There’s an old Chinese proverb that says: To the ruler, the people are heaven; to the people, food is heaven.
Chinese cuisine is one of the healthiest cuisines as it uses very limited oil, and the cooking methods ensure preservation of vitamins. Similar to the Ayurveda concept in India, the Chinese follow a Yin Yang theory wherein Yin represents cooling food, Yang represents heating foods, and Yin Yang, which is ideal, has the right balance and harmony.
A typical Chinese meal consists of fan-cai. Fan stands for the staple grain, rice noodle, etc, while Cai represents the rest of the dishes.
Undoubtedly, the people of China enjoy and relish their cuisine, but it’s also a far cry from the inauthentic manner in which it is represented in India. Trident BKC recently hosted a Sichuan food festival at the hotel. Executive chef Ashish Bhasin tries to explain Chinese food by dividing it into four key regions.
- Southern school – Cantonese food is the best known in the west, because early migrants from this region settled in Europe. They use plenty of hoisin and soya sauce, and prefer their food slightly raw in order to preserve its texture and colour.
The area is known as the Rice Bowl Of China because rice is the staple food there. Expect to see exotic delicacies like snake, frog leg and turtle.
- Northern school – The world famous Peking Duck dish hails from this region. It embraces the culinary style of Beijing, Hunan and Shandong provinces. Grains replace rice as the staple food. Due to the extreme cold, fresh vegetables are not always available, so locals use a lot of preserved food.
- Eastern school – Cooking here features the culinary styles of Zhejiang, Fujian, Jianxi and Shanghai. This region has the most fertile land, so one can find lots of fruits and vegetables. Given its closeness to the Yangtze River, fresh seafood is also available in abundance.
- Western school – This includes the Sichuan and Hunan regions, and predominantly uses ingredients like chilies, Sichuan peppercorn, ginger, onion and garlic. Dishes from this region can be hot, sweet, sour and salty all at once. They have a great balance of many flavours.