Chinese regional cuisines are the different cuisines found in different provinces and prefectures of China as well as from larger Chinese communities overseas.
A number of different styles contribute to Chinese cuisine but perhaps the best known and most influential are Cantonese cuisine, Shandong cuisine, Jiangsu cuisine (specifically Huaiyang cuisine) and Szechuan cuisine. These styles are distinctive from one another due to factors such as availability of resources, climate, geography, history, cooking techniques and lifestyle. One style may favour the generous use of garlic and shallots over chilli and spices, while another may favour preparing seafood over other meats and fowl.
Jiangsu cuisine favours cooking techniques such as braising and stewing, while Sichuan cuisine employs baking, just to name a few. Hairy crab is a highly sought after local delicacy in Shanghai, as it can be found in lakes within the region. Peking duck and dim-sum are other popular dishes well known outside of China.
Based on the raw materials and ingredients used, the method of preparation and cultural differences, a variety of foods with different flavors and textures are prepared in different regions of the country. Many traditional regional cuisines rely on basic methods of preservation such as drying, salting, pickling and fermentation.
Historically, the Four Great Traditions (Chinese: 四大菜系; pinyin: Sìdà càixì) of Chinese cuisine are Chuan, Lu, Yue and Huaiyang, representing West, North, South and East China cuisine correspondingly. However, in modern times the list is often expanded to the Eight Great Traditions (Chinese: 八大菜系; pinyin: Bādà càixì), which are as follows:
Cantonese cuisine (Chinese: 粤菜; pinyin: yuècài) is a regional cuisine that emphasises the minimal use of sauce which brings out the original taste of food itself. It is known for dim sum, a Cantonese term for small hearty dishes, which became popular in Hong Kong in the early 20th century. These bite-sized portions are prepared using traditional cooking methods such as frying, steaming, stewing and baking. It is designed so that one person may taste a variety of different dishes. Some of these may include rice rolls, lotus leaf rice, turnip cakes, buns, jiaozi-style dumplings, stir-fried green vegetables, congeeporridge, soups, etc. The Cantonese style of dining, yum cha, combines the variety of dim sum dishes with the drinking of tea. Yum cha literally means “drink tea”.