The Cookbook in Ancient and Medieval China Donald Harper, University of Chicago

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The Cookbook in Ancient and Medieval China

Donald Harper, University of Chicago

(paper prepared for the conference on “Discourses and Practices of Everyday Life in Imperial China,” Columbia University, October 2002)
This paper examines the evidence of cookbooks as a genre of technical literature during the period from the Western Han to the Tang dynasty. The cookbooks themselves are lost. However, the three chapters of Jia Sixie’s 賈思勰 agricultural treatise, Qimin yaoshu 齊民要術 (composed ca. 540 A.D.), devoted to food preparation (chapters 7-9) include roughly 280 recipes ranging from fermentation techniques and condiments to stews, roasts, and noodles and breads. The recipes record with remarkable precision the ingredients, amounts, and preparation methods as well as the presentation of the finished dish and other aesthetic observations related to gastronomy. Moreover, it is probable that 160 of the 280 recipes are quoted from two older cookbooks: a Shijing 食經 (Culinary canon, 110 recipes; see Table 1); and a Shici 食次 (Culinary procedures, 50 recipes; see Table 2).1 The term shijing “culinary canon” was a label applied to several categories of writing about food and diet in medieval times, and works including the term in their title are classified under medical literature in the Suishu 隨書, Jiu Tangshu 舊唐書, and Xin Tangshu 新唐書 bibliographic treatises, listed along with medical recipes, dietetics, and materia medica. The Qimin yaoshu recipes, in which there is no sign of medical or dietetic concerns, are clear evidence that one category of shijing was a guide to refined cuisine in the form of a precise written account of how to prepare it.2

Jia Sixie does not provide bibliographic details about the Shijing and Shici that he quotes. Most scholars date the works to slightly earlier, perhaps the fifth century, with the understanding that a number of recipes may go back to antiquity. In 1999, the excavation of the tomb of Wu Yang 吳陽 (d. 162 B.C.) at Huxishan 虎溪扇, in Yuanling 沅陵, Hunan, revealed fragments of a bamboo-slip manuscript cookbook written in the same style as the Qimin yaoshu recipes. According to the preliminary report on the manuscript by Zhang Chunlong 張春龍 and Guo Weimin 郭偉民, nearly 300 slip fragments have been recovered and there is not a single unbroken slip.3 Each recipe in the manuscript is preceded by a number and a title, with 148 being the highest number among the extant fragments (title illegible). Zhang Chunlong and Guo Weimin estimate that the fragments account for only about one third of the original manuscript. Although there are no textual parallels between the Qimin yaoshu and the transcription of several fragments from Wu Yang’s cookbook that are provided by Zhang Chunlong and Guo Weimin in their report, the second century B.C. manuscript is clearly an example of the same genre of cookbook represented by the Shijing and Shici recipes quoted in the Qimin yaoshu; that is, we now have concrete evidence of continuity in the textual transmission of cookery recipes from antiquity into the medieval period.

The significance of these cookbooks should be considered in the light of other genres of technical literature that circulated in ancient and medieval times, were mostly lost after the Tang, and beginning in the twentieth century have become much better known through the recovery of medieval manuscripts at Dunhuang 敦煌 and the archaeological excavation of ancient manuscripts, mostly from Warring States, Qin, and Han tombs. To cite several examples, hemerological manuscripts have been found in many ancient tombs whose contents have parallels in Dunhuang manuscripts.4 One of the hemerological manuscripts from tomb 11at Shuihudi 睡虎地, in Yunmeng 雲夢, Hubei (burial dated ca. 217 B.C.), includes a section on demonology that is related to the medieval demonography Baize tu 白澤圖 (Diagrams of White Marsh), known to us from two Dunhuang manuscript fragments, P2682 R° and S6261.5 Medieval writings on sexual cultivation and love magic now have ancient parallels in medical manuscripts from tomb 3 at Mawangdui 馬王堆, in Changsha 長沙, Hunan (burial dated 168 B.C.).6

We have known from the bibliographic treatises of the Hanshu 漢書, Suishu, and Jiu/Xin Tangshu that such technical literature existed in great variety and in manifold types of compilations -- some anonymous, some ascribed to legendary figures, and some authored by known individuals. The literature attests to the value placed on written records concerning various aspects of everyday elite life, and the recovered examples of the literature allow us to trace the influence of writing on the transmission of knowledge and on the forms of cultural experience in ancient and medieval elite society. Not only are we better able to gauge the quality of imagination that informed the activities in which the elite engaged, and thus to appreciate their mental and physical world, but we must also consider how technical literature contributed to that imagination.

Perhaps the most noteworthy observation based on comparison of related ancient and medieval technical manuscripts is that the text -- key words and sentences -- often remains essentially the same while the particular compilation in which it occurs has changed. In part this phenomenon is related to the nature of the information, which typically is encapsulated in textual units that can be combined and recombined without detriment to the information. The “recipe” -- an accurate rendering of fang 方, especially with regard to the recipe as a unit of written information -- is the ideal form of technical literature. Authorship is not an issue, and yet there is an assumption of textual authority that we must recognize if we are to appreciate the place of technical literature in ancient and medieval elite life. I do not slight the role of oral transmission in the maintenance of belief and practice and in the introduction of novelty, and yet the impulse to commit information of all kinds to writing was a constant element of ancient and medieval elite life.

