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Chinese cuisine

Chinese cuisine includes styles originating from the diverse regions of China, as well as from
Chinese people in other parts of the world including most Asian nations. The history of Chinese
cuisine in China stretches back for thousands of years and has changed from period to period and
in each region according to climate, imperial fashions, and local preferences. Over time,
techniques and ingredients from the cuisines of other cultures were integrated into the cuisine of
the Chinese people due both to imperial expansion and from the trade with nearby regions in premodern times, and from Europe and the New World in the modern period. In contrary to the
belief of many, the usage of dairy can be traced to ancient recipes as early as 9th century B.C..
Animals such as buffalos are important to agriculture and their dairy products are part of the
Chinese diet and nomads also had influence on Chinese diets. However, it was not legal to
consume beef over part of the ancient history. The belief that farming animals are sacred and
beef is for the highest ritual has been lasting and influencial, as same clauses existed in ancient
Japanese and Korean laws.
The "Eight Culinary Cuisines" of China [1] are Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu,
Shandong, Sichuan, and Zhejiang cuisines.
The staple foods of Chinese cooking include rice, noodles, vegetables, and sauces and

Chinese society greatly valued gastronomy and developed an extensive study of the subject
based on its traditional medical beliefs. Chinese culture initially centered around the North China
Plain. The first domesticated crops seem to have been the foxtail and broomcorn varieties of
millet, while rice was cultivated in the south. By 2000 BC, wheat had arrived from western Asia.
However, these grains were typically served as warm noodle soups instead of baked into bread as
in Europe. Nobles hunted various wild game and consumed mutton, pork, dog, and beef as these
animals were domesticated. Grain was stored against famine and flood and meat was preserved
with salt, vinegar, curing, and fermenting. The flavor of the meat was enhanced by cooking it in
animal fats though this practice was mostly restricted to the wealthy.
By the time of Confucius in the late Zhou, gastronomy was becoming a high art. He was
recorded discussing one such picky eater: "For him, the rice could never be white enough. When
it was not cooked right, he would not eat. When it was out of season, he would not eat. When the
meat was not cut properly, he would not eat. When the food was not prepared with the right
sauce, he would not eat." During Shi Huangdi's Qin dynasty, the empire expanded into the south.
By the time of the Han Dynasty, the different regions and cuisines of China's peoples were
linked by major canals and leading to greater complexity in the different regional cuisines. Not
only is food seen as giving "qi", energy, but food is also about maintaining yin and yang. The
philosophy behind it was rooted in the I Ching and Chinese traditional medicine: food was
judged for color, aroma, taste, and texture and a good meal was expected to balance the Four

Natures ('hot', warm, cool, and 'cold') and the Five Tastes (pungent, sweet, sour, bitter, and salty).
Salt was used as a preservative from early times, but in cooking was added in the form of soy
sauce, and not at the table. The predominance of chopsticks and spoons as eating utensils also
necessitated that most food be prepared in bite-sized pieces or (as with fish) be so tender that it
could be easily picked apart.
By the Later Han period (2nd century), writersfrequently complained of lazy aristocrats who did
nothing but sit around all day eating smoked meats and roasts.
During the Han dynasty, Chinese developed methods of food preservation for military rations
during campaigns such as drying meat into jerky and cooking, roasting, and drying grain.
Chinese legends claim that the roasted flatbread Shaobing (shao-ping) was brought back from
the Xiyu (the Western Regions, known as Central Asia) by the Han dynasty General Ban Chao,
and that it was originally known as Hubing (barbarian pastry). The shao-ping is believed to
be descended from the Hu-ping (Hubing). Shaobing is believed to be related to the Persian and
Central Asian Nan bread and the near eastern pita bread. Foreign westerners made and sold
sesame cakes in China during the Tang dynasty.
During the Southern and Northern Dynasties non-Han people like the Xianbei of Northern Wei
introduced their cuisine to northern China, and these influences continued up to the Tang
dynasty, popularizing meat like mutton and dairy products like goat milk, yogurts, and Kumis
among even Han people. It was during the Song dynasty that Han Chinese developed an aversion
to dairy products and abandoned the dairy foods introduced earlier.
The Han Chinese rebel Wang Su who received asylum in the Xianbei Northern Wei after fleeing
from Southern Qi, at first could not stand eating dairy products like goat's milk and meat like
mutton and had to consume tea and fish instead, but after a few years he was able to eat yogurt
and lamb, and the Xianbei Emperor asked him which of the foods of China (Zhongguo) he
preferred, fish vs mutton and tea vs yogurt.
The great migration of Chinese people south during the invasions preceding and during the Song
dynasty increased the relative importance of southern Chinese staples such as rice and congee.
The Yuan and Qing dynasties introduced Mongolian and Manchu cuisine, warm northern dishes
which popularized hot pot cooking. During the Yuan dynasty many Muslim communities
emerged in China, who practiced a porkless cuisine now preserved by Hui restaurants throughout
the country. Yunnan cuisine is unique in China for its cheeses like Rubing and Rushan cheese
made by the Bai people, and its yogurt, the yogurt may have been due to a combination of
Mongolian influence during the Yuan dynasty, the Central Asian settlement in Yunnan, and the
proximity and influence of India and Tibet on Yunnan.
As part of the last leg of the Columbian Exchange, Spanish and Portuguese traders began
introducing foods from the New World to China through the port cities of Canton and Macao.

