There is so much more to Chinese food than the basic ones which we usually order for takeouts like the Xiaolongbao (小笼包), Siu Mai (燒賣), and Yeung Chow (揚州炒飯). What makes their cuisine stand out is that they make use of different cooking styles and approaches to enhance a food's aroma, taste, and appearance. In fact, even the locals say that they are willing to pay a much higher price for their food since it is also considered a work of art in their culture. Would you also like to know more about the delicious food the country offers? Then, get to know more about it in this post.
渴望食物？(Pronunciation: Kěwàng shíwù? | Translation: Craving for food?)
There is no denying that the Chinese people love eating food that is well-prepared, satisfying, and pleasing to all the other senses. Most local chefs do their best to make dishes worth every penny as it is believed that good food can bring harmony and good luck to whoever takes a bite on it. There are also a few symbols for some of the ingredients, like using long noodles to symbolize long life and serving boiled chicken to represent unity and togetherness. Perhaps, this is also the reason behind the popularity of Chinese cooking and why it has massively influenced other cuisines like Mexican, Filipino, Vietnamese, and even Thai.
Interested in finding out more information about their type of cooking and their top dishes before you visit the country or try out a Chinese restaurant? Read more below.
For many Asian cultures, food is considered an important part since it reflects traditions passed down from generations. This is the reason why a lot of Asian people say that they have some secret recipe from their 祖母 (Zǔmǔ) or grandmothers! If you are planning to try homestays, you will be surprised at how fresh the served food will be this is because the locals get their ingredients fresh from the market every day if they can. Yep, this means that the seafood and meat products are sometimes still alive when bought.
As for eating habits, the Chinese people commonly prepare for 6 different food groups per mean to fit their dietary requirements. The food includes grains (rice or beans), vegetables (usually stir-fried), meat, preserved side dish (like the thousand-year-old eggs and snow cabbage), soup, and fruits. They mainly eat three times a day, with dinner being the most important meal since it is the time where the family is complete.
After a full meal, you might often see a few Chinese people also getting some warm tea. Contrary to common belief, it is not just England who loves tea but China too, which is why there is no surprise why it is the largest consumer of tea in the world found in one study! For them, drinking tea after a meal helps in digestion and is a good way to wash off the flavor left on the mouth.
As for the snacks, Chinese cuisine has a lot to offer, and it will not surprise many tourists. They also serve the classic sweet delicacies like cookies, pancakes with lots of syrup, ice cream, and pies. However, you should definitely not miss out on the other popular traditional desserts including the mooncake (月饼 or Yuèbǐng), sweet rice balls (元宵 or yuánxiāo), sesame balls (煎堆), and the prosperity cake (發粄 or Fa Gao). For thirst-quenchers, the country also serves lots of soymilk-based drinks and bubble tea with different toppings.
Read to order your takeout or cook some of the Chinese recipes? Let's get to know the 10 delicious food you surely do not want to miss out on!
Perfect for wintertime and for celebrating special occasions, the Chinese hotpot is traditionally shared with family and very close people. While this may not be a dish served right away from the kitchen, this one gives you the chance to cook your own pot by choosing the noodle type, broth, dipping sauce, and ingredients.
The usual noodle types here include the wide white ones, the needle noodles, shirataki, and rice stick noodles. For the ingredients, this includes at least a serving of seafood (shrimp, fish, squid, fish balls, or fish cakes), meats (beef, chicken, pork, or lamb), and vegetables (lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, corn bits, mushroom, and potatoes).
The homemade Chinese wonton soup is one of the classic favorites among the locals since it is easy to prepare and only uses a few ingredients. However, if you look at the wonton itself, you will be reminded of a bigger-sized ravioli with spiced meat made of chicken, beef, or shrimp. The wontons are cooked then served submerged with clear broth and seasoning such as ginger, spring onion, garlic, sesame, and soy sauce. It is already full of flavor but can also be eaten with noodles for a more satisfying serving.
Whenever we think about the country's popular dishes, we bet you will instantly think of potstickers like Chinese dumplings. This is a classic favorite because it is so tasty and gives you two types of textures: steamed top and grilled back! They are also very easy to find as there are many restraints specializing on this one, but there are also street vendors making this for a low price. The filling is usually made of a mix of ground pork, green onions, cabbage leaves, shrimp, soy sauce, sesame oil, and bok choy. It is served with dipping sauces which can be sweet, sour, and just made of soy sauce mix.
Also known as stir-fried noodles, the Chow Mein offers a unique flavor and amazing crunchy texture. Just looking at it, you will instantly be reminded of the Pad Thai of Thailand or Pancit Canton of the Philippines, but it is definitely not the same. Instead, the Chow Mein will truly make you go "chowing" with its versatile collection of cabbages, bean sprouts, green onions, carrots, and shrimps or chicken along with a noodle with the signature sauce (made of oyster sauce, mirin, sugar, soy cause, sesame oil, pepper, and cornflour).
Looking at the menu and wondering if there is something that exudes some real "traditional" flavor? Ever since the Imperial era, the Peking Duck is considered to be a special dish and is best known for its think and crispy skin perfect with steamed rice. It also can be dipped in sweet bean sauce or simple soy sauce and garlic mixture. There are also places where this is served with Mandarin pancake and is meant to be rolled inside along with other condiments like scallions, carrots, garlic oil, cucumber, and hoisin sauce.
Sweet and sour pork is one of the top dishes in China and is best eaten with rice due to its flavorful taste. As stated in classic recipes, you are meant to marinate and tenderize the meat with a classic marinade, including soy sauce, baking soda, garlic, ginger, and onion. And to make the classic sauce and its signature orange color, you will need ketchup, Worcestershire, oyster sauce, bell pepper, garlic, and pineapple. Other restaurants substitute the pork sometimes depending on what is available. Basically, you can see other recipes for sweet and sour using fish, beef, and shrimp.
Kung Pao is also one popular takeout food from Chinese restaurants, and it is also quite easy to make. It is a stir fry dish with an orange look and amazing flavor since it uses chicken broth, soy sauce, black vinegar, Chinese wine, and hoisin sauce! If this is your first time trying this one out, we highly recommend that you add some rice and veggies with it as well.
The soy sauce chicken is popular even in Chinatowns in your country. Unlike other roasted chicken, this one is tastier and more flavorful to the point that every bite is just bursting with sauces and spices. You will need to use fresh ingredients only to cook this one, such as ginger, scallions, star anise, soy sauce, sugar, salt, and rose-flavored wine. After that, you will just put the chicken in, and let's soak up the spices for a crazy good taste! You can also team it up with some white rice and vegetable dishes.
Unlike Westerners, the locals are not as health-conscious, so there are not many vegetable dishes in the country. However, you can easily spot this one in restaurants which means that vegans can indeed still enjoy China. This dry-fried dish is made using a wok and uses basic ingredients like green beans, chili, ground pork (you can ask this to be removed when ordering), mushrooms. It is served with rice and is perfect with chicken.
Similar to the Philippines' Lumpiang Shanghai, the Chinese spring roll is made of wrapper spring roll wrappers with fillings including meat, vegetables, and cheese. It can be eaten on its own, but it can also be served with dipping sauce for an added taste!
Which of these popular foods are you going to try out or make in your kitchen today? If you'd like to learn more about Chinese culture, cuisine, and their language, we highly recommend that you save our web page to keep yourself updated with our new posts. Also, don't forget to download for FREE the Ling App to get yourself motivated in learning Chinese and 60+ other foreign languages today!