The country’s geographic extremes dictate regional specialties. The North borders Siberia and Mongolia, so food is plainer and more robust. Noodles, steamed buns, garlic and mutton replace the delicate spices and rice enjoyed in the warmer South, where the Cantonese cuisine has more in common with lighter Thai and Vietnamese dishes.
In Chinese cooking there is as much emphasis on texture as on taste
The big cities in East China are built on lush river deltas where rice is abundant; slow braised meat is covered in sticky, concentrated glazes and black Chinking vinegar brings a complex smokiness to dishes. In the tropical West the food has a distinctive tongue-tingling spiciness. Peppery, citrus flavours bubble through Szechuan cooking, and dishes are laced with fiery hot chillies.
Fuchsia Dunlop is an expert on Chinese cooking – particularly the Szechuan region. Every Grain of Rice focuses on home cooking, while The Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook is a step up to restaurant-style dishes. Click here for a range of Chinese cookbooks, cookware and ingredients