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An Introduction To Chinese Cuisine

China, the 4th largest country in the world (just short behind USA, Canada and Russia) holds one of the richest historical backgrounds and influence on Asian cuisine as a whole. So you can bet that Chinese cuisine has some of the most extraordinary heritage to offer the world.

With its huge influence on other Asian countries, Chinese food not only represents Asian cuisine but is also famous around the world for its richness, diversity, and countless recipes accumulated after thousand years of existence.


Fun fact: the traditional way to greet someone in china translates to 'have you eaten yet? (ni chile ma)' Coming to China, diners worldwide will feel like entering a journey of gastronomy exploration. The taste is always fragrant and eye-catching by the sophisticated presentation, along with countless techniques, food combinations and flavor.


Food that serves emperors and kings


Chinese is the country of emperors and dynasties, so the food here pays a lot of attention to an aesthetic look with a variety of colours. Each formula is designed to strike a balance between three elements: appearance, fragrance, and taste. A traditional Chinese dinner will contain starch such as noodles, rice, or buns, as well as oil-rich stir-fried veggies, fish, and pork.


The two primary ideologies - Confucianism and Taoism - have an impact on Chinese food and how it is prepared. One of Confucius' rules was that food is chopped into little bite-size pieces before being served. Taoists place a greater emphasis on foods that promote health and longevity, as well as those that have healing properties.


Chinese cuisine also utilizes a lot of fresh veggies, such as mushrooms, chestnut, bamboo, lotus seed, and tofu.


Fish sauce, five-spice powder, oyster sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, root garlic, fresh ginger, and other spices are used liberally to provide a rich mix of flavour and fragrance.


Chinese foods, like Japanese cuisine, are high in umami, which is defined as a "pleasant savoury flavour.", and in simple terms, brothy and meaty flavour. Many items utilized in their cuisine, such as Chinese cabbage, spinach, celery, green tea, or fermented goods such as soy sauce and pastes, all have an umami flavour.




8 Culinary technique of china


As we have mentioned, China is a big country. Thanks to the geography, climate and long-standing customs and habits, you can expect each region will bring its unique characteristics.


From cooking styles, ingredients to flavours - all differ from region to region. The most famous regional cuisines in China are Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Szechuan, and Zhejiang. We know that the list looks long, but after reading through, you will be able to impress anyone at the dining table with your newfound Chinese cuisine knowledge ;)


Shandong


First, the famous Shandong culinary technique in the north of China is filled with the aroma of onions and garlic. Originated in East China and mainly featured seafood as it is a coastal province. You'll find scallops, prawns, clams, sea cucumbers and just about everything on the menu.


The main aim of an authentic Shandong style chef is to preserve the cut, colour, and taste of the main ingredients. So they use relatively little spice or sugar, and only quick-fried the food to preserve the taste. Soup is the secret seasoning of Shandong Cuisine, strengthening the umami flavour and highlighting the natural taste of every dish.



Sichuan


From the west of China, you will find Sichuan cuisine. This cuisine is for some who like a little stink on their tongue. It is famous for its bold, pungent and spicy flavours. The secret for that spicy kick is Sichuan pepper - a native herb that is used in almost every dish.


Sichuan food is more than just hot and spicy. There are 24 tastes in all Sichuan cuisine dishes, which may be loosely classified into three primary groups. The first and most popular is hot and spicy, as indicated above, with typical dishes like hot pot and Ma Po Tofu. The second is spicy and fragrant, with meals always containing a touch of garlic and ginger. The third flavour is sweet and sour, and the typical dish is Fish-Flavored Shredded Pork.


Dishes that are a staple of Chinese cuisines like Kung Pao Chicken, Mapo Tofu, and Sichuan hot pot all came from this region.


Cantonese


Cantonese cuisine is known to have an adventurous palate. Diners will be surprised by the diversity of ingredient uses - Besides pork, beef and chicken, Cantonese cuisine incorporates almost all edible meats, including offal, chicken feet, duck’s tongue, snakes, and snails. In 1986, Prince Philip of the UK commented on Chinese eating habits at the 1986 World Wildlife Fund Conference: “If it has four legs and is not a chair, if it has two wings and flies but is not an aero plane, and if it swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.”


Besides the exaggerated story, but somehow represent Cantonese food. This cuisine utilizes garlic, ginger, and scallion, combining with flavours such as hoisin, plum, black bean, or oyster sauce. One distinct taste of Cantonese food is sweet and sour, represented in dishes such as sweet & sour pork, char Siu, salt and pepper shrimp, soy sauce chicken, and most notably, dim sum.


Jiangsu


Next, you can't ignore Jiangsu, a cuisine that is considered “gourmet” among Chinese cuisine. Jiangsu food flavor umami, natural, mild, and lightly sweet with rich original flavour.

What makes it unique is the high attention to detail. Jiangsu dishes are served delicately like artworks. With Yangzhou being one of the biggest trading ports of china, Jiangsu’s ingredients are rich in freshwater fish, river fish and seafood. Vegetable uses are aromatic and earthy like lotus root, Chinese chestnut, water chestnut, cane shoots, etc.


Jiangsu cuisine chefs focus on the controlling of fire heat and the art of cutting. Skilful Jiangsu chefs can even cut tofu 2cm wide into 30 slices, and the finished shredded tofu will be as thin as a strain of hair that can go through the needle eye. Besides, the chefs are especially good at simmering, braising, and stewing, which is a popular cooking technique in this region.


In addition to the 4 leading schools, Chinese cuisine also makes diners admire diverse regional cuisines in Zhejiang, Fujian, Hunan and Anhui. Each brings their own signature trait to the table.


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