What to eat and drink in China?
Chinese cuisine is well-known worldwide. You probably also have heard about wok and know what chopsticks are meant for. Dishes in China are so many and so different that rarely someone can even name them all!
Food is an important part of Chinese culture and it has formed from many different people groups living in this huge territory. Seasoning and unique cooking techniques provide vast variety of tastes and textures that will definitely surprise you. Ingredients gotten from rivers, forests, mountains and deserts. As various China`s nature, climate and people are, as various you will find its kitchen!
China is a country for gastronomic pleasures. And this is our TOP 10 of Dishes and Drinks that we recommend you to try in this magical country! Enjoy!
1. MEAT DISHES
Chinese love meat and the most consumed of that is pork and beef. But you can also find chicken, duck and bullfrog (if you can consider the last one meat). Some of the most common dishes you should try are Kung Pao Chicken – dry-stir fried chicken with amazing taste in combination of sweet, sour and spicy. Sweet and Sour Pork of tender meat, crunchy vegetables and tangy pineapple and, of course, the Peking Duck! The history of the roast duck can be traced back to the Ming Dynasty about 600 years ago. Cooks from all over China traveled to the Forbidden City to cook for the Emperor as only the best chefs could enter the palace kitchens. And this was the place where Peking duck recipe was created.
The list of Chinese soups is very long. Moreover, in most of the restaurants after ordering the soup you will get a big bawl of it meant for at least two people. So don`t be surprised if the waiter makes sure you really wish to take one soup just for your own. There are vegetable soups, soups with different kinds of meat or fish, but the most common are noodle soups. The ones we recommend you to try are Fish and Tofu Soup – traditional Chinese soup with basic ingredients that goes just perfect together! Wonton Soup. Since the Tang Dynasty, it has been a custom for people to eat wontons on the winter solstice. And wonton soup is simple, but tasty – wontons in the broth will fill you belly for quite a while. And Hot and Sour Soup! The soup contains ingredients to make it both spicy and sour.
3. CENTURY EGG
Century egg or Pidan has many names, also preserved egg, hundred-year egg, thousand-year egg and so on. It is made by preserving duck, chicken or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for several weeks to several months. The result is this Chinese delicacy that is black and gelled with a strong flavor. And actually, it is said that the preserved egg is useful for curing hoarseness and dispelling the effects of alcohol.
4. NOODLE DISHES
Oh, China and noodles! The variety of Chinese noodle dishes is endless! You probably won`t be able to try them all, but do not skip Chow Mein. This is stir-fried noodle dish, consisting also of meat, onions and celery. Also, Shanghai Fried Noodles – stir-fried noodles with beef cutlets and some vegetables. And Guilin Rice Noodles or rice noodles with gravy, fried peanuts or soybeans, chopped scallions, thin slices of different kinds of meat.
5. CHINESE SNACKS
There are plenty of original and tasty snacks in Chinese cuisine. In the roadside stalls you will find huge variety starting from most appealing to quite frightening foods that locals eat. Most likely you will see Chopped Meat on Skewers that is being grilled on the street, but not only meat – also fish balls, lotus root, mushrooms, shrimps are being cooked on the coal in front of your eyes. Usually three sticks of these snacks are sold for 10 yuan. Don`t forget Stinky Tofu or preserved tofu! While visiting China we had an impression that Chinese really eat everything. We found so many strange things being cooked! Spider, Centipede, Scorpion or Grasshopper – that is considered a nice snack! But if you wish to try something more extreme, go for Flying Lizards, Sea Horse, Sheep Penis, Fish Lips and Tuna Eyeball. And last, but not least – Balut – a developing duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in the shell.
And what about drinks?
Just like the food, also Chinese drinks are many and various. Just pick your favourite taste or try something new! Cheers!
China was the first country that cultivated and started to use tea as a drink. Chinese divide their tea in different categories depending on the species of plant and method of producing it. Some of them are green tea, oolong tea, black tea, white tea and others. We recommend you to try Chinese Herbal Teas made from different medicinal herbs. Also, Milk Tea. Served hot or cold, it is a combination of different tastes. And Tieguanyin Tea or tea somewhere between green and black tea taste-wise, with floral aroma and honey aftertaste.
2. SOYBEAN MILK
This plant-based drink is very popular all across Asia. It is made by soaking and grinding soybeans. Soybean milk is also a good option for those who are vegan or lactose intolerant. In China it is also used as a shake.
And then comes alcoholic beverages! This strong drink can be made from wheat, rice or corn with alcohol content 40 to 60%. Actually, it is the most popular drink in China thus becoming one of the most consumed spirits in the whole World!
China has large vineyards as well. So there are also some good wines that you can try in China! For example, in Uyghur wine production the grapes are crushed by hand. There is also so called “yellow wine” or Huangiju that is brewed directly from grains with alcohol content 15 to 20%.
Beer is getting more popular in China. Tsingtao Beer is the most famous Chinese beer. This lager beer is made using the spring water from the mountain area, but the hops, yeast and barley are imported. Another Chinese brands of beer you fill find all over China is Snow Beer and Yanjing Beer.
China`s cuisine is rich. And these recommended dishes and drinks will definitely leave you some China`s taste in your mouth! Though remember that dining etiquette in China is quite different than the one we are used to. E.g., when eating from the bowl, never hold its bottom part as for Chinese it resembles the act of begging. China is the country in which you will learn to use chopsticks. But do not put those into your dish vertically as for Chinese it resembles traditional funeral tribute.
But besides that, enjoy your meal and drink! It surely will be amazing!