Mexican chili peppers became essential ingredients in Sichuan cuisine and calorically-dense
potatoes and corn became staple foods across the northern plains.
During the Qing Dynasty, Chinese gastronomes such as Yuan Mei focused upon a primary goal
of extracting the maximum flavor of each ingredient. However, as noted in his culinary work the
Suiyuan shidan, the fashions of cuisine at the time were quite varied and in some cases were
flamboyantly ostentatious, especially when the disply served also a formal ceremonial purpose,
as in the case of the Manchu Han Imperial Feast.
The People's Republic of China, amid numerous false starts, has largely industrialized food
production. A side effect of this process was the introduction of American poultry-rearing
techniques, which has greatly increased the relative consumption of eggs and chicken in various
Chinese cuisines.
Regional cuisines
A number of different styles contribute to Chinese cuisine but perhaps the best known and most
influential are Cantonese cuisine, Shandong cuisine, Jiangsu cuisine (specifically Huaiyang
cuisine) and Sichuan cuisine. These styles are distinctive from one another due to factors such as
availability of resources, climate, geography, history, cooking techniques and lifestyle. One style
may favour the use of lots of garlic and shallots over lots of chilli and spices, while another may
favour preparing seafood over other meats and fowl.
Jiangsu cuisine favours cooking techniques such as braising and stewing, while Sichuan cuisine
employs baking, just to name a few. Hairy crab is a highly sought after local delicacy in
Shanghai, as it can be found in lakes within the region. Peking duck and dim-sum are other
popular dishes well known outside of China.
Based on the raw materials and ingredients used, the method of preparation and cultural
differences, a variety of foods with different flavors and textures are prepared in different regions
of the country. Many traditional regional cuisines rely on basic methods of preservation such as
drying, salting, pickling and fermentation.
Staple foods
Rice is a major staple food for people from rice farming areas in southern China. [citation needed]
Steamed rice, usually white rice, is the most commonly eaten form. Rice is also used to produce
beers, wines and vinegars. Rice is one of the most popular foods in China and is used in many
dishes. Glutinous rice ("sticky rice") is a variety of rice used in many specialty Chinese dishes.

