The 58 Great Chinese Cuisine Styles!
There are Eight main regional cuisines, or Eight Great Traditions (八大菜系):
Anhui(安徽菜), Cantonese（广东菜）, Fujian（福建菜）, Hunan（湖南菜）, Jiangsu（江苏菜）, Shandong（山东菜）, Sichuan（四川菜）, and Zhejiang（浙江菜）.
Anhui cuisine (Hui Cai for short), is one of the eight most famous cuisines in China, it consists of three styles: Yangtze River region（沿江）, Huai River region（沿淮）, and southern Anhui region（皖南）.
The highly distinctive characteristic of Anhui cuisine lies not only in the elaborate choices of cooking materials but also in the strict control of the entire cooking process.
Anhui cuisine is known for its use of wild herbs, from both the land and the sea, and simple methods of preparation. Braising and stewing are common cooking techniques. Frying and stir frying are used much less frequently in Anhui cuisine than in other Chinese culinary traditions. Anhui has ample uncultivated fields and forests, so the wild herbs used in the region’s cuisine are readily available.
Anhui cuisine chefs pay more attention to the taste, color of dishes and the temperature to cook them, and are good at braising and stewing. They are experts in cooking delicacies from both the mountains and the sea. Anhui dishes preserve most of the original taste and nutrition of the recipe ingredients. Generally, the food here is slightly spicy and salty. Some master dishes are stewed in brown sauce with a stress on heavy oil and sauce. Ham is often added to improve the taste and sugar “candy” is added to gain “freshness”.
Cantonese cuisine 广东菜
Cantonese (Yue) cuisine comes from Guangdong Province in Southern China, or specifically from Guangzhou (Canton) and consists of three styles: Guangzhou region（广州）, Hakka region（客家）, and Chaozhou region（潮州）.
Many cooking methods are used: steaming, stir-frying, shallow frying, double boiling, braising, and deep-frying being the most common ones in Cantonese restaurants due to their convenience and rapidity as well as their ability to bring out the flavor of the freshest ingredients.
For many traditional Cantonese cooks, spices should be used in modest amounts to avoid overwhelming the flavors of the primary ingredients, and these primary ingredients in turn should be at the peak of their freshness and quality. Interestingly, there is no widespread use of fresh herbs in Cantonese cooking (and most other regional Chinese cuisines in fact), contrasting with the liberal usage seen in European cuisines and other Asian cuisines such as Thai or Vietnamese. Garlic chives and coriander leaves are notable exceptions, although the latter tends to be a mere garnish in most dishes.
Fujian cuisine 福建菜
Fujian cuisine (Chinese: 闽菜 POJ: Ban chhai or 福建菜 POJ: Hok-kian chhai) is derived from the native cooking style of the province of Fujian, China. Fujian style cuisine is known to be light but flavorful, umami, soft, and tender, with a particular emphasis on showing off and not masking original flavor of the main ingredients.
The techniques employed in the cuisine are complex but the results are ideally refined in taste with no “loud” flavors. Particular attention is also paid on the knife skills and cooking technique of the chefs. Emphasis is also on utilizing soup, and there is a saying in the region’s cuisine: “One soup can be changed in ten forms” (－湯十烫) and “It is unacceptable for a meal to not have soup”(不汤不行).
Fujian cuisine consists of three styles:
Fuzhou福州: The taste is light compared to other styles, often with a mixed sweet and sour taste. Fuzhou is famous for its soups.
Western Fujian闵西: There are often slight spicy tastes from mustard and pepper and the primary cooking methods are steam, fry and stir-fry.
Southern Fujian: Spicy and sweet taste are often found and the selection of sauces used is elaborate.
Quanzhou泉州: The least oily but with the strongest taste/flavor of Fujian cuisine. Great emphasis is placed on the shape of the material for each dish.
