Something I’m Passionate About…5: Chinese Cuisine

There is an old saying in China: “The masses regard food as their heaven”, which means that food is one of the most important elements in people’s lives. Indeed, Chinese people love “eating”, and they are very careful and particular about food. People’s pursuit for delicious and delicate cuisine has deeply rooted in Chinese culture.

China is a large country with a long history. According to historical records, as early as the Shang and Zhou dynasties over 3,000 years ago, a fairly complete culinary system has already formed. As the “Culinary Kingdom” with a vast territory and 56 ethnic groups, the great differences in the climate, geographical environment, cultural customs and lifestyles produced various styles of cooking. For instance, in northern China, people prefer dumplings, noodles and steamed bun than rice as their staple food.

Actually, Chinese cuisine can be divided into eight types based on distinctive regions:

1. Chuan Cuisine (Sichuan Cuisine): Hot, sour, and numb. Its cooking methods include baking, sautéing, dry-sautéing and steaming.

Typical Sichuan Dishes:

Mapo Bean Curd (Mapo Tofu)                             

Spicy Diced Chicken (Kung Pao Chicken)

Sichuan Hot Pot

2.  Cantonese Cuisine (Yue Cuisine): Tender and slightly sweet. Its cooking methods include braise, stew and sauté.

Typical Cantonese Dishes:

Chinese Steamed Eggs

White Cut Chicken

3. Lu Cuisine (Shandong Cuisine): Keep the freshness of ingredients than other cuisines. Salt flavor, tender, savory and crisp. Sea food is the most important ingredient of Lu Cuisine. Its cooking methods include quick-frying and Pa (fry and then sauté the ingredient with sauce)

Typical Lu Dishes:

King Prawns Stewed in Brown Sauce

Four Joy Meatballs

Diced Pork Cooked in a Pot

4. Min Cuisine (Fujian Cuisine): A mixed sweet and sour taste. Slightly spicy in Western Fujian; spicy and sweet in Southern Fujian. The cooking techniques include boiling, simmering, pan-frying, deep-frying, baking, mixing, stewing, grilling, smoking, salting, and sautéing with wine.

Typical Min Cuisine:

Stewed Chicken with Three Cups Sauce

Buddha Jumping Wall (Sea Food and Poultry Casserole)

5. Su Cuisine (Jiangsu Cuisine): Delicate, good-looking, fresh, crisp, tender and sweet. Its cooking techniques include stewing, simmering, baking over a slow fire, steaming, sautéing and stir-frying.

Typical Su Dishes:

Brine-Boiled Duck

Sweet and Sour Mandarin Fish

6. Xiang Cuisine (Hunan Cuisine): A mixed sweet and spicy-hot taste, crunchy fresh and fragrant. Its cooking techniques include stir-frying, steaming, sautéing and smoking.

Typical Xiang Dishes:

Steamed Fish Head with Diced Spicy Red Peppers

Spicy Chicken

7. Hui Cuisine (Wan Cuisine/Anhui Cuisine): Keep the freshness of ingredients. Delicate lightness. It often combines herbs and other natural ingredients that are traditionally believed to promote health. Its cooking techniques include deep-frying, stir-frying, sautéing, braising, stewing, steaming, as well as flambéing.

Typical Hui Dishes:

Soft Shell Turtle Stewed with Ham

Fuliji Roast Chicken

8. Zhe Cuisine (Zhengjiang Cuisine): clear, fresh, tender, pure and delicate. Its cooking methods include quick-frying, braising, and stir-frying.

Typical Zhe Dishes:

Dongpo Pork (Stir-Fried Pork)

Fried Shrimps with Longjing Tea

Nowadays, Chinese food has become more and more popular in many countries and of all walks of life. Every time I went to the Chinese cuisine buffet, I can see a lot of American sitting there and enjoying the delicious food. Actually, I found that various Chinese cuisines in America are not exactly the same with what we eat in China, since the ingredients of most of dishes have been changed based on American tastes. For example, I always thought the chicken in Chinese restaurants here are much sweeter than those in China. :)

Having Chinese food is a kind of taste sensation, while cooking Chinese Cuisine is a great art. It seems easy to cook with a recipe, but making Chinese Cuisine is an exception. Even though you can follow every step on the recipe, your dishes may still be different with the “right” one. Many famous cheives in China devoted all their lives to studying culinary skills and still found that there’s a lot of treasures in this fascinating world they have never been explored.

I have been off China for more than half- year, I really miss all these delicous and delicate Chinese cuisine. As a girl who loves cooking, I enjoying learning how to make various Chinese cuisines and I also enjoying delicious food for my family and friends! I really hope more and more people from all around world could have a chance to taste Chinese food!

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