THE MOUTHWATERING HARMONY OF...CHINESE CUISINE
Chinese cooking is as much an art as it is a means of nourishment, with presentation, flair and entertainment as much a part of the meal as the food itself. No wonder the world has fallen in love with its flavours and traditions. The taste of Chinese food is traditionally balanced into five key categories — salty, spicy, sour, sweet and bitter — that come together to create a delicious harmony of flavours.
Taste of Chinese Dishes
The role of rice is very important in China — particularly as a major food staple for people from rice farming areas in Southern China, who turn these fluffy white grains into congee (a type of rice pudding) for breakfast.
10 interesting facts about China
When visiting a friend in China you’ll certainly be served a pot of tea — as their national beverage it’s an essential part of being a good host.
In China, the roundness of the full moon means ‘togetherness’ and is very special. During the Mid-Autumn Festival the harvest moon is at its fullest which is cause for celebration!
Chinese cuisine is one of the oldest and most diverse culinary traditions in the world, with a history of over 5,000 years.
Chopsticks have been in use for over 5,000 years and are believed to have originated in China.
The concept of “dim sum” originated in ancient China, where teahouses would serve small, bite-sized dishes along with tea.
Chinese cuisine is known for its emphasis on balance and harmony of flavours, including the five fundamental tastes – sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami.
Chinese culinary culture places a strong emphasis on the use of fresh and seasonal ingredients; it also includes a wide range of preserved foods, such as pickled vegetables, salted fish, and cured meats, which are used to enhance flavours and extend shelf life.
Traditional Chinese meals often consist of several shared dishes served family-style, encouraging communal dining and fostering a sense of togetherness.
The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is the most important holiday in Chinese culture and is celebrated with special food and dishes symbolising luck and prosperity.
In Chinese culinary philosophy, the balance between Yin and Yang is essential, and ingredients are often chosen to achieve harmony between hot and cold, spicy and mild, and other contrasting elements.
THE SIGNATURE FLAVOUR OF THE CHINESE INGREDIENTS
Dark & light soy sauce
Soy sauce is must-have for Chinese cooking, giving it that distinct savoury Umami flavour, but which is best for what? Light Soy is a great all-rounder that tastes saltier, but doesn’t colour your food too heavily, while Dark Soy tends to be thicker, coating your dish in a deliciously rich colour and flavour.
Rice is a staple in Chinese cuisine and is the primary grain consumed in most parts of China. It is used to make steamed rice, fried rice, congee (rice porridge), and rice noodles.
Noodles are another essential component of Chinese cuisine. They come in various shapes and sizes, such as wheat noodles, rice noodles, and egg noodles. Noodles are commonly stir-fried, boiled, or used in soups and are enjoyed throughout China.
Spring onions, also known as scallions or green onions, are widely used in Chinese cuisine. They have a mild onion flavour and are often added to stir-fries, soups, dumplings, and as a garnish for various dishes.
Garlic is a staple ingredient in Chinese cooking, adding pungent and aromatic flavours to dishes. It is used in stir-fries, marinades, sauces, soups, and many other Chinese recipes. Garlic is known for its health benefits and is believed to boost the immune system.
Corn flour, or corn starch, is commonly used as a thickening agent in Chinese cooking. It is often mixed with water to create a slurry that thickens sauces, soups, and stir-fries. Corn flour helps create a glossy texture and enhances the consistency of Chinese dishes.
Bean sprouts are young, crunchy sprouts that are commonly used in Chinese cuisine. They are made from germinated mung beans and are often stir-fried, added to soups, or used as a topping for various dishes, providing a refreshing and crisp texture.
Shiitake mushrooms are highly regarded in Chinese cuisine for their meaty texture and rich flavour. They are commonly used in stir-fries, soups, and braised dishes, providing an earthy and umami taste. Dried shiitake mushrooms are also very popular and are rehydrated before cooking.
Sesame oil is a flavourful and aromatic oil derived from sesame seeds. It is widely used in Chinese cuisine to add a nutty and rich flavour to stir-fries, marinades, dressings, and sauces.
Ginger is a popular spice in Chinese cuisine, known for its distinct flavour and warming properties. It is used fresh, ground, or pickled to add a zesty and slightly spicy taste to stir-fries, soups, marinades, and sauces.
Shaoxing wine is a type of Chinese rice wine made from fermented glutinous rice. Shaoxing wine adds depth to dishes and is often used in marinades, sauces, and braised dishes, especially when preparing dishes from the Zhejiang region.