While it remains unknown when the first cookbook was written in China (probably not before the Warring States), I suspect that when Wu Yang’s cookbook was copied in the second century B.C., the decision to compile a cookbook was not an exceptional event but rather was something that many members of the elite might do. Coming back to the Qimin yaoshu and the two cookbooks whose recipes it quotes at length, their attribution remains uncertain. One speculation associates the Shijing with the Shijing by Cui Hao崔浩 listed in the two Tangshu bibliographic treatises (perhaps to be identified with the Shijing of a Mr. Cui in the Suishu bibliographic treatise).7 Cui Hao served as chief minister to the Northern Wei state in the first half of the fifth century. Only the preface to his Shijing survives, in which Cui states that he has recorded the recipes for the dishes prepared by the women of the family; his purpose was to preserve for later generations the family culinary traditions.8 Even allowing for correspondence between Cui family traditions and the Shijing quoted in the Qimin yaoshu, the Qimin yaoshu source is not likely to have been the collection of recipes of a northern elite family.

On the contrary, Miao Qiyu繆啟愉, the modern editor and commentator of the Qimin yaoshu, argues convincingly in his commentary that the Shijing and Shici recipes quoted in the Qimin yaoshu are strongly influenced by the cuisine of the South during the period following the end of the Han, and that both cookbooks are likely to have been compiled by a southerner.9 At the same time, Miao Qiyu notes evidence that the Shijing quoted in the Qimin yaoshu was not necessarily a single copy of a single book, but designated either several copies of a cookbook by this title or perhaps several recensions of recipes all equally referred to as Shijing.10 Certain linguistic features, however, serve to indicate a shared language for all the recipes in the Qimin yaoshu that were derived from the Shijing and Shici, and to distinguish these recipes from Jia Sixie’s other recipes (which appear to reflect his own language). Miao Qiyu’s analysis of the relevant linguistic features makes it possible to identify the Shijing and Shici recipes even when the Qimin yaoshu text may not provide an explicit reference to the source of each recipe.11

One term in particular serves as a clear marker of Shijing and Shici recipes and suggests an element of formality that distinguished a body of “canonical” recipes. Only the Shijing and Shici recipes provide instructions concerning the presentation of finished dishes to the diners, using the verb dian 奠. As Miao Qiyu notes, dian originally denoted the ritual presentation of sacrificial food. I concur with his judgment that “in ancient times there was no distinction between banqueting and sacrificing; while the term dian in the Shijing and Shici originated in the offering of sacrifices, to judge from Lu Chen’s account [a lost work on sacrifice quoted in the Taiping yulan太平御覽] it seems likely that such foods were first offered as sacrifices and afterwards served for dining.”12 A simple recipe for carp stew (liyu hu 鯉魚臛) from the Shijing provides a good example of the usage of dian:

Use a large fish. Scale, prepare, and cut into one inch by one inch squares, five fen thick. Boil and season like murrel stew. Add cooked cereal made from whole grains. When serving (dian), remove the cereal and serve (dian) [the dishes filled] halfway. If it is served (dian) over grain, it does not accord with the standard model.13

Jia Sixie offers a number of other recipes, some no doubt culled from his own family traditions, but the preponderance of Shijing and Shici recipes in the three Qimin yaoshu chapters is an indication of his concern for transmitting the standards of fine cuisine as set down in the tradition of canonical cookbooks. The recipes themselves must have circulated in various forms, both oral and written, and yet the conception of culinary culture was surely influenced by the existence of the written recipe literature. Who wrote the recipes, who read them, and how popular were the dishes whose exact preparation the recipes described? Since literacy is not a requirement for cooking, it seems likely that cookbooks were destined mainly for an elite readership for whom the recipes served several functions. The account of preparing and serving carp stew, which was probably a common dish, was, for those who could read, an effective way to capture the essence of carp stew without actually being the cook. The recipe gave the reader a sense of knowing the dish more fully than just through the experience of eating it, whether it was a familiar dish in everyday life or perhaps a dish that was unfamiliar and yet knowable in the written substitute.

Jia Sixie probably never ate many of the dishes quoted from the Shijing and Shici. Yet he would have been keenly aware of the culinary and cultural heritage embedded in the recipes. Recipes for dishes he had eaten were recorded alongside recipes for dishes of an earlier era or for dishes belonging to a different cultural region -- for example, the South in the period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties, whose dishes were not part of everyday experience for readers in the North.

