End of the brine: Shenzhen cooking test offering US$266 reward cancelled because it was too popular

local recipe, amateur cooks

An effort by the Shenzhen government to boost traditional Chinese cuisine was suspended due to overwhelming interest after the public was attracted by a 1,700 yuan (US$266) reward for making a traditional brine recipe.

According to South China Metropolis News, the Shenzhen Human Resources and Social Security Bureau had initially said it would pay people who passed a test of making Chaoshan brine, an ingredient-fuelled cooking water that adds flavour to meat.

The promotion was an effort to boost awareness of the local recipe.

local recipe, amateur cooks

Chaoshan brine is a traditional cooking mixture from Guangzhou that is famous for its complicated mix of ingredients. Photo: Baidu

However, the test became extremely popular as rumours spread that the pass rate for the exam was 97 per cent. People were posting thousands of brine recipes online, and amateur cooks were jumping at an apparent opportunity to make a few bucks.

In response, the government said last week that they decided to suspend the promotion because “an abnormity of the applicant numbers” forced them to “guarantee the test will be carried out smoothly”.

The agency scrapped the Tuesday deadline to submit applications and will delay the December 5 rewards announcement.

Chaoshan brine is a dish from the eastern region of Guangzhou, where it gets its name, and is known for its complicated mix of ingredients and a mild and fresh taste. It is often used to cook goose, duck and tripe.

A government official pushed back against the rumour that 97 per cent of submissions passed. “It is actually not high among the applicants with some cooking experience,” the anonymous official told the newspaper.

“Chaoshan brine dish requires various ingredients, involves complicated procedures, and takes a long time to prepare.”

Tens of thousands of people, including some with zero cooking experience, applied for the test.

“Dear friends, the opportunity of making money has arrived,” a person commented on WeChat.

Another user said: “I think almost every Shenzhen resident is trying to learn how to cook a brined goose.”

“I will laugh to death. Maybe in the future, those who can cook a brined goose will outnumber the geese in Shenzhen,” a third person wrote.

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