Foods that are commonly eaten in China include rice, wheat, millet, buckwheat, bean sprouts, tofu, vegetables, noodles, eggs, ginger, pork, chicken, beef, duck and seafood. Rice is a staple food traditionally served with meals throughout the day. Vegetables, such as corn, potatoes, peppers, cabbage and scallions, are also prominent in a variety of Chinese recipes.
Chinese cooking encompasses differences among regions, creating various styles of cooking, such as Cantonese, Sichuan, Mandarin, Shanghai and Hunan.
A common Cantonese meal popular in America is rice and stir-fry. Other Cantonese specialties include sweet and sour pork, egg rolls and wonton soup. Sichuan cooking features spicy hot seasonings and salt-cured foods. It is also referred to as Szechuan cooking, using vegetables, peppers, onion and garlic as some common ingredients in recipes. The prevalent style of food in Beijing, Mandarin cuisine emphasizes wheat, cabbage and vegetables, pork, duck, chicken and beef. Wheat is used to make thin pancakes, dumplings, fried foods and noodles and is preferable to rice in Mandarin cuisine.
The Shanghai style of cooking is distinguished by frequent use of rich, flavorful sauces. Seafood, cured meats, pickled vegetables and noodles are also favored in this style of cooking. Hunan cooking is often spicy, with garlic and hot sauces used on stir-fried meats, fish and other dishes. Spicy eggplant in garlic sauce is another Hunan specialty.