Chinese Cooking Techniques: A Broad Spectrum from East to West

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The History of Chinese Cuisine

Chinese cuisine is one of the world’s most diverse and ancient culinary arts, with a history stretching back thousands of years. Over time, it has developed a vast array of cooking techniques, from stir-frying to steaming, braising to deep-frying, and many more.

The Diversity of Chinese Cooking Techniques

Chinese cooking techniques are incredibly diverse, reflecting the vastness and variety of the country itself. From the spicy stir-fries of Sichuan to the delicate steamed dumplings of Dim Sum, the techniques used in Chinese cooking are as varied as the dishes themselves.


The Importance of Wok

The wok is an essential tool in Chinese cooking, especially for stir-frying. This versatile pan with its curved shape allows for the quick and even cooking of ingredients, making it perfect for stir-frying.

The Art of Stir-Frying

Stir-frying is a quick-cooking method that involves constantly stirring ingredients in a hot wok with a small amount of oil. This technique helps to retain the natural flavors and textures of the ingredients while also creating a deliciously smoky ‘wok hei’ or ‘breath of the wok’.


Types of Steaming

There are different types of steaming techniques in Chinese cuisine. The most common is ‘zheng’, which involves steaming food over boiling water in a bamboo steamer. Another method is ‘men’, which involves steaming food on a plate or tray placed inside a wok or steamer.

Popular Steamed Dishes

Steamed dishes are a staple in Chinese cuisine. Dim Sum, a collection of small, flavorful dishes often served in bamboo steamers, is one of the most popular types of Chinese cuisine that involves steaming. Other popular steamed dishes include baozi (steamed buns) and zheng yu (steamed fish).


The Basics of Braising

Braising, or ‘men’, is a cooking technique that involves first frying food briefly in oil, then simmering it in a covered pot with a small amount of liquid. This method results in tender, flavorful dishes with a rich sauce.

Tips for Perfect Braising

To achieve perfect braising, it’s important to use the right cut of meat, brown it well before simmering, and use a flavorful liquid like broth or soy sauce for simmering.


The Use of Oil

Deep-frying is a cooking technique that involves submerging food in hot oil until it is cooked and crispy. It’s essential to use a high-quality oil with a high smoking point, like peanut or canola oil, for deep-frying.

Famous Deep-Fried Dishes

Some famous Chinese deep-fried dishes include you tiao (deep-fried dough sticks), zha ji (fried chicken), and spring rolls.


Traditional Roasting Methods

Traditional Chinese roasting methods include ‘kao’, which involves roasting food over an open flame or in an oven, and ‘shao’, which involves roasting meat on a spit.

Modern Adaptations

Modern Chinese chefs have adapted traditional roasting techniques to create new dishes, like Peking duck and char siu (barbecued pork).


The Simplicity of Boiling

Boiling is one of the simplest Chinese cooking techniques, but it can create incredibly flavorful dishes. Boiling involves cooking food in boiling water or broth until it is cooked through.

Boiled Dishes and Soups

Boiled dishes and soups are a staple in Chinese cuisine. Popular boiled dishes include huo guo (hot pot) and tang (soup).


Chinese cooking techniques are incredibly diverse, reflecting the vastness and variety of the country itself. From the quick and smoky stir-fries to the delicate and flavorful steamed dishes, braised meats to crispy deep-fried treats, roasted delicacies to simple boiled dishes and soups, the techniques used in Chinese cooking create a vast array of delicious and varied dishes.


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