Hunan cuisine, sometimes called Xiang cuisine (Chinese: 湖南菜 or 湘菜; pinyin: hú’náncài or xiāngcài), and consists of the cuisines of the Xiang River region, Dongting Lake and western Hunan Province, in China. Hunan cuisine consists of three styles:
Xiang River style湘江 which is represented by dishes of Changsha长沙,
Dongting Lake style洞庭湖 which is represented by dishes of Yueyang岳阳&Changde常德
Western Hunan style 湘西which is represented by dishes of Jishou吉首.
Hunan cuisine is one of the eight regional cuisines of China and is well known for its hot spicy flavor, fresh aroma and deep color. Common cooking techniques include stewing, frying, pot-roasting, braising, and smoking.
Known for its liberal use of chilli peppers, shallots and garlic, Xiang cuisine is known for being dry hot (干辣) or purely hot, as opposed to the better known Sichuan cuisine, to which it is often compared. Known for its distinctive málà (hot and numbing) seasoning and other complex flavour combinations, Sichuan cuisine frequently employ Sichuan peppercorns along with chilies which are often dried, and utilizes more dried or preserved ingredients and condiments.
Hunan Cuisine, on the other hand, is often spicier by pure chili content, contains a larger variety of fresh ingredients, tends to be oilier, and is said to be purer and simpler in taste. Another characteristic distinguishing Hunan cuisine from Sichuan cuisine is that, in general, Hunan cuisine uses smoked and cured goods in its dishes much more frequently.
Jiangsu cuisine (Simplified Chinese: 苏菜 or 江苏菜, Traditional Chinese: 江蘇菜) is one the Eight Culinary Traditions of China. It is derived from the native cooking styles of the Jiangsu region in China. In general, Jiangsu cuisine’s texture is characterized as soft, but not to the point of mushy or falling apart.
For example, the meat tastes quite soft but would not separate from the bone when picked up. Other characters includes the strict selection of ingredients according to the seasons, emphasis on the matching color and shape of each dish and emphasis on using soup to improve the flavor.
Jiangsu cuisine actually consists of several styles, including:
Suzhou cuisine 苏州菜
Xuhai cuisine 徐海菜
Shandong cuisine 山东菜
(simplified Chinese: 山东菜; traditional Chinese: 山東菜; pinyin: Shāndōng cài) more commonly known as Lu cuisine (simplified Chinese: 鲁菜; traditional Chinese: 魯菜; pinyin: lǔcài) is one the Eight Culinary Traditions of China. It is derived from the native cooking styles of Shandong, an eastern coastal province of China.
Though modern transportation methods have greatly increased the availability of ingredients throughout China, Shandong cuisine remains rooted in its ancient traditions. Most notable is the staggering array of seafood, including scallops, prawns, clams, sea cucumbers, and squid, all of which are well-known in Shandong as local ingredients of exemplary quality.
Beyond the use of seafood, Shandong is somewhat unique for its wide use of corn, a local cash crop that is not widely cultivated elsewhere. Unlike the sweet corn of North America, Shandong corn is chewy and starchy, often with a grassy aroma. It is often served simply as steamed or boiled cobs, or removed from the cob and lightly fried.
Shandong is also well known for its peanut crops, which are fragrant and naturally sweet. It is common at meals in Shandong, both formal and casual, to see large platters of peanuts, either roasted in the shell, or shelled and stir-fried with salt. Peanuts are also served raw in a number of cold dishes that hail from the region.
Shandong is also distinct from most of China’s other culinary traditions in its wide use of a variety of small grains. Millet, wheat, oat and barley can be found in the local diet, often eaten as porridge (Zhōu), or milled and cooked into one of the many varieties of steamed and fried breads eaten in Shandong. More so than anywhere else in China, Shandong people are known for their tendency to eat steamed breads, rather than rice, as the staple food in a meal.
Despite its rich agricultural output, Shandong has not traditionally used the wide variety of vegetables seen in many southern styles of Chinese cooking. Potatoes, tomatoes, cabbages, mushrooms, onions, garlic and eggplants make up the staple vegetables in the Shandong diet. Grassy greens, sea grasses, and bell peppers are also not uncommon. The large, sweet cabbages grown in central Shandong are renowned for their delicate flavor and hardiness. As has been the case for generations, these cabbages are a staple of the winter diet throughout much of the province, and are featured in a great number of dishes.
