The Four Famous Chinese Cuisines.
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People regard food as their prime want, and food safety is a top priority. 民以食为天，食以安为先.
Cooking is an ancient Chinese art. Some 3,000 years ago, the Chinese people already knew how to “deliciously” blend the five flavours 五味－pungent 辛(辣), sweet 甘(甜), sour 酸， bitter 苦， and salty 咸 and today Chinese cuis8ine is ranked among the world’s best and Chinese restaurants can be found in many countries and regions throughout the world.
Chinese cooking places great stress on the colour, fragrance, taste, form and nutrition of the food and is very particular about cutting and temperature control. According to the rough estimates, there are more than 5,000different local cooking styles in China. The most popular cooking styles in China are those of Sichuan, Guangdong, Shandong, and Huaiyang (jiangsu).
As early as the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), some overseas Chinese opened Chinese restaurants in England and other countries and regions. Since then, Chinese cuisine has been popular the world over.
The Chinese cooking is very delicate and has a great variety, It is agreeable to different races of people all over the world.
Diet is a kind of civilization of humanity and cooking is a superb art. With the development of social productive forces, and the increase of international exchanges, the Chinese cookery art is sure to be further improved. But it is a pity that only a few books were written about the Chinese cuisine in ancient times.
Sichuan Style 四川菜
Distinct features of Sichuan Style: They prefer steaming, simmering, and smoking, The cooking is elaborate and meticulous and the flavouring highly varied and mixed. The taste of each dish is very distinct. A common Chinese saying about Sichuan cuisine is that each meal has its own unique taste, and no two dishes have the same flavour.
Sichuan cooking employs scores of condiments giving all the different tastes-salty, sweet, sour, hot, aromatic, peppery or bitter, of which a prickly pepper is the climate, the chefs there lean heavily on such warmth-giving ingredients as chilli pepper, black pepper, the mild red huajiao pepper, and ginger. Of hundreds of varieties of Sichuan dishes, it is said that only 20 per cent have a hot and numbing effect on the palate. In fact, the art of Sichuan cooking emphasizes the aesthetic appeal of food. It offers everything pleasant and inviting to colour, aroma, and appearance, while flavour is the top priority. What Sichuan cuisine boasts is an abundance of flavour and diversified methods of cooking.
Guangdong Style 广东菜
Guangzhou food is a representatative of Guangdong foods, including all the delicacies of Guangdong, Chaozhou, Dongjiang, and Hainan Island. Guangdong food has absorbed some elements of Beijing, Suzhou, Yangzhou, and Hangzhou cuisine, while keeping its South China flavour.
In preparing the Guangdong cuisine, dozens of varieties of ingredients are often involved and more than 30 different kinds of cooking methods employed, such as frying, grilling, stewing, simmering, deep-frying, roasting, and braising etc. Freshness is everything to the Guangdong cuisine. So is quick cooking: there is not much long broiling or barbecuing as in North China. Also, there is no simmering for hours with spices and herbs like in the West. The objective is freshness, tenderness, smooth texture, and piquant flavour. These qualities are especially evident in another Guangdong specialty-roast suckling pig. A piglet is gutted and coated inside with fermented bean curd, sesame paste, fen liquor, and garlic-flavoured sugar, and then roasted until its skin is golden-red and shiny as lacquer. The custom is to eat the crisp, crackling skin first, and then the tender, smooth-textured flesh.
Shandong Style 山东菜
Shandong cuisine is known for its light seasoning, and delicacy. Its chefs make a point of retaining the original flavour, freshness, crispness, and tenderness of the ingredients. Among its specialties are Sweet-sour Huanghe (Yellow River) carp, fried crisp on the outside but tender that the meat can be shaken off the bones and melts deliciously in the mouth. Chefs in the coastal cities of Qingdao and Yantai excel in the preparation of seafood.
Shandong cuisine is also known for its soup, both the clear and milky-white kinds. One clear type, prepared with materials extracted from swallow’s nests, is often the first major course at banquets. (soup usually comes at the end of most Chinese meals) White soup made with wild rice stems or dandelion greens is famed for colour, fragrance, taste, and appearance.
Shandong food consists of Jinan and Fushan food. Jinan food makes good use of soup seasoning, frying in deep oil and steaming. Shandong roast chicken is especially good with wine and the chicken is tasty and tender. Tasting it is guaranteed to make the diner believe.
Huaiyang (Jiangsu) Style 淮扬(江苏(菜
The origin of Huaiyang cuisine can be traced to pre Christian times. The clear simmered soft-shelled turtle, a Huaiyang specialty, was listed in the famous delicacies mentioned in an ancient verse by Qu Yuan (c.340-c.278 BC), one of the greatest poets in Chinese history. Yangzhou, where Huaiyang cuisine originated, remained an important economic and salt-trading centre for more than 1,000 years, as the famous Beijing-Hangzhou Canal passed through there. The traders and men of letters from the North and South gathered there. They became patrons of the many local restaurants, which competed with each other for customers. The most important patron of the Huaiyang cuisine was Zhu Yuanzhang(1328-1398, reigned 1368-1398), founder of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Impressed by the local cuisine when he took control of Yangzhou as the leader of a peasant rebellion, Zhu Yuanzhang designated it as the imperial court kitchen master in Nanjing, the first capital of the Ming Dynasty.
When the third Ming emperor Yongle (1360-1424, reigned 1403-1424) moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing in 1421, he brought the Huaiyang chefs with him.
Huaiyang specialties are lightly flavoured, whether they combine sweet-and-sour or sweet-and-salty tastes. Soy sauce and spices are mild and used sparingly, although the use of rich-flavoured broth is extensive.
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