Chinese food and cuisine is one of the most important parts of Chinese culture. Being one of the three great cuisines in the world (Chinese cuisine, French cuisine, Turkish cuisine), it has a profound influence on east Asia. Chinese food has a long and distinguished history, with exquisite technique, rich variety, numerous schools and unique style. The recipes come from Chinese regional cuisines and minority food.
According to the literature, China already had barbecue, grilled fish and other foods as early as 5,000 years ago. “Five reconcile” was created in the Shang dynasty and Eight Treasures were famous in the Zhou Dynasty, which had a great influence on later generations. During the Northern and Southern dynasties, Chinese cuisine developed rapidly and many famous dishes appeared. The “Wu Hou Mackerel”, created by Louhu of Han Dynasty is the earliest chowder in China.
Influenced by Buddhism and promoted by emperor, Buddhist vegetarianism gradually has an impact on society, which further developed the vegetarian dishes that had already appeared in China. In the Song dynasty, various cold dishes, hot dishes and soup were hundreds. At that time, some dished were marked with region such as Northern, Southern and Sichuan, indicating that the main flavor of Chinese cuisine was already in shape in the Song dynasty.
During the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, Chinese cuisine was greatly developed with thousands of dishes. Halal food, as a kind of unique flavor occupies a certain position in the Chinese dishes due to the migration of ethnic groups that believes in Islam. The schools of Chinese cuisine have been basically formed. Later, as foreigners came to China, Chinese cuisine was mixed with some western dishes.
Chinese cuisine is famous for its emphasis on color, aroma, taste, as well as the deep cultural meaning they convey.
Color: It is the organic combination of the raw material and ingredients, sometimes with some green vegetables, tomatoes and onions to achieve a better visual effect. Now it is also about the shape and decoration of dishes.
Aroma: It includes the smelling of air and bone.
Taste: The most important of the dishes, is an organic combination of ingredients and seasonings and different cooking methods.
The Chinese people also pay much attention to tonic food, such as eating nutritious food, reasonably mixing meat and vegetables.
Choice of Materials
There is a famous saying that “The Chinese eat everything with four legs, except tables, and everything that flies, except airplanes.” Almost anything that can be eaten can serve as a Chinese dish. But the choice of ingredients is related to the quality of the dishes. Chinese dishes often choose expensive ingredients such as bird’s nest, shark fin, bear’s paw, deer’s tail, tiger bone, monkey brain, etc. About the choice of materials, there are following characteristics.
In season: According to the different ripening time of animals and plants, the quality is also different.
Different varieties: Different kinds of ingredients are required in some dishes, such as Peking Duck(made with Beijing crammed duck) and chopped cold chicken(made with three yellow chicken). It is said that the three yellow chicken will be castrated when young and fed a certain amount of peanuts.
Difference of Part: Different parts of the food are made into different dishes. For example, the home cooking “meat section” is made with tenderloin.
Fresh and Tender: Almost all Chinese dishes require fresh ingredients.
Changing with the Times: Peking duck, for example, it is used to be as fat as possible, while in modern times, lean ducks are more favoured. Protected animals and precious plants are no longer used for food.
Popular Chinese Dishes Abroad
Stir-Fried Rice Noodles:
In 2010, a famous snack in Guangzhou was named the top 10 food of the year by the website Los Angeles Times.
Gong Bao Chicken:
Gong Bao Chicken is a representative dish of Sichuan cuisine. It is made from chicken breast, dried chilli and peanuts. It is spicy and delicious. Most foreign people would like to choose this dish as their favorite, which is almost a representative of Chinese cuisine.
Sweet and Sour Pork:
Sweet and sour pork are bright red color, sweet and sour, and tender inside. It is found in Zhejiang cuisine, Sichuan cuisine, Shandong cuisine and Halal cuisine. So it is not strange to be liked by foreign friends.
Spring rolls, a traditional Chinese snack, have a lot of influence in the hearts of foreigners. It is a traditional custom to eat spring rolls in our country.
There is a saying in China: no food is better than dumplings. And the variety of dumpling fillings includes the essence of Chinese culture. Dumpling is almost a nickname of China in foreigners’ minds.
Ma Po Bean Curd:
It is a famous dish in Sichuan cuisine. Not only Chinese people like to eat, but also foreigners do.
