First batch of ‘crayfish’ students to graduate to prepare China’s national dish

BY SILVI WRITER

Great news for China’s foodies.

The first batch of students majoring in “crayfish studies” at a vocational college have secured employment before their graduation, Gong Dingrong, deputy of the National People’s Congress and mayor of Qianjiang, Central China’s Hubei Province, told the Beijing Youth Daily on Sunday.

The two-year crayfish studies major was established in 2017, offering three courses of crayfish marketing, cooking and restaurant management.

All the 130 students studying the major have been “ordered”, said Gong, adding that the “crayfish school” is a result of the development of related industries.

“None of them will be jobless,” said Gong. The school will expand its admissions scale and more majors will be set up.

Gong said that according to incomplete statistics, a total of 130,000 to 150,000 people are employed in crayfish-related industries in Qianjiang, which makes up half of the city’s jobs.

In addition to academic education, the school has provided short-term training for more than 6,000 people.

These people can enjoy an annual salary as high as 120,000 yuan ($18,000), and chefs with three years of working experience are paid 30,000 to 50,000 yuan monthly, according to Global Times.

Thirty years ago, crayfish were little more than a nuisance for the rice farmers of eastern and central China. But today it is, arguably, China’s most popular dish.

Crayfish, or ‘little lobster’ in Chinese, was the most popular dish, based on a list of the top 10 most-ordered dishes on Chinese consumer app Meituan-Dianping.

60 percent of Chinese consumers regularly indulge in Yexiao, a late night meal commonly referred to as ‘supper’ in the West, said the report. Crayfish appears to satisfy the culture of Yexiao, while the dish can also raise the quality of social interaction, as customers need to wear sauce-drenched gloves to peel and eat the seafood delicacy. This prevents mobile phones being used during the meal.

According to a report released by the China Society of Fisheries, China produced 1.12 million tons of crayfish in 2017, creating a gross output worth 268.5 billion yuan.

China is the world’s largest producer of crayfish, with annual output accounting for over 70 percent of the world’s total.

Nearly two of three crayfish eaten in Europe hail from the small town of Qianjiang.

Native to North America, crayfish were brought to east China’s Jiangsu Province by a Japanese merchant in the 1920s. They appeared in the Jianghan Plain, where Qianjiang is located, about 30 years ago.

With fertile land and a large network of rivers and lakes, the plain is an ideal habitat for the species.

 

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