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Chinese

Chinese Food




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Chinese Cooking and Food Edit

Overview of Chinese Cuisine History Edit

When it comes to food, Chinese are equally diverse as they are in language dialects. Food habits are also influenced by regions, as China is has a vast territory that contains deserts, steppes, grasslands and icy mountains. It is due to the diversity of the climate, products and customs that there are widely different food styles and tastes in local regions. One thing is for certain though. Chinese cuisine is highly appreciated and sought-after all over the world, because of its aromatic, delicious and exotic dishes.

Some other exotic dishes from the Chinese cuisine include the bird's nest Soup, the Kung Pao Chicken, Mapo Dofu, Shark Fin Soup, the Buddha Jumping Over the Wall dish, Prawn with Dragon's Body and Phoenix's tail, or Squirrel with Mandarin Fish.

China is one of the colossal civilizations that history gave us. Their traditions, customs and culture are almost unmatchable by a lot of the current peoples of the World. Their diversity and fascinating way of life have made China one of the jewels of Asia. Putting that together with the fact that it’s the most populous country in the World and that it is one of the dominant powers of today, gives you the idea on how big China really is...

Considered both a craft and an art, Chinese cuisine has been developing and getting richer since the oldest times. During the reign of Emperor fu (20 centuries B.C.), Chinese people learned how to fish and hunt, but also agriculture and cooking began their evolution. The Chinese cooking and food decorating got to the status of high art during the Chou Dynasty and then it was influenced by Confucianism and Taoism. The principles of Confucius promoted the etiquette of food and the joy that it can bring. Taoism promoted health and hygienic aspects of cooking, as the body should be is search for longevity. Based on the spectrum of these 2 major directions, Chinese cuisine doesn’t include unhealthy food, as most of the dishes are low-calorie and low-fat. Added to this, Chinese explored numerous kinds of herbs, spices, seeds, roots and plants and used them in natural traditional dishes and all aliments that Chinese consume have both a physiological need and a spiritual one, as they can bring joy, prosperity or happiness.

Thanks to these authentic values, Chinese cuisine is considered nowadays one of the most valuable culinary heritages in the world. A Chinese traditional meal consists of carbohydrates and zhushi, or main food. The carbs are found in rice, noodles, dough and pastries based dishes and the veggies and meats are considered starch.

Cuisines of China Edit

Map of China

Map of China - Click to enlarge

By Geographic Area and Style:

There is a wide range of significant, yet not very different cuisines within the Chinese one, regarding both the regional and the influencing aspects. North-western (or Mandarin) and North-eastern cuisine, Jian-Huai, Cantonese cuisine, Hunan, Szechuan, Fujian, Yunnan, Hainan, Hakka ethnic group cuisine are just some of the cuisines within the territory of China. Still, these world famous cooking style has evolved in other regions, as well, such as: Taiwan, Nanyang (Chinese Diaspora in Southeast Asia) and there is also an individual cuisine of Hong Kong.

The Cantonese is among the most famous Chinese cuisines and it is represented by seafood, poultry and the dim sum (meaning touch of heart), made of pastries and dumplings. The hot weathered Northern regions Wheat is consumed and used for noodles, steamed dumplings, pancakes, Pork (mu shu Pork) and mutton (Mongolian hot pot). In the province of Szechuan, garlic and onions are very much enjoyed. In Eastern China, both rice and Wheat are consumed in Chinese bread, noodles, soy sauce and congee (rice gruel similar to porridge).

The Chinese influenced various countries with their cooking style and techniques: Taiwanese cuisine includes many typical Chinese meals: Chinese dried Pork sung, nut Chinese dessert is prepared with pie cherries, grass jelly (sian-chhau or the Chinese name of Liang fen).

Chinese Food Glossary Edit

Finding the ingredients for a Chinese Recipe is not so easy when you do not know the names of the ingredients. Take time to make a list of ingredients and the name they may be found under at the Local Markets.

