China does not have just one monolithic culture. Occupying an expanse of land that stretches from the Middle East to the Pacific Ocean, China not only occupies geographical space, but cultural space, as well. As such, you can expect a diverse array of cuisines. Throughout the course of this brief guide, you will learn of a few authentic Chinese dishes that come from all over the country.

Kaoya

Kaoya, or Beijing or Peking duck as it is commonly referred to in North America, is a dish that is fit for a king. Truly, this dish was used in imperial courts from antiquity forward! This dish is a duck that is roasted to perfection, giving it a smoky, red aura. When served, kaoya is dressed in Chinese pancakes and served with a hoisin sauce that includes cucumber and scallions. After the meat of the duck is used, the bones are usually slow cooked into a hearty, warm soup.

Fo Tiao Qiang

The name of this dish loosely translates to “Buddha Jumps Over The Wall.” It takes its namesake from the fact that the dish is so delicious that the Buddha himself would jump over a wall just to get a taste of it. This dish is a seafood lover’s delight. Hailing from the Fujian province along the southeastern coast of China, fo tiao qiang includes a veritable medley of seafood and veggies, including sea cucumber, scallops, ginseng, abalone, and shark fin that are brewed together for hours on end with a bit of Shaoxing wine and seasoned with shrimp oil and shrimp paste.

Lao Huo Tang

In the southern province of Guangdong, quite close to Hong Kong, Cantonese people generally eat food that is a bit less spicy than the cuisine of the rest of China. However, what Cantonese cuisine lacks in spiciness, it makes up for in heartiness. This dish is a slow boiled soup that is simmered for upwards of three hours and is served piping hot. The dish is traditionally believed to hold medicinal properties, and often includes traditional Chinese medicines and herbal remedies that might not initially sound scrumptious to a Western tongue, like goji berries and caterpillar fungus.

Traditional Chinese food has a range of tastes, from spicy to hearty to the decidedly complex. This guide should have given you a basic idea of some of the cuisine that you can expect from a few regions throughout China. Next time you visit a restaurant like Restaurant La Perle, see what new dishes you want to try.