China’s population of over 1.3 billion weathers a long, cold winter every year, with Beijing’s temperature sometimes dropping down to 20 degrees C (negative four degrees F) in January. The winter lasts from early November until March when temperatures almost never rise above zero degrees C (32 degrees F). To handle frigid temperatures and snow covering the ground, steaming or spicy dishes are a smart choice for the traveler who isn’t used to harsh winter weather. They’re also great to try at home to pay homage to authentic Chinese cuisine.
These eight regional dishes, which come from all over China, range from the fiery (Mapo tofu made with Sichuan pepper) to the boiling (xiao long bao, or dumplings filled with steaming broth). Explore the different regions by way of some of their signature dishes and consider making some at home on a cold winter evening.