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How many kinds of styles are there in Chinese cuisine?

"The Chinese eat everything with four legs, except tables, and everything that flies, except airplanes." A number of different styles contribute to Chinese cuisine, but perhaps the best known and most influential are Sichuan cuisine, Shandong cuisine, Jiangsu cuisine and Guangdong (Cantonese) cuisine.


Guangdong (Cantonese) cuisine

Canton is, perhaps, the most famous of the food areas. Long, warm, wet days throughout the year create the perfect environment for cultivating most everything. The coast provides ample seafood; the groves are filled with fruits. Cooking methods and recipes here are sophisticated and varied.


Cantonese food (Yue Cai in Chinese) is typically steamed, boiled or stir-fried. It is a very healthy food since it uses minimum of oil. The main ingredients of this type of Chinese food are seafood, pork, chicken and vegetables, but could include almost anything. You need white rice to accompany the meal to make it complete unless it is a special banquet. Cantonese dim sum ranks the best in the whole country.


Yexiao (Midnight Snack) is one of the Guangzhou population's customs. It is usually taken after 10 p.m.; hence the name Midnight Snack. Some people like to cook the meal themselves; others invite a few friends to have Yexiao at a restaurant.


Jiangsu cuisine

Jiangsu cuisine consists of the styles of Yangzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou and Zhenjiang dishes. It is very fa¬mous in the whole world for its distinctive style and taste. It is especially popular in the lower reach of the Yangtze River.


Known as "a land of fish and rice" in China, Jiangsu Province has a rich variety of ingredients available for cooking. Jiangsu cuisine has the characteristics of strictly selected ingredients, exquisite workmanship, elegant shape, and rich culture trait. The typical raw materials are fresh and live aquatic products. It high-lights the freshness of ingredients. Other cooking ingredients are often carefully selected tea leaves, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, pears, and dates. Its carving techniques are delicate, of which the melon carving technique is especially well known. Due to using the methods of stewing, braising, quick-frying, warming-up, stir-frying, wine sauce pickling and adding some sugar as condiments, Jiangsu dishes taste fresh, light and mellow.


Jiangsu dishes can be classified into that of Suzhou-Wuxi style and Zhenjiang-Yangzhou style. The feature of Suzhou-style dishes is their natural flavor in original stock and a mixture of salty and sweet taste. The characteristics of Zhenjiang-Yangzhou style food are best described by the saying that "the soup is so clear that you can see the bottom of the bowl and the sauce is so thick that it turns creamy white".


Typical courses of Jiangsu cuisine are Jinling salted dried duck (Nanjing's most famous dish), crystal meat (pork heals in a bright, brown sauce), clear crab shell meatballs (pork meatballs in crab shell powder, fatty, yet fresh), Yangzhou steamed Jerky strips (dried tofu, chicken, ham and pea leaves), triple combo duck, dried duck, and Farewell My Concubine (softshelled turtle stewed with many other ingredients such as chicken, mushrooms and wine).


Sichuan cuisine

Characterized by its spicy and pungent flavor, Sichuan cuisine, prolifi c of tastes, emphasizes on the use of chili. Pepper and prickly ash also never fail to accompany, producing typical exciting tastes. Besides, garlic, ginger and fermented soybean are also used in the cooking process.


Sichuan has been known as the land of plenty since ancient times. While it does not have seafood, it produces abundant domestic animals, poultry, and freshwater fish and crayfish. Sichuan cuisine is well known for cooking fish.

Typical dishes include the following:


Ma Po Tofu (Bean curd with mince and chili oil): one of the most influential flavors of Sichuan cuisine, served in every Sichuan restaurant.


Kung Pao Chicken (Spicy diced chicken with peanuts): a specialty of Sichuan cuisine, diced chicken, hot pepper and peanuts.


Fish Flavored Shredded Pork: fish-flavored dish in the unique style of Sichuan cuisine. Ingredients include shredded pork, agarics, bamboo shoot and carrot. The delicious dish has no fish but has the flavor of fish.


Twice Cooked Spicy Pork Slices: A traditional Sichuan dish. The tasty pork slices are fried crisp without greasiness.


Shandong cuisine

Shandong cuisine is the native cooking style of Shandong Province on the east coast of China. It was created during the Yuan Dynasty. It gradually spread to north China, Beijing, Tianjin, northeast China, and the palace where it infl uenced the imperial food. The Shandong cuisine comprises mainly eastern Shandong and Jinan dishes.


Shandong cuisine is characterized by quick-frying, stir-frying, braising, and deep–fat frying. Its dishes are crisp, tender, delicious, and greasy with salty and some sweet and sour fl avors. Its main condiment is salt, but it also uses salted fermented soybeans and soy sauce.

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