There is no better way to know a country by tasting their food and, as vast and diverse as a country like China, there is a wide variety of dishes and taste from different provinces. To eat like a local and avoid any unnecessary discomfort of burning your tongue by unmerciful chillies, here I am introducing you the legendary eight cuisines in China, that not only summarise all the flavours you can find in China, but it also tells you the different characteristics of the regions.
Guangdong/Cantonese Cuisine 粤菜 Yuècài
Characteristics: Sweeter, favoring braising and stewing, adding various mild sauce
Signature dishes: Dim Sum, Streamed Seafood, Fried Rice
Cantonese food is originated in Guangdong area, exactly where Shenzhen and Hong Kong locate, so it is definitely the easiest to be found on every streets and alleys in the city. Since Guangdong is close to the South China Sea, fresh seafood is one of the signatures in the area. When you walk along some canton seafood restaurants, you may find them keeping the living seafood like scallops, abalones, prawn, lobsters and all kind of interesting creatures in a huge glass tank. Even if you are not a big fan of seafood, I am sure it will change your perspective about it after having a taste of the fresh food there! (Also, don’t forget about the mighty DIMSUM! Which will be introduced in our log soooonish!)
Sichuan Cuisine 川菜 Chuāncài
Characteristics: Spicy and bold, often mouth-numbing, using lots of chilli, garlic, ginger, and peanuts
Signature dishes: Dandan Mian, 'Pockmarked Granny' Bean Curd (Mapo Tofu), Fried Bean Curd and Beef with Cayenne Pepper (very spicy)
Wanna get a good sweat without moving an inch? Having Sichuan food will definitely help! Being famous for their spicy food, Sichuan dishes doesn’t use ordinary spices, but a special kind of peppercorn (which is normally infused in oil for hours) that numbs your tongue and senses! Normally their food are soaked in a bowl of bright red oil and you will probably see red after having just one bite. For those who claimed themselves as chilli lovers, you should definitely challenge yourself and try it out on the first day of your arrival.
Jiangsu Cuisine 苏菜 Sūcài
Characteristics: Fresh, moderately salty and sweet, precise cooking techniques, favouring seafood, soups and artistic, colorful presentation
Signature dishes: Brine-Boiled Duck, Sweet and Sour Mandarin Fish
Jiangsu Cuisine is probably less known by the foreigners but Jiangsu province actually produces one of the finest cuisine in China. What makes this cuisine so special is the exquisite cooking techniques that produce richly aromatic and visually artistic dishes. Other than the taste and flavour, it is famous for its fine cutting and preparation techniques. The dishes are not only fine-tasting, but also very good-looking. Remember to take some good pictures before having the dishes and you will probably receives a good number of likes on your Instagram!
Zhejiang Cuisine 浙菜 Zhècài
Characteristics: Mellow, using fresh seafood, freshwater fish, and bamboo shoots, and a wide variety of cooking methods.
Signature dishes: Dongpo Pork (Stir-Fried Pork), Beggar's Chicken, West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy, Splendid Fish
Zhejiang cuisine is characterized by its delicate cooking method and creative combination of flavours. Most of the dishes are slow-cooked so as to bring out the essence of the ingredients without damaging its delicate texture and Braised Pork Belly Dong Po Rou is probably one of the best examples among all. They also put a lot emphasis on keeping their ingredient fresh and the food is often served raw or almost raw, similar to Japanese food.
I bet your mouth is watering already right? Stay with us and I will tell you more about the remaining four legendary cuisines soon!