Chinese cuisine comes in eight distinct regional styles: there is the aromatic, seafood-centric cuisine of Shandong, the birthplace of Confucius; the distinct contoured landscape of Jiangsu cuisine; the refined treatment of Guangdong; the unconventional yet spellbinding cuisine of Sichuan; the noble approaches of Zhejiang food; the seafood-centric masterpieces of Fujian; the pungent achievements of Hunan that impressed Mao Zedong, and the attentive approach of Anhui.
The home place of the philosopher Confucius also accounts for China’s most influential culinary style. Aromatic and seafood-centric, Shandong cuisine consists of three major styles, one of which is the famous Kongfu style. Cuisine of Shandong is famous for the use of seafood including scallops, prawns, clams, sea cucumber and squid, all of which are local delicacies.
Notable dishes: Three Refrains on the Yang Pass Theme; sweet and sour carp
The cuisine of this region stands out for its pleasing colour palette, refined sense of contouring and emphasis on fresh and seasonal ingredients.
Maybe this is not surprising given that its stunning landscapes have inspired literary pieces over year. Chopping techniques pay a key role in this cuisine that focuses on stewing and braising.
Notable dishes: Lion's head; shredded dried bean curd
Cantonese food, one of the richest and most diverse in China, is marked by the use of rare ingredients cooked with distinct refinement. The Cantonese regard soup as essential to every meal. Presentation is of utmost importance.
Notable dishes: Chrysanthemum fish; roasted pig
Famous for its unconventional ingredients and unique spices/spice combinations, the cuisine of this historic land of plenty, are as complex and diverse as its trusted condiments: Sichuan peppercorn, chilli sauces and flavoured oils.
Notable dishes: Mapo tofu; kung pao chicken
As the one time capital of the powerful Song dynasty, the cuisines of its many cities received royal patronage by way of dish naming. The cuisine consists of at least three styles: the Hangzhou style, Shaoxing style and Ningbo. On the whole, food made in the Zhejiang style is soft, fresh and mellow.
Notable dishes: Longjing shrimp (with the aroma of Longjing tea leaves); Dongpo pork (with the fragrance of Chinese yellow wine).
If refinement could be known by another name, it would be Fujian. It combines a keens sense for ideal cooking techniques, seasonings and styling effects. Known for its exceptional seafood preparations, it puts emphasis on colour and selection of flavours. Fujian cuisine includes the light Fuzhou style, the mildly spicy West Fujian style, the spicy-sweet South Fujian style and the visually stunning style of Quanzhou.
Notable dishes: Monk Jumps Over the Wall; dragon pearl
Famous for its spiciness, use of oil, emphasis on colour and the achievement of texture variations (from crisp to tender), Hunan cuisine makes use of many fresh ingredients and has relatively simpler tastes. The revered Chinese leader Mao Zedong is said to have been impressed by the cuisine of this region.
Notable dishes: Steamed fish head; stewed fins
This cuisine stands out for its wide selection of ingredients and strict control of the cooking process. The region’s cooking styles pay attention to arriving at the right taste, colour and achieving specific effects with careful management of temperature. Ham and sugar candy are frequently employed as seasonings to great effect.
Notable dishes: Shredded chicken with chrysanthemum; Yipin pot