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5 most popular Chinese dishes and their interesting history

Chinese cuisine is definitely one of the most famous cuisines in the world. Its rich and complementary flavors give off an ultimate twist, which keeps us wanting more! However, have you ever wondered how your favorite dish first started? 

The popularity of these five Chinese dishes can never be contested. Check out the interesting story of each in brief so you can better understand and further appreciate each of these well-loved dishes.


1. Yangzhou Fried Rice

© Luo Jiang Yu (Elaine Luo)

Yangzhou Fried Rice is a bowl of classic fried rice with carrots, green peas, eggs, shrimp, and even char siu (Barbeque Pork.) It was invented by Yi Bingshou, a previous magistrate of Yangzhou in the province of Jiangsu, China. Thus, it was after the city. They also considered two different ways when cooking fried rice. When the egg has been separately scrambled before mixing it with the rice, they call it, “Silver covered gold.” However, if they choose to mix the egg altogether with the other ingredients, it is called “Gold covered silver.” Fancy, right?

By 2015, the town of Yangzhou celebrated its 2,500th anniversary by joining a competition in hopes of beating a previous record of the Turkey Culinary Federation’s fried rice. About 300 cooks joined hands and made approximately 4,000 kilograms of Yangzhou fried rice. However, a portion of it was fed to animals, hence it was seen as a meal that was “unfit for human consumption.” Unfortunately, the Guinness World Records said the effort failed to beat Turkey’s record.


2. Sweet and Sour Pork

@Kitchen Misadventures

Sweet and Sour Pork is probably one of the most famous Chinese dishes that is a silent must when ordering food. Its sweet and sour taste perfectly complements its overall flavor. And what’s a complete Chinese feast without all its tangy flavor? 

Sweet and sour pork, as some would say, is originally from the province of Henan, China. However, it did not look and taste the same as the picture above. In Henan, they actually just use vinegar and a sugar mixture to successfully make the famous dish. The dish was reinvented by a Cantonese man, Leung King, who included other ingredients, such as tomato paste, soy sauce, white rice vinegar, Chinese brown candy, and even Worcestershire sauce to make the Original Sweet and Sour Pork the real deal.


3. Mapo Tofu

© The Woks of Life

Mapo Tofu, a famous dish from Sichuan, China, is apparently the best dish to try out if you want an authentic Sichuan dish! Sichuan’s comestibles are actually a part of the eight major Chinese cuisines, as it is famous for its heated flavors. It dates back to the year 1862 during the Qing Dynasty. A small restaurant called “Chen XingSheng Restaurant,” owned and operated by a lovely couple, started serving this delectable dish. The wife even had her own method to cook the tofu, so that it can look presentable and tasty at the same time. After some time, they had changed their restaurant name to “Chen Mapo Tofu Restaurant” and became one of the top 23 restaurants in the northern part of Chengdu, Sichuan.


4. Kung Pao Chicken

© The Woks of Life

Kung Pao Chicken is yet another Sichuan dish that consists of a sweet, salty, and spicy taste, making it perfect as it has a lot of flavors going on. Have you ever noticed that almost all Chinese restaurants also have this on their menu?

Kung Pao Chicken was also present in the Qing Dynasty. Rumors had it that the governor himself was the one who invented the popular dish. Ding Baozhen, the late governor of Sichuan province, loved consuming chicken, peanuts, and heated flavors, therefore such speculations were made. Others have also postulated that his family chef handed the recipe to him and the governor started serving his guests with Kung Pao Chicken. Furthermore, the term Kung Pao was derived from Ding Baozhen’s honorable official title, Kung Pao.


5. Xiao Long Bao


And lastly, our all-time favorite, Xiao Long Bao.

The origin of Xiao Long Bao is not clear; however, some had claimed that it was from the outskirts of Shanghai, China. Because of its aroma and unique invention, people from all over the world started to come across this special soup dumpling. The broth from the dumpling was actually cooled to have a gelatin consistency, and when steamed, it will start to melt and burst with a heavily concentrated broth flavor once consumed. Allegedly, its name had originated during the 18th century, wherein an emperor named Qianlong grew fond of these soup dumplings. It was then speculated that the name came from Emperor Qianlong.

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