The secrets of Chinese cuisine

8:02 pm CHINESE CUISINE

Chinese art of cookery was improving through the ages. It includes all knowledge and skills that make Chinese dishes ones of the most healthy and tasty in the world. The first detailed cookery book appeared in China about 1500 years ago, what can confirm the fact that Chinese art of cookery was a serious subject matter for ancient people.

Traveling through Peking I was watching oriental women: so slender, lissome and elegant. A fat Chinese is a rarity, though all Asiatic people are known as foodies, at times even gluttons. What is the reason of this contradiction? Chinese canons of cookery demand from a cook not only tasty food, but also health-giving one and sometimes medicinal. For example, some spicy dishes widespread in south regions are regarded as strong aphrodisiacs cheering up a person.

Talking to a polite and always smiling guide I got to know that Chinese believe the food was sent from heaven. They have no notion of taking a bite – mealing means joining to the culture of the nation. Among dishes prevail fluid and soft ones. The meal begins with putting food components on the plates. Green tea without milk or sugar is drank first; after that dishes with cold collations are served: usually they consist of liver, meat, fish or vegetables, finely sliced. Chinese never hasten while eating and enjoy the process. Then comes rice, which is eaten combined with sauce. And in the very end Chinese prefer broth or tea again – exactly these types of food and their order are considered to be the most auspicious for digestion.

I’ve made it sure from own experience that in most cases the originality of Chinese cuisine is the result of a skilful processing of the feedstock, and not the food itself. One of the main rules is that the course is to consist of small pieces, so that it doesn’t require additional effort to cut the food. A cook of the hotel where I lived, revealed me a secret of Chinese cuisine: to cut and fry properly. Small, equal in form and size pieces are cooked very fast in burning hot oil. But for all that dishes are never too fat or insipid. As regards the first question, a mistress from China spends three-quarters of the whole cooking time on preparing food: washing, slicing, bones removing and so on. As for frying – quick cooking in a large pan over a strong heat, each component is cooked separately from another. It helps getting top-quality foods.

Chinese cuisine

If you’ve been in Chinese restaurant, you could note that dishes there contain of many components that frequently seem incompatible, like pork that smells like fish or sweet-sour cucumbers. It’s another characteristic property of Chinese cuisine, that has it’s own authentic relish if you pay enough attention to savouring.

Now let’s touch upon a subject of names of Chinese dishes – they often look like a rebus when you see them in a menu, for example “Ants clime up the tree”. I was perplexed for some minutes until I found out that it’s just fried rice with hot meat gravy. But “Battle of dragon and tiger” turned to be a soup with meat of a snake and a special well-fed cat. I denied myself at once this dish and was glad that I got to know the ingredients first.

The same way as in Indian cuisine (and I think any other oriental cuisine), Chinese dishes can’t do without spices, kitchen herbs and sauces. About 300 types of spices are of use in Chinese cuisine. Soy sauce is an essential part of serving: it’s a substitute for salt and vinegar.

Chinese cuisine is tightly bound not only to history, but to holidays as well. When it’s a birthday, Chinese cook long noodles – a symbol of longevity; main dish of the New Year table is dumplings; when it’s “Summer beginning”, they prefer sweet rice rolled into reed leaves. Every season has its special dishes, just like each province of China has its own cookery school. The most popular of them are: Cantonese cuisine, which fresh courses are very tasty and cooked with using rich fantasy; Szechuan cuisine with a lot of spices including red cayenne pepper; Fujian cuisine, that is notable for its “paradise” soups; Shandong cuisine, which has many dishes with crabs and garlic; Hunan cuisine – sour-sweet dishes with river fish.

But still, what are the main traditional components of Chinese cuisine? After rice it’s fish, and it’s nonrandom – Chinese know more than 10 thousand of fish and anthozoan species, the most of them are edible. They are usually served almost raw (sashimi). Besides, they use for food all kinds of vegetables, fruits, beans, beef, pork, noodles, which was spread in Japan as well, algae and even insects. In other words Chinese can be called omnivorous, the main thing is how to prepare and serve food.

I hope I’ve shed some light on unique features of Chinese cuisine and exited in you the interest to try cook something Chinese yourself.

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