Let me offer one example of the cookbook as a catalyst for the cultural imagination. Among the dishes described in the Qimin yaoshu recipes are wild rice (gu菰)14 and water mallow soup (chun geng蓴羹)15 with fish mincemeat (yu kuai魚膾). Both dishes evoked the region and culture of Wu in the Northern and Southern Dynasties. The several accounts of Zhang Han張翰, who in 301 left his home in Wu to serve in the administration of the ruler of Qi in Luoyang洛陽, are representative. As recorded in his Jinshu晉書 biography, when the autumn wind blew in Luoyang, Zhang Han,

thought of Wu’s wild rice and water mallow soup with sculpin mincemeat and said, “What a man values in life is to obtain what suits his wishes. How can he be tied to an official post several thousand li away [from home] to pursue fame and rank?” -- whereupon he ordered his carriage and returned home.16

Here is the Shijing recipe for water mallow soup and fish:

The Shijing states: “Water mallow soup. The fish is in two-inch lengths but the water mallow is not cut. For murrel, put the water mallow into cold water. For culter, put the water mallow into cold water. When it boils, add the fish and salted black beans.” It also says: “The fish is three inches long and two and one half inches wide.” It also says: “Pick over the water mallow carefully and rinse it with hot water. Split the murrel down the center. Slice it thinly across the grain, making uniform slices two inches wide and the breadth of the halved fish. Cook, letting it come to the boil thrice, and drop in the water mallow all at once along with clear black bean liquid and dissolved salt.17

And here is the Shijing recipe for preparing wild rice:

Method for cooked wild rice. Put whole wild rice in a leather sack. Crush a porcelain dish with a pestle, being sure not to pound the bits too fine. Add the porcelain to the leather sack until full. Roll the sack back and forth on a board, and extract the grain. You can process one and a half sheng of grain at a time. Cook like rice.18

A far more detailed account of how to prepare water mallow soup with fish mincemeat precedes the Shijing recipe in the Qimin yaoshu, and is presumably by Jia Sixie; he also includes an account of water mallow cultivation in his section on raising fish (fish ponds are an ideal place for water mallow cultivation).19 Whether water mallow was commonly grown in the North is uncertain; in his water mallow soup recipe, Jia Sixie includes advice about greens that may be substituted when there is no water mallow. Wild rice was surely a rare item in the North. Of course, the fact of a written recipe from the Shijing for water mallow soup with fish and for wild rice placed both dishes within a classical tradition of cuisine; that is, the dishes were neither exotic nor barbaric (and they were known to have been eaten by the Chinese elite prior to the Northern and Southern Dynasties).20 Yet the perception of difference remained in effect in the Tang Dynasty, as for example when Yuan Zhen元稹 wrote verses warning Bo Juyi白居易 of the discomfiture that Bo Juyi must experience in the Southeast, including having to eat “mixed water mallow -- with quantities of split eel” and “a melange of millet -- half steamed wild rice.”21

In this sophisticated play on foodways and culture in ancient and medieval elite society, I would like to propose that cookbooks had a vital role. When the contemporary elite named particular dishes in prose and poetry, they may have known the dishes from personal experience, but cookbooks reinforced personal experience and extended their knowledge to unfamiliar dishes. At the very least, it seems likely that both Yuan Zhen and Bo Juyi read recipes for the dishes that Bo Juyi must now daily endure. The wealth of detail in cookbooks had multiple uses -- and like other genres of technical literature, cookbooks were the repository of a wisdom that informed daily life. No doubt the elite found cookbooks useful in developing culinary taste and ensuring the talent of kitchen staff. At the same time, the fact that the elite were reading cookbooks informed their aesthetic responses, and perhaps even abetted the extensive exploitation of the language of cuisine in literature.

As with other examples of ancient and medieval Chinese technical literature that are being restored in greater quantity in modern times through the discovery of manuscripts, I would argue that cookbooks were popular among the elite. Certainly the collection of recipes in the Qimin yaoshu suggests popularity. The few number of works listed in bibliographic treatises for the ancient and medieval periods that include the term shijing in their title -- not all of which are cookbooks of the type treated in this paper --22 is not a useful indicator of popularity, but rather reflects the priorities of book collection and bibliographic classification. An anecdote in the tenth century Qingyi lu清異錄 provides a vignette of an early ninth century gastronomer, Duan Wenchang段文昌, that suggests a possible pattern for the Tang elite:

Duan Wenchang was a great connoisseur of cuisine. A calligraphic plaque hanging in the kitchen of his mansion read “Hall for the Refinement of Delicacies.” And the street outside was known as the “Passage to the Bureau of Delicacies.” The household was run by an old family maid, who taught kitchen management to the female servants. They called her the “Matriarch of Cuisine.” Over a period of forty years she trained a hundred women, and only nine were talented enough to inherit her methods. Duan Wenchang compiled his own Shijing in fifty juan卷, which at the time was called “The Lord of Zouping’s Model Statutes of Cuisine” (Zouping gong shi xianzhang鄒平公食憲章).23

From the context of the anecdote I am persuaded that Duan Wenchang’s Shijing was a cookbook. It is not listed in the bibliographic treatises, but at fifty juan it is considerably longer than most of the works whose titles are listed.24 The anecdote neatly reveals the division between the fine cuisine produced by the kitchen staff, managed by the same woman for four decades, and the culinary connoisseurship of Duan Wenchang, which prompted him to compile “his own Shijing.” The use of the term shijing suggests a generic reference to “a cookbook.” Might we not speculate that other Tang elite were similarly moved to compile a cookbook?

