Chinese Cuisine

A Fanfare of Chopsticks
The World’s Best Cooks

“There would have been universal insistence, with a fanfare of chopsticks, upon irresistible Chinese food.” — Richard Hughes [1]

“It would not be an overstatement to maintain that the Chinese are the best cooks in the world.” — V. R. Burkhardt [2]

Jade Chopsticks

Jade Chopsticks
Collected by Berthold Laufer

Chinese food is everyone’s favorite cuisine, it seems.  This holds true whether you are chef, foodie, food writer, or ordinary eater.

It is true not only in China, but Chinese food is hugely enjoyed in Japan, Australia, North and South America, and Europe.  These days, excellent Chinese food is increasingly available in the Middle East and Africa, as restaurants open to serve expatriate Chinese workers in those regions. Continue reading

Ginger II

The Ultimate De-Fisher
As Fundamental as Onions

“Ginger is forever.” —  Molly O’Neill

“Half the secret of good cooking lies in de-fishing the fish, or anything in which you wish to soften down the animal flavor.  Ginger is of course a de-fisher.”– Buwei Yang Chao

Ginger in Asian Kitchens:Ginger appears in Continue reading

Soy Sauce II 醬油

Supreme Flavor Enhancer
Seven Teaspoons a Day

How to use Soy Sauce

Soy Sauce

We’ve seen that Soy Sauce is widely popular in the Pacific Rim because it provides the special taste called umami to foods.

It’s so popular that people in the region are taking as much as seven teaspoons a day.  Continue reading

Soy Sauce 醬油

The Indispensable Ingredient
Source of Umami

“With soy sauce, you can cook an untiring series of Chinese dishes with nothing but those foods you can get at any American market.” — Buwei Yang Chao [1]

How to use Soy Sauce

Soy Sauce

What Is Is: Soy sauce is a dark, salty, savory sauce of East Asian origin that is used in cooking and flavoring food, both in the kitchen and at the table.  Dr. Chao puts it very simply: “Soy sauce is the most important flavorer of Chinese food.” Continue reading

Litchi

The Honorable Concubine’s Favorite Fruit
First Food Shipped by Refrigerated Transport

“Eunuchs gallop up in continuous succession,
“Bearing delicacies for the Imperial kitchens.”
Tu Fu, “Ballad of Lovely Women” [1]

It was the eighth century.  The eunuchs were Imperial couriers, a kind of Chinese Pony Express.

Their saddlebags were crammed full of Continue reading

Tea Eggs 茶葉蛋

Hard Boiled But Soft Inside
Mottled Like Ancient Porcelain

“Tea eggs are one of those ways of hard-boiling eggs so long that they are soft inside.” — Buwei Yang Chao [1]

Making Chinese dim sum snack, Tea Eggs, Cha Ye Dan

Tea Eggs

Tea Eggs, as Dr. Chao says, are a Chinese way of hard boiling eggs for a long time so that eventually they become soft again. Not soft-runny, but soft and dry-tender, as far as the yolks, and soft and firm but not leathery for the whites.

The Eggs are boiled with tea leaves and the shells are crackled but not removed.  As a result, when you shell them, the Eggs are a mottled color like ancient porcelain.

Continue reading

Pomelo

The Biggest Citrus Fruit
Captain Shaddock’s Trophy

“In the southern provinces, there are pomelos, a drier kind of grapefruit.” — Buwei Yang Chao

What You Need To Know About Pomelos:  Pomelos  are a delicious Asian fruit, with nutrition and health benefits and an important Continue reading

China’s Great Cooking Discovery – Stir-Frying

Do You Stir-Fry?

The discovery of how to stir-fry foods, in deepest antiquity, was one of China’s greatest contributions to world gastronomy. It is not only a safe way to prepare food, but it is delicious and one of the things that gives Chinese food is distinctive character.

Yu Cai Chao Ji Pian
Yu Tsai Stir Fried with Chicken Slices

Stir-frying is very ancient and is a style that makes Chinese food taste Chinese. It has its own special word in Chinese, chao 炒, which according to  Matthews Chinese dictionary means literally, “to roast in a pan, to fry.” [note 1]. There is a misconception among many non-Chinese cooks who try to do it about just what this term means and how to stir-fry. Continue reading