There are so many delicious Chinese dishes, and a large percentage of those have meat in them. This article will discuss how to talk about meat in Chinese, and about the culture of meat in China.
How To Indicate Some Type Of Meat In Chinese
In general, talking about meat is very easy in Chinese. You just say the name of the animal + 肉 (rou4).
Chicken meat = chicken + meat = 雞肉 ji1 rou4
duck meat = duck + meat = 鸭肉 ya1 rou4
cow meat (beef) = cow + meat = 牛肉 niu2 rou4
pig meat (pork) = pig + meat = 豬肉 zhu1 rou4
sheep/goat meat = sheep + meat = 羊肉 (yang2 rou4)
fish = 魚肉 = yu2 rou4
With fish, often the 肉 part is optional.
Seafood = 海鮮 = hai3 xian1
Additional Information About Meat In China
Besides knowing the names of animals, it is useful to know different parts animals’ bodies like legs, arms, feet, back, etc. Even knowing about organs like liver, brain, etc is useful. This is because Chinese people generally will eat almost all parts of animals, even the blood. Coagulated duck blood is a delicacy in Southeastern China including Nanjing. The first time I ever had chicken feet was in Taiwan, and although I was quite apprehensive, my friend pushed me on, and I found out first hand that chicken feet are actually somewhat tasty. There are even some markets in China selling exotic animal meat, from starfish to live scorpions, in places like the famous Wangfujing street in Beijing.
What To Expect In Meat Markets In China
In China, in large meat markets or in meat departments of large grocery stores, you can find so many types of meat. One time, in a large outdoor meat market, I even saw a live alligator-like creature. It seems that Chinese people don’t have as much affection towards animals, at least compared to many Western countries. Even horse is eaten in Western China.
Because many Chinese people prefer their meat as fresh as possible, most meat markets will kill live fish right in front of you and sometimes chicken and other animals too.
Miscellaneous Notes About Meat In China
When I am in China, I am quite vigilant about knowing what is actually in my food. So if I don’t know what is in a dish, I always ask. This is in part because I don’t eat any seafood, but also because there are some animals I refuse to eat under any conditions. One of them is dog, due to having had dogs for most of my life. It is true that some Chinese people eat dog meat, but it is much rarer than other meats.
If a food item has meat, but it isn’t indicated which meat is is, usually, by default, it will be pork.
Being A Vegetarian Or Vegan In China
It is possible to be a vegetarian in China, but at times, it will be somewhat difficult. To be 100% sure of having no meat, you will need to buy your own vegetables, and cook your own food. Though, there are some restaurants, like some Buddhist restaurants, where you can you can be fairly confident that there will be no meat in the food.
China seems to have different ideas about meat and vegetarianism than Western countries. Even in supposedly vegetarian food at restaurants, they might sprinkle on bits of pork, or have broth from meat for a soup. One time, I went to a dinner with my coworkers, one of whom is a strict vegetarian. Nearly all of the dishes had meat in it, so he wouldn’t eat from any of them. Eventually, the waiters thought that bringing out a fish dish would be fine, because maybe they thought that fish isn’t meat. But, later they brought out a dish with only vegetables.
Below is some vocab related to being or not being a vegetarian
I eat meat = 我吃肉 wo3 chi1 rou4
I don’t eat meat = 我不吃肉 wo3 bu4 chi1 rou4
I am a vegetarian = 我吃素 wo3 chi1 su4
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