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Down the Memory Lane: Chinese Traditional Delicacies

Who does not love food?

NO ONE. Food is a part of our everyday life. It nourishes not only our body but also our soul. With food, everyone is equally satisfied and happy. After all, food is the only universal thing that binds people together. Albeit, for most people, food is more than just nourishment. People consider it an embodiment of culture. Some claim that it’s a tradition. However, we can all agree that food is history.

In China, there’s a long history of food passed down from generation to generation. Some of their traditional delicacies contain flavors created thousand of years ago. Every era ameliorate upon every dish, beverage, and dessert passed down. That is why a Chinese entree possesses unique flavors improved into perfection. Every bite contains not only an exclusive combination of piquancy but also a long, rich history.

Chinese delicacies impress taste buds across the world. People consider their dishes exquisite and flavorful. After all, to recreate a traditional Chinese dish requires mesmerizing kitchen skills, gastronomical mastery, and an in-depth understanding of  Chinese culture. In addition, people must understand the historical roots of traditional cuisine. That is because China has a vast territory. Chinese people have varying climates, living, and eating habits that significantly contribute to their dishes. Each region has its distinct flavors, cooking style, and indigenous flavors. To recreate a dish perfectly requires an impeccable understanding and mastery of these elements.

 As of now, there are eight primary cuisines in China. These are Shandong cuisine 鲁菜 (lǔcài), Sichuan cuisine川菜 (chuāncài), Guangdong cuisine粤菜 (yuècài), Fujian cuisine闽菜 (mǐncài), Jiangsu cuisine苏菜 (sūcài), Zhejiang cuisine浙菜 (zhècài), Hunan cuisine湘菜 (xiāngcài), and Anhui cuisine徽菜 (huīcài).

Chinese cuisine has permeated internationally. People across the globe welcomed and loved Chinese delicacies. That is because every dish is exquisite. Every course is a wonderland in its own right.  It is unique not only in flavor but also in smell, aroma, and presentation. Every aspect of the dish is a world of exciting flavor to explore. That is why today, we will delve into the rich world of Chinese cuisine by looking into some of its delicacies. Along our journey, let us also learn Chinese words related to Chinese cuisine.

  1. 1. Sea Cucumber with Crab Roe 
Sea Cucumber with Crab Roe 蟹黄海参 (Xiè Huáng Hǎi Shēn)
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Sea Cucumber with Crab Roe 蟹黄海参 (Xiè Huáng Hǎi Shēn) is a famous traditional dish in Shandong Province. It is one of the dishes that Shangdong cuisine boasts, and it commonly comes in a yellow or slightly orange color. The stew in itself is wondrous. It has the perfect combination of the saltiness of crab roe and the tangy sweetness of sea cucumber. That gives the braise a mellow refreshing flavor. The sea cucumber is briny, however, juicy and chewy at the same time. Its ginseng has a smooth and soft texture with a sweet aftertaste. Overall, the dish is undoubtedly delicious. Sea Cucumber with Crab Roe 蟹黄海参 (Xiè Huáng Hǎi Shēn) is one of the high-end banquet dishes in autumn.

  • 2. Mapo Tofu
Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐 (Má Pó Dòu Fǔ)
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Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐 (Má Pó Dòu Fǔ) reigned in Sichuan Province. It is one of the famous traditional dishes belonging to Sichuan cuisine. Its ingredients are easy to procure. Its main ingredient is tofu, garlic sprout, watercress, and beef. Other types of meat are like chicken and pork are also acceptable. People also include chili noodles and pepper noodles seasoned with soy sauce, sugar, starch, and oyster sauce. Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐 (Má Pó Dòu Fǔ) also has different types of Sichuan peppers and peppercorns, making it generally spicy. However, one must also take into account the flavor notes of the dish. The sauteed tofu must be crispy but also refreshing, giving the entree a unique texture.  Eating Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐 (Má Pó Dòu Fǔ) feels like a constant bombardment of spiciness that has a refreshing and soothing aftertaste. It truly demonstrates the spicy flavor characteristics of Sichuan cuisine. This delicacy traveled across the oceans and was served all over the globe. One can find authentic Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐 (Má Pó Dòu Fǔ) in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, and other countries.

  • 3. White Cut Chicken or Poached Chicken
Bai Zhan Ji 白斩鸡 (Bái Zhǎn Jī)
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Bai Zhan Ji 白斩鸡 (Bái Zhǎn Jī), also known as Bai Qie Ji白切鸡 (Bái Qiē Jī), is a classic Cantonese dish currently considered a National dish in China. The delicacy was famous across China but later prevailed in southern cuisines. Its origin dates back to the Qing Dynasty in a folk hotel named  “Bai Zhan Ji 白斩鸡 (Bái Zhǎn Jī).” The hotel is famous for its name because it cooked chicken without seasoning, which is chopped and eaten as it is.

 Bai Zhan Ji 白斩鸡 (Bái Zhǎn Jī) is a whole chicken poached for a long time with scallions and ginger.  It commonly comes with a sauce made from white belt butter,  scallion oil scent, scallion trimmings, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce.  The white chicken has a beautiful shape, looking incredibly appetizing with its yellow skin and white flesh. The chicken poached chicken is usually juicy and succulent. The scallions and ginger give it an herbal and earthy flavor. Overall, the dish has a mild and refreshing fragrant flavor that highlights the piquancy of the chicken. It is perfect in itself, however, people usually pair Bai Zhan Ji 白斩鸡 (Bái Zhǎn Jī) with steamed rice.

  • 4. Chicken with Chili and Pepper
Chicken with Chili and Pepper 麻辣子鸡 (Má Là Zǐ Jī)
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Hunan cuisine features acidic, hot, fresh, and fragrant tastes, and one example is its “Chicken with Chili and Pepper 麻辣子鸡 (Má Là Zǐ Jī)“. The preparation method of this dish is to deep-fry the chicken, then sautee the ingredients. It has beautiful color, tender on the outside, tender on the inside, spicy and fragrant.

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