China has the world’s oldest culinary culture and diversity that is hard to imagine. The country has eight major culinary traditions which are known as the 8 Great Chinese Cuisines originating from the eight provinces of the vast country including Fujian, Anhui, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Guangdong, Hunan, and Zhejiang. These eight major culinary schools have predominated in China, and their popularity has reached different corners of the world.
Sited in the delta of the Yangtze River, Zhejiang is a very rich province. Its cuisine embodies the plush lifestyle of its citizen and is fresh, smooth, tender and high-class. Their dishes are not spicy and usually light. The main cooking ingredients are seafood, fish, bamboo, and poultry. The primary cooking methods are stir-frying, deep-frying, quick-frying and braising. Some of the most popular Zhejiang dishes include Fried pork belly in a stew of wine and soy sauce, Braised fish, grass carp served in syrup, and Shelled shrimps.
Sichuan is home to China’s most popular dishes. Sichuan is a combination of Chengdu and Chongqing cooking styles. Sichuan food is famous for its hot and spicy flavour and features the use of many seasoning ingredients. The common spices used are Sichuan pepper and chilli. The main cooking method is stir-frying, steaming, braising, quick-frying, baking etc. Popular Sichuan dishes include Gongbao Jiding which is spiced diced chicken and Mapo Tofu.
Jiangsu cuisine is not very popular but has a rich and sophisticated cooking culture. The meals are prepared using elaborate methods and artistic arrangements. The diet is usually fresh and is made up of mostly seafood. Cooking methods include braising, stewing, roasting, simmering, and warming. The dishes have a little amount of seasoning to preserve the natural flavours of the ingredients. Some of the favorite dishes include Jingling salted duck and the sweet and sour mandarin fish with its elaborate presentation.
Anhui cuisine is also not so popular. The cuisine is dominated by vegetables and herb from the land and the sea. The cooking here is not so rich because the region is not very prosperous. Cooking methods is mainly braising. Some of their favourite dishes include Li Hongzhang stew and yellow crab shell cake.
The cuisine of Shandong usually consists of light seafood and soups because of its proximity to the sea. The primary cooking methods are quick-frying and deep-frying. The style is very popular in Beijing and other parts of Northeast China. One of the most popular dishes from Shandong is the Sweet and Sour Carp.
Popularly known as Cantonese, Guangdong cuisine is the most famous Chinese cuisine served outside China. The dishes have a distinct flavour which is the result of an impeccable cooking style with rare ingredients. The dishes have the low seasoning to retain the natural flavour of the ingredients. Common ingredients include fresh seafood, fresh herbs, sweet sauces, and meat. Cooking techniques include braising, stir-frying, deep-frying, stewing, roasting, sautéing, steaming, and stewing. The region is famous for its dim sum which makes a great serving of breakfast.
Fujian cuisine is highly flavoured and light. Common ingredients include bamboo shoots, woodland mushrooms, turtles, fish, wild herbs, and shellfish owing to its proximity to the coast and mountain country. Soups are a prominent part of this cuisine, and they like to add assortments of seasonings and herbs to their dishes. Cooking methods include stir-frying, deep-frying, stewing, baking, boiling, grilling, simmering, braising, and smoking and so on. One of the most popular Fujian recipes is the Buddha jumping on the wall which is made from close to 30 ingredients including sea slug, mushrooms, chicken breast, dried scallops, pig’s trotters, and duck and so on.
Just like Sichuan, Hunan cuisine has a spicy and hot feel. It is usually moist, rich and either creamy or crispy with a powerful flavour of chilli, pepper, shallot or garlic. The dishes are also oily and colourful. Rice, fish, chilli, and many other ingredients are used in the cuisine. The basic cooking methods are stir-frying, pickling, fermenting, steaming, smoking, and sautéing
A popular dish in Hunan is the Steamed fish head with chopped pepper and Dong’s chicken.
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Some selected readings
Sigurðsson, A. (2010, November 4.) The eight major regional cuisines of China. Retrieved January 17, 2018, from the Web
Zhu, W. (2013, May 27.) Eight Regional Cuisines of China. Retrieved January 17, 2018, from the Web
Parkinson, R. (2017, February 17.) Chinese Regional Cooking Styles. Retrieved January 17, 2018, from the Web
Hua, S. (2015, October 9.) 8 Major Cuisine Types in China. Retrieved January 17, 2018, from the Web