Chinese Cuisine


Chinese dishes may be categorized as one of the Eight Culinary Traditions of China, also called the "Eight Regional Cuisines" and the "Eight Cuisines of China". They are as follows:
 Hui: Anhui
 Yue (Cantonese): Guangdong
 Min: Fujian
 Xiang: Hunan (Can include Xiangjiang Region, Dongting Lake and Xiangxi styles)
 Su (aka Huaiyang Cuisine): Jiangsu
 Lu: Shandong (Include Jinan, Jiaodong styles, etc.)
 Chuan: Sichuan
 Zhe: Zhejiang (Can include Hangzhou, Ningbo, and Shaoxing styles)

Regional cuisines
A number of different styles contribute to Chinese cuisine, but perhaps the best known and most influential are Guangdong (Cantonese) cuisine, Shandong cuisine, Jiangsu cuisine and Sichuan cuisine. These styles are distinctive from one another due to factors such as available resources, climate, geography, history, cooking techniques and lifestyle. One style may favour the use of lots of garlic and shallots over lots of chili and spices, while another may favour preparing seafood over other meats and fowl. Jiangsu cuisine favours cooking techniques such as braising and stewing, while Sichuan cuisine employs baking, just to name a few. Hairy crab is a highly sought after local delicacy in Shanghai, as it can be found in lakes within the region. Beijing Roast Duck (otherwise known as 'Peking Duck') is another popular dish well known outside of China. Based on the raw materials and ingredients used, the method of preparation and cultural differences, a variety of foods with different flavours and textures are prepared in different regions of the country. Many traditional regional cuisines rely on basic methods of preservation such as drying, salting, pickling and fermentation.
Chuan (Sichuan)
Szechuan cuisine, also called Sichuan cuisine, is a style of Chinese cuisine originating in the Sichuan Province of south-western China famed for bold flavours, particularly the pungency and spiciness resulting from liberal use of garlic and chilli peppers, as well as the unique flavour of the Sichuan peppercorn (花椒, huājiāo) and zhitianjiao(指天椒, zhǐtiānjiāo). Peanuts, sesame paste and ginger are also prominent ingredients in Szechwan cooking.
Hui (Anhui)
Anhui cuisine (Chinese: 徽菜 or 安徽菜, Ānhuīcài) is one of the Eight Culinary Traditions of China. It is derived from the native cooking styles of the Huangshan Mountains region in China and is similar to Jiangsu cuisine. But it emphasizes less on seafood and more on a wide variety of local herbs and vegetables. Anhui province is particularly endowed with fresh bamboo and mushroom crops.
Lu (Shandong)
Shandong Cuisine is commonly and simply known as Lu cuisine. With a long history, Shandong Cuisine once formed an important part of the imperial cuisine and was widely promoted in North China. However, it isn't so popular in South China and even in the all-embracing Shanghai.
Shandong Cuisine is featured by a variety of cooking techniques and seafood. The typical dishes on local menu are braised abalone, braised trepang, sweet and sour carp, Jiuzhuan Dachang and Dezhou Chicken. Various Shandong snacks are also worth trying.
Min (Fujian)