It remains to present the evidence of the oldest known Chinese cookbook, the bamboo-slip manuscript from Wu Yang’s tomb in Yuanling. Wu Yang was ennobled as Lord of Yuanling 沅陵侯 in 187 and died in 162 B.C.; his father Wu Hui 吳回 (d. 186 B.C.) was the third King of Changsha 長沙王 (Yuanling lies to the west of Changsha in present day Hunan).25 Hence Wu Yang belonged to the upper echelon of the Han elite in the first half of the second century B.C. Other manuscripts found in his tomb include a hemerological text and a register of households. According to Zhang Chunlong and Guo Weimin, the original bamboo slips of the cookbook were 46 cm long and 0.8 cm wide. Each recipe originally had a title preceded by a number; the title regularly takes the form wei X fang為 X方 “recipe to make X.” Among the fragments, some recipe titles are illegible, and the number preceding the title is not always known. In their composite list of recipes, Zhang Chunlong and Guo Weimin identify six recipes for cooking grain, numbered on the fragments as numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7; they identify twenty-three recipes for other dishes, including recipes numbered 11, 24, 30, 32, 45, 46, 47, 48, 145, 148. They note that the grain recipes are generally recorded on a single slip, while recipes for other dishes may occupy two to three slips each. They estimate that the original cookbook may have had more than three hundred slips, and that each slip could have held over sixty graphs. There are only about two thousand graphs on the extant fragments.

We await official publication of a reproduction and full transcription of the manuscript. The transcription of some graphs in the preliminary report is tentative, and the identification of the words represented by a number of graphs awaits further study. However, I propose to offer an equally tentative rendering of the text of three fragments included in the preliminary report so as to document the resemblance to the language of the medieval recipes recorded in the Qimin yaoshu:

Slip 己 1726

No. 46, Recipe to Make Slabs of Suckling Pig (四十六為豚胾方)27

. . . 先刺殺,乃燒齊毛,以手逆指之掾 . . .

. . . First butcher (the pig), then singe and scrape away the hair. Using the edge of the hands with the fingers moving in the reverse direction . . .

Slip 丙 3

. . . 漬。間榣之令清如水。 (浚)置二幅素巾上。 裝 □ 蒸,反之複蒸。紲出置 中,扇陽去其大氣。複裝之蒸,反之複蒸。 出置 中,漬,手以攘。複裝 . . .

. . . and soak. After awhile, shake it until it is clear like water. Strain28 and set on two strips of pure white cloth. (?) bundle . . . and steam; turn it over and steam again. Lift it out and set in a vessel. Use a fan to remove the excess vapors. Bundle it again and steam; turn it over and steam again. Lift it out, set in a vessel, soak, and use the hands to wipe it off. Bundle again . . .

Slip 丙 10

. . . 煮。熟,紲出,去其 。搖□,更以牛甘 入酒,鹽,肉醬汁,薑,木蘭其中。複煮之。熟, 出,進之。為馬燸,羊燸,鹿燸方如此。

. . . boil. When done, lift it out and discard the broth. Shake . . . 29 Take fresh sweet beef broth and add wine, salt, meat sauce liquid, ginger, and magnolia (bark). Boil it again. When done, lift it out and serve. The recipe for making boiled horse, boiled lamb, and boiled deer is like this.

The second fragment is particularly intriguing for the multiple stages of steaming, no doubt designed to bring to perfection the texture and taste of the unknown item (more than likely meat). Might we not see Wu Yang in the second century B.C., Jia Sixie in the sixth century, and Duan Wenchang in the ninth century as typical of the ancient and medieval elite, whose culinary refinement found one form of expression in the cookbook?

Table 1: Shijing recipes in the Qimin yaoshu (reference is to chapter, section, and page in Miao Qiyu, Qimin yaoshu jiaoshi)

Chapter 7
Section 66 Benju bing jiu 笨麴并酒 (Coarse yeast and wine)


66.1 Zuo bailao jiu fa 作白醪酒法 (Method to make white unfiltered wine)

66.2 Zuo bailao jiu fa 作白醪酒法 (Method to make white unfiltered wine)

66.3 Dongmi mingjiu fa冬米明酒法 (Method for winter grain bright wine)

66.4 Xiami mingjiu fa夏米明酒法 (Method for summer grain bright wine)

66.5 Langling He gong xia feng qingjiu fa朗陵何公夏封清酒法 (Method for Mr. He of Langling’s summer sealed clear wine)

66.6 Yu nue jiu fa愈瘧酒法 (Method for wine to cure chill-fever syndrome)

66.7 Zuo Ling jiu fa作酃酒法 (Method to make Ling wine)

66.8 Zuo hejiu fa作和酒法 (Method to make blended wine)

66.9 Zuo xia jiming jiu fa作夏雞鳴酒法 (Method to make summer cock’s crow wine)

66.10 Zuo shenjiu fa作審酒法 (Method to make shen wine)

66.11 Keli jiu fa柯杝酒法 (Method for keli wine)
Section 67 Fajiu 法酒 (Standard wine)


67.1 Qiyue qiri zuo fajiu fang七月七日作法酒方 (Recipe to make seventh day of the seventh month standard wine)

67.2 Fajiu fang法酒方 (Recipe for standard wine)

67.3 Sanjiu jiu fa三九酒法 (Method for three-nine wine)
Chapter 8
Section 70 Zuo jiang deng fa 作醬等法 (Methods to make sauce and suchlike)


