15 Signature Dishes of Authentic Chinese Food

With a long history, distinctive features, numerous styles and exquisite cooking, Chinese cuisine is one of the important parts of Chinese culture. Traditional Chinese cuisine is renowned for its colour, aroma, flavour, taste and appearance.

Picked from the best cuisines in the country, these signature dishes of authentic Chinese food will have your taste buds shaking up. And make sure you taste them when you have China food tours.

1. Peking Roast Duck

Peking duck is a famous Beijing dish and ] considered one of the most popular dish of authentic Chinese food. Peking duck is famous for its thin and crispy skin. Sliced Peking duck is often served with pancakes, sweet bean sauce or garlic soy sauce. It is a must-try dish when having a Beijing tour!

Peking duck was once a dish of the Chinese royal family in the Middle Ages. Since the 1970s, it has been the "national dish of diplomatic protocol" and was first used by Premier Zhou Enlai (the first Premier of the People's Republic of China) to receive distinguished foreign guests from all over the world. It has been highly acclaimed by heads of state, government officials and tourists from home and abroad.

Authentic Chinese food - pecking roast duck

2. Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken is a famous Sichuan dish, loved by both Chinese and foreigners. The main ingredients are diced chicken, dried chillies, cucumber and fried peanuts (or cashew nuts).

People in western countries have created a western style Kung Pao chicken, where the diced chicken is covered in corn starch and then added with vegetables, sweet and sour sauce and garlic paste.

3. Sweet and Sour Pork

Another signature dish of authentic Chinese food, Sweet and sour pork has an orange-red colour and is sweet and sour. In the beginning there was only sweet and sour pork, but the dish has evolved somewhat to meet the demand for more.

Nowadays, pork can be replaced with other ingredients such as fish, chicken, beef or pork ribs.

Authentic Chinese food - hot pot

4. Hot Pot

Hotpot is one of the most authentic and popular food in China, especially in Sichuan province or Chongqing. People use a pot of stew (broth) as the base of the soup on a gas/induction stove in the middle of the table, with various foods and condiments around the pot.

People can add and cook anything they like to the broth. The secret to a good hotpot is the broth, from which all the pieces of meat and vegetables draw their flavour.

The Chinese are very fond of hot pot. In the past hotpot was only favoured in winter, nowadays it is on the table all year round. It is a great way to socialise with friends and relatives. People eat around the pot, chatting and having a good time while eating and drinking.、

5. Cantonese dim sum

Dim sum is one of the most popular Cantonese dishes. It contains a large variety of small dishes including dumplings, bread rolls, cakes and meats, seafood, desserts and vegetable food. Today there are over a thousand dim sum dishes.

Dim sum originated in Guangzhou. Cantonese people like to have dim sum in the morning for breakfast or with their lunch. 

Authentic Chinese food - dumpiling

6. Dumpling

Dumpling is a popular authentic Chinese food, especially in the north-eastern region. Chinese dumplings consist of minced meat and/or chopped vegetables wrapped in a thin dough skin. Popular fillings are minced pork, diced shrimp, minced chicken, beef and vegetables. Dumplings can be boiled, steamed or fried.

Dumplings are also a signature dish eaten on Chinese New Year's Eve. As they look like Chinese silver ingots (Chinese money in the olden days), it is believed that the more dumplings you eat on New Year's Eve, the more money you will earn in the new year. Dumpling making is a great way to interact with friends and family. During the Lunar New Year you will see a busy kitchen where Chinese families are making dumplings.

7. Mapo tofu

Ma Po Tofu is one of the most famous dishes in Sichuan cuisine with only over 100 years, but considered a signature dish of authentic Chinese food. It consists of tofu and some minced meat (pork or beef) in a spicy sauce. The sauce is made from fermented black beans and chilli sauce (douban / black bean paste).

