Best Chinese Food You Must Eat

Anhui

Located in eastern China, Anhui is home to the Huangshan Mountains, fields and forests. As a result, dishes from this province are rustic and hearty thanks to prevalent cooking techniques like braising and stewing. Ingredients are sourced directly from the land: regional game, wild plants, herbs and fungi found in forests and fields are used for cooking and to lend flavour to Anhui cuisine. If you enjoy pork or tofu, Anhui relishes both, and many dishes incorporate these proteins.

What to eat:

  • Stinky tofu : Fermented tofu with a pungent aroma often eaten as a snack
  • Egg dumplings : Pork stuffed in an egg wrapper instead of flour
  • Li Hongzhang stew : A complex and deeply flavoured stew made with seasonal vegetables and meats like chicken and ham

Sichuan

Famous for its use of the Sichuan pepper, hence its moniker, this cuisine comes from southwestern China. Other than pepper, spices like chilli, shallots and garlic feature heavily in this cuisine, as well as ingredients preserved by salting, pickling and drying. A number of cooking methods are used in the preparation of Sichuan cuisine, including stir-frying steaming, braising, baking, and the most popular of all: fast-frying.

What to eat:

  • Mapo doufu :Tofu cooked in a broad bean chilli paste – an essential Sichuan ingredient
  • Dandan noodles :Smoky noodles covered in chilli oil served with vegetables and pork
  • Kung Pao chicken :Diced chicken fried served with red pepper and peanuts

Jiangsu

Since it’s located on the coast, Jiangsu cuisine makes abundant use of seafood (including aquatic creatures you may never have eaten), but thanks to plenty of lakes, the province also has ingredients like water bamboo and water chestnuts at hand. The best way to make the most of your mealtimes in Jiangsu is to have an adventurous appetite: open to the elements and the unknown. Understated colourful dishes that are not heavily seasoned will take your taste buds on an aromatic journey over land and sea.

What to eat:

  • Hóngshāo páigǔ : Melt in your mouth braised spare ribs
  • Beggar’s chicken : Chicken baked in a lotus leaf
  • Sweet and sour mandarin fish : Whole fish cooked in a sweet and sour sauce

Fujian

Located between the mountains and the sea in southeastern China, Fujian cuisine makes use of the best of both worlds: from the waves and from the woodlands. The mountains offer mushrooms and wild herbs, while the coast provides the locals with seafood. Soups dishes, fermented fish sauces and dishes cooked in red rice wine are key to getting your tastebuds stuck into the culinary traditions of Fujian cuisine.

What to eat:

  • Drunken ribs : Pork ribs marinated in wine
  • Local soups : Fujians will have soup with pretty much every meal

Shandong

Shandong was one of China’s earliest developed societies and set the tone for cooking traditions in the regions around it, particularly in Bejing and northeastern China from where Shandong cuisine influenced imperial cuisine (food served to royalty).

Created during the Yuan dynasty, Shandong cuisine makes use of green onions, garlic, ginger and red pepper to flavour food. The Shandong preferred methods of cooking include bao (quick frying on high heat) and liu (quick frying with corn flour).

What to eat:

  • Dezhou braised chicken : Whole chicken dusted in spices and fried in oil until its skin is lightly charred
  • Four-Joy Meatballs : One of the oldest meatball dishes in the world

Hunan

Located in the mountains, Hunan’s natural beauty is breathtaking. The province’s cuisine is shaped by the seasons: when then weather is hot, meals begin with cold dishes, and during the winter, chilli is used to warm up the body. In fact, Hunan cuisine is sometimes even spicier than Sichuan, but it’s also known for being sour and for using smoked and cured ingredients.

  • Fried pepper pork :Stir-fry of pork belly, green pepper, fermented black beans and other spices
  • Chopped chilli : A condiment prepared with vinegar, chilli peppers, and salt
  • Dong’an chicken : Signature Hunan dish of poached chicken flavoured with chilli, vinegar, scallions and ginger

Zhejiang

Located south of Shanghai, Zhejiang is a rich eastern province along the coast. Zhejiang cuisine encompasses three styles, all of which originate from a major city: Hangzhou style (most dishes incorporate bamboo shoots), Shaoxing style (poultry and freshwater fish), and Ningbo style (salty and fresh seafood dishes). When preparing food, the most commonly used cooking techniques are braising, stewing and sautéing.

What to eat:

  • Dongpo pork : Fried pork belly stewing in soy sauce and wine
  • Longjing shrimp : Shrimp cooked in Longjing tea
  • Beggar’s chicken: Although it came from Jiangsu, beggar’s chicken was popularised in Hangzhou

Read Previous

Your Complete Chinese Food Guide

Read Next

Your Complete Guide to Thai Food