Rice and noodles form the basis for most Chinese meals, with a popular lunchtime combination being noodles, nian gao (sliced sticky rice cake), stir-fried leeks and pork or hairy crab. Another staple in China, besides noodles and rice, is mantou (steamed bread), which is a key source of starch in the typical Chinese diet.
Alongside rice, which might be steamed as balls or fried, and noodles,which may be fried, steamed or served in a soup, some typical Chinese dishes include:
- Filled dumplings or buns (Jiaozi or Baozi)
- Steamed fish
- Fried green onion pancakes
Tofu is also very common in China but as a substitute for dairy products rather than as a substitute for meat. Salad is not well-established in traditional Chinese cuisine. Due to the historical threat of contamination from untreated fertilizers, almost all vegetable dishes are cooked.
For sit-down meals, it is the Chinese custom to serve only the base dish, such as rice, in individual portions while other dishes of meat fish and vegetables will be served on communal plates for diners to help themselves.
In recent times, the traditional Chinese diet has been influenced by the processes of industrialization and globalization. Specifically, Western cuisines and fast food chains have been blamed for a surge in childhood obesity.