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Learn how to cook the most popular dishes from four major regions in China.
Beijing. Beijing cuisine is also called "mandarin cuisine". Many of the foods in this region are wheat-based (as a opposed to rice-based). Beijing cuisine consists of a variety of dumplings, baked and steamed breads, various buns and noodles.
Mandarin-style meals usually include vegetable dishes, soups, tofu (soybean curd), and fish. The food is mild in taste, is often slightly oily, and vinegar and garlic are common ingredients: food is frequently fried, stewed, or braised.
Cantonese. From Canton or "Guangdong" Province in the southeastern part of China (the same area as Hong Kong), Cantonese food is the mildest and most common kind of Chinese food in the United States and many other countries.
Cantonese food tends to be more colorful, less spicy and is usually stir fried, which preserves both the texture and flavor.
Szechwan and Hunan. Food from the Szechwan (or "Four Rivers") basin is characteristic south-western Chinese food. Food throughout the western regions of China are liberal in their use of garlic, scallions, and chilly. Consequently, it's the spiciest region of Chinese food available and certainly very tasty. When prepared in a traditional manner, many of the dishes are very hot, although banquet dishes tend to be milder.
Sichuan food is distinguished by its hot peppery taste, while food from neighboring Hunan province is richer and a bit more oily, and may be either spicy and hot or sweet and sour. Chicken, pork, river fish, and shellfish are all popular items.