The delectable cuisine of the vast nation of China is renowned for its exquisite flavours, which please but do not overpower the taste-buds of the eater. Chinese cuisine has evolved over many centuries and has changed a great deal over the course of time. The climate, imperial dictates, and individual preferences have shaped the development of Chinese cooking styles. The visitor will notice that the gastronomic traditions in this vast country vary from region to region, with each area featuring its own specialties. Of the numerous culinary styles found in this expansive nation, the major styles are Shandong, Cantonese, Szechuan and Jiangsu.

Szechuan cuisine, which has originated in the province of the same name, is noted for its bold and distinctive flavours. These strong tastes result from the liberal use of distinctive elements like chilli peppers, garlic, local peppercorn and other ingredients. Sesame paste, ginger, and peanuts also feature prominently in this style of cooking.

Meanwhile, Cantonese cuisine is characterized by the specialty known as dim sum. This is the local phrase for the small but filling portions which are featured in this mode of cookery. These delicious miniature dishes are made employing traditional preparation techniques like steaming, frying, baking and stewing. The idea is to provide each diner with the opportunity to sample a number of varying dishes. Local specialties include rice on lotus leaf, rice rolls, turnip cake, dumplings, buns, stir-fried vegetables, and soups.

On the other hand, Shandong cuisine once featured prominently in imperial courts and is widely consumed in northern China. A variety of seafood and cooking techniques are seen in this style of cookery. Specialties include braised trepang, braised abalone, carp, sweet and sour, and dezhou chicken..

Not to be missed is the distinctive Jiangsu cuisine, which is noted for its characteristic styles and taste. Typical specialties of this style include dried salted duck, meatballs in crab shell, crystal meat, steamed jerky and combination style duck.To truly appreciate Chinese cookery one must sample the different dishes offered by the varied regional styles, which is truly a delightful undertaking.

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Angela Fernando is an impassioned travel writer who composes pieces under the pen name Sumaira Narayan. She loves writing about new and exciting places around the world and hopes to visit them all someday.