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Shandong cuisine

Shandong cuisine, or Lu cuisine, is one of the Eight Culinary Traditions of Chinese cuisine and has the longest history and the richest techniques. It produced the most influential imperial dishes in China, and dates back to the late Shang Dynasty (16th century-11th century BC). 

Its formation and development have close connections with Shandong's culture and history, geographical environment and economic conditions. Shandong is one of the birthplaces of ancient Chinese civilization, such as the two flourishing cultures: the Dawenkou culture to the north and the Longshan culture to the south of Mount Tai. 

Situated on the lower reaches of the Yellow River and lying between the Bohai Sea and the Yellow Sea, Shandong has a moderate climate. Coupled with diverse landforms, the place has always had exceedingly rich food resources, which helped create the diversity of its cooking techniques. It has been one of the world's three largest vegetable gardens. It also has the largest output of aquatic products in China, with more than 130 varieties of seafood. 

Shandong cuisine lays great emphasis on the freshness of the ingredients. By cooking with salt and soup stock, the dishes are fresh and tender with subtle scents and mellow flavors. 

It is generally considered that there are four schools of Shandong cuisine: Jiaodong, Jinan, Kongfu and herbal cuisine.

Jiaodong cuisine, originating from Yantai and Qingdao, is usually deep fried, braised, roasted or stewed, commonly using soy sauce, shallots and garlic, and the dishes are known for their delicate aromas and light flavors. It is famous for its seafood dishes.

Jinan cuisine, centered on Jinan, Tai’an and Dezhou, is the main part of Shandong cuisine. It usually uses deep frying, roasting, boiling and stir frying. Soups are its most representative dishes. Tai'an, renowned for Chinese cabbage, tofu and Mount Tai spring water, is more adept at cooking vegetable dishes compared to the other two places. 

Kongfu cuisine is also known as Confucian cooking. "Kongfu" refers to the descendants of Kong Qiu (Confucius), who have high standards for the quality of every dish. This is why all Kongfu dishes are beautifully designed and prepared with excellent cutting skills. In the past, Confucian dishes were used for official occasions such as birthdays, weddings and funerals. The distinctive taste is light and delicate, fresh and tender, soft and fragrant. The natural flavors are not overpowered.

Herbal cuisine, eaten as food therapy, dates back to the Shang Dynasty and is the original form of Shandong cuisine. 

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