A lot of foreigners like to eat pasta, and there is absolutely nothing like wonton that is so delicate and refreshing in western food.
Because of the Guangdong people, Chow Mein is also deeply loved by foreigners.
It is one of the Chinese dishes that all foreign visitors will want to eat when they come to China. It is well-known at home and abroad for its good color and lustre, tender meat, smooth taste and fat but not greasy.
Eight Great Regional Cuisines in China
Chinese cuisines are categorized as the “Eight Regional Cuisines in China”, including Shandong(Lu) cuisine, Sichuan(Chuan) cuisine, Cantonese(Yue) cuisine, Jiangsu(Su) cuisine(specifically Huaiyang cuisine), Fujian(Min) cuisine, Zhejiang(Zhe) cuisine, Hunan(Xiang) cuisine and Anhui(Hui) cuisine.
Rich in raw materials, Shandong cuisine consists of local dishes of Jining, Jinan, Jiaodong, etc. It is the excellent representative of northern cuisine, exquisite in seasoning, which is mainly salty and fresh, and makes good use of scallion and garlic.
Sichuan cuisine is famous for dishes of meat, eggs, and aquatic products. Food ingredients in Sichuan are rich and distinctive. Sichuan area is rich in “three pepper” (hot pepper, Sichuan pepper, black and white pepper), which lays an important material foundation for the formation of its basic flavor.
Cantonese cuisine is characterized by rich and fine selection and light taste, which emphasizes the seasonality of raw materials. Most Chinese restaurants overseas mainly serve Cantonese cuisine. Therefore, many people believe that Cantonese cuisine is the representative cuisine of overseas China.
Fujian cuisine originates from Fuzhou, which is based on Fuzhou cuisine, and then combines the cuisines of Eastern Fujian, Southern Fujian, Western Fujian, Northern Fujian and Puxian. Fujian cuisine is famous for cooking the delicacies of seafood. On the basis of excellent color, taste and shape, it is characterized by fresh flavor, sweet-smelling and not greasy.
Zhejiang cuisine uses a wide range of raw materials, and pays much attention to the freshness and well-balanced of raw materials, so as to complement each other and fully explore the delicious and nutritious raw materials. The desserts of Zhejiang cuisine are diverse in variety and taste good, such as Jiaxing Pork-Filled Rice Dumpling, Ningbo glutinous rice balls and Huzhou wonton.
Hunan cuisine is especially good at seasoning, especially sour and hot, salty, fresh and thick smell. Sour is the flavor of pickles, which is more mellow and softer than vinegar. Hot pepper is deeply loved by the people of Hunan. The chopped pepper is fermented by lactic acid, which has the function of appetizing and nourishing the stomach.
Surrounded by many mountains and rivers, Anhui cuisine emphasizes the authenticity of food, and is expert in cooking delicacies from mountains and aquatic products. In cooking method, Anhui cuisine is skilled in braising, stewing and steaming. It is oily, excellent in color and heat control.
Jiangsu cuisine(Especially Huaiyang cuisine):
Huaiyang cuisine is an important part of Jiangsu cuisine. It is very particular about cutting techniques, of which the melon carving technique is especially well known. Its taste is light and sweet.
Food Culture Travel
Food is an integral part of Chinese culture and it should be an integral part of your trip too if you are a foodie who loves Chinese food. Don’t miss the famous local cuisine at the destination you stay. Most often, delicious food is with beautiful scenery. Beijing, Xian, Chengdu and Shanghai are famous food centers of China. Peking Roast Duck, Sichuan Hot Pot, Mapo Tofu, Kung Pao Chicken… Different cities have different local flavors and different food culture. Choose places to visit according to your preference. We have designed a series of China food tours for you. If you have enough time, you can visit several places to taste the great regional cuisine. Also, if you are interested enough, you can also have chances to make Chinese food.
Recommended Food Culture Tours:
Xian Evening Tour with Dumpling Dinner, Xian Tang Dynasty Show and City Night View
2 Days Beijing Highlights Tour with Beijing Roast Duck and Kong Fu Show
9 Days Beijing-Xian-Chengdu Small Group Tour
12 Days China Paradise Culture Tour by Train
Read more about China Food Culture Tours.
The 15 Best Places for Bar Food in Hong Kong
The 15 Best Places for Bar Food in Hong Kong...