A bowl of Fujian thick soup, or geng (羹, gēng)
Fujian cuisine is a traditional Chinese cuisine. Many diverse seafoods are used, including hundreds of types of fish, shellfish and turtles, provided by the Fujian coastal region. Woodland delicacies such as edible mushrooms and bamboo shoots are also utilized. Slicing techniques are valued in the cuisine and utilized to enhance the flavour, aroma and texture of seafood and other foods. Fujian cuisine is often served in a broth or soup, with cooking techniques including braising, stewing, steaming and boiling.
Su (Jiangsu, Huaiyang cuisine)
Jiangsu cuisine, also known as Su (Cai) Cuisine for short, is one of the major components of Chinese cuisine, which consists of the styles of Yangzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou and Zhenjiang dishes. It is very famous all over the world for its distinctive style and taste. It is especially popular in the lower reach of the Yangtze River.
Typical courses of Jiangsu cuisine are Jinling salted dried duck (Nanjing's most famous dish), crystal meat (pork heels in a bright, brown sauce), clear crab shell meatballs (pork meatballs in crab shell powder, fatty, yet fresh), Yangzhou steamed Jerky strips (dried tofu, chicken, ham and pea leaves), triple combo duck, dried duck, and Farewell My Concubine (soft-shelled turtle stewed with many other ingredients such as chicken, mushrooms and wine).
Yue (Hong Kong and Guangdong)
Dim sum, literally "touch your heart", is a Cantonese term for small hearty dishes. These bite-sized portions are prepared using traditional cooking methods such as frying, steaming, stewing and baking. It is designed so that one person may taste a variety of different dishes. Some of these may include rice rolls, lotus leaf rice, turnip cakes, buns, shui jiao-style dumplings, stir-fried green vegetables, congee porridge, soups, etc. The Cantonese style of dining, yum cha, combines the variety of dim sum dishes with the drinking of tea. Yum cha literally means 'drink tea'. Cantonese style has unique and charming dishes, which enjoy a long history and a good reputation both at home and abroad. It is common with other parts of the diet and cuisine in Chinese food culture. Back in ancient times, and the Central Plains on Lingnan Yue Chu family had close contacts. With the changes of dynasty historically, many people escaped the war and crossed the Central Plains, the increasing integration of the two communities. Central Plains culture gradually moved to the south. As a result, their food production techniques, cookware, utensils and property turned into a rich combination of Agriculture, which is the origin of Cantonese food. Cantonese cuisine originated in the Han.
Xiang (Hunan)
Hunan cuisine is well known for its hot spicy flavor, fresh aroma and deep color. Common cooking techniques include stewing, frying, pot-roasting, braising, and smoking. Due to the high agricultural output of the region, there are varied ingredients for Hunan dishes.
The cuisine of Xinjiang reflects the region's many ethnic groups and refers particularly to Uyghur cuisine. Signature ingredients include roasted mutton, kebabs, roasted fish and rice.[7]Because of the Islamic population, the food is predominantly halal.
Zhe (Zhejiang)
Zhejiang cuisine (Chinese: 浙菜 or 浙江菜, Zhèjiāngcài), one of the Eight Culinary Traditions of China, derives from the native cooking styles of the Zhejiang region. The dishes are not greasy, having but instead a fresh, soft flavor with a mellow fragrance.
The cuisine consists of at least three styles, each of which originates from different cities in the province:
 Hangzhou style, characterized by rich variations and the use of bamboo shoots
 Shaoxing style, specializing in poultry and freshwater fish
 Ningbo style, specializing in seafood
Many other regions with unique dishes and styles are represented in China, including the cuisine of Macau and Hainan.
Staple foods
Rice is a major staple food for people from rice farming areas in southern China. It is most commonly eaten in the form of steamed rice. Rice is also used to produce beers,wines and vinegars. Rice is one of the most popular foods in China and is used in many many dishes.

Misua noodle making in Lukang, Taiwan
Chinese noodles come dry or fresh in a variety of sizes, shapes and textures and are often served in soups or fried as toppings. Some varieties, such as Shou Mian (寿面, literally noodles of longevity), are symbolic of long life and good health according to Chinese tradition.
Tofu is made of soybeans and is another popular product that supplies protein.
In wheat farming areas in Northern China, people largely rely on flour based food such as noodles, breads, dumplings and steamed buns.

Cooked Chinese cabbage
Some common vegetables used in Chinese cuisine include bok choy (Chinese cabbage), Chinese Spinach (dao-mieu), On Choy, Yu Choy, and gailan (guy-lahn).
Herbs were important to the Chinese people, especially during the Han Dynasty.
When it comes to sauces, China is home to soy sauce, which is made from fermented soy beans and wheat. Oyster sauce, transparent rice vinegar, Chinkiang black rice vinegar, fish sauce and fermented tofu (furu) are also widely used. A number of sauces are based on fermented soybeans, including Hoisin sauce, ground bean sauce and yellow bean sauce. Spices and seasonings such as fresh root ginger, garlic, spring onion, white pepper, sesame oil are widely used in many regional cuisines. Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon, fennel, and cloves are also used. To provide extra flavours to dishes, many Chinese cuisines also contain dried Chinese mushrooms, dried baby shrimps, dried tangerine peel, dried Sichuan chillies as well.

Deep-fried mantou, a popular Chinese dessert, served with sweetened condensed milk

Panfried water chestnut cake (馬蹄糕), a type of Chinese gao dessert
Chinese desserts are sweet foods and dishes that are served with tea, along with meals or at the end of meals in Chinese cuisine. Bings are baked wheat flour based confections, and include moon cake, red bean paste pancake and sun cakes. Chinese candies and sweets, called tángare usually made with cane sugar, malt sugar, honey, nuts and fruit. Gao or Guo are rice based snacks that are typically steamed and may be made from glutinous or normal rice. Ice cream is commonly available throughout China. Another cold dessert is called baobing, which is shaved ice with sweet syrup. Many jelly desserts are traditionally set with agar and are flavoured with fruits, though gelatine based jellies are also common in contemporary desserts. Chinese dessert soups typically consist of sweet and usually hot soups and custards.