70.1 Zuo maijiang fa作麥醬法 (Method to make wheat sauce)

70.2 Zuo yuzijiang fa作榆子醬法 (Method to make elm seed sauce)

70.3 Yujiang fa魚醬法 (Method for fish sauce)
Section 71 Zuo cu fa 作醋法 (Methods to make vinegar)


71.1 Zuo dadou qiansui kujiu fa作大豆千歲苦酒法 (Method to make soybean thousand year bitter-wine)

71.2 Zuo xiaodou qiansui kujiu fa作小豆千歲苦酒法 (Method to make adzuki bean thousand year bitter-wine)

71.3 Zuo xiaomai kujiu fa作小麥苦酒法 (Method to make wheat bitter-wine)

71.4 Shui kujiu fa水苦酒法 (Method for water bitter-wine)

71.5 Zucheng kujiu fa卒成苦酒法 (Method for quick bitter-wine)

71.6 Wumei kujiu fa烏梅苦酒法 (Method for blackened plum bitter-wine)

71.7 Mi kujiu fa蜜苦酒法 (Method for honey bitter-wine)

71.8 Waiguo kujiu fa外國苦酒法 (Method for foreign bitter-wine)

Section 72 Zuo shi fa 作豉法 (Methods to make fermented beans)


72.1 Zuo shi fa作豉法 (Method to make fermented beans)

72.2 Zuo jiali shishi fa作家理食豉法 (Method to make home-production edible fermented beans)

Section 73 Bahe ji八和齏 (Eight blend relish)


73.1 [quotation specifying seasonally appropriate ingredients for the relish]

73.2 Zuo jiejiang fa作芥醬法 (Method to make mustard sauce)

Section 74 Zuo yuzha作魚鮓 (Making fermented fish)


74.1 Zuo puzha fa 作蒲鮓法 (Method to make cattail fermented fish)

74.2 Zuo yuzha fa 作魚鮓法 (Method to make fermented fish)

74.3 Zuo Changsha puzha fa 作長沙蒲鮓法 (Method to make cattail fermented fish, Changsha style)

74.4 Zuo xiayue yuzha fa 作夏月魚鮓法 (Method to make summer fermented fish)

Section 76 Geng hu fa 羹臛法 (Methods for soup and stew)


76.1 Zuo yuzi suanhu fa 作芋子酸羹法 (Method to make sour stew with taro)

76.2 Zuo yahu fa 作鴨臛法 (Method to make duck stew)

76.3 Zuo biehu fa 作虌臛法 (Method to make soft-shelled turtle stew)

76.4 Zuo zhuti suangeng yihu fa 作豬蹄酸羹一斛法 (Method to make one hu of sour soup with pig’s feet)

76.5 Zuo yangti hu fa 作羊蹄臛法 (Method to make sheep’s feet stew)

76.6 Zuo tuhu fa 作兔臛法 (Method to make rabbit stew)

76.7 Zuo suangeng fa 作酸羹法 (Method to make sour soup)

76.8 Zuo hugeng fa 作胡羹法 (Method to make barbarian soup)

76.9 Zuo huma geng fa 作胡麻羹法 (Method to make sesame soup)

76.10 Zuo huye geng fa 作瓠葉羹法 (Method to make soup with bottle-gourd leaves)

76.11 Zuo jigeng fa 作雞羹法 (Method to make chicken soup)

76.12 Zuo sunge yageng fa 作 鴨羹法 (Method to make preserved bamboo shoots and duck soup)

76.13 Feisun 肺 (Rice stew with lungs)

76.14 Zuo yang panchang kan jie fa 作羊盤腸 解法 (Method to make blood pudding in sheep’s intestine served sliced)

76.15 Yang jiejie fa 羊節解法 (Method for sheep “shedding leaves”)

76.16 Qiang zhu fa 羌煮法 (Method for Qiang tribesmen’s boil)


76.17 Chungeng 蓴羹 (Water mallow soup)

76.18 Cuju eya geng 醋菹鵝鴨羹 (Goose and duck soup with sour pickles)

76.19 Gujun yugeng 菰菌魚羹 (Fish soup with fresh shiitake mushrooms)

76.20 Sunge yugeng 筍 魚羹 (Fish soup with preserved bamboo shoots)

76.21 Liyu hu 鱧魚臛 (Murrel stew)

76.22 Liyu hu 鯉魚臛 (Carp stew)

76.23 Lianqian 臉 (Blood and guts)

76.24 Liyu tang zhe 鱧魚湯 (Thick-sliced murrel broth)

76.25 Tuohu 臛 (Sheatfish stew)

76.26 Qiandan 槧淡 (Wood ears cooked in a bland manner)

76.27 Xuanshen 腎 (Stomach and kidneys)

76.28 Lanshou 爛熟 (Cooking meat until it falls apart)
Section 77 Zheng fou 蒸 (Steaming and casserole-cooking)


77.1 Zheng xiong fa 蒸熊法 (Method to steam bear)

77.2 yiben 一本 (another edition)

