Southern and Northern Chinese cuisines are often viewed as two separate entities, but they also share many similarities.
Due to the difference in the geographical location and climate, there are many things to mention when it comes to Southern and Northern Chinese food, which will be broken into pieces in this article.
Let’s check it out!
What is special about Southern Chinese food?
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- Wan, Kwoklyn (Author)
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Southern Chinese food is a type of cuisine from the south of China.
Many people believe that the food of Southern China is different from North Chinese cuisine because of its use of spices and cooking techniques.
Southern Chinese food is also more diverse due to their great variety of fruits, vegetables, fungal, and animal ingredients in their daily meals.
Since the climate is warmer and has more rain in the south, people here use rice, seafood, and meat as staples.
Southern Chinese dishes are likely to be salty, sweeter, and spicier because they use various seasoning spices in their recipes.
What is special about Northern Chinese food?
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Northern Chinese cuisine is unique in that it’s not just about the food.
The dishes themselves are symbolic of a culture, and eating them can be an experience unlike any other.
A few examples: Peking Duck, which has been served for centuries as a way to honor the emperor; dumplings that signify good fortune; and noodles eaten by hand because they symbolize long life.
There are some generalizations that can be made about Northern Chinese food though- one being that it usually includes wheat products such as noodles or steamed bread and buns.
Northern people use more oil to cook their food, so Northern Chinese dishes are usually oilier and richer.
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They also use a variety of spices, such as garlic, ginger, star anise, soy sauce, chili peppers, and sesame oil to make their dishes flavorful.
Northern Chinese people eat more red meat like beef, pork, and duck compared to Southern cuisine.
What are the differences between Southern vs Northern Chinese food?
As two opposite parts of China, the cuisines from Southern China and Northern China are different in many ways.
Below are some of the typical distinctions between Southern Chinese food and the Northern counterpart.
Let’s take a look:
Southern Chinese food uses more vegetables and seafood while Northern Chinese food uses red meat and fewer vegetables
In general, Southern China has a diverse source of different ingredients, such as fruits, vegetables, fungi, seafood, and river fish.
Meanwhile, Northern Chinese food is popular for its uses of red meat, like beef with broccoli, or the reputable Beijing Peking duck.
Northern Chinese food is oilier but milder, while Southern Chinese food is spicier and sweeter
Another difference between Northern Chinese food and Southern Chinese food is that Northern people use more oil in their recipes.
As a result, Northern dishes are oilier and more greasy sometimes.
Therefore, if you are a person who prefers dishes with less oil, Southern food will be more suitable.
It focuses on heating agents, which create the spiciness and pungent taste of the food.
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Northern and Southern Chinese’s grains are different, one is wheat and the other is rice
The difference in the presence and use of grains in these two regions is because of the difference in the climate between the North and the South.
The dry and cold climate of the north of China makes rice cultivation challenging, so indigenous people rely on wheat as their staple crop.
The Northern Chinese use wheat flour to make noodles or steamed dumplings.
In contrast to the North, the warm and rainy climate of Southern China results in a different choice of carbs, which is rice.
Rice, usually white rice, is simply steamed to serve every day with other savory dishes on Southern Chinese families’ daily meals.
They also use rice to make congee as breakfast and to produce beer and vinegar.
What are the similarities between Southern vs Northern Chinese food?
Southern and Northern Chinese food are both parts of Chinese cuisine, therefore, they have some things in common, as listed below:
Southern Chinese food and Northern Chinese food use a variety of spices in their recipes
Chinese food is famous for its use of various spices, no matter if it is Southern or Northern food.
Garlic, ginger, scallions, or chili peppers are some of the most common seasonings in both cuisines.
However, Northern people use them in a small amount so that their dishes taste blander, while Southern cooking adds a lot of spices, especially chili peppers, which result in spicy Southern dishes.
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Stir-fried dishes and soy sauces are popular in both cuisines
Another similarity between these two cuisines is actually a characteristic of Chinese food: the use of soy sauce in their recipe with stir-frying is a common cooking method.
Northern people usually use pork lard and more cooking oil to stir-fry their food, making it oilier.
But dishes from both regions have a similar taste from soy sauce.
Which one is better?
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In this article, we’ve explored Southern and Northern Chinese cuisines in detail.
We covered how the difference in climate has impacted these dishes as well as what differences there are between them that make each distinctive enough to be considered separate entities.
One of our main takeaways was that both types of cuisine have their own strengths and weaknesses; it all depends on which one you prefer more based on your taste buds’ preference.
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