Culture Notes: Chinese Cuisines

China is very large. Different areas have different cuisines. In general, there are eight Major Cuisines in China, namely, Shandong, Sichuan, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Fujian, Zhejiang, Hunan and Anhui cuisines. They are cuisines with a whole set of cooking techniques and distinctive local flavors formed through a long historical evolution within a certain region due to the differences in climate, geography, history, local products and customs.

Regional climate differences form different tastes. Generally speaking, northerners prefers dishes thick and salty because of the cold. In east China, the climate is mild, and the dishes are mainly sweet and salty. In southwest China, it is rainy and humid, so the dishes are mostly spicy and hot.

In Shanghai, people like to eat things that are sweet. A larger amount of sesame oil and vinegar is used. One of the favored ways of preparing dishes in the region is the “the red-cooking” method, where things are cooked for a long time in sugar, soy, ginger and other spices. Another well-known cooking method is the sweet- and- sour method. Red-braised pork and sweet-and-sour fish are two famous dishes in Shanghai.

Guangdong cuisine is creative with an emphasis on artistic presentation. The cuisine is considered light, crispy, fresh, tender and smooth. Guangdong cuisine is most famous for its breakfast which is also called morning tea. Breakfast is usually comprised of tea and dim sum, for example, barbecued pork buns, crystal shrimp dumpling and steamed rice rolls.

Sichuan cuisine is characterized by its spicy and pungent flavor, it is one of the most famous Chinese cuisines in the world. It has a multitude of tastes, and emphasizes chili. Pepper and prickly ash are also used a lot in Sichuan cuisine. Mapo tofu is the most famous dish.

Chinese Cuisines 中国菜 zhōngguó cài

Guangdong cuisine 广东菜 guǎngdōng cài

Sichuan cuisine 四川菜 sìchuān cài

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