Most people would agree that there are basically eight different regions for food in China. These eight regions are (in alphabetical order) Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Szechuan, and Zhejiang. Each of the regions is distinct in their own way. Understanding each of these regions will help to make it easier to order Chinese food in Chinatown.
The Anhui region of China comes from the Huangshan Mountains region in China. This region of food incorporates a wide variety of herbs and spices that are local to the region. Common ingredients in the food also include bamboo and mushroom.
The Cantonese region is known for freshness and quality. The dishes are usually prepared by steaming or frying. Pork and duck are the two most popular meats in Cantonese cuisine. The region is also known for what is called dim sum, which is a steamed little snack-sized dumpling.
Fujian is from the coastal region of China. The cuisines are often served in broth. The other notable thing about Fujian cooking is that there is an emphasis on the slicing techniques. They believe that this enhances the flavor of the food.
The Hunan region is well known for its hot and spicy flavors. There is also a very distinct and deep aroma that comes from Hunan dishes. The ingredients are varied as well due to the fact that the region is so diverse.
Jiangsu is known for using their cooking techniques to flavor the food. Duck and hairy crab dishes are very popular from this region. This type of cuisines is very popular among many people in China.
Shandong cuisine is sometimes referred to as Lu cuisine. This is popular in the northern regions of China. They feature a variety of cooking techniques for their food. One of the more popular methods is braising.
The Szechuan cuisines are known for its pungency and spiciness. The flavors are very bold. There is a lot of garlic and chili peppers that are used in this type of cooking. The unique flavor comes from the Sichuan peppercorn.
Finally, there is the Zhejiang cuisine. The flavors of this type of cuisine are much more mellow than say the Szechuan cuisine. It uses fresh ingredients and incorporates poultry and fish into its dishes.
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