Growing up in Beijing, China and living in the country for the first 25 years of my life, I was always a a fan of the local cuisine; not only in my hometown but also throughout my travels in the country to locations such as Tianjin, Shanghai, Shenyang, Zhengzhou and Hong Kong. I have taken that passion with me to the United Kingdom and use my expertise when working with our APAC clients. As we launch our exclusive, authentic Chinese menu, it is the perfect opportunity to explore exactly what “authentic Chinese cuisine” means. To do this, I will take you through the eight distinct regions of cuisine in China in this two-part series.
- Guangdong / Cantonese Cuisine 粤菜
Cantonese cuisine originates from Guangdong Province and is the most popular style of Chinese cuisine. Guangdong/Cantonese dishes take fine and rare ingredients, and are cooked with polished skills and in a dainty style. It emphasizes a flavour which is clear but not light, refreshing but not common, tender but not crude. In summer and autumn, it pursues clarity and in winter and spring, a little more substance. The sautéed dishes always rely on exquisite presentation that involves cutting and carving skills. Making a great variety of soup is a feature of Cantonese cuisine, such as Tonic Duck Soup.
- Shandong Cuisine 鲁菜
Shandong was one of the first civilized areas in China, and its cooking style set the foundation for the regions around it, especially for Beijing and northeastern Chinese cuisines. Smooth, delicate, fresh and savoury favoured braising and a wide variety of seafood is the main feature of Shandong cuisine. Shandong cuisine is relished for the many kinds of seafood and vegetable dishes, as well as the cooking style of frying in high heat that locks in the flavours, but is not oily. With a long coast along this region, seafood is its forte. This style of cooking preserves the original taste of the seafood by using simple ingredients and braising techniques; like Braised Abalone.
- Sichuan Cuisine 川菜
Sichuan Province produces the most widely served cuisine in China. This type of Chinese cuisine uses a variety of seasonings and each dish can be cooked differently; therefore Sichuan cuisine enjoys a strong reputation for variety. The dishes are famous for their hot-and-spicy taste and strong flavours. The mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorn gives a unique flavour to the dishes, which is rarely found in other regional cuisines throughout China. Sichuan cuisine is spicy, bold, and marked by the use of dry chili, garlic, ginger and peanuts. One of the most popular dishes is Mapo Tufo.
- Jiangsu Cuisine 苏菜
Jiangsu Province is home to China’s largest city, Shanghai. The province has a very refined gourmet cuisine that is often served at government banquets. The dishes are healthy, fresh and artistically presented with vibrant colours. What makes it special are the exquisite cooking techniques that produce richly aromatic and visually appealing dishes. This cuisine also focuses on serving meals that promote health and emphasis on serving fine-tasting fresh and seasonal food. Jiangsu cuisine features fresh, moderately sweet-and-salty dishes, like Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs.
Join us tomorrow as we cover the remaining four provincial cuisines types found in China: Zhejiang, Fujian, Hunan and Anhui.