Chinese cuisine is generally divided into eight regional cuisines based on their geographic location. They are Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shangdong, Sichuan and Zhejiang. The regional cooking styles are as diverse as the terrain and its people. Naturally, they are also strongly influenced by the staple crops that grow in each specific region.
Anhui Cuisine (Hui Cai)
The regional cuisine of Anhui in eastern China is considered to be healthy and visually interesting with simple flavours. Anhui cuisine is characterised by an ample use of fresh herbs, mushrooms, berries, tea leaves, bamboo shoots and other wild plants that grow in the region surrounding Huangshan Mountain.
Some of the best known Anhui dishes include: Stewed Soft-shelled Turtle in a Clear Soup, Bamboo Shoots with Sausage and Dried Mushrooms and Stinky Tofu
Stewed Soft-shelled Turtle Photo: Internet
Stinky Tofu Photo: Internet
Fujian Cuisine (Min Cai)
Fujian cuisine is often further divided into the four subcategories of Southern Fujian, Western Fujian, Fuzhou and Quanzhou cuisines. The food is usually only lightly seasoned and the main flavours are sweet and sour.
Typical Fujian dishes are prepared by first chopping the ingredients finely and then quickly boiling or stir-frying them or adding them to soup.
Some of the most famous Fujian dishes include: The Monk Jumps Over the Wall, Fried Xi Shi's Tongue and Jade Pearl Abalone.
The Monk Jumps Over the Wall Photo: Internet
Jade Pearl Abalone Photo: Internet
Guangdong Cuisine (Cantonese)
Being a coastal province means that there is a strong emphasis on seafood, although their way of seasoning the food sets them apart from other coastal cuisines.
Cantonese cuisine is influenced by both Oriental and Western cooking traditions. Typical ingredients include different kinds of meats and vegetables, such as onion, garlic. The main seasonings are sugar and spiced salt.
The rich flavour of Cantonese dishes is the result of using a variety of flavoursome ingredients such as peanut oil, rice wine, anise, cassia bark, liquorice root, ginger powder, dried tangerine peel, oyster sauce, fish sauce, clam oil and curry, among other things.
The most famous Cantonese dishes include: Hong Kong egg custard tarts, wontons, and spring rolls
Egg Tart Photo: Internet
Wontons Photo: Internet
Spring Rolls Photo: Internet
Hunan Cuisine (Xi'ang Cuisine)
Hunan in southern China is dominated by rolling hills and beautiful valleys, which provide a fertile ground for growing a wide range of crops, especially rice. Hunan cuisine is famous for its spiciness, deep colours and fresh aromas.
Smoked and cured foods are typical in this part of the country. The main cooking techniques include braising, stewing, smoking and steaming.
The most famous Hunan dishes include: Dong'an Chicken, Chopped Pepper Fish Head, Crispy Duck, Orange Beef and Spicy Frog's Legs.
Dong'an Chicken Photo: Internet
Chopped Pepper Fish Head Photo: Internet
Jiangsu Cuisine (Su Cai)
The cuisine of Jiangsu is divided into the subcategories of Suzhou-Wuxi style, Zhenjiang-Yangzhou style and Nanjing cuisine. Jiangsu food is generally characterized by light and fresh flavours and tender textures and an emphasis on soup.
Jiangsu cuisine is especially popular in regions along the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. Most popular cooking methods include stewing, braising, stir-frying and pickling. Sugar is often used to round off the flavours. More often than not, the dishes are carefully arranged to make a visual impact.
Famous examples of typical Jiangsu dishes include: Jinling salted dried duck, Crab shell meatballs, Yangzhou steamed Jerky strips (dried tofu, chicken, ham and pea leaves)
Salted dried duck Photo: Internet
Crab shell meatballs Photo: Internet
The cuisine of the eastern coastal province of Shandong is divided into Huai-Yang, Yangzhou, Jiaodong and Jinan style cooking. One of the main characteristics of this type of cuisine is the tendency to eat bread instead of rice and the use of onions as a seasoning.
The corn grown in Shandong is especially famous for its chewy and starchy texture and grassy aroma. The most popular ingredients include seafood such as scallops, prawns, clams, sea cucumbers and squid. Millet, wheat, oat and barley are used used to make a variety of delicious breads.
The most popular Shandong dishes include: sea cucumber with meat balls, braised shark’s fin with shredded chicken, and bamboo shoots.
Sea cucumber with meat balls Photo: Internet
Bamboo shoots Photo: Internet
Sichuan cooking stands out as very unique. The cuisine of this southwestern province is best known for its use of strong spices. The main seasonings include chili and garlic, as well as locally produced Sichuan pepper.
Sichuan cuisine makes big use of freshwater fish, but also your typical chicken, duck and pork meats. Shark fins, bear paws and other unconventional ingredients are also used. Typical spices and condiments include Sichuan peppercorns, chili, crushed garlic, fish sauce, ginger juice and soy sauce. Sichuan-style cuisine is mainly prepared by stir-frying, braising or stewing.
The most popular Sichuan dishes include: Kung Pao chicken, Twice Cooked Pork and Tea Smoked Duck.
Kung Pao chicken Photo: Internet
Tea Smoked Duck Photo: Internet
Zhejiang Cuisine (Zhe Cai )
Ningbo cuisine, which is generally described as being very salty, is the best known subcategory of Zhejiangese cuisine. Seafood is very popular here, but spices are used quite sparingly. Since this southern province is bamboo country, almost every dish contains bamboo shoots. Zhejiang dishes are usually prepared by stir-frying, braising or steaming. Meat is often marinated in a mixture of vinegar and sugar.
The most famous Zhejiang dishes include: Dongpo Pork and Shelled shrimp in Longjing tea.
Dongpo Pork Photo: Internet
Shelled shrimp in Longjing tea Photo: Internet