Chinese cuisine is extensive and profound. Due to differences in geography, climate, customs, and specialties, various dishes with local flavors and characteristics have been developed. These correspond with unique cooking methods, forming cuisines with different local flavors. Among them, the most famous ones consist of: Sichuan cuisine, Hunan cuisine, Cantonese cuisine, Fujian cuisine, Jiangsu cuisine, Zhejiang cuisine, Anhui cuisine, and Shandong cuisine. These are collectively known as the eight major cuisines.
The unique natural conditions of the Sichuanese “Land of Abundance” are the basis for the development of its cuisine. The profound Bashu culture is the driving force for the development of Sichuan cuisine — the rich variety of dishes is a major feature of Sichuan cuisine, and the magic of Sichuan cuisine lies in the variety of flavors.
Rich flavour is the soul of Sichuan cuisine. Not only is it both fresh and mellow, but it is also famous for its spiciness. The cuisine can be broken down into three key spices, three key peppers, and three key ingredients. The three spices are ginger, green onion, and garlic; the three peppers are chili, pepper and Chinese prickly ash; the three ingredients are vinegar, Pixian bean paste, and fermented glutinous rice. Sichuan people not only focus on the basic seasoning using these "three spices", but also make good use of the three peppers three ingredients to mix flavours, cooking traditional dishes using various cooking methods such as stir-frying, dry-stirring, dry-roasting, and stewing to achieve seven core flavors (sour, sweet, bitter, spicy, hemp, fragrant and salty) within the realm of “eight tastes” (fish flavor, hot and sour, dry roast, spicy, spicy, red oil, strange taste, pepper and hemp). Additionally, there are nine miscellaneous aspects of Sichuanese gastronomy (mountain delicacies, river delicacies, wild Vegetables, poultry and other ingredients) which create a world-famous Sichuan flavor.
Hunan cuisine is particularly heavy on hot and sour tastes. It masters the characteristics of chili peppers that "enhance the taste but not overpower it" to harmonize all kinds of flavors, so that the flavours of "clear and strong" and "light and heavy" are intimately layered. Hunan cuisine is characterized by fine preparation, a wide range of ingredients, lots of oil and color, heavy “hot and sour” tastes, softness, and tenderness. Hunan cuisine attaches great importance to looking beautiful, emphasizing that "color" attracts people first; Hunan cuisine is usually found to be steamed, simmered, fried, smoked, roasted, or waxed.
Cantonese cuisine advocates for freshness and a refreshing taste, pursuing elegance and grandeur in style. It is unique for its wide selection of ingredients, and its flexible and changeable techniques. It is the most representative cuisine in China and abroad. The blend of five tastes creating hundreds of flavors, which can be seen in its plainness, is a true portrayal of Cantonese cuisine insisting on the focus of original ingredient taste. Supplemented by superb knife skills and cooking techniques, the best raw ingredients release a natural and rich flavor in the delicacy of Cantonese cooking.
Cantonese cuisine makes good use of sauces for seasoning. The seasonings used are unique, compatible, wide in application, and complex in variety.
Min Cuisine (Fujian Cuisine) is composed of local dishes in regions like Fuzhou, Quanzhou, and Xiamen. The characteristic of Fujian cuisine is that the dishes are rich in soup, and the most prominent cooking methods are simmering and distilling. The sea delicacies abound in Fujian’s vast oceans and deep mountains are all blended into the one-pot soup of Fujian cuisine. One soup has ten flavors, and the soup preserves the flavor. The professional status of soup dishes has become the biggest difference between Fujian cuisine and other cuisines.
Jiangsu cuisine, composed of Jinling cuisine, Huaiyang cuisine, Suxi cuisine, and Xuhai cuisine, enjoys a large reputation both at home and abroad. Jiangsu cuisine tastes fresh, salty, and slightly sweet, focusing on the original taste of soup, keeping the original juices of its dishes. Its cooking skills involve stewing, stewing, simmering, and warming. It uses eclectic ingredients and makes the best use of everything. It is the second largest cuisine in the Chinese court. Su cuisine is still the mainstay at state banquets in China today.
Jiangsu cuisine is fresh and elegant in style, beautiful in shape and quality, and it is also reflected in the exquisite knife skills and techniques. Whether it is crafting cold dishes, assorted hot dishes, carving melons and fruits, or deboning, they all show superb knife skills.
Rich in Jiangnan characteristics, Zhejiang cuisine has a long history and is a famous local cuisine in China.
Zhejiang cuisine pays attention to the selection of ingredients, the varieties and seasonal harvests of natural ingredients, so as to fully reflect the tenderness and crispness of the raw materials. The seafood, fruits, and vegetables used are all based on the season, and the poultry and livestock used are all special products. There are many ingredients, which fully embodies that Zhejiang cuisine pays attention to freshness and location, and follows the principle of "the order of the four seasons" in the selection of ingredients.
Zhejiang cuisine is well-known both at home and abroad for its rich and colorful cooking techniques. There are more than 30 commonly used cooking methods. The techniques are used according to the ingredients, and the coordination between the flavors of the main ingredients is emphasized, so the taste is interchangeable. Zhejiang cuisine is best with six types of preparation: stir-fried, deep-fried, stewed, steamed, steamed, and roasted.
Anhui cuisine, also known as "Huibang cuisine" and "Huizhou flavor", is one of the eight major cuisines in China. Anhui cuisine emphasises roasting, stewing, and steaming, but less frying and frying, heavy oil, heavy color, and heavy fire. It inherits the tradition of Chinese medicine and food, and pays attention to food tonic, which is a major feature of Anhui cuisine.
Since braised sauce is one of the major categories, the "redness" of braised sauce is reflected in the color of sugar, which requires strict fire skills. The oil used for cooking is self-grown and self-extracted rapeseed oil, and a large amount of wood is used as fuel. There are charcoal fires for warm stewing, firewood for rapid burning, and tree blocks for slow burning.
Anhui's unique geographical and cultural environment endows Anhui cuisine with a unique taste. The main famous dishes include tiger fur tofu, Huangshan stewed pigeon, and stewed horseshoe turtle.
Shandong cuisine is mainly evolved from the local dishes of Jinan and Jiaodong. The rich products of the land of Qilu have given birth to Shandong cuisine mantra, which is that "one dish has one taste, with a hundred dishes still being light". Fresh vegetables, seafood, and soups constitute the simple and unpretentious Shandong cuisine, having its own fragrance, tenderness and mellow taste.
As the earliest local-style cuisine in China, Shandong cuisine is good at ingredients and pursues naturalness. It uses seafood, pork, and vegetables as raw materials, and pays attention to quick-fire and quick-fry. This is done to maintain the quality and nutrition of the food, making it refreshing and not greasy.