77.3 Zheng tun fa 蒸 法 (Method to steam suckling pig)

77.4 Zheng ji fa 蒸雞法 (Method to steam chicken)

Section 78 Jing an jian xiao fa 腤煎消法 (Methods for boiled medley, single boiling, frying, and minced fry)


78.1 Jing zha fa 鮓法 (Method for boiled medley of fermented fish)

78.2 Wu hou jing fa 五侯 法 (Method for the Five Lords boiled medley)

78.3 Chun jing yu fa 純 魚法 (Method for boiled medley with only fish)

78.4 An ji 腤雞 (Single boiled chicken)

78.5 An bairou 腤白肉 (Single boiled plain meat)

78.6 An yu fa 腤魚法 (Method for single boiled fish)

78.7 Mi chun jian yu fa 蜜純煎魚法 (Method for honey-marinated, fried fish)

78.8 Li ya xiao 鴨消 (Little wild ducks, minced and fried)

78.9 Ya jian fa 鴨煎法 (Method for fried duck)
Section 79 Ju lü 菹綠 (Pickled and green meat)


79.1 Bai ju 白菹 (Plain pickled meat)

79.2 Ju xiao fa 菹肖法 (Method for pickled shreds)

79.3 Chanfu ju fa 蟬脯菹法 (Method for pickled dried-cicadas)

79.4 Lürou fa 綠肉法 (Method for green meat)

Chapter 9
Section 80 Zhi fa 炙法 (Methods for roasting)


80.1 Zuo tiaowan zhi fa 作跳丸炙法 (Method to make roasted juggling balls)

80.2 Bo zhi tun fa 炙 法 (Method for butterflied roast suckling pig)

80.3 Dao zhi fa 擣炙法 (Method for roasted meatloaf)

80.4 Xian zhi fa 銜炙法 (Method for roasted morsels)

80.5 Zuo bing zhi fa 作餅炙法 (Method to make roasted fishcakes)

80.6 Niang zhi baiyu fa 釀炙白魚法 (Method for stuffed and roasted culter)

80.7 Nan zhi 腩炙 (To marinate and roast)
Section 81 Zuo zi ao zao bao 作 奧糟苞 (Making potted meat with yeast, confit, meat in wine lees, and wrapped meat)


81.1 Zuo quan zhe fa 作犬 法 (Method to make slivered dog meat)
Section 82 Ping fa 餅法 (Methods for breads/noodles)


82.1 Zuo bing xiao fa 作餅酵法 (Method to make bread leaven)

82.2 Zuo baibing fa 作白餅法 (Method to make plain bread)

82.3 Zuo shaobing fa 作燒餅法 (Method to make fire-baked bread)

82.4 Suibing fa 髓餅 (Marrow bread)

Section 83 Zong ye (Wrapped dumplings and cakes)


83.1 Su shu fa 粟黍法 (Method for millet dumplings)
Section 86 Sun fan 飧飯 (Porridge and cooked grain)


86.1 Zuo mianfan fa 作麵飯法 (Method to make cooked grain using flour)

86.2 Zuo gengmi qiubei fa 作粳米糗糒法 (Method to make dried cooked-rice, fine or coarse)

86.3 Gengmi zaobei fa 粳米棗糒法 (Method for coarse dried cooked-rice with jujubes)

86.4 Gumi fan fa 菰米飯法 (Method for cooked wild rice)

86.5 Hu fan fa 胡飯法 (Method for barbarian cooked grain)
Section 88 Zuo ju cang shengcai fa 作菹藏生菜法 (Methods to make pickles and to preserve fresh vegetables)


88.1 Zuo kuiju fa 作葵菹法 (Method to make mallow pickles)

88.2 Zuo song xian ju fa 作菘鹹菹法 (Method to make pickled celery cabbage in brine)

88.3 Zuo cuju fa 作醋菹法 (Method to make vinegar pickles)

88.4 Zuo ju xiao fa 作菹消法 (Method to make pickled shreds)

88.5 Cang gua fa 藏瓜法 (Method for preserving melon)

88.6 Cang Yue gua fa 藏越瓜法 (Method for preserving Yue melon)

88.7 Cang mei gua fa 藏梅瓜法 (Method for preserving melon with plum)

88.8 Lean ling Xu Su cang gua fa 樂安令徐肅藏瓜法 (Method of the Magistrate of Lean, Xu Su, for preserving melon)


88.9 Cang jue 藏蕨 (Preserving bracken)

88.10 Jue ju 蕨菹 (Pickled bracken)
Section 89 Tang bu 餳餔 (Malt sugar and unrefined malt sugar)


89.1 Zuo yi fa 作飴法 (Method to make jellied malt sugar)
Total number of recipes: 110
Table 2: Shici recipes in the Qimin yaoshu (reference is to chapter, section, and page in Miao Qiyu, Qimin yaoshu jiaoshi)
Chapter 8
Section 77 Zheng fou 蒸 (Steaming and casserole-cooking)


77.1 Xiong zheng熊蒸 (Steamed bear)

77.2 [another recipe]

77.3 [another recipe]

77.4 Guo zheng shengyu裹蒸生魚 (Wrapped and steamed fresh fish)

77.5 Mao zheng yu cai毛蒸魚菜 (Hairy steamed fish and vegetables)

77.6 [another recipe]