Longjing tea, also known as Dragon Well tea, is a variety of roasted green tea fromHangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, where it is produced mostly by hand and has been renowned for its high quality, earning the China Famous Tea title.
As well as with dim sum, many Chinese drink their tea with snacks such as nuts, plums, dried fruit (in particular jujube), small sweets, melon seeds, and waxberry. China was the earliest country to cultivate and drink tea which is enjoyed by people from all social classes. Tea processing began after the Qin and Han Dynasties. Chinese tea is often classified into several different categories according to the species of plant from which it is sourced, the region in which it is grown, and the method of production used. Some of these are green tea, oolong tea, black tea, scented tea, white tea, and compressed tea. There are four major tea plantation regions in China. They are Jiangbei, Jiangnan,Huanan and the southwestern region. Well known types of green tea include Longjing, Huangshan, Mao Feng, Bilochun, Putuofeng Cha, and Liu'an Guapian. China is the world’s largest exporter of green tea. One of the most ubiquitous accessories in modern China, after a wallet or purse and an umbrella, is a double-walled insulated glass thermos with tea leaves in the top behind a strainer.
Yellow wine has a long history in China, where the unique beverage is produced from rice and ranges between 10–15% alcohol content. The most popular brands include Shaoxing Lao Jiu, Shaoxing Hua Diao and Te Jia Fan. Wheat, corn and rice are used to produce Chinese liquor which is clear and aromatic, containing approximately 60% alcohol. This also has a long history in China, with production believed to date back to the Song Dynasty. Some popular brands of liquor include Er guo tou, Du Kang, Mao Tai, Lu Zhou Te Qu and Wu Liang Ye.
Herbal drinks
Chinese herb tea, also known as medicinal herbal tea, is a kind of tea-soup made from purely Chinese medicinal herbs.
Chinese in earlier dynasties evidently drank milk and ate dairy products, although not necessarily from cows, but perhaps koumiss (fermented mare's milk). After the Tang dynasty there emerged a line dividing eastern Asia into two groups, those who depend on milk products (India, Tibet, Central Asians) and those who reject those foods. Chinese depend on soy, as more efficient way of improving bone density, and to differentiate themselves from border nomads. Most Chinese until recently have avoided milk, partly because pasturage for milk producers in a monsoon rice ecology is not economic, partly because milk products became negatively associated with horse riding, milk drinking nomadic tribes. There may even be a biological bias. A certain number of people in any ethnic group are lactose intolerant. In addition, human beings, like other mammals, after they are weaned, stop producing lactase enzymes (needed to digest milk) unless they drink milk. Lactose intolerance is then partly cultural, partly biological.
Beginning in the early 20th century in Shanghai, Western food, and in particular identifiably nourishing items like milk, became a symbol of a neo-traditional Chinese notion of family.

In most dishes in Chinese cuisine, food is prepared in bite-sized pieces, ready for direct picking up and eating (so, for example, meat can be eaten right away, woitohut if first being chopped or cut, like we have to do with grilled meat in our cuisine). In traditional Chinese cultures, chopsticks are used at the table. Chopsticks are most commonly made of wood, bamboo orplastic, but are also made of metal, bone, ivory. Chopsticks are held in the dominant hand, between the thumb and fingers, and used to pick up pieces of food. Traditional Chinese cuisine is also based on opposites, whereby hot balances cold, pickled balances fresh and spicy balances mild.
Recent trends
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates for 2001–2003, 12% of the population of the People’s Republic of China was undernourished. The number of undernourished people in the country has fallen from 386.6 million in 1969–1971 to 150.0 million in 2001–2003. Prior to the increased industrialization and modernization following the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949 (and the late 1950s famine), a typical Chinese peasant would have eaten meat or animal products (including eggs) rarely and most meals would have consisted of rice accompanied with green vegetables, with protein coming from foods like peanuts and soy products. Fats and sugar were luxuries not eaten on a regular basis by most of the population. With increasing wealth, Chinese diets have become richer over time, consuming more meats, fats, and sugar.
Where there are historical immigrant Chinese populations, the style of food has evolved and been adapted to local tastes and ingredients, and modified by the local cuisine, to greater or lesser extents. This has resulted in a number of forms of fusion cuisine, often very popular in the country in question, and some of these, such as ramen (Japanese Chinese) have become popular internationally.

Many cooking technique involve a singular type of heated cooking or action.

