ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Top Flavors Of China

Updated on December 31, 2009

Thankfully our knowledge of Chinese cooking has evolved beyond the de rigueur sweet-and-sour chicken to the country's extensive regional dishes. From the simpler food of the North to the complex sauces in the East, Chinese cuisine is characterized by a multilayered range of flavors.

A country of vast territory and rich resources, China is divided among regions that rely on the products and traditions of their own provinces to formulate specialized dishes and menus. Generally divided into four regions, there are some that subdivide the north even further, separating Beijing (Peking) and Shandong.

Beijing/Peking (Northern Region) Characteristically simple and elegant, encompassing the basic foods of the people and the exotic elegance of the Imperial kitchen. Both types of preparation are enhanced by the addition of noodles, soybeans and breads, as rice is not grown in the north. Breads -- like green onion cakes and the pork-filled man tau -- dumplings, buns and pancakes can be deep-fried, steamed or pan-fried. Cooking techniques include the "fire pot" (a Mongolian influence), the use of chiles and warming spices. Mutton, lamb and goat are common, along with pickled vegetables, cabbage and root vegetables (including ginger, garlic, leeks and onions). China's capital city is renowned for Peking duck, served in a sequence of separate courses that use the meat and skin in a variety of preparations. Prized sweet-and-sour carp from the Huang He River is the specialty of Shandong.

Moving down the eastern coast, Shanghai (Eastern Region) Richly flavored sauces (often sweet and complex), with a focus on fish and crustaceans. Fish, chicken, duck and pork are the primary sources of protein; very little lamb or beef. Wine, soy sauce and vinegars are used liberally in cooking and in the flavoring of the sauces. Cooking techniques includes stir-frying, slow-simmering (soups and stews) deep-frying, steaming and pan-frying. Pot stickers and steamed buns are favorites, along with deep-fried spring rolls, fried rice, vegetarian dishes and the braised foods of Suzhou (cooked to perfection in their rustic clay pots.

Canton/Cantonese (Southern Region). The most well known and familiar of all Chinese cooking styles. Fresh ingredients, natural products and the proximity to ports translate into an abundance of flavorful dishes and tropical fruits. Chicken, pork, beef, fish, wine-cured sausage and duck are frequently used proteins, along with tofu. When stir-fried, these ingredients are often accompanied by an assortment of vegetables. While stir-frying is predominant, steaming and roasting (barbecuing) are typical cooking techniques. The southern region is noted for its dim sum (snack-size dishes of "heart's delight"), a colorful array of vegetables dishes with light sauces, sweet-and-sour pork, whole steamed fish, beef with oyster sauce, fermented black bean sauced entrees and a crispy garnish made of fried rice noodles.

The Szechuan (Western Region). Influenced by bordering countries of Pakistan, India, Nepal, Laos and Vietnam, which results in interesting spices and piquant flavors. This region specializes in fiery spicy-hot dishes, tea-smoked duck, the famous Yunnan hams, Szechuan crispy duckling, preserved vegetables and cold noodle combinations. Garlic, salt, Szechuan peppercorns and chiles are used liberally, and oils and pastes are made from them. Abundance of rice and tea, with moderate amounts of freshwater fish (carp) and shrimp available from lakes and local rivers. The pungent and spicy flavors are well-balanced, purposeful and complex.

Regardless of region, there are five components of taste in the Chinese Kitchen: sweet, sour, salty, hot (spicy) and bitter. A well-balanced meal contains some of each. What's more, each meal is also a balance of color, aroma, flavor, texture and harmony.

Taoism and Confucianism, the two early dominant philosophies of China, prescribed the kitchen customs, set the standards, and established personal table etiquette. Food is central to the family: it is an art form, a tradition, a daily part of family life. The Chinese integrate the principles of yin and yang (Taoist philosophy) into their diets for a perfect internal balance of health. Harmony is essential, as very few traditional Chinese dishes consist of only one main ingredient. A single ingredient offers no visual contrast; subsequently, it cannot provide the necessary harmony. How foods are cooked or prepared may also have an effect on the yin and yang. Yin foods like melons, asparagus, crab and tofu are cooling and soothing, and characteristically tend toward the vegetarian. Yang foods, like ginger, chiles and red meat,- are warming, invigorating and powerful.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      8 years ago from Toronto


    • allergy1 profile image


      8 years ago from United Arab Emirates

      i really loves chinese foods. Here in my place there is Lots of Chinese Foods are available. they are excellent in cooking.

      keep writing more.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)