Preparation Methods for Chinese Cooking Edit

The Chinese cooking techniques include: poaching (jum), cold-mixing (lun-ban), roasting (kow), barbecuing (shu), shallow frying (shieni), stir-fry (chao), red stewing or red cooking (hung shu), boiling (chu) and deep frying (tsa). Barbecuing is done over a rotisserie or a grill, heated with charcoal fire. Chu is done after washing and cutting the aliments; these are put in a pot and let to float free at high heat. The red-cooking process applies to various kinds of meats and it means the process whereby meat is fried in soy sauce till it gets reddish. Meat is always cut into bite-sized pieces, as Chinese don’t use knives. Fish are cooked and served without cutting and as fresh as possible, sometimes just steamed. Bamboo leaves, red leaves or banana ones are used for wrapping various aliments, in order to cook them healthy and natural.

Besides the cooking techniques, all foods are highly decorated with lettuce or with the composing elements. Instead of being thrown is bowls, salads are served in an aesthetic arrangement on a platter.

Special Equipment for Chinese Cooking Edit

The Chinese cooking techniques don’t include many kitchen robots and very often, Chinese chefs don’t even use ovens. Still, different frying pots, steaming pots with lid and roasting options have to be available. Chinese people are the owners of the wooden chopsticks, although, because of environmental issues, these have been replaced by plastic or metal ones in some countries. Spoons are used for soups, rice and for noodles and they are traditionally made of meticulousness decorated ceramic. Other cutlery, such as forks and knives are considered too aggressive, as they can be weapons in some circumstances and so, it’s not proper to use them while serving food. Still, the Western cutlery is provided in restaurants and kopi tiams. Other needed instruments are the sauce pans for stews and soups and large ones to preheat the oil for mixtures or meat. Chinese people use individual bowls of rice for each person at the table, but many dishes are eaten in common.

Chinese Food Traditions and Festivals Edit

On New Year’s Eve, a special vegetarian dish is eaten, called jai. This is made of root vegetables and fibrous vegetables: lotus seeds, ginkgo nuts, black moss, and dried bean curd and bamboo shots. All these are aliments that are believed to bring happiness and health. Fresh bean curd and tofu are considered unlucky, as the white colour represents death and misfortune in the Chinese culture. Other meals which are served on New Year are the whole meats, like Chicken with head, tail and feet or whole fish. In the South, the most significant celebration meals are the nian gao (sweet rice) and the zong zi (rice in red leaves). In Northern China, man tou (stemmed bread) with meat dumplings is the most common meal on holidays. The crispy style shrimp with sweet and sour sauce is a dish that celebrates New Year and it is served with an Asian sauce. Other celebrations include Ching Ming or the Remembrance of Ancestors Day, the T`ien Hou, Birthday of Buddha (a springtime festival), Cheng Chau Festival, Mid Autumn or Dragon Boat Festival. On these days, people eat rice and meat dumplings, which are wrapped in bamboo leaves. During the Mid Autumn Festival, the moon cakes are very important, as during the revolution, messages were written on paper and then baked into these cakes.

People in Chinese Food Edit

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The Chinese chefs tend to prepare the meals in a very natural way that often excludes modern equipments. That is why the Chinese chefs and especially the Cantonese ones are specialized on frying, roasting and steaming even without an oven. The cooks in the Northern regions of China are specialized on preparing noodles, the local congee and bread from Wheat. The chefs in the mountain province had been influenced by various foreign that passed their region in the famous silk route journey. The Buddhists introduced the hot spices and the Indians introduced the peppers, which evolved till the Szechuan peppercorn. The Spanish traders brought chillies to this region, so the mixture of cultures and people is very much felt here. In the Eastern regions, cooks rely on rice, Wheat and on red cooking (meat simmered in soy sauce) and in the Northern ones, Sugar is a main element, but not only for desserts.

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