Chinese Cuisine Discovery

The three most popular genres of cuisine within China are Beijing, Guangzhou and Sichuan and each of these has its own distinctive specialities.

The best-known dish in the context of Beijing cuisine is Peking duck. The duck is oven-roasted until the skin is brown and crispy. Thin slices of skin are then cut off and wrapped in pancakes with plum sauce, cucumber and onion, whilst the rest of the duck is used in other dishes.

Cantonese cuisine is usually steamed, boiled or stir-fried and is the healthiest of all Chinese food since very little oil is used in its preparation.

Szechuan cuisine is best known for its bold and spicy flavours, stemming from the use of garlic and chilli, as well as the Szechuan peppercorn.

Top Ten Chinese Dishes

1. Hot and Sour Soup

This dish can vary significantly across different regions of China, but the broth itself is usually meat-based and may be based on chicken or pork. Typically the soup is made hot by red or white peppers and soured by vinegar.

2. Chicken in Black Bean Sauce

A traditional Chinese favourite. Diced chicken is cooking in a fermented black bean sauce mixed with garlic and ginger and served with rice or noodles.

3. Sweet and Sour Pork

This Cantonese dish consists of bite-sized pieces of pork stir-fried with a sweet and sour sauce made from ingredients such as white rice vinegar, salt, Chinese brown candy, ketchup and dark soy sauce.

4. Egg Fried Rice

Originally devised by Chinese restaurant owners as a way to sell more rice by adding value with an egg. Fried rice is prepared from cold rice that has already been cooked by boiling.

5. Instant-Boiled Mutton

A hot-pot of tofu, Chinese leaves and beansprouts is placed in the middle of the table. Diners pick up paper-thin slices of lamb with chopsticks, place it in the boiling hot-pot and remove it as soon as it changes colour. The lamb is then eaten with a sauce made from sesame, chilli oil and leeks.

6. Tea-smoked Duck

This Szechuan dish is prepared by marinating a duck in a rub of Szechuan pepper, hangjiu, ginger, garlic and salt before hot-smoking over tea leaves and camphor twigs.

7. Li Hongzhang Soup

Named after a top official of the Qing dynasty, this complex soup is salty with a hint of sweetness. Ingredients can include sea cucumber, fish, squid, bamboo, chicken, ham and Chinese vegetables.

8. Dong`an Chicken

This Hunan dish consists of parboiled chicken, chilli peppers and spices stir-fried with vegetable oil and vinegar.

9. Crispy Seaweed

Rarely authentic in Western restaurants, a special type of seaweed is deep-fried in Eastern China.

10. Re gan mian

A traditional soup from Wuhan, made from lye-based noodles. Although sauces vary depending on locality, typically soy sauce, sesame paste, pickled vegetables, chopped garlic, chives and chilli oil are used.