China Guide » China Facts » Chinese Food & Cuisine » Chinese Food Cuisine

Chinese Food Cuisine

China is a food lover's paradise. What makes China unique in the world of food is that every province, city, town, and village has its own unique recipes. Two towns that are located one hour away from each other will have completely different dishes. It is one of the aspects of China that makes it such a wonderful destination. Every city you visit will offer new and spectacular dishes. Chinese cuisine is made only with fresh ingredients. Vegetables and meat that are more than a day old are considered inedible, so no matter where you go you will have incredibly fresh food. There are six general categories of Chinese Cuisine; Local Cuisine, Ethnic Cuisine, Elite Cuisine, Imperial Cuisine, Monastic Cuisine, and Medicinal Cuisine. Each category was based on the diners community class level.

Local Cuisine:
This is cuisine eaten by the common people. China has four main schools of Local Cuisine; Shandong, Sichuan, Yangzhou, and Guangzhou (Canton). Each school is unique and is made from ingredients available in their respective locations. Shandong Cuisine is named after Shandong Province. Its cuisine is famous for aroma, tenderness, and crispness of its dishes. Sichuan Cuisine, named for Sichuan Province, often spelled as Szechuan Cuisine in the West, is famous for its mouth numbingly spicy dishes. The dishes are not just spicy, but are very flavorful. Hangzhou Cuisine is named after Hangzhou city in Zhejiang Province. Its dishes are known for their soft and tender dishes which have delicate flavors. Guangzhou Cuisine, named after the city of Guangzhou is famous for its fresh seafood dishes and dim sum.
Ethnic Cuisine:
These dishes were created by one of China’s 56 Ethnic Minority Groups. They are created using simple ingredients which are local to their respective locations. They combine locally grown and wild vegetables. These dishes have become quite popular in recent years due to their fresh and simple tastes. They are wonderful and unique.
Elite Cuisine:
In the past, as today, government officials and the elite thought of food as a status symbol. They went out of their way to not only find the finest and rarest ingredients, but also the best chefs. Ingredients that by themselves cost more than a large family’s dinner were utilized to make these special dishes. Two schools of Elite Cuisine that still exist are the Confucian and Tan Family schools. They can still be found in Beijing. The Beijing Hotel serves Confucian and Tan Family style Elite Cuisine.
Imperial Cuisine:
Dishes that were only offered to the Emperor are known as Imperial Cuisine. The dishes were made of the finest ingredients and many ingredients were extremely rare. They were shipped in from all over China in a time when cross country shipping was extremely expensive and time consuming. No one other than the Emperor could have afforded to do it. Many of the ingredients were sent to Beijing as tribute. These would have included the finest ingredients from each province in China. The most famous example of Imperial Cuisine is the Man-Han Banquet. The banquet consisted of 108 dishes and was a combination of the best Manchurian and Chinese dishes ever made. When the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) fell, the last imperial chefs opened a restaurant in Beijing. This restaurant still exists and is located in Beihai Park. They still offer the Man-Han Banquet, but it is rarely prepared due to its extreme costs. Single dishes from the banquet can be ordered however and one can still eat like the Emperors of old. The most famous example of Imperial Cuisine is Peking (Beijing) Roast Duck. It is now available around the world, but nowhere it is as wonderful as the old restaurants still located in Beijing

Monastic Cuisine:
Monastic Cuisine, by its very name means that the dishes are all vegetarian. They were created in Buddhist temples and have become quite popular in the secular world due to their incredible flavors and healthiness. Many of these dishes utilize tofu in place of meat, but the tofu has taken on the texture and shape of the meat they represent. They are a fantastic alternative to today’s unhealthy eating habits.
Medicinal Cuisine:
Eaten in China for thousands of years, Medicinal Cuisine is not only delicious, but acts as a medicine to help maintain body health. They are made of herbs and vegetables that by Chinese Traditional Medicine standards have therapeutic qualities.

Email(will not be published)
Verification code