Chinese noodles come dry or fresh in a variety of sizes, shapes and textures and are often served
in soups or fried as toppings. Some varieties, such as Shou Mian ( , literally noodles of
longevity), are symbolic of long life and good health according to Chinese tradition. [22] Noodles
can be served hot or cold with different toppings, with broth, and occasionally dry (as is the case
with mi-fun). Noodles are commonly made with rice flour or wheat flour, but other flours such
as soybean are also used.
Tofu is made of soybeans and is another popular food product that supplies protein.[26] Other
products such as soy milk, soy paste, soy oil, and fermented soy sauce are also important in
Chinese cooking.
In wheat-farming areas in Northern China, people largely rely on flour-based food, such as
noodles, breads, jiaozi (a kind of Chinese dumplings), and mantou (a type of steamed buns).[22]
Some common vegetables used in Chinese cuisine include Chinese leaves, bok choy (Chinese
cabbage), dao-mieu (Chinese spinach), on choy, yu choy, bitter melon, and Chinese broccoli or
gailan (guy-lahn). Other vegetables include bean sprouts, pea vine tips, watercress, celery.
A variety of dried or pickled vegetables are also eaten, especially in drier or colder regions where
fresh vegetables traditionally were hard to get out of season.
Herbs and seasonings
Spices and seasonings such as fresh ginger root, garlic, scallion, white pepper, and sesame oil are
widely used in many regional cuisines. Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon, fennel,
cilantro, parsley, and cloves are also used.
To add extra flavors to dishes, many Chinese cuisines also contain dried Chinese mushrooms,
dried baby shrimps, dried tangerine peel,[29] and dried Sichuan chillies.
When it comes to sauces, China is home to soy sauce, which is made from fermented soy beans
and wheat. Oyster sauce, clear rice vinegar, chili, Chinkiang black rice vinegar, fish sauce and
fermented tofu (furu) are also widely used. A number of sauces are also based on fermented
soybeans, including Hoisin sauce, ground bean sauce and yellow bean sauce.
Generally, seasonal fruits serve as the most common form of dessert consumed after dinner.
Chinese desserts are sweet foods and dishes that are served with tea, along with meals, or at the
end of meals in Chinese cuisine.

In larger cities, a wide variety of Chinese bakery products are available, including baked,
steamed, boiled, or deep-fried sweet or savory snacks. Bings are baked wheat flour based
confections, and include moon cake, red bean paste pancake, and sun cake (Beijing and Taiwan
varieties). Chinese candies and sweets, called tng are usually made with cane sugar, malt sugar,
honey, nuts and fruit. Gao or Guo are rice based snacks that are typically steamed[31] and may be
made from glutinous or normal rice.
Ice cream is commonly available throughout China. [31] Another cold dessert is called baobing,
which is shaved ice with sweet syrup.[31] Chinese jellies are known collectively in the language as
ices. Many jelly desserts are traditionally set with agar and are flavored with fruits, though
gelatin based jellies are also common in contemporary desserts.
Chinese dessert soups typically consist of sweet and usually hot soups[31] and custards.
Cold dishes
Cold dishes, especially appetizers, can range from jelly, beancurd, noodle dishes, pork or
chicken, to jellyfish to cold soups.
Main article: Chinese soup
See also: List of Chinese soups

Chinese pickles[edit
Main article: Chinese pickles

Chinese sausage
Chinese sausages vary from region to region. The most common sausage is made of pork and
pork fat. Flavor is generally salty-sweet. Chinese sausage is prepared in many different ways,
including oven-roasting, stir-fry, and steaming.[32]
Tofu products
Stinky tofu is a fermented tofu. Like blue cheese or durian, it has a very distinct, potent smell,
and is an acquired taste. It is often paired with soy sauce or something salty and spicy.
Doufulu is another type of fermented tofu which has a red skin and salty taste. This is more of a
pickled type of tofu and is not as strongly scented as stinky tofu. Doufulu has the consistency of
slightly soft blue cheese, and a taste similar to Japanese miso paste, but less salty. Doufulu is
frequently pickled together with soy beans and chili, and paired with rice congee.

It is common to eat noodles, especially soup-noodles between regular meals or in the evening,
and many types of street foods, which vary from region to region. Prawn crackers are an oftenconsumed snack in Southeast China.
Longjing tea, also known as Dragon Well tea, is a variety of roasted green tea from
Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, where it is produced mostly by hand and has
been renowned for its high quality, earning the China Famous Tea title.
Main article: Chinese tea

As well as with dim sum, many Chinese drink their tea with snacks such as nuts, plums, dried
fruit (in particular jujube), small sweets, melon seeds, and waxberry.[22] China was the earliest
country to cultivate and drink tea which is enjoyed by people from all social classes. [33] Tea
processing began after the Qin and Han Dynasties.[33]
Chinese tea is often classified into several different categories according to the species of plant
from which it is sourced, the region in which it is grown, and the method of production used.
Some of these types are green tea, oolong tea, black tea, scented tea, white tea, and compressed
tea. There are four major tea plantation regions: Jiangbei, Jiangnan, Huanan and the
southwestern region.[33] Well known types of green tea include Longjing, Huangshan, Mao Feng,
Bilochun, Putuofeng Cha, and Liu'an Guapian.[34] China is the worlds largest exporter of green
One of the most ubiquitous accessories in modern China, after a wallet or purse and an umbrella,
is a double-walled insulated glass thermos with tea leaves in the top behind a strainer.
Main article: Chinese alcoholic beverages

