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National Food of China: Top 20 Dishes

Welcome to an exploration of one of the world’s most respected culinary traditions, Chinese cuisine! Have you ever wondered What are the ideal flavors that define China’s gastronomic landscape? Which dishes hold a cherished place in the hearts of millions? How has Chinese cuisine charmed taste buds across the globe?

In this article, we’ll explore the core of Chinese cuisine by revealing the top dishes that show the nation’s culinary mastery. From the iconic Peking Duck, with its crispy skin and delicious meat, to the comforting clasp of Congee, each dish offers a tempting glimpse into the rich textile of flavors and traditions that define Chinese cooking.

So, join us as we celebrate the art of food and the joy of discovery in every bite!

Top 6 National Foods of China

1. Peking Duck

photo by cattan2011

Peking duck, a culinary treasure with roots tracing back centuries, undergoes a precise preparation process. Initially, the skin is delicately coated in a blend of sugar and garlic sauce, setting the stage for its signature crispiness. Accompanied by spring onions, pancakes, and sweet bean sauce, the tasty meat is presented, inviting a symphony of flavors. Complementing the ensemble, cucumber sticks, and other vegetables offer a refreshing contrast.

As the feast progresses, diners relish the final stage, savoring every morsel of fat, bone, and tender meat, whether enjoyed as is or transformed into a nourishing stock, extending the legacy of this esteemed dish worldwide.

2. Fresh Freshwater Fish

photo by Anagoria

A culinary gem celebrated across Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou, Fresh Freshwater Fish boasts regional variations under diverse labels. This delicacy enchants palates with its tender flesh and delicate flavor, reflecting the bounty of China’s rivers and lakes. Whether infused with local spices or adorned with aromatic herbs, each delivery pays homage to the rich aquatic heritage of these historic cities, inviting diners on an unforgettable gastronomic trip.

3. Kung Pao Chicken

photo by Alpha

Represented by tender chicken enveloped in a harmonious blend of spices and savory sauce, Kung Pao Chicken stands as proof of China’s culinary mastery. This beloved dish charms with its tempting aroma and tantalizing texture. Whether enjoyed as a hearty main course or a flavorful appetizer, each bite offers a symphony of flavors, leaving a lasting impression on discerning palates.

4. Pork in Sweet and Sour Sauce

photo by animakitty

Among the texture of China’s culinary landscape, Pork in Sweet and Sour Sauce emerges as an enduring favorite, beloved for its harmonious blend of flavors and textures. Delicious pork, bathed in a tangy-sweet sauce, charms palates with its magnetic charm. Whether served as a standalone dish or paired with fragrant rice, this iconic offering continues to delight diners in homes and restaurants alike, epitomizing the eternal appeal of Chinese cuisine.

5. Chicken Hee

photo by Elema

With a lively variety of flavors and textures, Chicken Hee entices with its zesty blend of chicken and crisp vegetables. Featuring a symphony of carrots, bell peppers, and onions, this spirited dish offers a tempting connection of spicy and savory notes. Whether enjoyed as a refreshing salad or a hearty main course, Chicken Hee displays the heart of Chinese culinary artistry, inviting diners to enjoy its dynamic flavors and aromatic spices.

6. Chinese Wonton Dumplings

photo by Victor Wong

Displaying centuries of culinary tradition, Chinese Wonton Dumplings charm with their delicate wrappers and flavorful fillings. Each dumpling, precisely crafted with minced meat, aromatic sesame seeds, and aromatic parsley, offers an enchanting view of China’s rich gastronomic heritage. Whether served in a steaming bowl of broth or accompanied by savory dipping sauces, these dumplings continue to enchant diners with their magnetic charm and eternal appeal.

9 Traditional Dishes to Eat

7. Fried Rice

photo by Alpha

As an ideal staple of Chinese cuisine, fried rice represents versatility and simplicity in a single dish. Comprising a harmonious variety of ingredients, from delicious proteins like chicken, pork, or shrimp to lively vegetables such as carrots and peas, each spoonful offers a symphony of flavors and textures.

Prepared best with leftover rice, this culinary delight serves as a wholesome meal, effortlessly uniting family members around the dinner table. Whether enjoyed as a quick and satisfying dinner or a yummy leftover pleasure, fried rice continues to fascinate palates worldwide with its enchanting magnetism and eternal appeal.

