Chinese Cuisine/Chuka Cuisine
Chinese cuisine is considered one of the three most important styles of cooking in the world. Chinese food is very popular and can be eaten all around the globe. While Chinese food is used to refer to all food from China, there are distinct regional styles, such as Cantonese, Mandarin, Szechuan, and Shanghai cuisines.
Japanese restaurants have then taken aspects of these regional styles and changed seasonings and ingredients to match Japanese tastes. To differentiate between true Chinese cuisine, this style of cooking is called "Chuka."
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Origin of Chinese and Chuka Cuisines
Characteristics of Chinese and Chuka Cuisines (See Typical Dishes for Details)
China itself has a long history, and China's style of cooking has developed in conjunction with its history. Contemporary Chinese and Chuka also incorporates foreign ingredients and flavors and features an interesting mix of regional styles.
Cantonese cuisine is eaten in the southern region of Guangdong. In the rest of the world, Cantonese cuisine is the most popular of the regional Chinese styles. Beijing cuisine is centered around Beijing and developed based on imperial cuisine in northern China. Beijing cuisine uses lots of meat and wheat flower.
Szechuan cuisine is eaten in the vicinity of the Sichuan Province and is characterized by its bold spiciness.
Seafood and rice are common ingredients in the vicinity of Shanghai, where Shanghai cuisine is eaten and seafood is abundant.
Separately from the above styles, food prepared based on Chinese cuisine and developed independently in Japan is referred to as Chuka cuisine.
Enjoying Chinese and Chuka Cuisines
Of the Chinese restaurants in Japan, most offer dishes from multiple regions in China, but there are some restaurants that specialize in the dishes of a single region.
These cuisines can be enjoyed at Chinese restaurants, Chuka restaurants, Chuka izakaya, family restaurants, and public eateries.
While beer and wine go well with Chinese and Chuka food, Chinese cuisine is best when paired with Shaoxing rice wine, aged huangjiu rice wine, or Chinese beer.
Cantonese cuisine is eaten in the southern province of Guangdong. Most Chinese food eaten outside China is based on Cantonese cuisine. Lots of seafood is used, and Cantonese dishes are not as heavily seasoned as those from other regions.
Yamu cha (yum cha): Style of eating where one eats dim sum while drinking tea. Dim sum are small portions of food or desserts served on small plates. The following are some typical dim sum dishes.
Happosai: Vegetables and pork (or chicken) stir fried in a thickened sauce.
Fukahire soup: Fukahire are dried shark fins, which are extremely expensive. They are added to soup and are enjoyed for their gelatinous consistency.
Chinjongyu: Whitefish steamed with green onions and Shaoxing rice wine.
Beijing cuisine is based on the imperial cuisine that developed in northern China. As such, much of the food requires lots of preparation and presentation is very important. Meat and wheat flour are often used.
Pekin dakku (Peking duck): An entire duck is carefully cooked, then its crunchy skin is wrapped in a thin pancake with green onions, cucumber, and sauteed ground meat with miso paste and eaten.
Baozu (baozi): Steamed buns filled with seasoned meat and vegetables and wrapped in a light and fluffy flour dough.
Gyoza (Chinese dumplings): Boiled dumplings filled with seasoned meat and vegetables and wrapped in a thin flour dough skin.
Szechuan cuisine is eaten in the vicinity of the Sichuan Province. In keeping with the hot and humid climate of the region, Szechuan cuisine often features chili peppers and other spicy ingredients.
Ebi no chili sauce: Shrimp stir-fried in a spicy, tomato-based
Chin-jao rosu: Thin-sliced beef and pepper stir-fry.
Mabo dofu (mapo dofu): Tofu stewed in a spicy meat sauce.
Mabo nasu: Stir-fried eggplant mixed with a spicy meat sauce.
Hoikoro: Stir-fried pork, cabbage, peppers, and other vegetables.
Seafood and rice are commonly used in the vicinity of Shanghai. Shanghai cuisine has a noted sweetness due to the use of black rice vinegar.
Shoronpo: Meat and vegetables mixed with congealed soup, wrapped in flour dough and steamed. When the shoronpo are heated, the soup melts, and when the skin is broken, hot soup and meat juice pours out. They are eaten with ginger and soy sauce or black rice vinegar sprinkled on top.
Shanghai-gani (Chinese mitten crabs): Shanghai-gani are a prized ingredient that can only be eaten in autumn. Female crab roe is considered a delicacy. They are eaten steamed and flavored with black rice vinegar.
Niku-dango no amazu-ankake: Ground meat shaped into balls and covered in a thick, sweet-and-sour sauce.
Chuka cuisine is based on Chinese food, but developed separately in Japan. Ingredients and preparation methods have then changed considerably, and seasonings have been altered to better fit Japanese tastes. While Chinese restaurants in Europe and America are often variations on Cantonese cuisine that cater to the tastes of the area in which they are located, Chuka cuisine is closer to Chinese cuisine and features aspects from various regions of China. While French-Chinese fusion cuisine is becoming popular, Japanese-Chinese fusion Chuka cuisine is also worth trying.
Banbanji: Thinly shredded boiled chicken with cucumber and kikurage mushrooms covered with sesame sauce. Based on Szechuan cuisine.
Yaki-gyoza (pot stickers): Ground meat is mixed with green onions and ginger, then wrapped in a flattened dough made from flour and water. These gyoza are usually steamed or boiled in China, but are generally fried (the "yaki" in "yaki-gyoza") in Japan.
Hiyashi Chuka: Toppings such as ham, cucumber, and strips of scrambled egg on top of cold, boiled noodles in a vinegar-base soup. Hiyashi chuka is a refreshing dish popular in the summer in Japan.
Tenshinhan: Scrambled eggs on top of rice.
Chuka-don: Happosai on top of rice.
Lebanira-itame: Stir-fried beef liver, garlic chives, and bean sprouts.
Kani-tama: Stir-fried crab and eggs covered in a thickened sauce. Based on the Cantonese egg foo young dish.
Ja-ja men: Noodle dish topped with stir-fried ground meat, bamboo shoots, etc., and seasoned with a spicy miso sauce. Sometimes comes with cucumber and bean sprouts. Based on Beijing-style cooking.
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