The importance of baijiu (lit. "white liquor") in China (99.5% of its alcoholic market) makes it
the most-consumed alcoholic spirit in the world.[35] It dates back to the introduction of distilling
during the Song dynasty;[22] can be made from wheat, corn, or rice; and is usually around 120
proof (60% ABV). The most ubiquitous brand is the cheap Er guo tou, but Mao Tai is the
premium baijiu. Other popular brands Kang, Lu Zhou Te Qu, and Wu Liang Ye.[22]
Huangjiu (lit. "yellow liquor") is not distilled and is a strong rice wine (1015% ABV).[22] Popular
brands include Shaoxing Lao Jiu, Shaoxing Hua Diao, and Te Jia Fan.[22]
Herbal drinks
Main article: Chinese herb tea

Chinese herb tea, also known as medicinal herbal tea, is a kind of tea-soup made from purely
Chinese medicinal herbs.
Chinese in earlier dynasties evidently drank milk and ate dairy products, although not necessarily
from cows, but perhaps koumiss (fermented mare's milk) or goat's milk.
Most Chinese until recently have avoided milk, partly because pasturage for milk producers in a
monsoon rice ecology is not economic.[36]
Chinese cuisine in other parts of the world
Where there are historical immigrant Chinese populations, the style of food has evolved and
been adapted to local tastes and ingredients, and modified by the local cuisine, to greater or
lesser extents. This has resulted in a number of forms of fusion cuisine, often popular in the
country in question; some, such as ramen (Japanese Chinese) have become popular
The large Chinese population in the United States operates many restaurants, has developed
distinctive dishes (such as chop suey) based originally on Cantonese cuisine.[39][40]

Singaporean Chinese cuisine

Indonesian Chinese cuisine

Malaysian Chinese cuisine

Japanese Chinese cuisine

Korean Chinese cuisine

American Chinese cuisine

Canadian Chinese cuisine

Caribbean Chinese cuisine

Filipino Chinese cuisine

Indian Chinese cuisine

Pakistani Chinese cuisine

Puerto Rican Chinese cuisine

Chifa (Peruvian Chinese cuisine)

Recent trends
In imperial China, the consumption of meat and animal products was strikingly low by
comparison with other cultures. Most meals consisted of a starch rice in the south and
dumplings or noodles in the north and green vegetables, with peanuts and soy products
providing additional protein. Fats and sugars were luxuries not available to most of the
population on a regular basis.[citation needed]
The initial attempts of the People's Republic of China to modernize Mainland China's productive
but labor-intensive agricultural practices led to a series of debacles: the worst, the Great Leap
Forward, produced such widespread famines from 1958 to 1961 that the 1963 Chinese census
remained a state secret and whose existence was not acknowledged until the 1980s. Practices and
technology were slowly modernized, however, and from the introduction of economic reform by
Deng Xiaoping in the late '70s, Chinese diets have steadily become richer over time and include
more meats, fats, and sugar than before.[37] According to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture
Organization, China's per capita food consumption has increased from less than 1700 kcal in
1960 to 2570 kcal per day in 1995.[38]
Dining etiquette
The Chinese dining etiquette has that youths should not sit at the table before the elders. In
addition to this, youths should not start eating before the elders start eating. When eating with a
bowl, one should not hold it with its bottom part, because it resembles the act of begging. Also,
when taking a break from eating at the table, one should not put the chopstick into the rice
vertically, because it resembles the Chinese traditional funeral tribute, which involves putting
chopstick inside a bowl of rice vertically.
Relation to Chinese art
Chinese dishes stress the three main points of appearance, smell, and taste. A really well-cooked
Chinese food would need to achieve all three of them. Also, there is teaching of food carving in
Chinese culture, typically using vegetables as materials to carve the sculpture for animals and
spiritual beings.
Relation to Chinese philosophy
In Chinese philosophy, food is frequently used as in the message that the author is trying to
convey. I Ching , a Chinese philosophy has that
, which basically means that, Gentlemen use eating as a way to attain
happiness. They should be aware of what they say, and refrain from eating too much."