The best regional dishes in China and where to eat them

Dapanji, photo by adactio on Flickr

Chinese cuisine is a very vague concept, and the only thing it could mean is that it refers to dishes and cooking styles that come from China. But China is such a huge country, with such in incredible diversity of culture that it is almost impossible to bring all of regional dishes and cooking methods under the same umbrella. Chinese cuisine is quite possibly one of the most complex and contradictory cuisines in the world, and even when you think you’ve tasted all of it, you can still surprise your palate with some interesting recipe or snack that you’ve never heard of before. But some regional dishes have grown famous and spread way beyond their home regions, and yet the best place to taste them is where they were invented. Here are some of the best regional dishes in China and where to eat them.

Fuqi feipian, Sichuan

Sichuan cuisine has quite a few specialties that have become very popular in the west, as well as all over mainland China. You will probably find Fuqi feipian in Chinese restaurants in different parts of the world, but the authentic Fuqi feipian prepared in Sichuan itself is something that you should definitely try. Fuqi feipian is a dish of thinly sliced beef and offal, liberally spiced with mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns.

Sanhe Shrimp Paste

photo by avlxyz on Flickr

Although this dish (part of Anhui cuisine) originated in the city of Sanhe, today it is seen as a specialty of Hefei. This delicious seafood dish is made with rice flour, and a type of small white shrimp harvested in the region. The shrimp is stir fried with vegetables, and rice flour with water is added at the end.

Baochao yaohua

Baochao yaohua is a popular recipe in Shandong cuisine, and very easy to find in Shandong province, but not very well known in other parts of China, not even Shanghai. Baochao yaohua, a dish of stir fried kidneys with interesting spices. Shandong cuisine is highly prizes, and is thought to have had a great influence on other Chinese regional cuisines.

Braised Spareribs (Hong Shao Paigu)

photo by Micah Sittig on Flickr

The braised spareribs are quite possibly the most widely enjoyed dish in the whole repertoire of Jiangsu cuisine, which is already famous for its unique flavors and its tendency to match the colors and shapes of the ingredients and to focus on seasonal products. The braised spareribs, originating from the city of Wuxi, have an incredible, melt-in-your-mouth texture and sweet taste.

Dapanji

Xinjiang is a very cultully diverse region of China, and each ethnic group has their own cooking styles and methods. Han people, Kazakhs, Uygurs and Dongxiang people have their own dishes, but perhaps one of the most popular dishes found everywhere in the province is dapanji, ‘big plate chicken’, a moist and saucy casserole style dish with bite sized chicken pieces and vegetables. The subtle combination of spice and textures make dapanji one of the best regional dishes in China.

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