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Chinese Food

Last updated by chris1993 at 2017/1/23

Want to feel on top of the world? Go and taste some mouth-watering Chinese food!

As one of the so-called three luxuries in a man’s life (the other two are an American house and a Japanese wife), Chinese food is widely known for its variety and abundance with about 8,000 renowned ancient and modern dishes, 600 types of ingredients and over 48 basic ways of cooking.

小笼包

Requirements in Cookery

Chinese people attach particular importance to a triple-principle of their food, namely, color, aroma and taste.

To achieve this standard, every exquisite culinary dish involves a long and complicated process from selecting the ingredients to finally serving it to diners. The superb skills of Chinese chefs make a great contribution to the development of Chinese food industry. Sometimes, watching their work is like enjoying a splendid acrobatic show.

  • Color refers not only to the hue of a dish, but also its modeling. Food is often decorated by carving in a specific appearance, which actually requires more than a few years’ hard training by chefs.
  • Aroma involves the appetizing smell of the dishes making one's mouth water.
  • Taste refers to utilizing suitable condiments and perfect food match to create a unique flavor.

China's Eight Great Cuisines

From the Ming (1368-1644) to the Qing (1616-1911) Dynasties, there emerged eight great cuisines respectively, from Anhui, Guangdong, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan and Zhejiang Provinces.

Every cuisine is distinct from the other and the differences in their formation have much to do with the geography, climate, natural resources, and eating habits of the specific area.

Anhui Cuisine (徽菜)- Fresh Local Produce

The excellent geographical advantage of the Huangshan Mountains endows local people with a great deal of fresh flora and tasty fauna, composing the major ingredients of the dishes.

Anhui Cuisine chefs focus a lot of attention to preserve most of the original taste and nutrition of the materials, but they sometimes add ham or sugar candy to improve their dishes’ taste.

Recommended Anhui Food Corresponding Chinese Name Anhui Cuisine Characteristics

Ham and “Whippy” Bamboo Stew

火腿炖鞭笋

abundant flora and fauna, like to add ham or sugar candy

Stewed Turtle with Ham

火腿炖甲鱼

Cantonese Cuisine (粤菜)- Light and Refreshing

The Cantonese are widely recognized as gourmets as their food catalogue is very extensive and varied. Because of the location of Guangdong Province and its climate features, the Cantonese are fascinated by light, refreshing and aquatic food, in which the tender and original taste of the ingredients is kept intact.

Besides, this cuisine abounds in vegetables, and its congee and dim sum receive warm welcome from both the public and gastronomists.

鸭

Recommended Cantonese Food Corresponding Chinese Name Cantonese Cuisine Characteristics

Soy Sauce Chicken

豉油鸡

seafood, light and refreshing taste, dim sums

Dry-Fried Beef and Noodles

干炒牛河

Shark Fin Soup

鱼翅羹

Fujian Cuisine 闽菜- Often with Soup

Fujian Cuisine sources from the native cooking style of Fujian Province and shares a few common characteristics with nearby Taiwan and Guangdong. There’s a wealth of seafood and woodland-based ingredients forming dazzling choices for diners.

The unique practice of adding red rice wine and shrimp oil to seafood, chicken and bamboo dishes, aims at improving their flavors. Almost every dish is served with soup just as the local saying goes: ‘no meal is truly complete without soup (不汤不行)’.

Recommended Fujian Food Corresponding Chinese Name Fujian Cuisine Characteristics

Stewed Chicken with Three Cups Sauce

三杯鸡

seafood, woodland-based ingredients, soup

Buddha Jumping Over the Wall (Sea Food and Poultry Casserole)

佛跳墙

Tai Chi Prawns

太极明虾

Hunan Cuisine 湘菜- Spicy and Sour

Hunan Province provides a menu rich with a potent punch of chili, so the uninitiated may easily mix up the cooking styles of Hunan and Sichuan.

Yet the special characteristics of Hunan Cuisine focus on pickled chilies and vegetables, sour relish and a heavier use of a kind of fatty preserved meat called larou in Chinese, tasting a bit like smoky bacon.

