Peking has always been a great intellectual and cultural center. This is also the site of the Imperial Palace and
has exerted great cultural influence over time. Its
influence extended all over the northern plains, including Beijing; the fertile east,
watered by the Yangtse river. Peking was the
gourmet capital of China until the 17th century.
Peking had a reputation of holding mammoth feasts and banquets attracting the
country's best chefs. Many of todays
Chinese restaurants draw inspiration from the imperial style which has red brocade,
tasseled lanterns and lacquer furnishings.
A multi-course meal of Peking Duck is
probably the best-known dish in this culinary school.
Imperial theatricality is also evident in the noodle-making exhibitions
provided by culinary jugglers at some international Chinese restaurants. The elaborate
ceremony of smashing open clay-baked Beggar's Chicken is another specialty dish.
The three-day Imperial Banquets, with their
365 dishes, are still talked about with awe and respect.
This school has dishes like sizzling Hilsa herrings, "toffee"
apples and bananas, silk thread noodles, steamed breads, pancakes, onion cakes, dim sum
pastries, delicious roasts and wine cooked meats in its repertoire. This school has a
liberal use of garlic, scallions, leeks and chives.
northern region of China reaches into the hostile climate of Mongolia -- land of the Gobi
Desert and Arctic winter winds. Mongolian influence on this school has been the use of
mutton and lamb. The cold region of the North
is not suitable for rice cultivation so, wheat, barley, millet and soybeans are the
staples; breads and noodles anchor the meal. Vegetables and fruits -- cabbage, squash,
pears, grapes, and apples -- are the most popular.
Typical Beijing dishes:
|Beijing Roast Duck
Mongolian Hot Pot
|Braised Shark's Fin
|Sauteed Chicken With
|Sweet Cake With Dates
Canton is Chinas gateway to
the West. There are cosmopolitan influences
here and of all of China's regional cuisines, that of Canton (Quangtung) province is the
most popular all over the world. The Chinese
from this province, emigrated to Europe and America and took their cuisine with them. After the Ming Dynasty was overthrown many of its
officers moved to this area and brought with them their chefs that were trained in the
classical Peking style.These chefs took advantage of the abundance and variety of
indiginious ingredients of this region. Long,
warm, wet days throughout the year create the perfect environment for cultivating most
everything. The coast provides ample seafood, the groves are filled with fruits. The chefs
adapted the Peking style to reflect more variety and freshness. The cuisine reached such heights that along with
the French, the Cantonese believe that they "live to eat".
The Cantonese style emphasizes the individual taste of each ingredient
while blending taste and textures of many ingredients and the subtle use of condiments to
give the palette the whole experience. Freshness is the keyword in Cantonese cuisine.
Twice-daily trips to the market are common in this culinary school. There are few seasonings (soy sauce, ginger root
and wine) and favors the quick stir-frying and steaming methods. Roast meat, poultry (especially as stock), lobster
and steamed fish are the norm along with many varieties of vegetables.
|Trumpet Shell Braised
In Soy Sauce
|Sweet And Sour Carp
|Dezhou Stewed Chicken
This Western area of China has its own unique cuisine and was
never really part of mainstream China. Its
mountainous provinces of Szechwan and Hunan
have a steamy, hot, almost tropical climate and cuisine. Its
locally grown chilies makes this cuisine spicy and also helps preserve food in this hot
The Szechuan cuisine uses local rice, citrus fruits, bamboo, chilies
and mushrooms. Ginger, garlic, onions and
brown peppercorns are other popular seasonings.This style is unique as it does not use
many table condiments as the dishes themselves are seasoned, spiced and oily.
Szechuan specialties include smoked duck, a
blend of cooking techniques and taste contrasts. It is seasoned with orange peel,
cinnamon, coriander and other ingredients, then marinated in rice wine, then steamed, then
smoked over a charcoal fire sprinkled with camphor wood chips and red-tea leaves - the
result is a gourmet taste delight. Other
specialties include deep fried chicken wrapped in paper, vegetables prepared in chicken
fat, chicken and hot peppers and a variety of mushroom dishes. The famous hot and sour soup, sliced Hoisin pork
and bean curd spicy dishes on the menu in many restaurants are from this region.
|Sliced Cold Chicken
|Twice Cooked Pork
||hui guo rou
|Shredded Pork and Hot
|Spicy Hot Bean Curd
|Couple's Beef Fillet
Shanghai has been Chinas most important port city. This has allowed it to incorporate many regional
and international ideas into its cuisine. In
Shanghai , there is more dependence on soy sauce and a great deal more of sugar is used. Stewing, braising and frying are the most common
forms of Shanghainese cooking. The slow "red cooking" technique is unique to
Shanghai cuisine and has now spread to other parts of China. Rice is the staple here and seafood is very popular in
this port city.
The dishes from the Fukien province
are famous for their seafood and for clear light soups which are served in large
quantities. It is not uncommon to have more
than one soup dish in a meal. In fact, at
large banquets most of the dishes or courses could be soups. Fukien uses cooking wine and soy sauce in its dishes. Their light meals are balanced with red fermented
bean sauce. It is also known for its egg
rolls, paper thin pancakes, seaweeds, and suckling pig. Rice noodles and rice is the
staple here. They are also very fond of green
Typical Shanghai dishes:
|Sour and Hot Soup with
Eel and Chicken
||longfeng suanla tang
|Black Sea Cucumber with
|Duck with Prawn Rounds
||ruyi ya juan xian
|Shrimps of Two Colors
|Boiled Crucian Carp
||geli cuan jiyu
|Steamed Beef in Rice
||yuanlong fenzheng niurou
The Honan province is famous for its sweet and sour dishes. Its yellow carp caught in the Yellow river is
sought by people all over China.
|Peppery and Hot Chick
|Lotus Seedpods With
Chinese Culinary Schools
Chinese Cuisine is essentially five
cuisines. The vastness of China and its regional
history, ethnic people and climate have created distinct cuisines
Besides these regional cuisines the
minorities in China with their unique customs and habits have their own cuisines. The Uygur, Kazak and Ozbek ethnic people like roast
mutton kebab and crusty pancake; Mongolians like millet stir-fried in butter, fried sheep
tail and tea with milk; Koreans like sticky rice cakes, cold noodles and kimchi (pickled
vegetables); Tibetans eat zanba (roasted barley flour) and buttered tea; the Lis, Jings
and Dais chew betel nut palms.
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