Food plays a very important role in Chinese culture because it is closely linked to tradition and social events. Its variety of ingredients, from different parts of the country, are responsible for the richness of its dishes. Some of them have therapeutic properties, so sometimes Chinese cuisine is also used to alleviate ailments and diseases.
Although one of their most popular dishes is rice, Chinese cuisine also includes noodles, soups and an extensive variety of meats and vegetables. As for their sweets, the best known internationally are their fortune cookies, with which diners are entertained by reading the different messages.
The influence of Chinese cuisine on other Asian cuisines is more than evident. In addition, the emigration of many of the communities of the country to other territories of America, Europe or Oceania has meant many Chinese dishes are consumed worldwide.
This traditional dish is characterized by being one of the spiciest in Chinese cuisine. It is made up of small pieces of chicken that are served accompanied by stir-fried vegetables, peanuts or cashews, chilli peppers and Sichuan peppers.
Chow Mein is a typical Chinese noodle dish, with thick wheat noodles. They are usually served in a bowl and can be accompanied by a variety of ingredients. The most common are those that incorporate beef or chicken, as well as cabbage and vegetables. However, there are also seafood or fish versions. There is a Cantonese version that includes different types of meat, crunchy noodles, peas, bamboo and prawns. They are often seasoned with soy sauce to intensify the flavour.
One of the most popular dishes in China, it can be seen in many of the street stalls, shops and restaurants. Depending on where you buy it, dim sum can be sweet and filled with fruits; or salty, stuffed with vegetables, meat or seafood. Its texture is fluffy and the Chinese usually consume them as a snack before lunch or in the mid-afternoon.
Fortune cookies are a global symbol of Chinese cuisine. They are characterized by their sweet and crunchy dough, and a paper message is hidden inside. It is usually a proverb or a prophecy. The variety of phrases is enormous, so you might never receive the same message twice. Its originality has made it one of the most exported Chinese products outside the country.
Jiaozi are typical Chinese dumplings of soft dough and whose interior is usually filled with minced meat and vegetables. They are usually boiled, although in some places they are fried so that the edge of the dough is somewhat crispy. Its horn shape symbolizes good luck for the Chinese, so it is usual to serve them at the New Year's dinner. The jiaozi is accompanied by a bowl of soy sauce to give them a more intense flavour.
These pastries acquire their name due to the Mid-Autumn festivity that is governed by the cycles of the moon. Its shape, however, is round or rectangular. They are usually consumed in the afternoon, as a snack and accompanied by green tea. In its preparation, dried lotus seeds, vegetable oil, duck egg yolks and caramelized sugar have been used.
This dish is consumed throughout China and is considered a national food. As its name suggests, it consists of very crispy duck skin. Its dark colour is due to molasses, which it is covered in to give it its characteristic flavour. The duck is cooked in the oven so that its exterior is crunchy and served cut into thin slices. Due to its popularity, this dish can be found in many of the local restaurants in the country.
This dish is not exclusive to China but is consumed throughout Asia, especially in the Southeast. As its name suggests, it is made up of white rice that, when boiled, acquires a sticky texture. It is usually accompanied by ingredients such as different types of vegetables, bamboo shoots, meat and eggs. It also incorporates flavourings to intensify the taste and, generally, it is served with bread. In China, it is usually taken at breakfast or when one is sick since the ginger in the recipe is said to improve indigestion.
Won Ton is pieces of white dough made from wheat flour that are usually stuffed with minced meat, onion, prawns, ginger and soy. The name, which means to swallow the clouds, refers to the strange shape of them. They are consumed accompanied by broth, fine noodles, onions and prawns. Won Ton soup is present in many of the menus of local restaurants.
Zongzi is one of the most traditional dishes in China and is usually served during the Dragon Boat Festival. It consists of a bamboo leaf roll whose interior is filled with sticky rice, small pieces of meat and sweet beans. The parcels are usually steamed or boiled. In terms of appearance, the zongzi are normally cylindrical shaped. This appetizer is sold from many of the street stalls and in local food restaurants.