Chinese cuisine is an important part of Chinese culture, and delicious and nutritious food is a basic necessity of life.
Fan and Cai
A Chinese meal has two components, which are Fan and Cai. The Fan component is made up of starches and carbohydrate. People in the southern provinces normally eat white rice, and people in the north normally eat noodle or dumplings. The Cai component is made up of meat and vegetables.
Typical Chinese Meal
A typical Chinese meal comes with white rice or noodles for Fan. Normally, several main dishes are served for Cai as opposed to one main dish. All dishes are put on the center of the table, and people select the food they like. In other words, Chinese people share the dishes on the table, and these dishes can be vegetables, meat, fish, pork, and chicken. The soup is part of the last course in Chinese cuisine. Chinese people say that it allows for better digestion, especially after an entrée of pork, beef or duck. Instead of drink soup, some Chinese people enjoy a cup of tea with their meals. Desserts are not common, and a meal normally finishes with fresh fruits.
Eight Great Cuisines
In China, the diversity of its food is vast, and it comes with different styles. There are eight main regional cuisines called Eight Great Cuisines: Anhui, Guangdong, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan, and Zhejiang cuisines. In additional to the Eight Great Cuisines, Beijing Cuisine and Shanghai Cuisine are also famous from China and abroad. All the cuisines are distinctive from one another due to factors such as available of resources, climate, geography, history, cooking techniques, and lifestyle.
Cuisines in the East, South, West, North, and Central China
Fujian Cooking in the East
Some of Fujian’s famous dishes are clear soups and seafood. Both rice and wheat are grown in Fujian, so rice and noodles are the staples. Noodle is famous in Fujian and other parts of China. There are many different types, and every region has its own specialty noodle dish.
Cantonese Cuisine in the South
Cantonese (Guangdong) food specializes in stir frying, steaming and roasting. Some of the well-known dishes include stir-fried beef and peppers with black bean sauce, chicken and Dim Sum (a meal made out of different snacks and it is served in the early morning). An example of Dim Sum is dumpling. They can be fried or boiled, and the most common way of cooking them is to steam them. Chinese people steam dumplings in small round bamboo baskets, which are piled up on top of each other, just like a tower of dumplings in different floors.
Sichuan Cuisine in the West
Sichuan’s style emphasizes on hot and spicy. Chili paste, garlic, and ginger are some of the most common ingredients. Some of Sichuan’s famous dishes are Ma Po Tofu (cooked with chili peppers and beans in a spicy sauce) and Gong Bao Chicken. Hotpot is Sichuan’s specialty. It’s a pot of boiling water filled with herbs and spices. People then dip the food they want to eat into the pot so that it gets cooked right there on the table.
Beijing Cuisine in the North
Beijing cuisine is the style prevalent in Northern China, and its emphasis is on light and subtle flavors. One of China’s famous dishes is Beijing Roast Duck, a tasty meal of crispy duck slices eat on thin pancakes with a kind of dipping sauced called hoisinsauce. It used to be eaten only by the emperor. Now, everyone can enjoy it.
Hunan Cuisine in Central China
Hunan cuisine focuses on spicy, and also sweet and sour flavors. Hunan food focuses mainly on frying, stewing, pot roasting as cooking methods. The most popular dishes are the Hunan Sweet and Sour Chicken or pork. Chucks of pork, shrimp, or vegetables served with pineapple pieces that is sweet and sour at the same time.