Possibly Shandong’s greatest contribution to Chinese cuisine has been in the area of brewing vinegars. Hundreds of years of experience combined with unique local methods have led to Shandong’s prominence as one of the premier regions for vinegar production in China. Unlike the lighter flavored, sharper vinegars popular in the southern regions, Shandong vinegar has a rich, complex flavor which, among some connoisseurs, is considered fine enough to be enjoyed on its own merits.
Shandong cuisine consists of three major styles:
Jiaodong style胶东菜 This style encompasses dishes from Qingdao, Yantai and surrounding regions. It is characterized by seafood cooking, with light tastes.
Jinan style济南菜 This style encompasses dishes from Jinan, dezhou, Tai’an and surrounding regions. It is famed for its soup and utilizing soups in its dishes.
Kongfu style孔府菜 from the hometown of Confucius
Szechwan cuisine, or Sichuan cuisine (Chinese: 四川菜 or 川菜) is a style of Chinese cuisine originating in Sichuan Province of southwestern China is famed for bold flavors, particularly the spiciness resulting from liberal use of chilis and “numb” or “tingling” flavor (Chinese: 麻) of the Sichuan peppercorn (花椒).
Although the region Sichuan is now romanized as Sichuan, the cuisine is still sometimes spelled ‘Szechuan’ or ‘Szechwan’ in the West. There are many local variations of Sichuan cuisine within Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality (part of Sichuan until 1997.) The four best known regional sub-styles are Chongqing style重庆, Chengdu style成都, Zigong style自贡
Szechuan cuisine often contains food preserved through pickling, salting, drying and smoking, and is generally spicy. The Sichuan peppercorn is commonly used; it is an indigenous plant producing peppercorns with a fragrant, numbing, almost citrusy flavor. Also common are chili, ginger and other spicy herbs, plants and spices. Broad bean chili paste (simplified Chinese: 豆瓣酱; traditional Chinese: 豆瓣醬 or dòubànjiàng) is also a staple seasoning in Sichuan cuisine. The region’s cuisine has also been the originator of several other Chinese spices including yuxiang (魚香) and mala (麻辣).
Common preparation techniques in Szechuan cuisine include stir frying, steaming and braising, but a complete list would include more than 20 distinct techniques. Beef is somewhat more common in Szechuan cuisine than it is in other Chinese cuisines, perhaps due to the widespread use of oxen in the region. Stir-fried beef is often cooked until chewy, while steamed beef is sometimes coated with rice flour to produce a very rich gravy.
Zhejiang cuisine (Chinese: 浙菜 or 浙江菜) is one of the Eight Culinary Traditions of China. It is derived from the native cooking styles of the Zhejiang region in China. Food made in the Zhejiang style is not greasy, having instead a fresh and soft flavor with a mellow fragrance.
The cuisine consists of at least three styles, each originating from a city in the province: the Hangzhou style 杭州菜 is characterized by rich variations and the utilization of bamboo shoots, the Shaoxing style 绍兴菜 specializes in poultry and freshwater fish, and the Ningbo style 宁波菜 specializes in seafood, with an emphasis on freshness and salty dishes.
Some sources also include the Wenzhou style温州菜 as a separate subdivision, characterized as the greatest source of seafood as well as poultry and livestock.
OTHER LOCALIZED CUISINES:
Beijing cuisine (Chinese: 京菜 or 北京菜; pinyin: jīngcài; literally “capital cuisine”) is a cooking style in Beijing, China. It is also formally known as Mandarin cuisine.
Since Beijing has been the Chinese capital city for centuries, its cuisine has been influenced by culinary traditions from all over China, but the cuisine that has exerted the greatest influence on Beijing cuisine is the cuisine of the eastern coastal province of Shandong.
