Hainan human geography:The sea taste of Danzhou people

By Ye Haisheng / hiHainan / Updated: 2019-12-06,16:26

There is a long coastline and vast sea area in Danzhou. The strong sea taste of Danzhou people often smells on the island. For example, in Hainan cuisine, salted fish and eggplant pots are the most popular dishes. The salted fish in the dish is often the dried red fish from Danzhou.

Old salt continues the taste of the ocean

Recently, I took a trip to the ancient salt pans.

The ancient salt pans of Danzhou is located in Yantian Village, south of the Xinying Bay District Office of Yangpu Economic Development Zone. The ancient salt pans of the millennium are more than 1200 years old, and the total area of Yantian is 750 mu. The ancient salt pans of the millennium are the earliest sun-dried salt in China, and they are also the ancient salt pans in China that have retained the best intact sun-dried salt method. According to legend, more than 1200 years ago, a group of salt workers who had been "cooking the sea water for salt" came down from Fujian Province to the Yangpu Peninsula. They had an occasional chance to discover new ways of making salt. They drilled the stone into a trough, filled the sea water in the pans, with the help of the sun, the sea water can be changed into salt gradually, creating a precedent for sun-dried salt. After that, in practice, they used the sun-dried beach sand to pour sea water to filter, make brine, and then salt, and the output increased. After the Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty heard the news, the royal writing "Zhengde" was given to Yantian Village people.

The ancient salt pans in Danzhou, which were seen in the past few years, have a strong taste of“original”. Nowadays, the commercial atmosphere of the entrance to the ancient Yantian Village has become stronger. The Yangpu people have more ways to“make a living by the sea”. Their shops sell mainly old salt, eggs cooked in old salt piles and salted chicken. Old salt is packed in plastic bags. The packaging of eggs and salted chicken is not very particular, but these fragrant products of the ancient Yantian Village let people feel the continuation of the taste of the ocean.

In mid-December last year, at the winter fair held at Haikou International Convention and Exhibition Center, I saw the old salt produced in Danzhou, in which the bamboo tube for packaging, the old salt of each tube is more than 100 yuan, which is much more expensive than ordinary salt. But it makes sense. The salt making process is ancient and unique. The salt produced in Danzhou ancient salt pans is white as snow, fine as cotton, salty and moderate,without bitterness.It has the characteristics of pure nature, no impurities, small particles can be eaten directly. Unlike the coarse salt we usually eat, the sea salt that is dried by this traditional method, which is commonly known as the”old salt” -fine particles of natural crystals, a little sweet in salty, and the salt itself contains iodine and also has the effect of antipyretic and fire extinguishing. The old salt has disinfection and silting effect, and has the function of quasi-Chinese medicine. It is no wonder that in the drinks of Haikou in the past three years, the "old salt lemonade" has sprung up and became the darling of the market. The "old salt" in the beverage store is mostly from Danzhou.

Danzhou people have salty-fish complex

At the literary work revision meeting in Danzhou, I found a piece of prose written by Wang Weijiao entitled "Grandma's Grilled Salted Fish", which has a vivid description:

I have lived in Xi'an for two years and three months. For a thousand days, I started to enjoy spicy food on the diet. There is always a habit that I can't change - I love salted fish.

I didn’t forget to ask them such a question for the first time after I was familiar with my roommates. I said, "Do you like salted fish?"

"Ah! What kind of fish is salted fish?"

"Is it a fish for leisure?"

Their answers almost shocked my chin.

I opened the pictures on my mobile phone and used the standard Hong Kong-Taiwan-Hainan-style Mandarin to explain to them in graphic form, "You see, this is salted fish, a kind of dried fish. The fishermen put the fish caught in the sea and washed them clean, then scraped and peeled. The salt is marinated in the fish, or soaked in salt water, placed under the scorching sun, and dried to the sun. The meat is firm and the taste is salty and fresh.The salted fish can be grilled and fried... a bowl of porridge to eat with the salted fish, is the best enjoyment in the world!" Listening to my exaggerated commentary, the nerves and taste buds of the roommates are excited, pulling my hand and saying, "Sounds delicious! You go home to remember to bring us some!"

I laughed and nodded. The salted fish in Danzhou has laid a deep emotional foundation for the people of the north and the south in Hainan Island.

Later, in other texts about the people of Danzhou, I found that there were many accounts about salted fish. It was concluded that the complex of salty fish to Danzhou people is strong. This complex must be related to the climate. Danzhou in the west is a bit more arid than the eastern and northern parts of the island. In the hot summer days, salted fish are easy to keep, and porridge is mixed with salted fish, which is naturally awesome.

