer in the country."
(By Jessie Huang, Usha Chilukuri)