Beijing cuisine has itself, in turn, also greatly influenced other Chinese cuisines, particularly the cuisine of Liaoning, the Chinese imperial cuisine, and the Chinese aristocrat cuisine. “The Emperor’s Kitchen” (御膳房; pinyin: yùshànfáng) was a term referring to the cooking places inside of the Forbidden City, Beijing where thousands of cooks from the different parts of China showed their best cooking skills to please royal families and officials.
Therefore, it is at times rather difficult to determine the actual origin of a dish as the term “Mandarin” is generalized and refers not only to Beijing, but other provinces as well. However, some generalization of Beijing cuisine can be characterized as follows: Foods that originated in Beijing are often snacks rather than full courses, and they are typically sold by little shops or street vendors. There is emphasis on dark soy paste, sesame paste, sesame oil, and scallions, and fermented tofu is often served as a condiment. In terms of cooking method, methods relating to the different way of frying are often used.
Tianjin is famous for its snacks, such as:
Jian Bing Guo Zi (Meat wrapped in thin mung bean flour pancake)煎饼馃子
Gou Bu Li Bao Zi (Gou Bu Li Stuffed Buns)狗不理包子
Er Duo Yan Zha Gao (Er Duo Yan Fried butter cake) 耳朵眼炸糕
Guo Ba Cai (Sauteeded Sliced dish) 锅巴菜
Gui Fa Xiang Ma Hua (Gui Fa Xiang Fried Dough Twist)桂发祥麻花
Northeastern Chinese cuisine 东北菜
Northeastern Chinese cuisine (东北菜; pinyin: dōngběi cài) is a style of Chinese cuisine based (obviously) in Northeastern China. Many dishes originated from Manchu cuisine. It relies heavily on preserved foods and hearty fare due to the harsh winters and relatively short growing seasons. Pickling is a very common form of food preservation and pickled cabbage (suan cai) is traditionally made by most households in giant clay pickling vats.
Unlike southern China, the staple crop in northern China is wheat and it supplies the majority of the starch found in a northern Chinese diet where it is found in the form of noodles and steamed buns. Popular dishes include pork and chive dumplings, suan cai hot pot, cumin & caraway lamb, congee, tealeaf stewed hardboiled eggs, nian doubao (sticky rice buns with sweet bean filling), congee (rice porridge) with several types of pickles (mustard root is highly popular), and cornmeal congee.
Perhaps the most important characteristic of Northeastern Chinese cuisine is its utilization of suan cai. Another distinct feature that separates Northeastern cuisine from other Chinese cuisines is to serve more raw vegetables and raw seafood in the coastal areas.
Due to its riverine environment, the Heilongjiang style 黑龙江菜 of the Northeastern cuisine is famed for its fish banquet, specializing in anadromous fish (fish living in both fresh and salt water) such as the trout banquet and the sturgeon banquet. Similarly, due to its mountainous environment, the Jilin style 吉林菜 of the Northeastern cuisine is famed for its dishes that utilize game animals. Although by law, only farm-raised animals are allowed for culinary use and the use of wild animals is strictly forbidden, this practice is still being criticized because critics argue that such use of farmed animals, despite the fact that they are farm raised, would encourage the consumption of wild animals.
Liaoning cuisine 辽宁菜 is a new rising star among Chinese cuisines and has become increasing popular recently. Furthermore, Liaoning cuisine chefs have continuously won awards in recent culinary arts competitions in China.
Hubei cuisine 湖北菜
(Chinese: 鄂菜 or 湖北菜) is derived from the native cooking styles of the Hubei province of China. It emphasizes on how carefully the material is cut, how the color matches, and specializes in steaming. Hubei cuisine comprises three distinct styles:
Wuhan style武汉菜: Specializes in soups. Wuhan is also known for its noodle dishes, such as re gan mian.
Huangzhou style黄州菜: More oily than others; often tastes salty.
Jingzhou style荆州菜: Steaming is the primary method of cooking, specializing in fish.
