松鼠桂鱼 (Sōngshŭ guìyú), or “Squirrel Fish”, is a visual feast of a dish, usually identified with the area around Sūzhōu.
A squirrel fish is a sweet and sour, de-boned mandarin fish (or perch, or carp) with puffed-up, deep-fried meat that almost looks like a fluffy squirrel tail.
The legend goes that once, when the emperor visited Sūzhōu, he went to a restaurant and pointed to a particularly majestic fish in their pond, saying he wanted it for dinner. The restaurant owner started to sweat, because the fish was a sacred sacrificial type, not meant for eating. After a quick huddle with his cooks, an idea was concocted: Spruce up a different fish until it looked nothing like a fish at all!
With a little culinary ingenuity, and lots of sweet and sour sauce, the emperor was kept happy, and China became an iconic dish richer!
Squeak, squeak. Baidu Baike