8. Stinky Tofu

photo by Christopher

Despite its strong aroma, stinky tofu tempts adventurous palates with its complex flavors and unique culturing process. Brined in a mixture of fermented milk, vegetables, and aromatics, this tofu variant undergoes a transformation akin to cheese, resulting in a culinary delight cherished across China.

Whether served cold, steamed, or deep-fried, each preparation method offers a distinct sensory experience, complemented by fiery chili and soy sauces. Accepting its distinctive character, stinky tofu beckons culinary fans to start a gustatory adventure, savoring the heart of tradition and innovation in every bite.

9. Congee

photo by Alpha

As a perfect breakfast primary, congee beckons with its comforting warmth and nourishing qualities. Welcoming a diverse of regional variations, this rice porridge offers a canvas for culinary creativity, whether served thick or watery, savory or sweet. Topped with an array of tantalizing ingredients, from tender meats and tofu to aromatic spices and boiled eggs, congee delights palates while soothing the soul.

Respected as a cure-all for ailments and a symbol of familial warmth, this humble dish overcomes cultural boundaries, inviting all to join in its eternal charm and therapeutic virtues.

10. Wonton Soup

photo by Alpha

An evidence of culinary craftsmanship, wonton soup charms with its delicate dumplings and rich, aromatic broth. Crafted from thin, square wrappers filled with luxurious fillings such as shrimp or pork, each wonton offers a burst of flavor with every bite. Cooked in a decadent broth infused with pork, chicken, and Chinese ham, this iconic dish epitomizes the art of Chinese comfort food.

Enhanced by the presence of cabbage and noodles, wonton soup beckons diners to absorb themselves in its savory depths, celebrating the eternal tradition of dumpling-making and soup-sipping.

11. Chinese Hamburger

photo by Alpha

Originating from the ancient city of Shaanxi, Chinese hamburger redefines the concept of handheld comfort food with its tender braised pork nestled within a fluffy bun. Infused with a variety of spices and seasonings dating back to the Qin dynasty, this traditional food favorite charms with its rich history and robust flavors.

Whether enjoyed as a savory snack or a satisfying meal, Chinese hamburger pays homage to centuries of culinary tradition, inviting diners to enjoy the eternal attraction of authentic Chinese flavors.

12. Chinese Steamed Eggplant

photo by Kirk K

A culinary masterpiece of simplicity and flavor, Chinese-style steamed eggplant delights with its tender texture and savory-sweet profile. Marinated in a luscious blend of soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil, each bite offers a harmonious balance of taste and texture. Welcoming the natural sponginess of eggplant, this dish effortlessly absorbs the rich flavors of its marinade, culminating in a symphony of culinary delight.

Whether enjoyed as a side dish or a standalone offering, Chinese steamed eggplant celebrates the heart of traditional Chinese cuisine, inviting diners to enjoy its wholesome goodness.

13. Char Siu

photo by Alpha

Renowned for its tasty tenderness and bold flavors, char siu manifests the art of Chinese barbecue with its signature scarlet hue and aromatic seasoning. Marinated in a blend of honey, five-spice powder, and hoisin sauce, this fork-roasted pork dish charms palates with its tempting aroma and melt-in-your-mouth texture. Whether savored alone, paired with noodles, or settled within fluffy baozi, char siu celebrates the time-honored tradition of Cantonese barbecue, inviting diners to experience the tantalizing appeal of authentic Chinese flavors.

14. Mapo Tofu

photo by hto2008

A Sichuanese culinary masterpiece, mapo tofu enchants with its bold flavors and fiery heat, symbolizing the heart of traditional Chinese cuisine. Laden with chile oil and Sichuan peppercorns, this tofu and beef dish offers a tempting blend of textural contrast and explosive flavors. Whether enjoyed over steaming rice or as a fascinating entree, mapo tofu represents the spirit of culinary innovation, inviting diners to start a sensory trip of spice and flavor.

15. Spring Rolls

photo by MBC Foods

Symbolizing prosperity and new beginnings, spring rolls enchant with their crispy exterior and flavorful fillings, serving as an ideal delicacy for Lunar New Year celebrations. Stuffed with vegetables or savory meats, these golden-brown delights evoke joy and abundance with every bite.

Whether enjoyed as a festive appetizer or a cherished snack, spring rolls express the spirit of tradition and renewal, inviting diners to enjoy the eternal flavors of Chinese cuisine. With their crispiness and golden hue, these delectable treats signal the arrival of spring and the promise of good fortune in every mouthful.

