An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Yi Ya yiyi 易牙遺意

Mar 14, 2024 © Ulrich Theobald

Yi Ya yiyi 易牙遺意 "The legacy of Yi Ya" is a cookbook written during the very early Ming period 明 (1368-1644) by Han Yi 韓奕 (c. 1330-c. 1370), courtesy name Gongwang 公望, style Mengzhai 蒙齋, from Pingjiang 平江 near Suzhou 蘇州, Jiangsu. Yi Ya 易牙 is the name of a chef who is believed to have lived at the court of Duke Huan of Qi 齊桓公 (r. 685-643) during the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE).

The book of 2 juan length is divided into 12 chapters which present more than 150 recipes for seasonings, beverages, cakes, pastries, dishes, preserves, sweets and medicinal preparations. The first fascicle presents alcoholic beverages (wenzao 醞造), preserved fish and meat (fuzha 脯鮓), and vegetable dishes (shucai 蔬菜). Fascicle 2 lists dishes of yeast doughs (longzao 籠造), for the oven (luzao 爐造), cookies (gao'er 糕餌), pasta in soups (tangbing 湯餅), fasting dishes (zhaishi 齋食), fruits and nuts (guoshi 果實), various soups (zhutang 諸湯), teas (zhucha 諸茶), and medical preparations (shiyao 食藥).

The contents of this book are very rich. The dishes are relatively sophisticated, with a wide range of suitable flavours. Such specialities include low-temperature roasted pork and mutton, oven-roasted chicken (lubei ji 爐焙雞), steamed shad (zheng shiyu 蒸鰣魚), marinated and steamed goose (zhan zheng e 盞蒸鵝), stuffed tummy (niang duzi 釀肚子), fish with frozen ginger and vinegar (dai dong jiang cu yu 帶凍姜醋魚), and apricot-flower goose (xinghua e 杏花鵝). Some of the other dishes, such as the preparation of ham (huorou 火肉), have important historical value and serve as references for the study of the history of Zhejiang ham (Zhejiang huotui 浙江火腿). The pastry recipes included in this book, such as five-spice cakes (wuxiang gao 五香糕), crispy cakes (songgao 松糕), rolled pancakes (juanjian bing 卷煎餅), fried cakes with dates (jianbing mianzao 燒餅面棗), wind-blown cakes (fengxiao bing 風消餅), and filled rice cakes (cangzi 藏粢), are also very well made, as are other foodstuffs, such as wine, soups, and medicinal diet.

The text is found in the series Yimen guangdu 夷門廣牘.

Zhou Lüjing 周履靖 (1549-1640) wrote a continuation to the book called Xu Yi Ya yiyi 續易牙遺意.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1862.
Shi Xuanyuan 施宣圓 et al, eds. (1987). Zhongguo wenhua cidian 中國文化辭典 (Shanghai: Shanghai shehui kexue xueyuan chubanshe), 864.
Tao Wentai 陶文臺 (1995). "Yi Ya yiyi 易牙遺意", in Zhongguo pengren baike quanshu 中國烹飪百科全書 (Beijing: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), 686.
蜀漢 (221-263)