77.7 Zheng ou fa蒸藕法 (Method for steamed lotus root)
Chapter 9
Section 80 Zhi fa 炙法 (Methods for roasting)


80.1 Xian zhi 炙 (Roasted morsels)

80.2 Dao zhi 擣炙 (Roasted meatloaf)

80.3 Bing zhi 餅炙 (Roasted fishcakes)

80.4 Zhi yong e ya yirou 炙用鵝鴨臆肉 (Roasted goose and duck breast)

80.5 Zhi han 炙蚶 (Roasting arkshells)

80.6 Zhi li 炙蠣 (Roasting oysters)

80.7 Zhi cheao 炙車熬 (Roasting giant clams)

80.8 Zhi yu 炙魚 (Roasting fish)

Section 81 Zuo zi ao zao bao 作 奧糟苞 (Making potted meat with yeast, confit, meat in wine lees, and wrapped meat)


81.1 Bao zhe fa 苞 法 (Method for wrapped slivered meat)

81.2 [another recipe]

81.3 [another recipe]
Section 82 Ping fa 餅法 (Methods for breads/noodles)


82.1 Can粲 (Ground-rice cakes)

82.2 Gao huan膏環 (Lard rings)

82.3 Ji ya zi bing 雞鴨子餅 (Chicken and duck egg cakes)
Section 83 Zong ye (Wrapped dumplings and cakes)


83.1 Ye (Wrapped cakes)

Section 84 Zhu ming煮 (Boiled flour congee)


84.1 Zhu ming煮 (Boiled flour congee)

Section 86 Sun fan 飧飯 (Porridge and cooked grain)


86.1 Zhe mifan折米飯 (Cooked polished grain)
Section 87 Su shi素食 (Pure cuisine)


87.1 Cong jiu geng fa 韭羹法 (Method for scallion and Chinese leek soup)

87.2 Hugeng瓠羹 (Bottle gourd soup)

87.3 You shi油豉 (Fermented beans with oil)

87.4 Gao jian zicai膏煎紫菜 (Purple laver fried in lard)

87.5 Xiebai zheng薤白蒸 (Steamed white parts of Chinese shallots)

87.6 Su tuo fan 飯 (Butter and noodles)

87.7 Mi jiang蜜薑 (Honey ginger)
Section 88 Zuo ju cang shengcai fa 作菹藏生菜法 (Methods to make pickles and to preserve fresh vegetables)


88.1 Nü ju女麴 (Female yeast)

88.2 Niang gua ju jiu fa 釀瓜菹酒法 (Method for fermented pickles with wine)

88.3 Gua ju fa 瓜菹法 (Method for melon pickles)

88.4 Gua jie ju 瓜芥菹 (Melon pickles with mustard)

88.5 Tang ju fa 湯菹法 (Method for pickles in broth)

88.6 Kusun zicai ju fa 苦 紫菜菹法 (Method for bitter bamboo shoot and purple laver pickles)

88.7 Zhu cai ju fa 竹菜菹法 (Method for “bamboo vegetation” pickles)

88.8 Ji ju fa 菹法 (Method for fishwort pickles)

88.9 Songgen X ju fa 菘根 菹法 (Method for celery-cabbage stalk X pickles)

88.10 Han ju fa 熯菹法 (Method for nasturtium pickles)

88.11 Huqin xiaosuan ju fa 胡芹小蒜菹法 (Method for angelica and garlic pickles)

88.12 Songgen luopu ju fa 菘根蘿蔔菹法 (Method for celery-cabbage stalk and radish pickles)

88.13 Zicai ju fa 紫菜菹法 (Method for purple laver pickles)

88.14 Mi jiang fa 蜜薑法 (Method for honey ginger)

88.15 Mei gua fa 梅瓜法 (Method for melon with plum)

88.16 Li ju fa 梨菹法 (Method for pear pickles)

88.17 Muer ju 木耳菹 (Wood-ear pickles)

Section 89 Tang bu 餳餔 (Malt sugar and unrefined malt sugar)


89.1 Bai jian tang fa白繭糖法 (Method for white cocoons in malt sugar)

89.2 Huang jian tang fa黃繭糖法 (Method for yellow cocoons in malt sugar)
Total number of recipes: 50

1 Citations to the Qimin yaoshu are to the annotated edition by Miao Qiyu 繆啟愉, Qimin yaoshu jiaoshi 齊民要術校釋 (Beijing: Nongye, 1982).

2 For a study of medieval shijing literature, see Shinoda Osamu 篠田統, “Shokukei kō” 食經考, in Chūgoku chūsei kagaku gijutsushi no kenkyū 中國中世科學技術史の研 究, ed. Yabuuchi Kiyoshi 藪內清 (Tokyo: Kadokawa, 1963), 307-20. Shinoda distinguishes three types of content for works entitled shijing: 1) dietetic or medical; 2) cookbook; and 3) recipe lists (p. 309). That the shijing as cookbook might exist as a distinct work, without including dietetic or medical material, is clear from the Qimin yaoshu quotations. Edward H. Schafer, “T’ang,” in Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives, ed. K.C. Chang (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), 87, errs in stating that medieval shijing were chiefly dietary guides, and denying the title of cookbook to some shijing.