See Also Traditional Chinese Clothing

Spices: The Heart of Chinese Cooking

photo by Isabel Sommerfeld

Chinese cuisine owes much of its distinct flavor palette and culinary finesse to a rich range of herbs and spices cherished for their therapeutic properties and gastronomic versatility. From the pungent kick of ginger and garlic to the fragrant fascination of star anise and cinnamon, these essential ingredients not only enhance the taste, aroma, and texture of dishes but also play a pivotal role in traditional Chinese medicine’s holistic approach to health and well-being.

With each herb and spice precisely selected to promote balance and vitality, Chinese cooks masterfully orchestrate a symphony of flavors that not only tempt the taste buds but also nourish the body and soul.

From the universal presence of ginger and garlic to the exotic fascination of star anise and cloves, each ingredient adds depth and complexity to a diverse range of dishes, from hearty stir-fries to comforting soups and fragrant sauces. As diners start a culinary tour through China’s lively gastronomic landscape, they encounter a tantalizing range of flavors, each infused with the heart of tradition and the spirit of innovation.

Whether enjoying a steaming bowl of congee or relishing the fiery heat of Sichuan peppercorns, every bite celebrates the rich textile of Chinese cuisine, where herbs and spices reign supreme as the guardians of flavor and the signs of health.

Chinese Family Dining

photo by David Ing

In Chinese family dining, meals are a communal affair, characterized by a range of dishes served family-style, developing a sense of togetherness and abundance. A typical meal typically revolves around a main protein, such as fish, pork, or chicken, accompanied by a variety of vegetable dishes and a nourishing soup, all served alongside the ever-present primary of rice.

This culinary tradition reflects the values of balance and harmony, with each dish thoughtfully crafted to provide both flavor and nutritional benefits, ensuring a satisfying and wholesome dining experience for the whole family.

While takeout from the local Chinese restaurant may seem like a convenient option, the glamour of preparing family-style Chinese meals at home offers a rewarding alternative. Drawing inspiration from beloved classics like almond chicken, apricot-chicken pot stickers, and Chinese-style fried brown rice, home cooks can start a culinary adventure that celebrates the rich flavors and textures of Chinese cuisine.

With simple recipes that emphasize fresh ingredients and lively flavors, these homemade dishes not only offer a healthier alternative but also provide an opportunity for families to bond over the joy of cooking and sharing a delicious meal together.

Street Food

16. Jianbing

photo by Xrdtj

Jianbing, a time-honored Chinese snack dating back 2000 years, holds an esteemed status in the busy streets of the capital. Prepared on hotplates, this delicacy starts with a thin batter spread out to perfection, topped generously with a range of sauces, spices, and fillings. As the batter crisps and curves upwards, a golden sheet of crispy bao cui is added, crackling with each fold as the jianbing is skillfully wrapped into a parcel, ready to be served.

17. Tanghulu 

photo by stardust kay

Tánghúlu, a cherished Chinese treat, offers a sweet and refreshing end to any meal. Skewered fruits such as grapes, hawthorns, and strawberries are coated in a sweet syrup that crystallizes into a crunchy delight. This candied treat not only satisfies sweet cravings but is also believed to aid digestion. Best experienced at markets like Wangfujing Market in Beijing or the annual Tánghúlu Fair in Qingdao, its unique aroma and sweet burst of fruits make it a memorable delicacy.

18. Baozi

photo by Kirk K

Baozi, or steamed stuffed buns, have become universal across China, particularly in the northern regions. These light and fluffy buns, often enjoyed for breakfast, offer a versatile canvas for a variety of fillings, from savory barbecue pork to sweet red bean paste. Whether meat or vegetarian, baozi is cherished for its affordability, portability, and delicious flavors, making it a beloved street food staple.

19. Huo Guo

photo by Kirk K

Originating from Mongolia and finding its way to Sichuan, huo guo, or hotpot is a communal dining experience cherished across China. A steaming pot of broth sits at the center of the table, surrounded by an assortment of meats and vegetables for dunking and cooking. With variations abound, the Chongqing ma la hotpot reigns supreme for its fiery flavors, originating from Sichuan’s renowned peppers.

20. Youtia

photo by Alpha

A popular breakfast choice in Beijing’s busy streets, youtiao offers a delightful fusion of textures and flavors. Resembling a cross between a churro and a doughnut, this delicacy is made by frying slightly salted dough to perfection. Whether enjoyed plain or paired with rice porridge or tea eggs for an authentic experience, youtiao provides a satisfying start to the day, keeping hunger at bay until the next pit stop.

