Basic Knowledge about Chinese Cuisine



If you learn Chinese language without knowledge about Chinese cuisine, it is like you got a coin  with one side.

Chinese cooking is a very important part of Chinese culture and language. In this post, I share some basic Chinese cuisine knowledge with you.

If you like, you can watch the dish video here. These dishes were made years ago.

If you are new to Chinese cooking, I recommend two starter recipe books “Easy Chinese Recipes” and “Steamy Kitchen Cookbook” for two reasons.

1, A lot of step by step pictures. 2,  Easy to follow recipes.

So you will know how to cook some basic and popular Chinese dishes in no time.

As we know, China is a big country with diverse and rich Chinese cuisine styles.

It is hard to generalize kinds of cuisine techniques with several words, but many people agree that there are more than twenty basic cooking techniques.

Among them, stir-frying (炒) (chǎo) is the most familiar word to English speakers.

In my understanding, the essence of Chinese cuisine is mixing well of the flavor of different ingredients.

Based on this understanding, you can be creative to mix anything if the mixed flavor tastes good.

I used to mix ingredients with all kinds of seasonings, especially canned sauces, lately, I try to cook with limited seasonings and few canned sauces if possible.

There is a Chinese saying: 巧妇难为无米之炊 ( qiǎo fù nán wéi wú mǐ zhī chuī ).

It means a handy woman can’t make a meal without rice. In another word, we have to get some materials first before we get a dish done.

So what materials are needed if you wish to cook Chinese dishes?

1, A wok .

A nonstick cook pan is not good for cooking Chinese dishes is because many Chinese dishes need high temperature to get the job done.

Before you use a brand new iron wok, make sure you season it.  For more information, plead read this post:  How To Season and Clean a Wok.

Remember: Every time, when you finish cooking, make sure you dry up the wok with fire, then put some oil with paper towel to rub the inside of wok everywhere to prevent the rust.

If some rust appears, put some vinegar to clean it up. It is recommended to clean the wok with warm water rather than dish soap.

2, Seasonings, sauces and oils.

My favorite seasonings are on the below list.

. Ginger  and garlic clove.

Ginger and garlic are very healthy seasonings. I put them into most of my dishes to add the flavor.

.  Chinese pepper powder  and white pepper powder.

Pepper powders add some spicy flavor and color to the dish. To some dishes, pepper powder is a must.

For example, when you cook chicken meat, it is always a good idea to put some white pepper powder.

. Star aniseed or star aniseed powder, five-spice powder.

These seasonings are necessary when cook meat dishes. They add flavors to the dish and help to reduce the fishy smell.

. Green onion and parsley.

Green onion and parsley add flavor and color to the dish.

A successful dish should not only taste delicious but also look nice, if the dish is healthy, better.

My favorite sauces are: soybean sauce and dark soy sauce.

By the way, soybean sauce and dark soy sauce are both called 酱油 (jiang4 you2) (soy bean sauce).

However, dark soy sauce has darker color and more salty compared to soybean sauce.

Soybean sauce is used for the cooking most of time but dark soy sauce is used specifically for some dishes to add heavy flavor and color.

. Cooking wine and vinegar.

Cooking wine and vinegar are used for meat dishes mostly but they can also be used for other dishes. Especially, vinegar can be used wildly for a lot of dishes.

My favorite cooking oils are: olive oil , sesame oil and vegetable oil.

3, Vegetables, meats, Tofu, mushrooms etc.

Luckily, most of these materials can be found at your local supermarkets. Chinese dishes can be complicated or very simple. Just cook whatever you can find, you can still make a tasty healthy Chinese dish. Enjoy your cooking.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.


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