Hubei cuisine is also famous for many kinds of restorative soups cooked over a low heat which preserves both the fresh taste and the nutrients. The most famous include Chicken Soup, Spareribs Soup, and Duck Soup. The best place to taste them is at the Xiaotaoyuan Restaurant at 64 Lanling Lu in Hankou.
Shanghai cuisine 上海菜
Shanghai cuisine (上海菜), also known as Hu cai (滬菜, pinyin: hù cài) is a popular style of Chinese cuisine. Shanghai does not have a definitive cuisine of its own, but refines those of the surrounding provinces (mostly from adjacent Jiangsu and Zhejiang coastal provinces). What can be called Shanghai cuisine is epitomized by the use of alcohol. Fish, eel, crab, and chicken are “drunken” with spirits and are briskly cooked/steamed or served raw. Salted meats and preserved vegetables are also commonly used to spice up the dish.
The use of sugar is common in Shanghainese cuisine and, especially when used in combination with soy sauce, infuses foods and sauces with a taste that is not so much sweet but rather savory. Non-natives tend to have difficulty identifying this usage of sugar and are often surprised when told of the “secret ingredient.” The most notable dish of this type of cooking is “sweet and sour spare ribs” (“tangcu xiaopai” in Shanghainese).
“Red cooking” is a popular style of stewing meats and vegetables associated with Shanghai.
Facing the East China Sea, seafood in Shanghai is very popular. However, due to its location among the rivers, lakes, and canals of the Yangtze Delta, locals favor freshwater produce just as much as saltwater products like crabs, oysters, and seaweed. The most famous local delicacy is Shanghai hairy crab.
Shanghainese people are known to eat in delicate portions (which makes them a target of mockery from other Chinese), and hence the servings are usually quite small. For example, famous buns from Shanghai such as the famous soup dumplings known as xiaolong bao (known as xiaolongbao in Mandarin) and the shengjian mantou are usually about four centimeters in diameter, much smaller than the typical baozi or mantou elsewhere.
Due to the rapid growth of Shanghai and its development into one of the foremost East Asian cities as a center of both finance and contemporary culture, the future of Shanghai cuisine looks very promising.
Unlike Cantonese or Mandarin cuisine, Shanghainese restaurant menus will sometimes have a dessert section.
Xinjiang cuisine 新疆菜
Food in Xinjiang has much more of a Central Asian flavor than elsewhere in China and many of the dishes use Turkish and Islamic spices and flavourings, especially cumin. Much of the food here tends to be very spicy too, with peppers and chili used to much the same effect as they are in Sichuan, for their apparent cooling properties in the intense heat.
The staple food here is not rice, (as it is elsewhere in China) but noodles. La mien and Ban mien (noodles served with mutton and a spicy vegetable stew) are hugely popular in all the cities in the region. Grilled mutton kebabs (Kaoyangrouchuan) are another common specialty, familiar to western taste buds too! These kebabs are usually bought on the street and often accompanied by a large, flat oven baked bread, resembling Indian Nan and going under the same name.
Xinjiang also provides some wonderfully tasty and fresh fruit. Turpan has an abundance of grapes and raisins. Every home here harvests grapes either for personal consumption, to export, to be made into raisins, or for wine. Hami melon is also very good.
The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is inhabited by many ethnic groups, and Xinjiang-style food is characterized by roast mutton, roast fish and rice to be eaten with the hand.
Guizhou cuisine 贵州菜
Guizhou cuisine (Chinese: 黔菜 or 贵州菜) is derived from the native cooking styles of the Guizhou region in China. Guizhou cuisine is similar to Szechuan cuisine and Hunan cuisine, but it is unique in that its dishes emphasize the mixed taste of sour and spicy, similar to that of Shaanxi cuisine陕西菜 of Shaanxi province陕西省, another neighbor of Sichuan.
Despite both sharing sour and spicy flavors, Guizhou cuisine can be distinguished from Shaanxi cuisine in lacking the salty taste that is present in Shaanxi cuisine (and which is a common characteristic in most northern Chinese cuisines).
