Chinese cuisine is comprised of several distinctly different regional styles of cooking. In the Mandarin-speaking parts of China;– north and southwest – there are three major styles of regional cooking: Sichuan, from the western province’s two largest cities, Chengdu and Chongqing; Huaiyang (also known as Jiangsu or simply Yang), the cooking of eastern China (Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai); and Bejing or ‘northern’ food, which takes its inspiration from the coastal province of Shangdong.


Each region possesses it's own distinct flavour. Although some flavour enhancers, such as garlic and ginger, are used throughout China, ingredients and cooking methods generally vary. For example, Sichuan (also known as Szechuan or Szechwan) cuisine, is known for its bold, hot, pungent flavours, whereas Jiangsu cuisine has a strong emphasis on matching ingredients according to season, colour and shape.


Popular Chinese dishes that are not so known in the west include the fiery mapo tofu, healthy sweet congee and fermented glutinous rice dumplings, which are commonly eaten during special occassions, such as Chinese New Year.


The Kitchen Conversations podcast series brings you regular food stories and recipes from SBS Radio's language groups. For more information, visit the website.


To find out more about Chinese cuisine, check out our food guide here.