Chinese cuisine is considered both a craft and an art and it has been developing and getting richer since the oldest of times. During the reign of Emperor Fu (20 centuries BC) the Chinese people learned how to fish and hunt and agriculture and cooking began their evolution. During the Chou Dynasty Chinese cooking and food decorating gained the status of high art.
The principles of Confucius promoted the etiquette of food and the joy it can bring. Taoism promoted health and hygienic aspects of cooking since the body should be concerned with longevity. Therefore Chinese cuisine doesn’t include unhealthy food and most dishes are low-calorie and low-fat. The Chinese also explored numerous kinds of herbs, spices, seeds, roots and plants and used them in traditional dishes. All the foods that the Chinese consume have both a physiological need and a spiritual one, as they can bring joy, prosperity or happiness.
There are many different cuisines within the territory of China such as North-western (or Mandarin) and North-eastern, Jian-Huai, Cantonese cuisine, Hunan. Szechuan, Fujian, Yunnan, Hainan, and Hakka just to mention some. These world-famous cooking styles have evolved in other regions as well – Taiwan, Nanyang (Chinese Diaspora in Southeast Asia) and there is also the individual cuisine of Hong Kong.
represented by seafood, poultry, and the dim sum (meaning a touch of the heart), made of pastries and dumplings. In the hot 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 onion are used a lot and in Eastern China, both rice and wheat are consumed in Chinese bread, noodles, soy sauce and congee (rice gruel similar to porridge).
Chinese appetizers can consist of: dumplings, crispy dishes, cookies, toast, lotus flowers, rice, chicken wontons, pot stickers and tamari roasted nuts.
Chicken-Rice Rollups – In a large bowl combine chopped cooked chicken, cooked rice, drained and finely chopped water chestnuts, cheddar cheese, chopped celery, sour cream, onion, chilies, chili powder, salt and pepper sauce. This rice mixture is then placed by tablespoon in the center of wonton skins. Each wonton skin is then folded over the filling, rolled up and sealed. Oil is heated in a deep fryer or heavy saucepan and the rolls are fried a golden brown. Drained on paper towels and served.
Chinese Mushrooms – Remove stems from large mushroom caps. Then ground pork is mixed with
Chinese salted turnip (chung choi), soy sauce, chopped and drained water chestnuts, salt and sugar in a large bowl. The mushroom caps are filled with this mixture and steamed for about 30 minutes and served.
Most Chinese soups are named after the vegetables they contain, although they are almost all based on meat, especially chicken stock.
Beef and Rice Soup Oriental – Cubed beef round steak is browned. Then beef broth, soy sauce and pepper are added. This is brought to a boil in a soup pot. Covered and simmered for 30 minutes. Then rice is stirred in and simmered until rice is tender. Add chopped chop suey vegetables. Once the soup is ready a raw, beaten egg is stirred through the soup.
Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup with Spinach and Garlic Chives – A whole chicken is cut up into large pieces and put to boil with water, crushed ginger root, scallions and Chinese rice wine or dry sherry. Simmer about 2 hours then add noodles and cook until noodles are right consistency and add spinach and garlic chives.
Chinese salads are light and high in nutrients. Salads are topped with dressings, such as soy sauce with parsley, lime juice, sesame oil, peanuts and chillies.
Chinese Chicken Salad – Cool chicken breast halves and dice. Tear up a head of lettuce into small pieces and add green onion, celery, chopped walnuts, sesame seeds and Chinese noodles. Then add sugar, rice vinegar and peanut oil and toss the salad.
Chinese Cucumber Salad – Mix together soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, oil and pepper flakes. Then tossed with thinly sliced cucumbers and bell pepper and chill.
Chinese-style Fried Rice – Beat six eggs in a bowl with spring onions, soy sauce, and ginger. Heat oil in a wok and add onion and stir fry. Pour in the egg mixture and let cook for 10 seconds. Then fold over the egg mixture and lightly scramble until cooked through. Add cooked rice and extra soy sauce and stir fry breaking the egg into smaller pieces. Add Chinese cabbage and stir fry until well combined and rice is heated through.
Vegetable Stew – Add onions, leeks and elephant garlic to a pot coated with butter. Add carrots, celery, tomato sauce, black beans, Chinese cabbage and potatoes. Add vegetable broth, dried oregano, basil, freshly ground pepper, celery salt, cayenne pepper and 2 bay leaves. Simmer for about a half an hour. When ready sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Chinese Ham Stew – Soak wood ear mushrooms and garlic cloves. Then add the mushrooms, garlic, soy sauce and water to a pork leg cut into bite-size pieces and cook on low heat until pork is tender.
Chinese Roast Pork – Marinate a bone-in pork roast with soy sauce, honey, sherry, garlic and ginger for about 8 hours. Then bake the pork for 1 hour with the marinade and wrap in foil and bake for another one and a half hours.
Peking Pork Chops – On top of thick-cut pork chops place a mixture of ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce, ketchup and garlic. Cook for 4 to 5 hours.
During the meal, Chinese people usually don’t drink because they believe drinks interfere with good digestion. Sometimes light drinks such as water or tea are consumed during dinner. At the end of the meal, tea is served. Chinese tea is divided into 8 categories: green, oolong (iron guan yin, lone bush), black (pu’er), red (tian, qi men), white, yellow, flower and compressed (peg top).
Other drinks that are served are soy milk and usually drunk at breakfast, soybean milk drink, and lemonade.