Guizhou cuisine is often specially cooked to match the flavor of locally produced Chinese liquor that are famous in China, such as Maotai, which is consumed with the cuisine.
In some places of Guangxi 广西, like Wuzhou 梧州, Cantonese-style food is dominant, but the local Guangxi cuisine still offers several great delicacies. Guangxi cuisine is light, but not as light as Cantonese food; it is spicy, but not as spicy as Sichuan cuisine. Guangxi cuisine combines the virtues of other Chinese cuisines and is most renowned for its unique treatment of venison and game meat. Luckily, you can also find local dim sum as well as noodles and delicious dumplings.
Hainan cuisine 海南菜
In the past 2,000-some years, Hainan people have spared no effort to learn from culinary arts from Central China, Fujian, Guangdong, Southeast Asia and Miao and Li ethnic minorities, thus forming a local cuisine style with distinct characteristics and a bright future for further development.
Influenced by the weather, geographical environment, local products and resources, and eating and drinking customs of Hainan Island, Hainan Cuisine includes various kinds of dishes. Some are delicious, prepared with famous and special seafood, some are salty and delicious. The most famous dish is Hainanese Chicken Rice, which is enjoyed throughout China and southeast Asia.
Yunnan cuisine 云南菜
Yunnan cuisine (滇菜, pinyin: Diāncài; or 云南菜, pinyin: Yúnnán cài) is an amalgam of Han Chinese and Chinese minority cuisines. As the province with the largest number of ethnic minorities, Yunnan has a great variety of food, and it is difficult to make generalizations. Many Yunnanese dishes are quite spicy, and mushrooms feature prominently. Another important characteristic of Yunnan cuisine is the wide use of flowers as food.
There are many underappreciated and unique dishes in Yunnan, such as:
Boluo fan (Pineapple rice, found in Xishuangbanna and possibly other Dai areas) 菠萝饭
Guo Qiao Mi Xian (‘Crossing the bridge’ or ‘Across the bridge’ noodles – one of the most famous dishes from the province)过桥米线 and Yunnan’s best-known dish. It consists of a bowl of chicken stock to which diners add their own selection of paper-thin meat slices, noodles, vegetables and spices, much like a hot pot. Found throughout the province.
Qi Guo Ji (Steam pot chicken)气锅鸡
chicken steamed with tonic herbs in a special ceramic pot – The Food Dictator owns one of these and it is one of his most prized culinary possessions.
Yiliang Kao Ya(Roast Duck,Yiliang style) 宜良烤鸭 crispy skin roast duck similar to Peking duck but uses honey to crisp and colour the skin and is roasted with pine branches and needles, which imparts a unique flavour to the duck.
Shiping Dou Fu Tofu (Shiping style)石屏豆腐
Er Kuai (highly refined and compressed rice cakes) 饵块
Lunan Ru Bing (Milk Cake, Lunan style) 路南乳饼
This butter cake is made from fresh goat milk. There are many ways to eat the milk cake. If the milk cake is sliced and sandwiched with sliced ham, the famous Yunnan Ham and Milk Cake is created.
Dengchuan Ru Shan (Mile Fan, Dengchuan style) 邓川乳扇 Milk Fan is a fan-shaped dairy product and there are two types: milky white and milky yellow. It is a major dish the Bai people use to treat guests.
Lijiang La Pai Gu Huo Guo (preserved chop hot pot, Lijiang style)丽江腊排骨火锅
Xuanwei Huo Tui (ham, Xuanwei style)宣威火腿
Xuanwei ham, produced in Xuanwei City in Qujing Prefecture, Yunnan Province, enjoys a high reputation both at home and abroad. In 1915, Xuanwei ham won a gold medal at the Panama International Fair. In the shape of a pipa (a plucked string instrument with a fretted fingerboard), Xuanwei ham has thin skin, thick meat, bright color and strong aroma. Thanks to the high quality, it is also known as “Yunnan ham”.
