Chinese cuisine has been celebrated around the world for centuries and ranges from the sweet flavours of Cantonese dishes to the mouth numbing peppers from the Sichuan province. Steeped in tradition and based around available resources or produce, Chinese cuisine is based around 8 different provinces: Cantonese, Sichuan, Anhui, Shandong, Fujian, Jiangsu, Hunan, and Zhejiang.
Originating from the Guangdong province of South East China, the Cantonese style of cooking includes methods such as braising, stewing and flash-frying. It is by far the most popular Chinese cuisine amongst foreigners with the dishes presenting as light and tender with lovely umami flavours. In terms of sauces, think hoisin, oyster, plum and sweet & sour.
Spicy, bold and packed with garlic, chillies and the mouth-numbing Shichuan pepper. Sichuan is fast becoming Australia’s new favourite Chinese fare. The Shichuan province produces the most widely served cuisine in China. This selection is not for the faint hearted with extensive use of the ‘3 peppers’ – Chilli Pepper, the trademark pungent ‘flower pepper’ (more commonly known as Sichuan Peppercorn), classic old black & white pepper, and fiery chilli oils are certainly addictive.
If you like a kick of chilli then Hunan food is a must try. People in the western Hunan Provience are well known for thinking a dish is not complete without the addition of fresh chilli. Hunan cuisine is often compared to Sichuan due to the feature of chilli in both styles, but overall the Hunan flavor is sour, deep in color and spicier. Preserved ingredients also give a unique signature flavour to Hunan cuisine.
Shandong cuisine reached it prime being served to noble lords and high ranking officials dating back to the Qin Dynasty of 221 BC, and has influenced the development of dishes throughout regions over time. Shandong sits along the northern coastline of China where the abundance of seafood is found and therefore also evident in their dishes. Dishes are complex & high skill-cap, flavours are kept light & fresh, letting the natural saltiness of the seafood shine through.
Jiangsu province is home to one of the world’s most vibrant and China’s largest city, Shanghai. The Yangtze River snakes through the region to meet the ocean giving access to beautiful raw ingredients and live aquatic products, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and lotus which feature in their food.
Anhui is surrounded by mountains and borders both Zhejiang and Jiangsu. Produce from the famous ‘Yellow mountain’ area including wild animals, herbs, fungi and vegetables are used to prepare hearty mountain peasant food with stewing and braising used as the main cooking methods.
Zhejiang is famous for a dish named after poet and gastronome Su Dongpo, who lived in poverty after being banished to Hangzhou for his political views. This delicious pork dish came about when Su accidently overcooked the pork whilst he was engrossed in a game of chess. The pork was cooked to the point of burning, which consequently created this culinary delight. This dish may have started its life as a simple braised pork dish cooked at home, but it is now one of the most widely served dishes in Hangzhou today. Zhejiang cuisine is non greasy, fresh, tender, and soft with a beautiful mellow fragrance.
Fujian sits at the southeast coast of China and is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse provinces. Additionally, it is one of the largest producers of tea and is made up of an affluent demographic. Dishes from this area are savoury and hot from Northern Hokkien and salty and sweet from the South, both light and soft with particular emphasis on umami. They are famous for soups and broths which are served with most meals.
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