Qingshui fish, or clean water fish, is an indispensable dish for Kaihua people when they have guests.
People in Kaihua county, Quzhou city, started the cultivation of Qingshui fish in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The fish bred in Hetian town is the most famous one and there is a legend that Hetian fish are changed from dragon squama.
According to Kaihua county annals, to have fresh fish, local villagers would build a square pool in their yards or even rooms. Then store spring water in the pool and cultivate black or grass carp inside by feeding them with grass. After four years of close attention, the fish will have black backs, white abdomens, and bright red cheeks.
It is better to cook the fish with firewood in an uncovered pot. Thus, the cooked fish looks as white as jade and tastes fresh and tender. If the fish is cooked with spring water, its soup will be milk white and full of delicious flavors.
The fish is also nutrient-rich and good for the stomach and spleen, according to the Compendium of Materia Medica, a book widely deemed the bible of traditional Chinese medicine written in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).