China’s diverse array of culinary offerings is possibly the best part about living in the Middle Kingdom. The best way to one-up your friends back in the West who still think “orange chicken” is authentic Chinese food is to become an expert on the different types of Chinese cuisines.
Chinese food in China is an entire universe of tastes and sensations where the very idea of a single ‘Chinese cuisine’ is blown away.
There are eight key traditional cuisines, defined by geography and style, stretching from Guangdong to Shandong; from the sweet succulent dishes of Jiangsu to the fiery, spicy hotpots of Sichuan.
1) CHUAN: Sichuan Cuisine
Fiery, spicy and often numbingly hot, Chuan cuisine is characterized by the liberal use of Sichuan peppercorns and hot chili oils.
Kung Pao Chicken (宫保鸡丁): stir-fried chicken, peanuts, vegetables and chilies
Dandan Mian (担担面): noodles, peanuts and red chili oil
Huoguo (火锅): hot pot prepared with hot spice and Sichuan peppers
2) MIN: Fujian Cuisine
Renowned for its soups and seafood, commonly flavored with red rice wine and shrimp oil. Flavors range from sour to spicy.
Ganjia Fu Mian (海鲜拌面): – seafood noodles
Haili Jian (海蛎煎): oyster pancake
Fotiao Qiang (佛跳墙):“Buddha Jumps Over the Wall,” a variety of shark fin soup
3) LU: Shandong Cuisine (including Beijing)
A focus on pungent dishes flavored with shallots, garlic and dark vinegar. Ingredients include seafood, free-range game, peanuts and grains.
Tangcu Liyu (糖醋鲤鱼): sweet and sour carp
Peking Duck (北京烤鸭): crisp thin slices of oven-roasted duck
Guobao Rou (鍋包肉): sweet and sour crispy beef
4) SU: Jiangsu Cuisine (including Shanghai)
Diversely flavored, Su cuisine ranges from sweet dark-braises to spicy and sour seafood. Known for its precise cooking times and special cooking methods.
Hongshao Rou (红烧肉): red-braised meat
Shizhitou (狮子头): huge apple-sized meatballs
Xiaolong Bao (小笼包): steamed soup dumplings
5) YUE: Cantonese Cuisine
Delicate, savory Yue cuisine is characterized by the justifiably famed dim sum. Plus roasted meat that comes sweet and sauces that are clean and light.
Shao Mai (烧卖): steamed pork dumplings
Ganchao Niuhe (乾炒牛河): honey-stewed pork
Xia Changfen (虾肠粉): rice noodles roll with shrimp
6) XIANG: Hunan Cuisine
Positioned in the middle of the country, Hunan seems to embrace all the flavors of China. From unique sour pickles, to delicate spicy chilies.
Duojiao Yutou (剁椒鱼头): fish head topped with two types of chilies
Shousi Baocai (手撕包菜): cabbage with smoked pork
Suanla Tang (酸辣汤): hot and spicy soup
7) ZHE: Zhejiang Cuisine
The ‘land of fish and rice’, Zhe has non-greasy dishes with a mellow fragrance. Seafood is a popular ingredient and spices are used quite sparingly.
Longjing Xiaren (龙井虾仁): shelled shrimp cooked with longjing tea
Zui Ji (醉鸡): ‘Drunken Chicken’ marinated in Shaoxing wine
Xihu Tiansuan Yu (西湖醋鱼): sour and crispy West Lake Fish
8) HUI: Anhui Cuisine
Earthy, fragrant and fresh, Hui involves more stewing and braising than other cuisines. Ingredients from both land and water are used.
Wuwei Xunya (五味熏鸭): smoked duck
Huotui Dunjia Yu (火腿段甲鱼): stewed turtle with ham
Fuli Shao Ji (符离烧鸡): red-roasted chicken
Article contributed by FIELDS (www.fieldschina.com), your online grocery store for safe and quality food in China. FIELDS stocks fresh and organic fruit and veg, imported and domestic meat, plus the brands from home that you love and miss.
Order online from the comfort of your home and get every day delivery in Suzhou, free for orders over RMB 200. Pay by cash or card at your door or online using credit card, PayPal, WeChat or Alipay. New customers also receive a free gift with their first order!
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Keywords: China’s different cuisines China’s eight cuisines
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