Steamed sea bass in the Cantonese style
Wet-heat, immersion-based cooking methods are the predominate class of cooking techniques in Chinese cuisine and are usually referred to as "zhǔ" (煮). In fact the term (zhǔ, 煮) is commonly used to denote cooking in general.
Fast wet-heat based cooking methods include:
English Equivalent Chinese Pinyin Description
simplified Chinese: 烧;traditional Chinese: 燒
Shāo Braising ingredients over medium heat in a small amount of sauce or broth and simmering for a short period of time until completion. Known as hong-shao (红燒, lit. red cooked) when the sauce or broth is soy sauce based.
Quick Boiling 氽 or 煠 Dǔn or Zhá Adding ingredients and seasonings to boiling water or broth and immediately serving the dish with the cooking liquid when everything has come back to a boil.
Scalding 焯 or simplified Chinese: 烫; traditional Chinese: 燙
Chāo or Tàng Par cooking through quick immersion of raw ingredients in boiling water or broth sometimes followed by immersion in cold water.
Prolonged wet-heat based cooking methods include:
English Equivalent Chinese Pinyin Description
Bake stewing 煨 Wēi Slowly cooking a ceramic vessel of broth and other ingredients by placing it in or close to hot embers.
Gradual simmering simplified Chinese: 炖;traditional Chinese: 燉
Dūn Adding ingredients to cold water along with seasonings and allowing the contents to slowly come to a prolonged simmering boil. The term is also used in the Chinese languages to describe the Western cooking technique of stewing and brewing herbal remedies of Traditional Chinese medicine.

Slow red cooking
simplified Chinese: 卤;traditional Chinese: 滷
Lǔ Cooking over prolonged and constant heat with the ingredients completely immersed in a strongly flavoured soy sauce based broth. This technique, along with hong-shao (红燒, lit), is known in English as red cooking.

蒸 or 燖 Zhēng or Xún Steaming food to completion over boiling water.

熬 Áo Cooking slowly to extract nutrients into the simmering liquid, used to describe the brewing process in Chinese herbology with the intention of using only the decocted brew.

Zhangcha duck is a dish whose preparation involves steaming (蒸), smoking (熏), and deep frying (炸).
Food preparation in hot dry vessels such as an oven or a heated empty wok include:
English Equivalent Chinese Pinyin Description
Baking or Roasting
烤 Kǎo Cooking by hot air through convection or broiling in an enclosed space
熏 Xūn Cooking in direct heat with smoke. The source of the smoke is typically sugar or tea.

Stir frying (爆 bào) is a Chinese cooking technique involving relatively large amounts of oil.
Oil-based cooking methods are one of the most common in Chinese cuisine and include:
English Equivalent Chinese Pinyin Description
Deep frying orFrying
炸 Zhà Full or partial immersion cooking in hot oil or fat
Pan frying
煎 Jīan Cooking in a pan with a light coating of oil or liquid and allowing to food to brown.
Stir frying or high heat Sautéing
炒 Chǎo Cooking ingredients at hot oil and stirring quickly to completion. This technique and bao (爆炒, 油爆) are commonly known in English as stir frying. This technique uses higher heat than that of sautéing.

High heat Stir frying
爆 Bào Cooking with large amounts hot oil (油爆), sauces (酱爆), or broth (汤爆) at very high heat and tossing the ingredients in the wok to completion.
[edit]Without heat
Food preparation techniques not involving the heating of ingredients include:
Raw methods
English Equivalent Chinese Pinyin Description
Dressing 拌 Bàn Mixing raw or unflavoured cooked ingredients with seasonings and served immediately. Similar to tossing a dressing into salad.

Marinating or pickling 腌 Yān To pickle or marinade ingredients in salt, soy sauce or soy pastes. Use for making pickles or preparing ingredients for addition cooking.

The chicken in General Tso's chicken has been fried and lightly braised in sauce (Liu, 溜)
Several techniques in Chinese involve more than one stage of cooking and have their own terms to describe the process. They include:
 Dòng (凍): The technique is used for making aspic but also used to describe making of various gelatin desserts
1. Simmering meat for a prolonged period in a broth (Lu, 滷) or (Dun, 炖)
2. Chilling the resulting meat and broth until the mixture gels
 Hùi (燴): The dishes made using this technique is usually finished by thickening with starch (勾芡)
1. Quick precooking in hot water (Tang, 燙)
2. Finished by stir-frying (爆, 炒) or Shao (燒)
 Liū (溜): This technique is commonly used for meat and fish. Pre-fried tofu is made expressly for this purpose.
1. Deep frying (Zha, 炸) the ingredients until partially cooked
2. Finishing the ingredients lightly braising (Shao, 燒) it to acquired a soft "skin"
 Mēn (燜):
1. Stir-frying (爆, 炒) the ingredients until partially cooked
2. Cover and simmer (Shao, 燒) with broth until broth is fully reduced and ingredients are fully cooked.