Six Chinese regional cuisines you should try
Very different dishes that break the topics of "typically Chinese."
Because not all Chinese cuisine is the same © Getty Images
Few of us would feel comfortable if a foreigner asked us what are the most important dishes of European cuisine. We would answer, most likely, that each national cuisine is different, and that Little has to do with an Italian, an English or a Polish dish.
Chinese food works similarly. Although there are certain common ingredients, techniques or tastes, the continental size of China also makes regional varieties have created very different dishes and palates. In fact, They are considered different cuisines.
If we go to a generic "Chinese restaurant", most likely, a good portion of the dishes are of a specific variety, with some extra options that come from other regions.
Eat in chinese regional restaurants It will open an immense (and surprising) variety of dishes difficult to find in the most “generic” repetitive Chinese restaurants. Here we advise you where to start:
Sichuanese cuisine, not suitable for sensitive palates © Getty Images
This province adjoining Vietnam and Tibet It has a wide variety of dishes, many of them extracted from the abundant nature of its forests and fruit of the tradition of Its important rural population.
One can start with the typical and refreshing mint salad (凉拌 薄荷) that reminds us of certain dishes of neighboring Vietnam, and then share a classic noodle soup "crossing the bridge" (过桥 米线), a mild variety of rice noodles in which the broth and ingredients are mixed just before the dish is served.
It is also extracted from the lush mountains of Yunnan a huge amount of wild mushrooms, the most famous in China, which can be cooked both in the pan and using broth.
Finally, if you enter the restaurants of this province you can find yourself a plate of local blood sausage or the so-called “yunnanés serrano ham” (宣威 火腿), quite similar to ours, but usually cooked in a pan accompanied by vegetables.
Noodle soup in Yunan © Getty Images
KITCHEN OF DONGBEI
This cuisine is not limited to a province or a geographical area, the most northeastern of China, bordering with countries such as North Korea, Russia or Mongolia.
The cuisine of that area of cold and hard weather is blunt and tasty. Intense sauces are frequent, as we can see in dishes such as the so-called di san xian (地 三鲜) - combination of potato, eggplant and peppers covered by the rigor sauce - or the pork with sweet bean sauce (京 酱肉 丝), who eats wrapped with fresh vegetables in a crepe made of tofu.
The porous border with Korean cuisine also makes the famous fermented salty and spicy Kimchi add to the dishes of gastronomy dongbei, for example, as the base element of the tortilla with Kimchi (泡菜 饼). The partly mountainous terrain also makes dishes like wild birds with mushrooms (小 野鸡 炖 蘑菇) be very popular.
Di San Xian, one of the typical dishes of Dongbei cuisine © Getty Images
Possibly is the one that surprises us the most to foreigners that we ended up in China: One does not expect Muslim flavors to combine with local cuisine.
But in regions like Ningxia, Xinjiang or Gansu The halal food that has created its own school predominates. There are even delicacies, like celebrities lamb skewers (羊肉 串), which originated in these regions further west of China and have become a popular dish throughout the country.
But when traveling to Muslim areas like Ningxia we can also try more local varieties, such as tasty lamb intestine soup (羊 杂 碎) they serve in any restaurant.
In other provinces such as Xinjiang you can see the proximity to other Central Asian restaurants: the so-called "polo" rice (羊肉 抓饭) is an example, with certain similarities to pilaf Tajik
The famous lamb skewers originate in western China © Getty Images
Known (and partly feared) by his predilection for spicy, the cuisine of Sichuan -province at the foot of Tibet- is one of the most valued and widespread in the country, in large part because of the love for spice that many Chinese feel.
If one passes through Sichuan it is almost inevitable to have dinner a sichuan hot pot (四川 火锅), a concept extended in the rest of China - it is a boiling pot with varied broths to which you yourself throw raw ingredients, so that they are cooked - but which is especially famous in this province, for the extreme flavor that they bring the dozens of red chillies floating in the broth.
The spicy, in some way, is the axis on which Sichuan gastronomy is constituted: we have the mapo tofu (麻 婆 豆腐) with minced meat, the marinated and fried chicken (辣子 鸡) dipped in chilli peppers or cold meats or viscera of veal (夫妻肺片). All of them devised so that our tongue burns like hell.
In Sichuan the spicy is present in almost all dishes © Getty Images
That Chinese cuisine is one of contrasts is demonstrated by the trip we can do if we go from the spicy end of Sichuan to the soft and light food of the coastal province of Canton
An especially popular concept in the area is the dim sum, small tapas that are usually accompanied with tea. Some are already well known, such as the shao mai (燒賣) pork and shrimp, while others surprise rookie diners, such as Chicken claws (凤爪) in sauce.
Despite being less famous than the Peking Duck, the Cantonese goose (烧鸭) Crispy and tasty skin is one of the most exquisite dishes, as well as the soft cold veal (卤 牛肉), which requires a long preparation.
Pork and prawn shao mai © Getty Images
The provinces of the interior of China they tend to generate less attention than the more bordering or coastal ones, but the gastronomic varieties have been constituted with equal originality and flavor.
In Hunan, for example, we can find Pork stew (红烧肉) with dark sauce which was the favorite dish of Mao Zedong, who was born in that province.
Hunanese also usually take the famous spicy fish head (剁椒鱼头), from which they extract meat from this area of the fish between a sea of chillies, or sauteed pork with vegetables (农家 小 炒肉), in which this burning characteristic of China also predominates.
Pork is one of the most common dishes in Hunan © Getty Images
A PRACTICAL COUNCIL
Eating all these regional gastronomies in their place of origin is an admirable challenge, but There are easier options. If you travel to any Chinese city it is very likely that there are several restaurants of each type in its streets
How to find them? The simplest option is to ask a young Chinese. They usually speak certain English and on their mobiles they have specific (in Chinese) very useful apps to find all these restaurants. If the language barrier does not prevent it, the Chinese are usually very friendly: There will be some that will even take you to the door of the restaurant.
Another popular option in China is Go to a shopping center: There the regional restaurants are grouped comfortably and their quality is good. In them you can also find Street food from multiple regions. Oddly enough, going to a Chinese mall may end up being A great gastronomic and sociological experience.
In shopping centers you will find street food from multiple regions © Getty Images