Farm-to-Table Movement

Pinduoduo is at the forefront of China’s farm-to-table movement, leveraging its vast network and technology to connect consumers directly with fresh farm produce. Through initiatives like Duo Duo Grocery, consumers can conveniently order locally sourced vegetables from nearby farms via Pinduoduo’s mobile app for next-day pickup.

By reducing food wastage and ensuring product quality, Pinduoduo’s real-time matching of demand and supply is transforming the traditional supply chain, while also lowering logistics costs through a self-collection model.

Meanwhile, Mercato, an establishment in Shanghai’s Bund, epitomizes the farm-to-table trend with its emphasis on locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. Led by Executive Chef Sandy Yoon, Mercato champions ingredient-driven cooking, inspiring a new generation of chefs and consumers alike. Yoon’s commitment to sourcing locally and seasonally has reshaped the culinary landscape in China, driving a cultural shift toward greater appreciation for food provenance and quality.

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Dining Etiquette

photo by Abelard Fuah

Dos

1. They show respect for elders and other attendees by waiting to be seated by the host and offering to serve others first when helping themselves with dishes.

2. They show consideration for others by taking small portions, and reaching for dishes in front of them, and they don’t turn the lazy Susan while others are serving themselves.

3. They say “谢谢” (xièxiè) or tap the table with their fingers to thank anyone refilling their drinks.

4. They wait for the host’s signal to start eating and avoid picking up too much food at once.

5. They use chopsticks when serving food to others to avoid double dipping and use proper chopstick etiquette, such as not waving them around or pointing at them.

Don’ts

1. They don’t tap their foot, as it is seen as disrespectful.

2. They don’t rummage through dishes looking for the best pieces of food.

3. They don’t use their individual chopsticks to serve food; they use the communal serving chopsticks provided.

4. They don’t insist on paying the bill; they graciously accept the hospitality of their host.

5. They don’t place their chopsticks vertically into their rice or pass food from chopstick to chopstick, as these actions are reminiscent of funeral rituals and considered disrespectful.

Global Influence and Popularity

Chinese cuisine’s global influence and popularity stem from several factors. Its rich history, spanning centuries of culinary traditions, has resulted in a diverse and dynamic food culture. Emphasis on balance and harmony in flavors and textures, as well as the use of fresh ingredients, contribute to the appeal of Chinese dishes.

Culinary creativity, evident in dishes like General Tso’s chicken and Peking duck, has helped Chinese cuisine charm taste buds worldwide. Additionally, the global spread of Chinese flavors and cooking techniques has fueled the growing popularity of dishes like sweet and sour pork and dim sum, making Chinese cuisine a beloved culinary staple across the globe.

Key Takings About National Food of China

1. Top 6 National Food of China: From the luxurious Swallow’s Nests to the comforting Pork in Sweet and Sour Sauce, these dishes epitomize the peak of Chinese culinary artistry, inviting diners on a sensory journey through the country’s rich culinary heritage.

2. Traditional 9 Dishes to Eat: Whether it’s the comforting Congee or the adventurous Stinky Tofu, these dishes show the diversity and adaptability of Chinese cuisine, offering something for every palate and occasion.

3. Spices: The Heart of Chinese Cooking: Herbs and spices form the backbone of Chinese cuisine, adding depth and complexity to every dish while promoting balance and vitality, displaying the heart of traditional Chinese medicine.

4. Chinese Family Dining: Meals in China are a celebration of togetherness and abundance, with family style dining reflecting the values of balance, harmony, and nourishment, developing a sense of connection and community.

5. Street Food: From the iconic Jianbing to the fiery Sichuan mala, Chinese street food is proof of culinary creativity and innovation, offering a sensory feast for adventurous food lovers.

6. Farm to Table Movement: Initiatives like Pinduoduo and establishments like Mercato are revolutionizing China’s food industry, connecting consumers directly with fresh, locally sourced produce and promoting greater appreciation for food provenance and quality.

7. Dining Etiquette: Chinese dining etiquette emphasizes respect, consideration, and gratitude, reflecting the values of filial piety and social harmony that underpin Chinese culture.

8. Global Influence and Popularity: Chinese cuisine’s global appeal is proof of its rich history, culinary creativity, and emphasis on balance and harmony, making it a beloved culinary staple enjoyed by people worldwide.