One of the most successful exports of any cuisine has come from China. Chinese food is popular across the world, especially in the United States, the UK, Australia and Western Europe. Westerners tend to group the dishes together but there are many regional differences. Climatic conditions and ethnic make up have contributed to different traditions growing up in different areas. As China has influenced the West, it has worked in reverse too, with more and more fast food chains opening up in China, following a freer economy.
The common idea, binding the regions together, is that meals should be pleasing to the eye, be healthily balanced and contain the best, fresh ingredients available. Traditionally, dishes are accompanied by drinking hot tea or hot water, to aid digestion. However, beer and soft drinks with meals has become commonplace in recent years. Meat is very often in the form of chicken and pork. Beef is used too and is sliced very thinly. Vegetables have always been a mainstay of Chinese food and there is a large variety to choose from. As the standard of living has improved, meat has become a larger part of working people’s everyday diet.
One of the most popular international menu choices is Sweet and Sour Pork. Beef is often cooked with noodles, black bean sauce or cashews. Chicken recipes include Lemon Chicken, Honey Chili Chicken or Chicken with Lychees. Chinese food dishes are normally served with bowls of rice or noodles, depending on the region. Vegetables are never overcooked and taste crisp and fresh. The most common vegetables in use include green beans, mung bean sprouts, eggplant, zucchini, and mushrooms. There is also Chinese cabbage, Chinese broccoli and bok choy.
Seafood also has a long tradition in the cuisine, particularly in coastal districts. One of the most popular regional cuisines internationally, is Cantonese cuisine. These dishes are normally meat or poultry based but do include Shark Fin Soup and Steamed Sea Bass. Cantonese cooks like to stir fry, sauté, steam or deep fry. Chinese food uses soy sauce, rice vinegar or oyster sauce rather than spices to give flavor.