3 Zhang Chunlong and Guo Weimin, “Yuanling Huxishan yihao Han mu zhujian ‘Meishifang’ ji xiangguan cailiao jieshao” 沅陵虎溪山一號漢墓竹簡美食方及相 關材 料介 紹, paper prepared for the conference Changsha Sanguo Wu jian ji bainian lai jianbo faxian yu yanjiu guoji xueshu yantaohui長沙三國吳簡暨百 年來簡帛發現與研究國際學術研討會, Changsha, August 2001 (unpublished).

4 I have made a study of Dunhuang manuscripts that treat of medical divination, including parallels in the Shuihudi hemerological manuscripts, in chapter 8 (“Iatromancie”) of Divination et Sciences Traditionnelles dans la Chine Médiéval, vol. 1 (Etudes des manuscrits de Dunhuang de la Bibliothèque nationale de France et de la British Library), ed. Marc Kalinowski (forthcoming).

5 See Harper, “A Chinese Demonography of the Third Century B.C.,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 45 (1985), 459-98. The Baize tu manuscripts are studied by Catherine Despeux in chapter 7 (“Auguromancie”) of Divination et Sciences Traditionnelles dans la Chine Médiéval, vol. 1.

6 See Harper, Early Chinese Medical Literature: The Mawangdui Medical Manuscripts (London: Kegan Paul, 1998), 423-24, for the Mawangdui evidence, with references to medieval parallels in the tenth century Japanese medical compilation Ishinpō醫心方.

7 See Shinoda, “Shokukei kō,” 309-12. For Mr. Cui’s Shijing in the Suishu bibliographic treatise, see Yao Zhenzong姚振宗, Shushu jingji zhi kaozheng隨書經籍志考證, in Ershiwu shi bubian二十五史補編 (Kaiming ed.), vol. 4, 611.

8 The preface to Cui Hao’s shijing is quoted by Yao Zhenzong, Suishu jingji zhi kaozheng, 611.

9 Miao Qiyu, Qimin yaoshu jiaoshi, 458, n. 13; and 475, n. 30.

10 See Miao Qiyu, Qimin yaoshu jiaoshi, 481, collation n. 4, on the term yiben一本: “(The term) shows that at that time the books that were named Shijing were not limited to just one kind, or perhaps there were discrepancies in the same book due to later people who made copies.”

11 Miao Qiyu, Qimin yaoshu jiaoshi, 468, collation n. 1, summarizes some of the evidence (mainly terms that are not used by Jia himself). Typically the source reference to the Shijing or Shici occurs at the beginning of a sequence of recipes, but Jia does not indicate when his own recipes begin. My Table 1 and Table 2 rely on Miao’s identification of the Shijing and Shici recipes.

12 Miao Qiyu, Qimin yaoshu jiaoshi, 475-76, n. 36.

13 Miao Qiyu, Qimin yaoshu jiaoshi, 466.

14 Gu is Zizania caduciflora.

15 Chun is Brasenia Schreberi.

16 Jinshu (Bona ed.), 92.10a; translation based in part on the account in Shishuo xinyu in the translation by Richard B. Mather, Shih-shuo Hsin-yü: A New Account of Tales of the World (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1976), 201.

17 Miao Qiyu, Qimin yaoshu jiaoshi, 466.

18 Miao Qiyu, Qimin yaoshu jiaoshi, 525.

19 Miao Qiyu, Qimin yaoshu jiaoshi, 465 (Jia Sixie’s recipe), and 344 (chun cultivation).

20 Miao Qiyu, Qimin yaoshu jiaoshi, 344 (on classical references to chun).

21 Quan Tangshi全唐詩 (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1960), 407.4531. See also, Schafer, “T’ang,” 130.

22 Again, see Shinoda, “Shokukei kō,” for the varieties of medieval shijing.

23 Tao Gu陶谷, Qingyi lu Beijing: Zhongguo shangye, 1985), 21. Duan Wenchang held the aristocratic rank of Lord of Zouping.

24 The longest shijing, listed in Xin Tangshu (Bona ed.), 59.20b, is Zhuge Ying’s諸葛潁 Huainan wang shijing淮南王食經 in 130 juan, with an additional 13 juan of sound glosses. Of course we cannot ascertain its contents (dietetic, medical, or cookbook).

25 See Michael Loewe, A Biographical Dictionary of the Qin, Former Han and Xin Periods (221 B.C.-A.D. 24) (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 587.

26 As I understand it, the slip numbering represents the groups of bamboo slips in the sequence that they were discovered when the tomb was excavated.

27 The recipe number and title are given in Zhang Chunlong’s and Guo Weimin’s composite list. Since the slip number is identical to the sample passage they transcribe at the end of the preliminary report, I surmise that the passage corresponds to recipe no. 46.

28 I tentatively identify the original graph with jun浚 “strain” based on a similar form of the graph in the Mawangdui medical manuscript Wushier bingfang 五十二病方. See Mawangdui Han mu boshu 馬王堆漢墓帛書, vol. 4 (Beijing: Wenwu, 1985), Plates, 28, col. 293, .

29 A hand radical is on the left side of the illegible graph.

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