Jiangxi cuisine 江西菜
Jiangxi cuisine (Chinese: 赣菜 or 江西菜) is derived from the native cooking styles of the Jiangxi province of southern China. Like the cuisines of neighboring provinces, Jiangxi cuisine favors overtly spicy flavors; in many region of the province, chili peppers are directly used as vegetable instead of as a flavoring, as in most other Chinese regional cuisines.
Another characteristic of Jiangxi cuisine is that there are rarely any cold dishes or anything served raw in contrast to other Chinese cuisines.
The reason why there is rarely any cold or raw dishes in Jiangxi cuisine is due to another characteristic of the cuisine: it is the number one Chinese cuisine that utilizes tea oil as its primary cooking oil. However, if the raw tea oil is consumed uncooked, it would cause severe stomach problems for most people.
As a result, any dish that uses the oil is cooked, as in other part of China where tea oil is used as primary cooking oil. However, Jiangxi cuisine is unique in that the other one seventh of total Chinese populations in other parts of China uses tea oil in the main cooking oil, but it is supplemented by a variety of cooking oils of other types, and in fact, tea oil is not in
a majority despite being number one.
In Jiangxi, on the other hand, the tea oil is used almost exclusively as the only cooking oil of Jiangxi cuisine, and the only other cooking oil used is the oil from rapeseed, but it only consists of a minor portion.
Due to its geography, fish banquet is also one of the characteristics of Jiangxi cuisine. In contrast to the Heilongjiang cuisine, which is famed for anadromous fish banquets, Jiangxi cuisine is famed for freshwater fish banquets.
The last characteristic of Jiangxi cuisine is its heavy emphasis on the utilization of douchi (fermented black beans) and tofu, in comparison to other Chinese cuisines. Fried tofu is a must for everyone during the celebration of Chinese New Year.
Shaanxi cuisine 陕西菜
Shaanxi Cuisine, also known as Qin Cuisine, is represented by Guanzhong, south Shaanxi and north Shaanxi cuisine styles. Shaanxi Province occupies an important position in the development history of Chinese culture. Its cooking techniques can be traced back to the earliest Yangshao Culture period. In the Han and Tang dynasties, Shaanxi‘s cooking techniques reached a splendid pinnacle. Thanks to its unique position in the Chinese history, Shaanxi chefs gathered cooking advantages from all over the country, and formed its own unique characteristics.
Local chefs of Shaanxi Province are good at using local materials to prepare delicious dishes, such as hump and hoof of a camel, fat sheep from north Shaanxi, Qinchuan oxen, carps from the Yellow River and black rice from Hanzhong. Through boiling, stewing, braising, frying and cooking, they produce a wide variety of dishes of different tastes.
In the past several thousand years, Henan chefs have created a large number of famous dishes, many of which have the names depicting the ancient charm of the Shang (17th-11th century BC) and Zhou (11th century-256 BC) Dynasties, the traditions left over by the Han (206 BC-220AD) and Tang (618-907) Dynasties, and the excellencies of the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
Henan cuisine is mainly represented in Luoyang and Kaifeng. The Gulou Night Market in Kaifeng, which started in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), is crowded with people every evening. Luoyang has a good selection of the varieties of Henan cuisine, and the best way to sample them is by settling in for the night with some friends and the many courses of the water banquet.
The Luoyang Water Banquet (Luoyang shuixi) is a local custom that has been running for over a thousand years. There are two reasons why the banquet has this name. The main reason is that, unlike most meal customs in China, the dishes served in this banquet are brought one after another, like flowing water. The second reason is that around one third of the dishes served are soup or semi-soup ones.
The Shaolin Vegetarian Food is one specialty, especially standing out among the scenery of Henan cuisine. Chinese Buddhist belief has for centuries prohibited the eating of animal flesh, and the monks here have spent an age perfecting the cooking of all types of vegetarian food. Although not rich in fat or protein, this cuisine is packed full of nutrition and is healthy.