Rice vinegar, made from fermented rice, is a mild and slightly sweet vinegar commonly used in Chinese cuisine. It is used in dressings, dipping sauces, pickles, and marinades, providing a tangy and bright flavour to dishes.
Chilli paste, often made from fermented chilli peppers, garlic, and other seasonings, is used to add heat and flavour to Chinese dishes. It is a common ingredient in Sichuan cuisine and other spicy dishes, contributing a fiery kick to stir-fries, noodle dishes, and sauces.
Types of Chinese food by region
Cantonese Cuisine (Guangdong)
Cantonese cuisine is one of the most well-known Chinese cuisines, characterised by its delicate flavours and fresh ingredients. Some famous Cantonese dishes include Dim Sum, Roasted Duck, Sweet and Sour Pork, and Steamed Seafood. Clay Pot Rice is the most popular way to prepare rice in Cantonese cuisine and involves rice being cooked in a clay pot with a variety of interchangeable savoury toppings to suit the chef’s tastes.
Sichuan cuisine is famous for its bold and spicy flavours, often featuring numbing Sichuan peppercorns. Sichuan’s most popular rice dish is Sichuan Fried Rice, and other iconic Sichuan dishes include Mapo Tofu (spicy tofu), Kung Pao Chicken (stir-fried chicken with peanuts and chilli peppers), Twice-Cooked Pork and Hot Pot.
Shandong cuisine, also known as Lu cuisine, is characterised by its emphasis on seafood and hearty flavours. Famous dishes from this region include Braised Abalone, Sweet and Sour Carp, Fried Prawns, and Shandong-style Dumplings (Jiaosi). The region is also known for its variety of porridge and rice dishes, such as Seafood Congee and Braised Pork with Rice (Hong Shao Rou).
Fujian cuisine is known for its seafood dishes and the use of unique ingredients like various types of mushrooms and seafood products. Fried Rice with Seafood and Fried Rice Vermicelli are both popular rice dishes in Fujian cuisine. Other Fujian dishes include Buddha Jumps Over the Wall (a rich seafood soup), Oyster Omelette and Braised Fish Balls.
Hunan cuisine is known for its fiery and bold flavours, featuring generous use of chilli peppers, garlic, and shallots. Famous Hunan dishes include Spicy Crispy Chicken, Chairman Mao’s Red Braised Pork, Steamed Fish Head with Chillies, and Stir-Fried Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce. Rice dishes in Hunan cuisine include Steamed Rice with Tossed Meat (Fen Sheng Rou) and Rice Noodles with Spicy Minced Pork.
Jiangsu cuisine is known for its delicate and light flavours, focusing on the natural taste of ingredients. Jiangsu cuisine offers popular rice dishes such as Yangshou Fried Rice and Eight Treasures Rice, a dessert made using sticky rice and served with 8 different toppings. Jiangsu’s signature dishes include Braised Crab Meat and Tofu, Lion’s Head Meatballs, Stewed Duck with Soy Sauce, and Salted Duck.
Shejiang cuisine features fresh and tender flavours, highlighting the natural taste of ingredients. Famous dishes from this region include Dongpo Pork (braised pork belly), West Lake Fish in Vinegar Sauce, Beggar’s Chicken (chicken wrapped in lotus leaves and clay), and Longjing Shrimp. Shejiang cuisine also offers rice dishes like Pine Nut Rice and Steamed Rice with Preserved Vegetables (Meigan Cai).
Anhui cuisine is known for its rustic and hearty flavours, utilising wild herbs and locally sourced ingredients. Anhui cuisine offers rice dishes like Li Hongzhang Rice and Steamed Chicken with Sticky Rice; its signature dishes include Stewed Mandarin Fish, Braised Turtle with Ham, Li Hongshang Hotchpotch (a stew with various ingredients), and Bamboo Shoots with Mushrooms.
CHINESE RICE DISHES
Cooks In31 – 60 Minutes
Long Grain Rice
One-pot Black Bean Chicken Rice
Start your Chinese New Year with a bang! Try our one-pot dish bursting with flavours, perfect for lunch or dinner. -Author: @thatfoodiejess
WHICH RICE FOR CHINESE CUISINE?
Each variety brings something different so choosing the right type of rice for your dish is important. Your meals deserve the best, so let’s take it to the next level and create authentic plates that impress.
Long grain rice is the perfect blank canvas to bring out the world of Chinese flavours. Our versatile Long Grain rice is known for its clean, fresh taste and is the ideal side for delicious dishes.Explore rice for Chinese cuisines
EXPLORE ANOTHER CUISINE
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