10 Secrets to Preparing Authentic Chinese Foodby The Cookbook Publisher Best Copycat Recipes | The Cookbook Publisher
Everyone loves Chinese food. For centuries now, everything from chow mein to egg rolls to dumplings has made our mouths water, and for good reason. Chinese food is delicious, nutritious, and offers a huge variety of flavors, everything from hot to sweet, crispy to chewy.
A lot of folks find cooking Chinese food intimidating and rely on their neighborhood takeout restaurants or app to deliver the goods when they have a craving for it. But it’s not as difficult as you may imagine. A big part of the secret to fabulous Chinese fare is preparation and having the right cooking equipment and ingredients. Here are simple steps to follow when you’re cooking Chinese — remember these tips and you’re sure to produce a meal that will have the family racing to the dinner table and asking for seconds.
Have the Right Equipment!
Using a wok is mandatory if you want to make an authentic Chinese stir fry. A frying pan just won’t do. Well made woks are not too expensive, and using it, again and again, allows it to pay for itself in no time. Woks make layering different foods, like vegetables, easier, and there’s a reason it’s designed the way it is. Even if you have no other Chinese-specific cookery in your kitchen, having a wok opens up a whole world of Chinese recipes.
Use the Correct Veggies
Chinese cooking means using vegetables you may not be familiar with, like bok choy, a type of Chinese cabbage used in a whole host of Chinese recipes. Can you use a substitute cabbage? Technically, yes, but it won’t taste nearly as good and it won’t be authentic Chinese! If you’re nervous about cooking with a vegetable you don’t know, read up a little online. Once you know its properties, and what parts of it are used, you won’t feel at all intimidated.
Cut Meat Across the Grain and Marinade
Many Chinese recipes are economical because they use less expensive cuts of meat. But the meat is always cut across the grain, then marinated, to tenderize it and let the flavors soak in. Don’t skip these steps! If you do, you might find your meat is chewier than it should be.
Invest in Quality Chopping Boards and Knives
Chinese recipes are famous for their variety of veggies, so having a large, sturdy chopping board, and good knives that are well-sharpened, are crucial. Again, these are investments you’ll use repeatedly, and they’re worth every nickel. There will be a lot of chopping involved to make most Chinese dishes. One important thing everyone cooking Chinese food should know is to cut your ingredients as evenly as possible, making it easy to eat with traditional chopsticks and making each bite well-balanced.
Stock Up on Chinese Products for your Pantry
By this, we mean products like soy sauce, sesame oil, hoisin sauce, and Chinese rice wine/vinegar, which are both frequently called for in Chinese recipes. Having them in your pantry means you won’t have to go rushing out to the grocery store when you decide to make your meal. And speaking of the grocery store…
Go to Chinatown or visit a Chinese Grocery Store!
If you live in a city like New York or San Francisco, you’re lucky that you have Chinatown to shop in. Smaller cities may not have entire districts, but most have at least one Chinese grocery store that carries Asian products. Don’t limit yourself to a specialty aisle in your usual supermarket – make a trip to a Chinese grocery store instead. Doing so means you will find the products you need, but also you can chat with the staff members, who are bound to be familiar with each product and how to use it. They may even have a secret or two to pass on, like whether substituting low-sodium soy sauce is acceptable in a particular recipe. Nothing replaces the knowledge of someone who’s been cooking a particular kind of food for decades. And they are always willing to share that knowledge, one cook, to another.
Other Kitchen Wares for Chinese Cooking
Once you’ve made a recipe or two, you may want to branch out to something more complicated, like making Chinese dumplings or homemade egg rolls. For these, you need a good bamboo steamer. Consider heading to the Chinese grocery for more advice on styles and types; they may even sell them. Once your family has had these bite-sized bits of heaven, they may never want bacon and eggs for brunch again.
Chinese is Great for Going Vegetarian
Tofu is a common protein source in Chinese recipes, rather than beef or chicken. Tofu is one item you can buy in your usual store or at a Chinese grocery. It comes in various densities — firm, soft, etc. — so be sure you know what you’re buying, and that it’s right for the recipe. Again, a Chinese grocery or a cookbook — or both! — is your best resource. May we suggest Sarah Spencer’s cookbook Best Vegetarian and Vegan Asian Recipes from Mama Li’s Kitchen?
Use Quality Rice
Don’t skimp or take shortcuts when making rice for a Chinese meal — you’ll regret it. Quality rice is the best accompaniment to Asian food, and often the vegetables and meat are placed on top. You want the rice to be every bit as fabulous as those.
Learn about Layering
There’s a reason woks are shaped as they are, deeper in the center than on the sides. That’s because there’s an art to layering the vegetables into the hot oil — and make sure it’s very hot — so follow the recipe guidelines closely. This ensures you don’t end up with wildly varying degrees of doneness, some veggies limp and some undercooked. And always use fresh ingredients, like garlic. Using dry or powdered alters the taste, it’s as simple as that.
Following these suggestions will get you comfortable cooking Chinese food in no time. It’s all a matter of having the right wares, tools and the freshest ingredients. And don’t forget to enjoy a glass of warm sake with your meal, to make your experience truly authentic. Soon your family will be asking for Chinese food a few times a week, and because it’s easy to master and nutritious for everyone, you’ll be happy to oblige.
Even if your family loves Chinese food from a takeout place, you can master the recipes at home. We have several cookbooks dedicated to all things takeout. Just click on the covers or the links to learn more:
From Sarah Spencer: Chinese Cooking: Favorite Chinese Takeout Recipes and Best Chinese Takeout Recipes from Mama Li’s Kitchen
From Lina Chang: Chinese Takeout Cookbook: Favorite Chinese Takeout Recipes to Make at Home and Copycat Recipes: Making PF Chang’s, Panda Express & Pei Wei’s Most Popular Chinese Recipes at Home
Before long, your family will be ordering from your “menu” right at home!
If you are just starting out, stirring up quick and easy stir-fry might just be what you need. We have two cookbooks that have this cooking method with all the information you need to start making Chinese stir-fry like a pro!
We have others, too, so have a look later in this article to find their titles.
If you want to get into authentic Chinese food, the next thing is to learn how to make egg rolls, Spring rolls, and dumplings. These are the most eaten Chinese food in Asia and we have the perfect book to get you started with step-by-step instructions to make the best egg rolls, Spring rolls, and dumpling there is.
Created on Jan 8th 2020 04:55. Viewed 171 times.