There are countless variations on Chinese cuisine based on regional ethnicity, geography, resources and climate factors which led to the development of Cantonese, Shandong, Jiangsu and Sichuan cuisines. Chinese society has long placed a high value on gastronomy, intertwined with traditional medical beliefs. Chinese cuisine was judged by color, aroma, taste and texture and designed to balance the Four Natures—hot, warm, cool and cold and the Five Tastes—pungent, sweet, sour, bitter and salty. As Confucius said, “When the food was not cooked right, man would not eat. When the meat was not cut properly, man would not eat. When the food was not prepared with the right sauce, man would not eat.” Chinese cuisine classics include:
Sides: rice, fried rice, soy sauce, noodles, tofu, noodle soup, 100 year old egg, pickled vegetables, wonton, char siu bao, congee, hot and sour soup, bird’s nest soup, shark fin soup, wonton noodles, xiaolongbao.
Main Dishes: Peking duck, Kung Pao chicken, dim sum, chow mein, char siu, congee, beef chow fun, sea cucumber, laziji, shuizhu, twice cooked pork, beggar’s chicken, fried stuffed bean curd paste.
Desserts: tong siu, baobing, black sesame rice balls, black sesame soup, tanghulu, ning gao, jingbajian, ginger milk curd.
Beverages: tieguanyin, jiuniang, chrysanthemum tea, coconut milk, suanmeitang, milk tea, Longjing tea, yellow wine, fruit wine, Maotai liquor.
CHINESE CUISINE COOKBOOKS
Eileen Yin-Fe Lo. Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking.
Lo is considered the Julia Child of Chinese cooking. From fundamental dishes to esoteric techniques this is one of the essential Chinese cookbooks.
Fuschia Dunlop. Every Grain of Rice.
This is Dunlop’s entry level Chinese cookbook. She is recognized as the English-language authority on regional Chinese cuisine with cookbooks for Sichuan (Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking).
Hunan (Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province) and Yangtze (Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes from the Culinary Heart of China) recipes.
Carolyn Phillips. All Under Heaven.
Part cookbook, part travelogue, All Under Heaven explores the Muslim influenced cooking of the Chinese Northwest, the Indian influenced cuisine of Tibet, and the Portuguese influenced Macau cuisine.
Ken Hom. Chinese Cookery.
A timeless collection of over 150 everyday recipes is but one of the many Chinese Cookbooks by world-renowned Ken Hom.
Jennie Low. Chopsticks, Cleaver and Wok.
A thorough guide to every step of Chinese cooking. It includes a glossary of ingredients printed in English and Chinese symbols for finding authentic ingredients at Asian markets.
Yan-Kit So. Classic Chinese Cookbook.
The cuisines of multiple regions of China are highlighted with distinction and authenticity by the legendary Yan-Kit So.