The most influential and representative Chinese cuisines are Lu cuisine, Sichuan cuisine, Yue cuisine, Min cuisine, Su cuisine, Zhe cuisine, Xiang and Hui cuisine, which are commonly known as ‘Eight Major Cuisines’ of China.
Cuisine refers to a dish system possessing distinctive flavors and features in a certain region. China is a time-honored multi-ethnics nation with a vast territory and abundant resources, and every ethnic group has its unique abundant dishes. Regional cuisines have taken shape after long-history evolution under the influence of geographical environment, climate, products, cultural tradition, folk customs and other factors. The most influential and representative ones are Lu, Chuan, Yue, Min, Su, Zhe, Xiang and Hui Cuisines, which are commonly known as “Eight Major Cuisines”.
Lu Cuisine 鲁菜 or Lu Cai refers to Shangdong dishes, featuring dense taste and favor of shallot and garlic, especially apt at the cooking of seafood, soup and a variety of bowels. Famous flavored dishes include Dezhou braised boneless chicken, braised intestines in brown sauce, and braised Yellow River carp with sweet and sour taste.
Sichuan Cuisine 川菜 or Chuan Cai refers to Sichuan dishes, and it is famous for diversified, vast and dense taste. Dishes with the greatest reputation include fish fragrant shredded pork, Ma Po peppery beancurd, and noodles with peppery sauce.
Yue Cuisine is Guangdong-style cooking, featuring fry, deep fry, braise and pot-roast, etc., with special clear, light, crisp and fresh taste. Famous dishes include roast suckling pig, fried greasy-back shrimp, oyster sauce beef, and Guangdong-flavored moon cake.
Min Cuisine 闽菜 or Min Cai refers to Fujian dishes, with choice seafood as main raw materials, featuring the combined flavor of sweetness, sourness and saltiness as well as beautiful color and fresh taste. The most famous flavored dishes include steamed abalone with shark’s fin and fish maw in broth, fish ball, Fuzhou thin noodles, and pad and fried oyster.
Huaiyang Cuisine 淮扬菜 Huaiyang Cai is a style of cooking prevalent in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, famous for pot-roast, stew and simmer, featuring soup regulation and fumet preservation. Representative dishes include stir-fried eel, white gourd bowl, steamed bun stuffed with three sorts of diced meat, and steamed dumpling with meat fillings.
Zhe Cuisine 浙菜 or Zhe Cai is Zhejiang style of cooking, featuring freshness, tenderness, mellow fragrance, cleanness and non-oiliness. Famous dishes include Longjing stir-fried shrimp, West Lake water shield soup, Jiaxing steamed glutinous rice, Ningbo glutinous rice balls, and Huzhou multi-layer steamed bun.
Xiang Cuisine 湘菜 or Xiang Cai is Hunan style of cooking, featuring fragrant-peppery, hot-peppery, sour, spicy, burnt-hot, and fragrant-fresh taste, with sour-spicy taste as the most favorite flavor. Famous dishes include Dong’an chicken, Zu’an shark’s fin, and lotus seedpod with crystal sugar.
Hui Cuisine 徽菜 or Anhui Cai is Anhui style of cooking, featuring common usage of ham to diversify taste and crystal sugar to increase freshness, apt at roasting and pot-roast, with heat control being attached with importance. Famous flavored dishes include stewed hen with stone fungus, smoked pork, mung bean battercake and farfalle noodles.
Yue Cuisine 粤菜 or Yue Cai or Cantonese cuisine comes from Guangdong (Canton) province in southern China. For many traditional Cantonese cooks, the flavours of a finished dish should be well balanced and not greasy. Apart from that, spices should be used in modest amounts to avoid overwhelming the flavours of the primary ingredients, and these ingredients in turn should be at the peak of their freshness and quality. There is no widespread use of fresh herbs in Cantonese cooking, in contrast with their liberal use in other cuisines such as Sichuan. Garlic chives and coriander leaves are notable exceptions, although the latter are usually used as mere garnish in most dishes.
Dishes in the “Eight Major Cuisines” in China are characterized by diversified cooking skills, with each having its strong points. These styles of cooking are once personated in the following way: Su and Zhe Cuisines are comely and plain beauties in the south regions of the Yangtze River; Lu and Hui Cuisines are guileless and sincere men in North China; Yue and Min Cuisines are dissolute and elegant childes; Chuan and Xiang Cuisine are personages with abundant cultivation and acqierement. Being prevalent across China, the “Eight Major Cuisines” have been adding rich flavors into people’s diet, which also reflect the important role of diet in the Chinese life.