Famous dishes and snacks include peony and swallow vegetable, fried purple crisp pork, lightly fried bean curd, jadeite shredded fish, scallion stewed sea cucumber, fruit juice and shrimps, stuffed bun steamed in small bamboo utensils, sweet and pleasant buns, egg cakes which are crisp outside and tender inside, steamed ravioli, hand-stretched noodles, braised cakes, etc.
Over the vast expense of Central China, people can feel the comprehensive charm of culture and delicacy of Henan cuisine.
Shanxi cuisine 山西菜
Shanxi cuisine (Chinese: 晋菜 or 山西菜) is derived from the native cooking styles of the Shanxi region in China, and it is famed for noodles, its fried flatbread (da bing), and its sour taste. The cuisine is also famed for utilizing its locally produced vinegar, just like the Huaiyang cuisine, but the flavor is totally different. The main diet reflects its crop (agriculture): millet, sorghum, and wheat, while pork, mushrooms, potatoes and turnips are frequently used in dishes. The cuisine comprises three styles:
The Northern Shanxi style晋北, represented by dishes from Datong and Mount Wutai, with emphasis on color and oil.
The Southern Shanxi style晋南, represented by dishes from Linfen and the Grand Canal regions, specializing in seafood, despite the fact that Shanxi is a landlocked province.
The Central Shanxi style晋中, represented by dishes from Taiyuan, which is the mixture of both the Northern Shanxi style and the Southern Shanxi style. The region is especially famous for its hand-shaved noodles (Dao xiao mian).
Tibetan cuisine 西藏菜
Among the great variety of Tibetan food, zanba and buttered tea are the most popular and distinguished. The former, made of qingke (barley flour) and tasting a little bit sour, is very nutritious and easy to take, while the latter, a Juema, a Tibetan snack mixture of butter, tea and salt, claims to be a good energy-giving beverage. Quite a few tourists drink it during their stay in Tibet in order to adapt to the high altitudes and dry climate and it becomes quite addictive. Qinke wine, however, seems to have quite the opposite effect due to its strong after-effects.
Many outsiders shrink from the challenge of drinking this wine despite in popularity with the locals.
You can’t say you have really tasted Tibetan food without trying qingke wine, buttered tea, sheep blood soup and yak meat. The cuisine also includes dried meat, mutton served with sheep’s trotters, roast sheep intestine, yogurt and cheese.
All the hotels in Tibet serve Tibetan food and the Tibetan restaurants along Eastern Beijing Road in Lhasa enjoy quite a reputation among tourists. Snow Goddess Palace at the foot of the Potala attracts innumerable tourists with its authentic Tibetan cuisine.
If you enjoy a feast there you will be offered the following: For the first course you will be served cold dishes such as zanba, yak meat, beef tripe and ox tongue. Next come the hot dishes of sheep blood soup, fried sheep lung and stir-fried beef with pickled carrot. The staple is steamed buns stuffed with minced beef and potato, or rice fried with butter. Nevertheless, most people only taste a few of these beautiful dishes.
Inner Mongolian cuisine内蒙菜
Inner Mongolia (Mongolian: , ?bür mong?ul; Chinese: 内蒙古; pinyin: Nèi Měnggǔ; officially romanized to Nei Mongol) is the Mongol autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China, located in the country’s north.
Inner Mongolia borders, from east to west, the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Hebei, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and Gansu, while to the north it borders Mongolia and Russia. It is the third-largest subdivision of China spanning about 1,200,000 sq km (463,000 sq mi) or 12% of China’s land area. It has a population of about 24 million as of 2004. The capital is Hohhot.
“Gold glass and silver glass, Let’s fill them with wine, Raise them with both our hands. Millet stir-fried in Butter, milk tea and finger mutton, Help yourself to these delicious food.”
The above lines are the song that the Mongolian people sing when they propose a toast at the dinner party. The words of the toast song give us some idea of typical Mongolian food and drink.