What’s your dish? Try the 10 most popular in China!

What does “Chinese food” look like in your hometown? Chinese food in foreign countries such as the UK and USA is popular, but the dishes are often different from what is actually served in China! Do you know what these “authentic” dishes are?
Recently, a list of the 10 most popular Chinese dishes was put out by the China Hotel Association. The survey was based on 2015 information collected by China’s major online ordering platforms and public surveys.
We should make a flavor journey! Let’s give these popular dishes a try, shall we?

1. 酸菜鱼 (Suāncàiyú) Fish with Sichuan pickles

Do you notice the blend of spicy and sour? This dish’s personality comes from the pickled mustard greens that make it unique from other Sichuan fish dishes. The fish is often carp. Eyes watering? Cool down with some veggies…

2. 炒青菜 (Chǎoqīngcài) Stir-fried vegetables

You may be surprised at the amount of vegetables that are eaten in China!  Stir-fried pea shoots, morning glory and bok choy, among countless others. These healthy and colorful vegetables are often stir fried with garlic and oyster sauce. Now back to the powerful stuff…

3. 宫保鸡丁 (Gōngbǎojīdīng) Kung Pao chicken

You may have seen this on a menus outside of China, right? In Sichuan Province, this dish will numb your face with its peppers and seared chilis. Peanuts and Shaoxing wine are often added to give this dish its famous kick!

4. 鱼香肉丝 (Yúxiāngròusī) Shredded pork with garlic sauce

This “fish-flavored” pork dish from Sichuan Province is as colorful as it is tasty! Ironically, there is no “鱼 (yú) fish” in this dish, although it uses seasonings traditionally used for fish. These ingredients of the dish are: 胡萝卜 (húluóbo) carrot, 肉 (ròu) meat, and 木耳 (mù’ěr) agaric.
Yes, the name of this dish is confusing. It’s so confusing that recently a woman in China refused to pay for the dish in a restaurant when she was shocked and disappointed to find no fish in it! Don’t be surprised, you’ve been warned!

5. 水煮鱼 (Shuǐzhǔyú) Fish filets in hot chili oil

The only swimming these fish do is in fiery chili oil. The whitefish in “水煮鱼 (Shuǐzhǔ yú) Fish filets in hot chili oil” is cooked soft and tender and will melt in your mouth as you sweat your way through this numbing Sichuan specialty. Need to give your tongue a break from spicy? Lets try…

6. 红烧肉 (Hóngshāoròu) Braised pork with brown sauce

Let’s take a trip over to Shanghai and sample “红烧肉 (Hóngshāo ròu) Red cooked pork”. It’s pork belly cooked with wine, sugar and soy sauce. The color and flavor are deep and rich. Don’t go falling in love with its beauty, we’ve got to eat it and move onto something a bit odd…

7. 剁椒鱼头 (Duòjiāoyútóu) Steamed fish head with diced hot red peppers

The sight of a fish head would scare many foreign eaters. What you may not know is that the neck and head contain the best meat in the fish. Just try not to make eye contact!

8. 烤鸭 (Kǎoyā) Roast duck

Another dish that is popular outside of China, “烤鸭 (kǎoyā) Roast duck” is a famous succulent delicacy from Beijing. The ducks are raised specially for this dish, then roasted and served with scallion, cucumber and sweet bean sauce, all wrapped in a pancake. The duck is famous for its crispy skin and moist meat. Mouth watering yet? Lets cool it down…

9. 番茄蛋花汤 (Fānqiédànhuātāng) Tomato and egg soup

This light and easy soup tastes better than it looks! Chinese mustard is the key ingredient here to give the soup its kick. It is often served as a side dish and you can especially enjoy it in the summer. Full yet? There’s just one more to try…

10. 回锅肉 (Huíguōròu) Twice-cooked pork slices in hot sauce

Yet another Sichuan specialty (have you had enough of this style yet?), this pork is sliced, simmered and stir-fried along with vegetables. You can enjoy this dish on the 1st and 15th of each lunar month, as many Sichuanese do!
I hope you’ve enjoyed our trip around China to sample some of the most popular and famous dishes we have to offer. Next time, if you want the real thing, you will know what to order!

HSK 3 quiz

1. Which of the following is not used in the recipe of “鱼香肉丝 (Yúxiāngròusī)?”
A. 鱼 (yú) fish
B. 胡萝卜 (húluóbo) carrot
C. 肉 (ròu) meat
D. 木耳 (mù’ěr) garlic
2. Which dish is not from 四川 (Sichuan) Province?
A. 回锅肉 (Huíguōròu) Twice-cooked pork slices in hot sauce
B. 红烧肉 (Hóngshāoròu) Braised pork with brown sauce
C. 酸菜鱼 (Suāncàiyú) Fish with Sichuan pickles
D. 鱼香肉丝 (Yúxiāngròusī) Shredded pork with garlic sauce

Further Reading:

好吃 (hǎochī) Delicious (Beginner)
品评味道 (Pĭn píng wèi dào) Commenting on Food

Chinese Culture

2 thoughts on “What’s your dish? Try the 10 most popular in China!”

    1. jennifer.zhu


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