Peking roast duck is widely considered to be China's national dish. This authentic and emblematic dish originated in the Yuan Dynasty, which existed from 1206-1368 A.D., and is well-known around the world.
The traditional preparation of Peking roast duck is notoriously convoluted. Having selected a specimen of white Beijing duck, chefs will pluck its feathers and pump air between the duck's outer skin and inner flesh. The next step is to clean the bird and hang it on a wooden skewer to air dry, before dusting its skin with sugar. When the chef finally comes to actually cooking the duck, tradition demands the use of smokeless hardwood fuel, along with great care in turning the duck for even cooking throughout. The dish originated in the kitchens of imperial royalty, so the whole process is the result of many years of refinement and perfection.
China is enormous, however, and different regions have their own favorite dishes. The preferred dish in Hong Kong, for instance, is dim sum, which is actually an umbrella term for a wide range of dishes, including dumplings, pork ribs and seasoned squid, all traditionally served with tea.