Chinese cuisine has spread all over the globe and is praised for its variety. The complex concoction of dishes is created due to the vast size of China and the many ethnic groups living within its borders. For food lovers, the Chinese cuisine truly is a dream come true. In this article, we take you on a culinary journey through the land of the red dragon. If you’re looking to visit China for food tours or otherwise, make sure to check out Bookmundi’s tours.
Beijing roast duck
- Chinese name: 北京烤鸭
This royal dish, which is also called Peking duck, is part of China’s culinary heritage for hundreds of years and was served to the emperors of the Yuan dynasty as early as the 13th century. Beijing roast duck is favored for its tenderness and its thin, crispy skin. After soaking the duck in stock, it’s then roasted for several hours while hanging vertically over firewood or in an oven.
Kung pao chicken
- Chinese name: 宮保雞丁
Sampling this chicken treats all of a food lovers’ taste buds, for this stir-fried dish from the Sichuan Province has sweet, sour and spicy components. An original version of the recipe includes at least cornstarch, Sichuan peppercorn, fresh and dried chilis, peanuts, ginger, garlic, onions, rice wine, soy sauce and small cubes of chicken. All ingredients are stir-fried over medium fire step by step, and the total cooking time is about 10 minutes.
- Chinese name: 麻辣燙
The Sichuan people have put their boundless love for spicy food in the Sichuan hotpot, a steaming bowl of broth where a range of different ingredients is cooked in.
The fiery soup contains numerous spices, such as dried chilies, Sichuan peppercorn, star anise, ginger, cardamom and fennel seeds. For cooking, tofu, meats and vegetables can be the main components. The hotpot is seen as a ‘social’ dish, as the slow cooking process allows you to have conversations with friends and family.
- Chinese name: 麻婆豆腐
Tofu is an essential part of the Chinese kitchen, and the mapo variety is particularly comforting and packed with flavor. This sweet and spicy tofu, also known as Mapo Daofu, can be found in restaurants all over China and even across the planet. The spiciness is vital in this stir-fried dish, and the peppercorn, sesame oil, garlic and chili bean paste will set your mouth on fire. Chicken stock is mixed with the ingredients and slowly boiled down until the sauce has thickened.
Lion’s head meatballs
- Chinese name: 獅子頭
On a list of iconic Chinese food, the succulent Lion’s head meatballs shouldn’t be lacking. Food lovers fall for this dish because of its savouriness and moist texture. This delicacy originates from the cities of Yangzhou and Zhenjiang in China’s far east. Generally, the hearty treat is made with ground pork and several spices, while the broth often consists of tofu, water chestnuts and napa cabbage. The meatballs are fried first and later added to the clear, flavor-packed soup.
A food lover’s must-visit destinations in China
Being one of the most culturally and historically significant cities in China, Beijing has a deep-rooted and varied food culture. Beijing is home to thousands of restaurants, from upscale dinings to unassuming holes-in-the-wall. A must-try in the capital is Beijing roast duck, but the culinary journey doesn’t end there. Jiaozi(Chinese dumplings) and hand-pulled Zhajiang noodles with vegetables, pork and soybean sauce are just some of Beijing’s many specialties.
This vast metropolis on China’s east coast is a haven for foodies. Especially if you wish to munch on seafood, Shanghai is the place to settle down for an epic food trip. Delve into Shanghai’s culinary scene with a serving of freshly caught crayfish, hairy crab or smoked fish. Other treats that are worth traveling to Shanghai alone include Lion’s head meatballs and Shanghai-style fried noodles, served with cabbage, onions and meat or mushrooms in a thick soy sauce.
As the epicenter of Sichuan cuisine, Chengdu is an excellent destination if you’re looking for fragrant food. The notoriously spicy Sichuan hotpot originates here, as does the cherished mapo tofu, but restaurants in Chengdu dish up a wide variety of lesser-known delicacies. You’ll most likely lick your fingers after sampling chao shou (dumpling with pork and ginger in chili oil) and spicy fried rabbit.
With a significant Muslim community, Xi’an’s fare differs from many other Chinese cities and regions. The cuisine in Xi’an has quite a lot of lamb recipes, such as barbecued lamb kebabs in street stalls and the hearty yangrou paomo (filling stew made with lamb and bread).
Xi’an has an impressive assortment of markets and stalls, which makes eating outdoors a fun experience. Try the tangbao (soup-filled buns) and the da pan ji (chicken noodles) to create long-lasting memories of Xi’an.
In Hongkong, cuisines from all over China blend together into an irresistible bundle of dishes and flavors. Only few food lovers who visit Hongkong, skip dim sum. The Chinese tradition of drinking tea paired with a wide range of bite-size dishes served in bamboo baskets makes for a proper dim sum meal. Other beloved delights in Hongkong are roast goose, clay pot rice and Hongkong-style milk tea.
Among numerous things to do in China, a food tour is a must, as every taste bud will be in for a treat. The vibrant street food culture, the spices and unique cooking styles make China a culinary destination, unlike any other country in the world. In each city, there’s a different cuisine, and in pursuit of good food, food lovers can fill their bellies with altered dishes every day when traveling to China.