Wang Weijiao even said in the article "Grandma's Roasted Salted Fish": The salted fish that died but not rotted, hides love in my life.

Danzhou salted fish are available in both dried and wet. When I was a boy, I lived in Xiliu State Farm of Danzhou. From time to time, I saw the women in Danzhou picking up the burden to sell salted fish. Our family often bought wet and salty red fish, which is the size of a palm. The salted red fish can be eaten at least two meals.

The representative of the salted fish in Danzhou is the red fish. In Danzhou, red fish is a new year that people must buy when they celebrate Chinese New Year. During the Chinese New Year, a red fish is hung at home, which means that in the new year, "Good luck is coming, and you can have fish every year(everything is enough)”. Therefore, the red fish in Danzhou has infused a meaningful cultural element and become a local cultural connotation. Xinzhou town and Baimajing town are the main places where red fish are produced in Danzhou. At the Xinying fishing port, local fishermen said that the production process of the red fish in Danzhou is quite particular. The fishermen put the salt into the red fish and picked them up to prevent decay. Just before the boat is docked, the fishermen would open the belly of the red fish and remove the internal organs of the fish, dry them in the sun,then take them to the market.And the dried red fish produced in this way is dull and salty with insufficient aroma. The true quality of the dried red fish is dried by the fishermen at sea. After the fish is caught on the boat, they are timely processed and dried. Without salting, the dried red fish is golden yellow, and has endless scent afer eating.

Danzhou people love to eat red fish. In the early years, not every household can eat red fish. Eating red fish is a symbol of family wealth. In the 1980s, a dried red fish sold for four or five yuan, which was a big expense for the family at that time. The red fish used to be sold one by one only. You can either buy one or eagerly look forward to it. Nowadays, the average dried red fish can be sold for fifty or sixty yuan a pound in the New Year. If the quality is good enough, it can be sold for more than 80 yuan or even more than 100 yuan. A whole big red fish could be sold several hundred yuan - the sea taste of Danzhou people is getting more and more valuable.

See the sea taste at the slightest of Danzhou Milan

There are many kinds of snacks in Hainan, and one of them is the rice noodle called Danzhou Milan. Danzhou Milan is one of the favorite foods of Danzhou people. It is said Danzhou people sing in the folk songs: "Changpo Milan Luoji Zongzi, Mutang oysters Yongchang onion,the scent of Majing red fish can break the pot, Paipu’s savory potato let your stomach swell." Changpo Town's Milan ranks first in the variety of flavored snacks, showing its position in the minds of the people of Danzhou. In Danzhou, people used to have a bowl of cold Milan at breakfast, a bowl of hot bone soup,the Milan leaves scent on the teeth and cheeks after eating.

Danzhou Milan, this kind of local snacks originated from the countryside. Although it was born from humble beginnings, less appeared in the banquet table in Hainan, but its production process is quite particular, the finished products are full of color and flavor, making people unforgettable.The Milan is a traditional snack of Danzhou people in Hainan. The method is to first immerse the rice and then grind it into rice syrup, and use a funnel to leak into the boiling water. When it is simmered, it becomes a soft, white silk, then it is taken up in cold water, then got them up layer by layer. It is placed in the bamboo basket, and is served with beef, dried shrimp, pork, squid, fried peanuts,fried garlic oil, etc., and the taste is particularly great.

If you compare the Danzhou Milan with the Hainan rice noodle,the rice noodle of Danzhou Milan should be harder. The Hainan rice noodle is relatively soft. The same seasonings are fried peanuts, but all the condiments of the Hainan noodle are usually not directly related to the sea. From time to time, I sometimes eat the Danzhou Milan at the Jinpan Night Market. It is found that the sea taste of Danzhou Milan is reflected in the slightest. In the matching of the condiments, the squid and the dried shrimp from the sea are often indispensable.

When it comes to seafood, you have to say white shell. The authentic Danzhou Milan has to use the white shells found in the sea. The specific method is to boil the white shells after the water is boiled, the white shells are put in and then take them out. The sweet taste of the sea is a generous gift from the ocean.




























Having questions about living or working in Hainan? Leave it below. 

We shall contact you by email once we have the answers for your questions.

Our Privacy Statement & Cookie Policy

By continuing to browser our site and use the services you agree to our use of cookies, Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can change your cookie settings through your browser.

I agree