China Information >> Eight Cuisines
China covers a large territory and has many nationalities, hence a variety of Chinese food with different but fantastic and mouthwatering flavor. Since China#s local dishes have their own typical characteristics, generally, Chinese food can be roughly divided into eight regional cuisines, which has been widely accepted around. Certainly, there are many other local cuisines, which are famous, such as Beijing Cuisine and Shanghai Cuisine.
Consisting of Jinan cuisine and Jiaodong cuisine, Shandong cuisine, clear, pure and not greasy, is characterized by its emphasis on aroma, freshness, crispness and tenderness. Shallot and garlic are usually used as seasonings so Shangdong dishes tastes pungent usually. Soups are given much emphasis in Shangdong dishes. Thin soup features clear and fresh while creamy soup looks thick and tastes strong. Jinan cuisine is adept at deep-frying, grilling, frying and stir-frying while Jiaodong division is famous for cooking seafood with fresh and light taste.
Typical Courses: Bird#s Nest Soup; the Yellow River Carp in Sweet and Sour sauce
Sichuan cuisine is world-famous and forms a class of its own. The Chinese claim that it comprises more than 4000 dishes, of which over 300 are said to be famous. It#s easily China#s hottest and spiciest cuisine, often using huajiao, literally #flower pepper#, a crunchy little item that leaves a numbing and strangely unfamiliar aftertaste-some compare it to spicy detergent.
Sichuan chefs have a catch-cry that draws attention to the diversity of Sichuanese cooking styles: #baicai, baiwei,# literally #a hundred dishes, a hundred flavors. # Whether #a hundred flavours# is a characteristic Chinese exaggeration or not is difficult to say. There is, nevertheless, a bewildering cornucopia of Sichuanese sauces and culinary-preparation techniques.
Some of the more famous varieties are yuxiang wei, a really tasty fish-flavored sauce that draws heavily on vinegar, soy sauce and mashed garlic and ginger; mala wei, a numbingly spicy sauce that is often prepared with bean curd; yanxun wei, a #smoked flavor# sauce, of which the most justifiably famous is that used with smoked duck; and, perhaps most famous of all, the hot and sour sauce (suanla ivei). The hot and sour soup, suanla tang, is eaten throughout China and is great on a cold day.
A famous dish is spicy chicken fried with peanuts (gongbao jiding). Equally well known is mapo doufu, which is beancurd, pork and chopped spring onions in a chilly sauce. A favorite with travelers and worth trying simply for the novelty value is guoba roupian. Guoba refers to the crispy bits of rice, uncannily similar to Rice Crisps, that stick to the bottom of the rice pot - they are put on a plate, and pork and gravy added in front of the dinner.
Chinese cooking is justifiably famous, a fine art perfected through the centuries. Quality, availability of ingredients and cooking styles vary by region, but you#ll almost always find something to suit your tastes.
While the Chinese make outstanding lunches, dinners and snacks, many foreigners are disappointed with breakfast. The Chinese do not seem to understand the western notion of eating lightly in the morning - a typical breakfast could include fried peanuts, pickled vegetables, pork with hot sauce, fried bread-sticks (youtiao) , and rice porridge. Outside of hotel restaurants, prices are generally low.
The other catch is that when Chinese dine out they spend big, and foreigners are expected to do likewise. It cannot be said that one who does not experience Sichuan food ever reaches China. Typical Courses: Hot Pot; Smoked Duck; Kung Pao Chicken; Twice Cooked Pork; Mapo Dofu
Guangdong Cuisine (Cantonese Cuisine)
Tasting clear, light, crisp and fresh, Guangdong cuisine, familiar to Westerners, usually chooses raptors and beasts to produce originative dishes. Its basic cooking techniques include roasting, stir-frying, sauteing, deep-frying, braising, stewing and steaming. Among them Steaming and stir-frying are more commonly applied to preserve the natural flavor. Guangdong chefs also pay much attention to the artistic presentation of dishes.
This is southern Chinese cooking-lots of steaming, boiling and stir-frying. It#s the best of the bunch if you#re worried about cholesterol, as it uses the least amount of oil. It#s lightly cooked and not as highly spiced as the other three, with lots of seafood, vegetables, roast pork, chicken, steamed fish and fried rice.
Dim sum is a snack-like variation, served for breakfast and lunch (but never dinner) and consisting of all sorts of little delicacies served from pushcarts wheeled around the restaurant floor. It#s justifiably famous and something you should experience at least once, but like many visitors you#ll probably get addicted.
The Cantonese are famous for making just about anything palatable: specialties are abalone, dried squid, 1000-year eggs, shark#s fin soup, snake soup and dog stew. Typical Courses: Shark#s Fin Soup; Steamed Sea Bass; Roasted Piglet
Consisting of Fuzhou Cuisine, Quanzhou Cuisine and Xiamen Cuisine, Fujian Cuisine is distinguished for its choice seafood, beautiful color and magic taste of sweet, sour, salty and savory. The most distinct features are their "pickled taste".Typical Courses: Buddha Jumping Over the Wall; Snow Chicken; Prawn with Dragon#s Body and Phoenix#s tail
Jiangsu Cuisine, also called Huaiyang Cuisine, is popular in the lower reach of the Yangtze River. Aquatics as the main ingredients, it stresses the freshness of materials. Its carving techniques are delicate, of which the melon carving technique is especially well known. Cooking techniques consist of stewing, braising, roasting, simmering, etc. The flavor of Huaiyang Cuisine is light, fresh and sweet and with delicate elegance. Typical Courses: Stewed Crab with Clear Soup, Long-boiled and Dry-shredded Meat, Duck Triplet, Crystal Meat, Squirrel with Mandarin Fish, and Liangxi Crisp Eel
Comprising local cuisines of Hanzhou, Ningbo and Shaoxing, Zhejiang Cuisine, not greasy, wins its reputation for freshness, tenderness, softness, smoothness of its dishes with mellow fragrance. Hangzhou Cuisine is the most famous one among the three. Typical Courses: Sour West Lake Fish, Longjing Shelled Shrimp, Beggar#s Chicken
Hunan cuisine consists of local Cuisines of Xiangjiang Region, Dongting Lake and Xiangxi coteau. It characterizes itself by thick and pungent flavor. Chili, pepper and shallot are usually necessaries in this division. Typical Courses: Dongan Chick; Peppery and Hot Chick
Anhui Cuisine chefs focus much more attention on the temperature in cooking and are good at braising and stewing. Often hams will be added to improve taste and sugar candy added to gain freshness. Typical Courses: Stewed Snapper; Huangshan Braised Pigeon