In one of our previous posts we’ve briefly discussed the main characteristics of Chinese cuisine, but in today’s post we shall venture even further. There are four, five, eight or even twelve schools of Chinese cuisine (depending on who you ask, really); for the sake of brevity we’ll tackle just four: they are Beijing, Sichuan, Shanghai and Guangdong (Cantonese) schools.
Beijing is the land of buns: steamed buns or baozi 包子 BāoZi, dumplings, or 饺子 JiǎoZi; and the folded buns served with the Beijing duck, among others. Beijing duck, 北京烤鸭 BěiJīn KǎoYā, is one of the most famous Chinese dishes (at least to the foreigner’s eye). It is a duck marinated in oil, sauce and molasses, roasted and resulting in delicious (though, very fatty) crispness. To enjoy this roasted delicacy the way you’re supposed to, follow these steps: take a slice of Beijing duck, some sautéed onions, ginger, peppers, bean sprouts and bamboo, dip it in the hoisin sauce (sweet/spicy sauce made of soybeans) and put it in the bun (it can be a wrap instead). Yum!
Moving on to Sichuan (southwest of China) with its red-hot-chili-peppers-galore mindset. Hot and tingly, this food will make you cry for more. And for the lovers of sour taste: amongst popular dishes are sour (and spicy) noodles (担担面 DànDànMiàn), sour pickles (泡菜 (PàoCài) and sour’n’spicy soup (酸辣汤 SuānLàTāng). Another of the more recognized representatives of this cuisine must be (beloved by foreigners worldwide) the spicy diced chicken 宫保鸡丁 GōngBǎo JīDīng.
Shanghai cuisine, along with its neighbors Zhejiang and Jiangsu features a wide variety of fish, crabs, shrimps and prawns (you know, because we are close to the sea now). And if you’re craving buns, save your trip to Beijing for a warmer weather, instead try some of the Shanghai steamed buns 小笼包 XiǎoLóngBāo – soft-skinned meat buns filled with soup (beware when eating – it’s wicked hot).
Cantonese cuisine perhaps enjoys the highest status among all cuisines in China and is famous for its delicacies such as frogs, turtles, wild ducks, snakes, eels and sparrows. Although not all of this sounds mouth-watering, this cuisine is also famous for the world-renown snacks called dim sum, spring rolls and its roasted pork – though if you’re looking for the most famous roasted pork recipe, you should turn to the province of Hunan and look for 红烧肉 Hóng Shāo Ròu or soy-braised pork, reputably, the favorite dish of chairman Mao.