Common Chinese Food – The Great and Expected Variety

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Common Chinese Food – The Great and Expected Variety

With 56 ethnic groups in China and nearly every town having its own staple food, it was never a question of finding but of “What to eat”? While it is commonly thought that all Chinese eat rice, it’s not so accurate. More people in Southern China, where rice is grown, eat rice. Northern Chinese eat heavier foods, including breads.

I remember back in 1999, it was the first time I had come to Hong Kong with my dad on a business trip. I was in high school and it dawned on me that Chinese food as we know it in the United States is not what people over in Hong Kong and China consider to be common Chinese food!

Tofu is a staple food of China

Tofu is a staple food of China

But it tasted so much better!

However, whenever you travel anywhere outside your country, it may be a concern for some people about finding things to eat (be sure to learn here about cultural differences). I had the same concerns, and often did while traveling the country as many regions had foods I just wouldn’t eat.

China is well known for its delicious cuisine and is a part of the menu served in different countries as well. However, while in China, you might not like everything on the menu.

So it’s a great to have some insider knowledge to what is common Chinese food.

You will find a huge variety of mouthwatering foods in different restaurants and on the food stalls in markets in China. Wheat and rice are the staple foods of the country and are commonly used in the majority of Chinese dishes. Corn, potato, buckwheat, sweet potato, legumes, millet noodles, stuffed buns, bread, dough sticks, egg, tofu and bread are also commonly eaten foods in the country.

Hot Fish Stew

Hot Fish Stew

Rice is one of the most common Chinese foods served restaurants.

Different vegetables, spices, noodles, egg and ingredients are added to it to create various varieties of rice. Some of the widely served rice dishes by vendors and restaurants in the country include egg fried rice, chicken fried rice, fried rice with garlic and beef, rice with curry beef, stewed beef rice, rice with braised beef brisket, fried rice with mixed vegetables and bacon, rice with assorted meat and white gourd in soup, rice in chicken soup and Hainan’s chicken rice.

Besides rice, noodles are one of the favorite and common Chinese foods. You will find many noodle dishes in Chinese food stalls and restaurants. Some of the famous ones include Guangzhou Shah Fen, Lanzhou Hand-Pulled Noodles, Guilin rice noodles, noodles with beef in brown sauce, rice noodles in red oil, beef stretched noodles, Sichuan noodles, cold noodles, Liuzhou snail rice noodles and rice noodles with horsemeat.

Egg is another common Chinese food that you will certainly find being sold by Chinese vendors. Residents of the country eat eggs in their routine and commonly use eggs of duck, quails, pigeon, goose and chicken. Century and salted duck eggs are two of the widely eaten egg dishes in the country and are often found on the menu of various restaurants in the country.

Century Eggs

Century Eggs

Fish is a common Chinese food consumed in the country and is considered a sign of prosperity and abundance. It is an integral part of the feast prepared during the Chinese New Year by the numerous households in the country. Some of the widely eaten kinds of shellfish and fish include grass carp, sea bass, carp, squid, crab, soft-shell turtle, crucian, prawn, oysters, shrimp and scallops.

Few of the famous fish dishes served in Chinese restaurants include West lake vinegar fish, broth-steamed bass, Xiamen boiled fresh fish, Sichuan poached fish fillets in hot chili oil and Hunan steamed fish head served with diced hot red peppers.

Steamed Fish is a famously served at the end of meals

Steamed Fish is a famously served at the end of meals

A word for the adventurer in us all, there are markets across the country, usually in the deeper provinces and regions of the country, that serve a well… different plate of food. These would be completely foreign to a westerner and even some Chinese whom don’t travel to those regions of the country. What is a common Chinese food for someone in China may not be so common for someone else!

However, while traveling in the country, try not to make faces or vomit on seeing any of these foods being sold while you are amidst the Chinese people. If you are extremely grossed out and cannot control it, politely excuse yourself from the crowd and take a minute alone.

But, most of the food does taste great, and there is so much to go around. If you truly do not feel comfortable eating the foods, stick to rice and yes, beer. It can be quite filling.

Enjoy!

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