In China there are 8 main different styles of Chinese cuisine, not including all of the other styles from the surrounding countries. Soon I will write about the cuisines we have tried and include our pictures and videos. But first comes the education.
1) Cantonese: which originates from Hong Kong and the southern province of Guangdong. This cuisine is know for it’s freshness with mild, subtle sauces as to not over power the freshness of the ingredients. They use live fish and seafood held in tanks to maintain the freshness. Many popular dishes are Dim sum (meaning touch the heart), steamed whole fish, crispy-skinned chicken, roast suckling pig, and shark’s fin soup.
2) Mandarin: This cuisine originates from the northern Peking area (Beijing). They use more wheat than rice in this area and lots of Napa cabbage. Crepe like cakes are used to eat classic dishes such as Mu-shu pork and crispy Peking duck, and they love to decorate with colorful vegetables carve into flowers, animals and designs. Because this is a Northern cuisine many of it’s most popular dishes are influenced by Mongolian dishes like, hot pot, garlic and scallion Mongolian beef, but my favorite are the pan-fried pot stickers.
3) Shanghai: This cuisine is from the south eastern providence of Zhejiang and the city it’s named after. It is known for braising and slow cooking techniques along with reduction sauces which provide a full-body of flavors. Also know for pickling vegetables and curing meats most Shanghaiese dishes have a subtle sweetness to them. Fried Shanghai noodles are one of their most popular dishes, but other include stewed meatballs “lion’s head”, drunken shrimp and pickled greens with pork.
4) Sichuan: From the north western providence of Szechuan this cuisine uses chili peppers and red peppercorns to stimulate the taste buds and counter the cold of the winter. They are also known for there pickling and salt-curing. Some dishes include Szechuan beef, stir-fried green beans, cold noodles with peanut sauce and spicy stir-fried Ma-Po tofu.
5) Hunan: This cuisine is very similar to Sichuan because they come from neighboring Providences Most of these dishes have a base of hearty oils, garlic, and chili-based sauces and are stir-fried. Chinese comfort food such as orange chicken, spicy eggplant in garlic sauce, and hot crispy fish.
6) Fujian: Has more of a historical base than a regional base. It grew from the Song Dynasty to the middle of the Qing Dynasty. These dishes are less salty or spicy and have more of a sweet and sour characteristic to them. The ingredients range from mountain products such as mushrooms, bamboo shoots, tremella, and bird’s nest. To sea products such as cuttlefish, shellfish, and turtles. Popular for it’s soups and broths the most famous dish is Buddha-jumping-over-the-wall. This dish is a mix of seafood, chicken, duck, and pork put into a rice-wine jar and simmered over a low fire. The name implies that Buddha himself would jump over a wall to have a taste once he smelled this dish.
6) Anhui: Is from the mountain providences west of Shanghai and has not only a different choice of cooking materials but also strict cooking methods. Some of these methods include stewing the ingredients in a brown sauce to boiling it in a clear soup, and result in slightly spicy and salty finished product. The ingredients range from mushrooms and bamboo shoots to stone frog, soft shell turtle, and pigeon. On their menu you would find stewed turtle with ham, braised pigeon, and steamed stone frog.
8) Huai-Yang: Like Fujian this cuisine has more of a historical background than ageographic one. The cuisine is characterized by it’s cooking techniques of stewing, braising and steaming over a low fire. Many other dishes from other cuisines have their base from the Huai-Yang cuisine. Some the most famous dishes are chicken braised with chestnuts, pork steamed in lotus leaf, duck stewed with eight treasures, and steamed dumplings.