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    Welcome to Yutopians Terminology of Chinese Dishes Page

    Numbers in Chinese Dishes
    Numbers are often used in Chinese Cuisine. This kind of naming system has a long history. We have listed the most common ones here for your enjoyment:

    One- Yi Pin
    Yi is one. Pin is an ancient official title. There is a total of nine Pins, with One Pin being the highest and Nine Pin being the lowest. Yi Pin usually means that the dish is of the highest quality, for examples, Yi Pin Bird's Nest, Yi Pin Buns, and Yi Pin Luo Han Vegetables, etc. It can also mean perfection of the shape of the dish, for example, Yi Pin Nanyu Ru, and Yi Pin Tofu.

    Two- Liang Chi, Shuang
    Liang and Shuang both mean two. Liang Chi means one ingredient two ways of cooking. On the other hand, shuang means two ingredients in one dish. For examples, Shuang Dong means mushrooms (dong gu) and bamboo shoots (dong sun), and Shuang Cui means two types of crisp.

    Three- San Yuan, San Xian, San Si, San Bei
    San is three. San Yuan refers to the three official titles of Zhuang Yuan, Hui Yuan and Jie Yuan, and it usually means three ingredients in one dish, like San Yuan Duck and San Yuan Beef. San Xian means three tasty ingredients, normally refers to ham, chicken and bamboo shoots, for examples, Liu San Xian and San Xian Noodles. San Si refers to three types of ingredients in jullienne form, for examples, Hui San Si and Kou San Si. San Bei means three types of ingredients in white color, for example fish, chicken, etc.

    Four- Si Bao, Si Shi
    Si is four. Bao means treasure. Thus Si Bao means a dish with four ingredients, for examples Si Bao Vegetables and Si Bao Braised Duck.

    Shi, on the other hand means happiness, which has an implication of good luck, for example, Si Shi Dumplings. Si Shi can also have the following meanings:
    1) Four different colors- like Si Shi Shrimp Cakes
    2) Four ingredients- like Si Shi Ji Qing
    3) Four ingredients of same shape- Si Shi Ru, Si Shi Meat Balls
    4) Four different fillings- Si Shi Dumplings

    Five- Wu Xiang, Wu Cai, Wu Liu, Wu Fu
    Wu is five. Wu Xiang refers to Five Spice which is comprised of the following ingredients, 1) Star Anise, 2) Fennel Seeds, 3) Cinnamon, 4) Clove, and Sichuan Peppercorns, for example Wu Xiang Beef. Wu Cai means coloful, e.g., Wu Cai Fish Stripes. Wu Liu is a famous fish dish. According to the legend, Wu Liu Fish was invented by Wu Liu Ju Shi of the Ming Dynasty, who resided in Nanjing, close to the Wu Long Lake. On the other hand, it was recorded in the Wu Liu Yu passage of the Guang Xu Shun Tian Fu that Wu Liu Ju of Zhejiang Xiwu served the best fish and got its name. Fu means blessings giving the dish a lucky omen, e.g., Wu Fu Yu Yuan.

    Six- Liu He, Liu Bao
    Liu is six. Dishes with the number six are not that common nowadays. Liu He refers to heaven, earth, south, east, north, west. Liu He also rhymes with Lu (deers) and He (cranes), two animals of lucky omen. Liu He can also mean a dish with six ingredients, e.g., Liu Pin (Cold cuts of six varieties).

    Seven- Qi Xing, Qi Cai
    Qi is seven. Qi Xing implies the arrangement of the dish, which resembles the north stars, like Qi Xing Crabs, and Qi Xing Chicken. Qi Cai means colorful, like Wu Cai. There are the following dishes, Qi Cai Fish and Qi Cai Braised Combo.

    Eight- Ba Bao, Ba Xian, Ba Zhen
    Ba is eight. Ba Bao, Ba Xian and Ba Zhen all refer to dishes of eight ingredients. Bao means treasures; there is Ba Bao Tofu, Ba Bao Fish and desserts of Ba Bao Rice Pudding and Ba Bao Stuffed Pears. Ba Xian came from the legendary story of the eight fairies; there is Ba Xian Sea Food. Drunken Ba Xian refers to dishes that use a wine base yeast. Zhen means precious, e.g. Ba Zhen Duck.

    Nine- Jiu Si, Jiu Zhuan
    Jiu is nine. There are not too many dishes with nine in the name. Few exceptions are famous dishes like Jiu Zhuan Da Chang of Shangdong and Jiu Zhuan Chang Fu of Tianjin. An ancient dish called Jiu Si Soup was mentioned in Tiao Ding Ji. Jiu Si means nine julienne ingredients. Other dishes include Jiu Huang Pancakes of Hunan and Jiu Yuan Buns of Sichuan.

    Ten- Shi Xiang
    Shi is ten. There are even fewer dishes with ten in the name. Ancient dishes like Shi Xiang Vegetables, and Shi Ruan Soup are mentioned in literatures. Fujian's Shi Jing Beehive Tofu was made with ten different ingredients. Other dishes include Shi Xiang Black Beans of Tianjin and the banquet of Shi Da Ruan. Note: the number Shi rhymes with the word Shi as in Shi Jin (combo with many ingredients). Examples of these dishes include Shi Jin Hotpot, Shi Jin Vegetables, and Shi Jin Cold Cuts.

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