Szechuan Cuisine or Sichuan Cuisine (川菜, pinyin: chuan1 cai4), originating in the Sichuan province of western China, has an international reputation for being spicy and flavorful.
Some well-known Szechuan dishes include “Kung Pao Chicken” and “Twice Cooked Pork”. Although many Szechuan dishes live up to their spicy reputation, often ignored are the large percentage of recipes that use little or no spice at all, including recipes such as “Tea Smoked Duck”.
What many do not realize is that the chili pepper, a common ingredient in Szechuan cuisine (often used unseeded), was only introduced to China following Columbus’s discovery of the New World. Chili peppers were perhaps introduced to the remote Szechuan province by Western missionaries. Previous Szechuan cuisine was not completely without spice, however. Szechuan pepper is an indigenous plant (fruit) that produces a milder spice, and is still a key ingredient in Szechuan food to this day. The reason for this emphasis on spice may derive from the region’s warm, humid climate. This climate also necessitates sophisticated food-preservation techniques which include pickling, salting, drying and smoking
Common preparation techniques in Szechuan cuisine include stir frying, steaming and basting. Beef is more common in Szechuan cuisine than it is in other Chinese cuisines, perhaps due to the widespread use of oxen in the region. Stir-fried beef is often cooked until chewy, while steamed beef is sometimes coated with rice flour to produce a rich gravy.
Some common Szechuan dishes include:
Kung Pao chicken
Tea smoked duck
Twice cooked pork
Beijing boasts more than 30,000 restaurants in the metropolitan area. What can a traveler expect when it comes to Chinese food? China’s cuisine offerings provide temptations for those with a light stomach to those who will try anything…once. FoodTrekker.com has identified some menu choices for those traveling to China, along with a cheat sheat for those not looking for suprises.
According to FoodTrekker.com, some of the culinary offerings in Beijing may seem unexpected or unusual to the Western palate. For the adventurous traveler, they might enjoy sampling some of these true Chinese delicacies.
* Giant steamed dumpling filled with soup (type of soup varies, usually a kind of mutton or beef stock and often loaded with MSG)
* Hot pot (usually served in a ying yang shape bowl with half spicy, and half seafood based soup)
* Freshly-made tofu
* Fresh water chestnuts on a stick
* Steamed buns
* Cup of tea (green or black)
* Ludagun (a rolled pastry made of soy bean flour)
FOR THE MORE ADVENTUROUS
* Roast duck (sometimes served complete with head, wings and feet)
* Raw sea urchin
* Donkey meat stew
* Duck bone soup
* Braised sea cucumber
* Stinky Tofu [Chou Dofu] (only the authentic versions are truly stinky)
* Braised Chicken Feet
* Fat Head Fish Soup [Peng Tou Yu Tang]
TOP 10 SURVIVOR DISHES
FoodTrekker.com has created the following cheat sheet for the timid diner.
1. Gung Bao ji Ding: Kung Pao chicken done the right way. Spicy, lots of peanuts, chicken squares, carrots, and usually another vegetable
2. Di San Xian: Mild eggplant with potato, onions and brown sauce (can be a little heavy for summer)
3. Yu Xiang Xiezi: Eggplant in fish sauce with carrots, mushrooms and other vegetables. Popular with Westerners. Ask for Yu Xian Ro Si if you want it made with spicy pork strips instead of eggplant.
4. Baozi: Steamed dumplings. Usually available for breakfast everywhere. Look for large steaming bamboo vats in the early morning.
5. Xi Hong Shi Chao Dan: Tomato with Scrambled eggs. While this sounds like a breakfast dish to a Westerner, it is served at any time. The tomato sauce makes it slightly sweet. Popular with Westerners.
6. Chao Mian Pian: Xinjiang joint fried noodle dish. Close as you can get to home-style Italian pasta.
7. Suan La Tu Do si: Sweet and Sour Potato strips.
8. Qing Chao Xi Lan Hua: Broccoli with garlic sauce.
9. La Mian: Fried noodles (when you are tired of experimenting)
10. Ba si xiang jiao: Warm battered banana with sweet syrup. Take a piece and dip into the water provided, watch it solidify, and then eat. Unusual and flavorful.
The Chinese pride themselves on their food! Learn about it here!
To be pedantic, there are several cuisines in Taiwan. In addition to the following representative dishes from the Ho-lo ethnicity (see Taiwanese language), there are also aboriginal, Hakka, and local derivatives of Chinese cuisines (one famous example of the last is beef noodle soup = niurou mian = gu-bah mi).
Famous dishes in each of the main cities
Sun cake is the most noted food in Taichung.
There are pork foot, tann-ah noodle, shrimp cookie and so on.
jiu-hi ken (youyu geng = 魷魚羹) – Soup with cuttlefish wrapped in fish paste.
o-ah-chian (kezaijian = 蚵仔煎) – Omelet made with tiny oysters.
o-ah mi-soan(kezai mianxian = 蚵仔麵線) – thin noodle with tiny oysters.
oh peng (yu bing = 芋仔冰) – a dessert made of frozen taro root paste.
ai-giok peng (aiyu bing = 愛玉冰) – a dessert made of some kind of jello or agar served on ice.
Boba nai cha – Boba milk tea.
Hunan Cuisine, sometimes called Xiang Cuisine (湘菜 pinyin xiang1 cai4), consists of the cuisines of the Xiangjiang region, Dongting Lake and western Hunan Province, in China.
While similar to Szechuan cuisine, Hunan Cuisine is often spicier and contains a larger variety of ingredients. Hunan is known for its liberal use of chilli peppers, shallots and garlic. Many Hunan dishes are characterized by a strongly flavored brown sauce. Some rely on sweetness from ingredients such as honey; sweet and sour sauces are also characteristic of the style.
Hunan cuisine is difficult to precisely characterize, as it has absorbed stylistic elements from all over China. For this reason, the region is sometimes regarded as China’s culinary center. Common cooking techniques include stewing, frying, pot-roasting, braising, and smoking. Due to the high agricultural output of the region, ingredients for Hunan dishes are many and varied.
Some representative Hunan dishes include:
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Peppery and Hot Chicken (Hot and Spicy Chicken)
Lotus Seeds in Sugar Candy