One of the best things about experiencing any world culture’s cuisine is the blast of flavor that might surprise you, especially if you’ve never had it before. Wherever you go in Asia, whether it’s Korea, China, Vietnam, or elsewhere, you might find similar ingredients cooked in wildly different styles. But if authenticity is what you’re after, then here are four essential flavors you should try if you love Chinese food.
Quick, what cuisines can you think of that are famous for how spicy they are? Indian? Thai? Mexican? Cajun? In fact, you may already know of and enjoy the varieties of spicy Chinese food. Spicy food is particularly popular in south and central China, where it is known as the so-called “pungent” flavor. Since it is pungent, this food is believed to drive colds and dampness out of the body, relieve dryness, and improve blood flow. For a taste of this delightful spiciness, sample Sichuan hot pot or a Hunan steamed fish dish that features finely diced red peppers.
You may not be expecting to see sweet flavors on this list. Then again, why wouldn’t it? Sweeter flavors are also beloved across the world, not just in western countries. Sweet flavors are believed to help cure sickness and make you feel better. Sugar and honey are instrumental in sweet-flavored dishes, and sweet dishes are most popular in the east – where you can try Jiangsu’s sweet and sour fish!
Even though salty flavors can be tasty, we must caution you not to overindulge. After all, it’s well-known what a diet with too much salt in it can do to your overall well-being. Along the coasts, it is much easier and more affordable to use salt since seawater can be evaporated through cooking. In the cold north, brine-pickling is a favorite technique for preserving vegetables during the cold season, to be enjoyed with congee at breakfast time.
Last but not least, we come to the sour flavors. You might be familiar with sweet and sour dishes from your favorite Chinese restaurant or take-out spot. Well, there’s a reason for their popularity among Western diners: they pair well. Sour flavors are believed to increase your appetite, activate saliva production, and even help decrease thirst. Guizhou sour fish soup is an iconic dish you must try if you’re keen to eat something sour.
Get All Your Asian Groceries at Lotte Plaza Market
Lotte Plaza Market is your one-stop shop for all of your Korean and Asian grocery needs. With more than 10 locations in Maryland and Virginia, this growing market is always expanding and opening new markets to serve our customers better. Opened since 1976, our goal has always been to provide the best customer service and groceries to our customers. For answers to all of your questions, email us at LottePlaza.com.