鱼头

Recommended Hunan Food Corresponding Chinese Name Hunan Cuisine Characteristics

Spicy Chicken

麻辣子鸡

pickled chilies and vegetables, sour relish, larou

Steamed Fish Head with Diced Spicy Red Peppers

剁椒鱼头

Steamed Ham

腊味合蒸

Jiangsu Cuisine 苏菜- Fresh Seafood

Jiangsu Cuisine is a combination of both the Southern and the Northern relishes in China and the local chefs are dexterous in cooking both different styles of dishes.

The Yangtze River, winding  throughout the region, offers plenty of  produce in every season. Another characteristic of Jiangsu Cuisine are its exquisite refreshments and snacks which cater for the taste buds of lovers of food.

盐水鸭

Recommended Jiangsu Food Corresponding Chinese Name Jiangsu Cuisine Characteristics

Water Melon Chicken

西瓜鸡

seafood, plenty of river produce

Brine-Boiled Duck

盐水鸭

Sweet and Sour Mandarin Fish

松鼠桂鱼

Shandong Cuisine 鲁菜- High-calorie and High-protein

Shandong Cuisine with a long history has a great impact on other cuisines. With historical roots originating in sophisticated cuisine, the ingredients selected are more costly than those of others, usually sea food due to the favorable location.

Besides, its long duration of cold weather makes local chefs skilled in producing high-calorie and high-protein dishes. Major cooking techniques are quick-fry and deep-fry, which create distinctive crispy texture of the dishes.

鲁菜

Recommended Shandong Food Corresponding Chinese Name Shandong Cuisine Characteristics

Stewed Pork Hock

水晶肘子

seafood, high-calorie and high-protein

Four Joys Meatballs

四喜丸子

Sichuan Cuisine 川菜- Spicy and Numbing

Apart from favoring a spicy-sour, pungent flavor, Sichuan Cuisine distinguishes from the similar Hunan or Guizhou Cuisine by applying Chinese prickly ash seeds (Huajiao in Chinese), leaving a special feeling of numbness in one’s mouth.

And thanks to various ways of cooking, such as stir-frying and steaming, the cuisine has numerous dishes with different flavors but utilizing the same ingredients.

火锅

Recommended Sichuan Food Corresponding Chinese Name Sichuan Cuisine Characteristics

Sichuan Hotpot

四川火锅

prickly ash (the numbing spice),
spicy

Water Boiled Beef

水煮牛肉

Husband and Wife Lung Slices (slices of beef and offal seasoned with chili oil)

夫妻肺片

Zhejiang Cuisine (浙菜)- Mellow and Non-greasy

Characterized by the mellow and non-greasy flavor, Zhejiang Cuisine serves as representative of the food from along the lower Yangtze River.

Situated in the so called ‘land of fish and rice’, Zhejiang has a substantial scope of local produce, nutrients and taste for its diners. The main methods of cooking are quick frying, stir-frying, braising and deep-frying.

东坡肉

Recommended Zhejiang Food Corresponding Chinese Name Zhejiang Cuisine Characteristics

Dongpo Pork

东坡肉

mellow and non-greasy flavor, plenty of lake produce

Shelled Fresh Shrimps Cooked with Longjing Tea

龙井虾仁

Fish Cooked in Vinegar Gravy

西湖醋鱼

‘Beggars’ Chicken

叫花鸡

Chinese Food Culture

Food is one of the few things that stick to culture. See what we can learn from the Chinese food.

Eating Utensils

Chopsticks are said to be a great invention by the Chinese and nearly 30% of the world population make use of chopsticks. They are the flexible extension of your hands, keeping your fingers clean with no grease and safe without touching extreme heat and coldness.

It is documented that to properly handle chopsticks requires the coordination of over 80 joints and 50 muscles, which makes people more dexterous and intelligent.

筷子

Chinese Culinary Customs

In the West, people take what they like on a separate plate since the ancient time. Different from Westerners, Chinese people prefer to share dishes with each other. The elders select food for the young; the hosts apportion the best part of the dishes to their distinguished guests to show their respect and warm welcome.

Such Chinese culinary customs add to the hospitable character of the Chinese people. Through sharing food with guests, friends and families, Chinese people tend to be more sensitive about the need of others at table and often firstly take the group needs into consideration.

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