Chinese Recipes

On the surface, Chinese recipes possess the flavors we’ve come to know of them, particularly in the use of ginger, spring onions and garlic. But Chinese cuisine is more than these common hallmarks, as diverse as the many regions that make up the most populous country in the world.

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In The Chinese Kitchen by Deh-Ta Hsiung, Chinese recipes rely on a food philosophy that highlights the “freshness of ingredients” and “balance of tastes.” That’s why in many a Chinese market, you will find an exhaustive array of ingredients—from vegetables and fruits native to China as well as meat, fish and poultry, waiting to be seasoned by an even larger list of spices and seasonings.

These ingredients are transformed into the traditional Chinese meal based on the perfect balance in terms of color, aroma, flavor and shape. Chinese recipes are not merely a casual hodgepodge of these elements, but instead a carefully and skilfully constructed whole and parts.

Aside from contrasts and complementary in colors and aroma, the ingredients of Chinese recipes should follow uniformity in size and shape. This is not simply for the sake of aesthetics (although julienned bell peppers, carrots and onions do look great together) but more rightfully, if they have the same size and shape, they will cook together at the same time. No uneven rawness or mushiness in your stir-fries and egg rolls.chinese-food-recipes

Chinese cuisine is also based on the principle of the yin and yang since food intake is entirely connected to one’s personal health. Yin represents the cool quality of food while the yang represents the hot quality. One does not outdo the other, but instead, unite and complement each other. You will not find a singularly rich or cloying dish in Chinese cuisine. Everything simmers in a delicious harmony that’s sweet, sour, bitter, hot and salty in a plate.

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Chinese Cooking


Peking roast duck glistening on a hook. Dimsum warm on a bamboo basket. Carved winter melon with ham soup on its cavity. Sichuan spicy bean curd. Crisp fried spring rolls. Sweet and sour pork. These are just some of the common dishes found in Chinese cooking. Their flavors are fresh, with emphasis on good health and balance of the fan (grains and starches) and cai (meat and vegetables).

To the five traditional flavors fundamental to Chinese cooking, the Chinese cook add two additional flavors. Xiang refers to the aromatic tastes associated with wine, garlic, spring onions, sesame seeds, and Sichuan pepper, says Deh-Ta Hsiung in The Chinese Kitchen. Xian means delicious in a savory way, like a good meaty chicken stock, oyster sauce, shrimp sauce and even monosodium glutamate.

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In the Chinese markets, an array of ingredients awaits he who wishes to practice the art of Chinese cooking. The selection, preparation, and presentation of these ingredients are based on the harmony of flavors, which is the philosophy of Chinese cooking. You will find bean curds, rice noodles, sesame seed oil, chilli sauce, plum sauce, dried shrimps, coriander, five-spice powder, bok choy leaves, chestnuts, sea cucumber, scuttlefish, and more when you venture out to your Chinatown market stalls.

In the Chinese kitchen, the cleaver is a requisite tool especially for chopping vegetables to uniform size, an important consideration so the vegetables cook well at the same time. The versatile wok is a must in creating stir fries, noodle dishes, scallion cakes, and bean curd recipes. Double-handed and single-handed woks are great investments. You can shallow- or deep-fry, braise, steam, and make soups using your trusty wok. For dimsums like steamed dumplings, meat buns, and chicken feet, a bamboo steamer does the job. Clay casseroles with covers help steam and stew other Chinese delights.