The inventor of Ma Po Tofu is from Chengdu, Sichuan. She was a grandmother surnamed Chen. Chen's face is said to be very numb. In Chinese, ma means "pockmarked" and "po" means grandmother, so people called her dish Ma Po Tofu. Her Ma Po Tofu became an extremely popular dish and was even introduced to Japan.

Authentic Chinese food - char siu

8. Char Siu

A Cantonese style roast pork, it is usually served with rice or noodles. Char Siu is also used as a filling for buns.

9. Fried noodles (chow mein)

Fried noodles consist of noodles, meat (usually chicken, beef, prawns or pork), onions and celery.

In order to make this authentic Chinese food, the noodles need to be cooked in boiling water for a while. Once they have cooled, they move on to the stir-frying step.

There is an interesting story about the origin of chow mein. It is said that chow mein was invented by a woman called Shan Gu in Jiangsu province. She was making food for the workers who were building a dam to prevent the Yellow River from flooding. She found that the food spoiled easily in the hot weather. So she invented chow mein, which lasts longer and can be easily reheated for consumption. Since then, chow mein has become a popular way of cooking noodles.

Authentic Chinese food - fried rice and noodles

10. Fried rice

Fried rice is an authentic Chinese dish made of fried rice and other ingredients, usually including eggs, vegetables, seafood or meat. One of the most common foods in China, fried rice is easy to make at home using leftover rice from a previous meal and other meats or vegetables.

It is said that Li Hongzhang, a diplomatic official of the late Qing Dynasty, ordered his chef to cook a dish that was enjoyed by both Chinese and foreigners. The chef made fried rice.

The most famous Chinese fried rice is Yangzhou fried rice. Typical ingredients for Yangzhou fried rice include prawns, eggs and barbecued pork.

11. Twice cooked spicy pork slices

This authentic Chinese food is one of the most famous pork dishes in Sichuan. The Chinese name means "meat that is returned to the pot". The pork is first cooked in a pot, and then cooked again with other ingredients, including broad bean paste (bean paste), fermented black beans (black beans), garlic and ginger.

Authentic Chinese food - boiled meat slices

12. Boiled meat slices

The pork, first coated with egg whites and starch to preserve its freshness and tenderness, is boiled in a meat broth. It is a typical Sichuan dish with a peppery and spicy flavour. Each piece of meat rich in juices with a fresh and fragrant spicy aroma. >> Eat more spicy Chinese food

13. Xiao Long Bao

Xiao Long Bao is a type of steam bun. They are popular in Jiangsu and Shanghai. Xiaolongbao are traditionally cooked in a small bamboo basket, hence the name. The most common xiaolongbao filling is pork, other ingredients include beef, crab meat, shrimp, seafood and vegetable fillings.

There is a special way to eat Shanghai xiaolongbao: you can nibble off a small corner of the dough and suck out the delicious soup. Or you can suck the soup through a straw and then eat the filling and the dough.

14. Noodles with soybean paste

One of the most popular dish of Lu cuisine, it is a thick wheat noodle dish drizzled with a deep-fried sauce. The sauce is made from stewed pork or beef in a salty bean sauce. It is a household snack or refreshment in Beijing.

Originating in Shandong, noodles with soybean paste were introduced to Beijing by the Qing Dynasty's Guangxu Emperor (reigned 1871-1908) and Empress Dowager Cixi on a trip from Beijing to Xi'an. They walked into a restaurant and ordered a bowl of noodles with soybean paste. Both found it so delicious that they had to have another bowl. Immediately afterwards, Empress Dowager Cixi brought the chef who made the noodles with soybean paste to the Forbidden City in Beijing. From then on, fried noodles became increasingly popular in Beijing and throughout the country.

Authentic Chinese food - wonton

15. Wontons

Unlike dumplings, wontons have less filling and are wrapped in a thinner pasta. The shape of the wontons may vary depending on how they are made. Some of them look like silver ingots, making them an auspicious 'fortune' dish.

The most common filling for wontons is minced pork or diced shrimp. Wontons are usually boiled and put into a broth soup, but sometimes they are also fried.

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