The 8 Cuisine Families of China

China is a country with a long history, vast territory, and multi-nationality. Because of the difference in climate, production, and customs, the cooking raw material, cooking method and people’s taste vary a lot. So there have formed many local styles of cuisine.

The local cuisine family develops progressively on the basis of local dishes and has absorbed the cooking characteristics of many different regions and nationalities. For example, Beijing cuisine combines the dishes of Man Nationality, Meng Nationality, Hui Nationality, and Han Nationality. Also, one main cuisine family often further derives several branches. For example, Guangdong cuisine includes Guangzhou, Chaozhou, Dongjiang dishes. How many cuisine families on earth in China?  So far, opinions vary a lot and it is unable to decide which one is right. The generally acknowledged ones are four major cuisine families, namely Sichuan cuisine, Shandong cuisine, Guangdong cuisine and Jiangsu cuisine. The other famous ones include Beijing cuisine, Shanghai cuisine, Fujian cuisine, Hunan cuisine, Zhejiang cuisine, Anhui cuisine, etc.

“Sichuan cuisine” is the abbreviation for Sichuan dishes, which takes the Chengdu flavor as the genuine one and also includes many other local dishes, such as Chongqing, Leshan, Jiangjin, and Hechuan dishes. Sichuan cuisine selects materials exquisitely, with more chicken, duck, and meat, and less fish. The main flavoring includes brood-bean sauce, hot pepper, Chinese prickly ash, red oil, mashed garlic, dried orange peel, and aromatic vinegar. The basic characteristics of the taste feature sour, sweet, rough, hot, fragrant, heavily oiled, and strong flavor. The major cooking techniques include frying, frying without oil, pickling and braising. Some traditional famous dishes are Smoked Duck, Kung Pao Chicken, Twice Cooked Pork, Mapo Dofu, ect.

“Lu cuisine” is an abbreviation for Shangdong dishes, mainly developing from the local dishes in Jinan and Jiaodong. It features careful materials selection, fine cutting and slicing skills, moderate flavor, adept at heating. The cooking methods include deep-frying, grilling, pan-frying, stir-frying, stewing, braising, etc. Its flavors are generally salty, delicious, sour, hot, sauce fragrant, spring onions fragrant, garlic fragrant, etc. The color of the cuisine is bright and mixed with the use of candy. The cuisine generally takes on a color of yellow or purplish red. The traditional famous dishes include Jiuzhuan Large Intestine, Tang Bao Shuang Chui, Dezhou Braised Chicken, Milk Soup and Fish Maw, etc.

“Yue cuisine” is an abbreviation for Guangdong dishes, developing from the local dishes in Guangzhou, Chaozhou, and Dongjiang. Its basic characteristics include meticulous materials selection, and various raw materials and flavoring. The raw materials cover not only chicken, duck, fish and shrimps, but also wild animals, such as snake, racoon dog, dog, monkey, etc. Its cooking method draws the western specialties and is good at frying and stewing. The cuisine is well-known for its clean, light, crisp and fresh taste. Some typical menu items are Roasted Piglet, Salted Chicken, Fried Crisp Chicken, Oyster Sauce Beef, etc.

“Su cuisine” is an abbreviation for Jiangsu dishes, developing from the local dishes in Yangzhou, Nanjing, and Suzhou. It features rigorous selection of materials, exquisite cooking, harmonious color matching, and handsome modeling. Su cuisine is good at cooking river fresh fish, lake crab, and vegetables. Its cooking methods include stew, braise, steam, burn, fry, especially emphasizing the use of exquisite soup. Its flavor features fresh, slippery, soft, fat but not oily, light but not thin. The traditional dishes include Crabmeat Meatball, Squirrel with Mandarin Fish, Poached Crucian, Braised Chub Head, Crisp Eel, Phoenix Chicken, Steamed Gansi, etc.