With a piece of big land and 5000 years of history, Chinese cuisine is extremely complicated. Different regions have different cultures, climates and ingredients so that people have formed different types of cuisine. The most basic types are these four: Lu, Chuan, Su, Yue which presents four major regions in China.
I am trying to introduce my own understandings of the four cuisines, in brief, not in details, otherwise I won’t get any sleep tonight. If you are interested, please wiki ‘Chinese cuisine’ and find more about it.
So firstly, the Lu cuisine. ‘Lu’ means Shandong province in Chinese. It is on the east coast of north China and basically represents north Chinese cuisine, that means, including the national capital Beijing. Typical Lu cuisine has a quite heavy taste: salty, oily, loads of sauce and rich colours. It also uses all sorts of ingredients including sea food, red meat, and earthy ingredients.
The picture shown above is heavy soy sauce flavoured pork shank surround with poached baby pak choi. Still quite balanced, ha?
Next is the Chuan cuisine. If you tell me you’ve never heard of it, have you ever heard of the ‘famous’ Sichuan pepper then? Yes, Chuan as Sichuan province, in the middle of China, is the icon representative of hot spicy cuisine. Because the weather in southwest China is quite chilly and damp (misty mountains and panda’s hometown), so people in this region need chili (not chilly) and hot food to fight against the cold. Chongqing hot pot, for example, has become the nation’s favourite in the last 20 years.
In above picture it is a giant bowl of freshwater fish, sliced and boiled in dried chili sauce. If you are brave enough, dig in!
The third one is Su cuisine, which represents the region on the east coast of China, Jiangsu province, Zhejiang province and Shanghai. My lovely hometown (so for sure my cooking are heavily influenced)！People in this region like fresh and mild taste, somehow more strangely, a sweet taste. For example, the world’s well-known dish, sweet and sour pork/fish is original from here. It is also famous of freshwater ingredients, such as hairy crab, if not sounds too scary to you. Chinese people pay good money for them, at least £50/kg for decent ones.
The picture above is quick stir fried freshwater prawns called crystal prawns. They are very small, about 5mm in diameter each.
Last but not least, the Yue cuisine. Maybe this is the one you are most familiar with because thanks for the Hong Kong people, their restaurants are all over the world. ‘Yue’ simply means Canton (Guangdong) province and the cuisine is famous of using a wide range of fresh ingredients. There is a saying that Cantonese eat everything but flights in the sky, everything but submarines in the water! So don’t make me mention those snakes……anyway, the Yue dishes normally have a light taste and have brought the most western elements into Chinese cuisine.
In the above picture is the roast baby pork, big occasions’ must for transitional Cantonese party. I had one in my ‘first breakfast’ because I married to a Cantonese!
Note: all the pictures in this post are from internet.