An Introduction to Beijing Style Cuisine

Beijing style cuisine a type of Chinese fare that originated in the capital of the People’s Republic of China.  This sort of cuisine is often also referred to as Jing cuisine or Mandarin cuisine, and it has become famous for both its style and diversity.  Here is some background on the history and character of Beijing cuisine, what sorts of popular dishes you can expect to encounter, and how this type of fare is enjoyed.

Beijing Style Cuisine

As Beijing has been the capital of China for centuries, the food that has developed in this massive city has influences from all over the country.  The strongest influence, however, comes from the coastal province of Shandong.

The cuisine in this region has also either influenced or been impacted by recipes from the “Emperor’s Kitchen,” which is the food that was cooked inside China’s Forbidden City.  Here, cooks from around the country would bring their best dishes to impress the imperial family and guests.  Because of this, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the origin of a dish as being from Beijing or from another province.

Popular Beijing Cuisine Dishes

Beijing cuisine is often noted for emphasizing the use of dark soy paste, sesame oil and sesame paste, scallions, and fermented tofu as a condiment.  The food is prepared using different methods of frying.  Because of Beijing’s drier climate, rice production is limited in the region, so Beijing cuisine doesn’t emphasize rice as an accompaniment as much as other types of Chinese fare.

Beijing cuisines has now become known for its diversity, where it has absorbed not just regional but also some international influences.  You might encounter Buddhist vegetarian dishes, Mongol dishes, Muslim dishes, and a host of international ingredients.  Here are just a few popular Beijing cuisine dishes that you might encounter:

  • Peking Duck. Probably the most famous of the Beijing cuisine specialties, this crisp duck is marinated, filled with soup, and then smoked over a wood fire.
  • Zha Jiang Noodles. These are hand-pulled noodles that are either served with a sauce or in a soup.
  • Jiaozi. A Chinese comfort food, these boiled dumplings might be stuffed with cabbage, minced pork, scrambled eggs, or something else delicious.  You’ll often find these as snack foods.
  • Mongolian Hot Pot. If you’d like to help cook your Beijing cuisine, this dish allows you to prepare your own slices of mutton, vegetables, and noodles in a bubbling broth.

How Beijing Cuisine is Enjoyed

Beijing cuisine is often enjoyed in one of two ways.  Originally, the food was known as “small eats,” or snack-sized meals, that were sold by street vendors or in small local shops.  This can still be found today, where it is popular for Chinese families to enjoy a meal while walking along the street and socializing.  Beijing cuisine is also now commonly found as main courses and is a popular choice for a banquet feast.

The allure of Beijing-style cuisine, and the Imperial Court banquet approach, has crossed the Pacific Ocean to America. The San Francisco Chronicle recently profiled a local Chinese restaurant making waves with its exquisite Beijing Banquet offering.

Beijing cuisine offers diners an opportunity to experience authentic Chinese fare with fresh ingredients and some adventurous flavors.  Whether you’re interested in small eats or a banquet dining experience, this is a culinary treat not to be missed.

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