Familiar with fried rice, spring rolls and Manchurian?
Thanks to the Chinese for blessing us with such an appetizing cuisine. Unlike the Italian and French cuisines, Chinese cuisine is less sophisticated has far more outreach to the general population around the world. No wonder it’s ranked among the best cuisines the world.But sadly, noodles bears the overused symbolism of Chinese in food, like Butter chicken and Naan to the Indian cuisine.
History of Chinese cuisine dates back to thousands of years and has encountered change at every level from time to time. People in china are especially particular about their food and hence they have eight culinary traditions namely, ANHUI, CANTONESE, FUJIAN, HUNAN, JIANGSU, SHANDONG, SZECHUAN and ZHEJIANG cuisines. The prominence of this cuisine had taken it out past the national boundaries to countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and America who have incorporated their native flavors to the cuisine.
Let’s learn more about it in particular, Staples in Chinese cuisine involve rice, noodles, vegetables, sauces and seasonings. It doesn’t include much of Dairy products but the same is subtly compensated by variety of seafood, poultry and meat. Corn, millet, cabbage, sweet potato and tofu are eaten the most under vegetables and cereals categories. It is said that that when in past famines were frequented much, it posed a threat to the food supply for general population. At that time rice became an important part of every meal as it was available in plentiful and was observed to go well with both vegetables and meat based on what was available. This gave rice a revered position in their platter which is cherished still the same. And yes! It is traditional for them to use chopsticks and soup spoons for every meal.So now that we had familiarized ourselves to the cuisine, moving towards more exciting part let’s regard some really delectable must have dishes. Shall we?
Peking duck is a duck dish originated from Beijing and cooked from the imperial era is now considered a national dish. Relished for the thin and crisp duck skin, the dish is eaten with scallion, cucumber and sweet bean sauce with pancakes rolled around the fillings. After cooking, dish is served in three steps: skin dipped in garlic and sugar sauce, meat served with steamed pancakes, sweet bean sauce and spring onions. The rest and vegetables is either eaten separately or mixed with the broth which customers often takeaway.
KUNG PAO CHICKEN
Next on the list is the very delicious Kung Pao chicken, categorized under Szechuan cuisine originated primarily from the south-western parts of China. Known for its spicy twist, dish is made up of chicken, peanuts, vegetables and chili peppers. The original version of Kung Pao chicken involves marinating diced chicken and stir frying it with vegetables and peanuts. In vegetables, chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns are important components. While preparing, peanuts or cashew nuts are deep fried in the wok first till they are golden brown and afterwards rest of the ingredients are added. In the westernized versions of Kung Pao chicken instead of marinated diced chicken, beef, pork or seafood are often substituted which is then cooked by adding orange or orange juice with ginger, garlic and corn starch. The dish is garnished with roasted peanuts or cashew nuts.
Now who wouldn’t know this? Very well relished by everyone, it literally means “stir-fried” noodles”. Though there are many regional variations to it, it’s basically they are prepared in two ways: 1. Steamed and 2. Crisp. The Steamed chowmein has long and rounded noodles with softer texture than crispy chowmein, which has fried and flat noodles and is crisper and drier in texture.
The popularity of chowmein is so widespread that it has more than 5 varieties collaborating with respective regional cuisines all over the world. There are still differences except the basic texture of noodles between crispy and steamed noodles. Like crispy noodles May or may not contained any vegetables or and be simply strained and stir fried, while steamed chowmein usually carrots, onions or celery, cabbage and sprouts.
The former is served with thick brown sauce while the other is topped with soy sauce. Chowmein can be custom incorporated into Frankies, burgers or you can add chicken or egg to increase the nutrient value of this delight.
Dumpling! Yes, wantons are a common addition to soups in Chinese cuisine. The dough is prepared by using flour, water, egg (as per preference) and salt which is then made into small wrappers filled with meat or shrimp or steamed vegetables seasoned with spices, garlic and green onions. The shapes are made as per desire but most versatile shape is right triangle, made by folding the wrapper in half by pulling two diagonally opposite corners.
Relished by boiling and serving them in soups, wantons are also preferred deep fried, like other Chinese dishes it also has various regional variations. Basically the differences lie between the shapes and the filling inside the wantons. If not comfortable with sweating to cook, the pre cooked versions of wantons are available in the market. Enjoy the delicacy with Hoisin or garlic sauce.
POPULAR INDO-CHINESE ENTREES
Now talking about what we plate after collaborating with Chinese cuisine, we actually have plenty from appetizers to desserts. One of the most popular appetizers is momos apart from apart from spring rolls and soups.Popular entrees include chilli and Manchurian dishes which is often cooked with either chicken for non vegetarian foodies and is mostly substituted by paneer and other vegetables like cauliflower and baby corns for Vegetarians.
All this and more delicacies are there to explore in this cuisine, which is ever evolving and still have roots to the Chinese tradition. So, explore into the finesse of Chinese.