Chinese Cooking Methods

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Chinese Cooking Methods

The art of Chinese cooking is not, contrary to popular belief, complicated and difficult. Most Chinese dishes do not require a complex processing and equipment in the kitchen as does one of China's most famous dishes, Peking duck. Simplicity is the key to Chinese cuisine as evidently shown in their various cooking methods. When you have the ingredients, seasonings and marinades ready, you can use one of the following methods to cook in Chinese.


Roasting - Roasting is not family cooking in China, since few Chinese kitchens have facilities for roasting. Only restaurants go much into roasts and Cantonese restaurants excel especially in these. In roasting, raw ingredients are marinated in seasonings before being roasted in an oven or barbecued over direct heat from charcoal fire, with the roast turning slowly round and round. Marinades is added inside and out from time to time so that the skin remains smooth and shiny, instead of rough and flaky, and the meat remains juicy instead of powdery. The Peking duck is one of China's most famous dishes cooked this way. Families can go to food shops to buy roast meat or poultry and eat it cold. But for the crisp juicy hot roast duck, one has to go to a restaurant.


Boiling - Strictly speaking, this means cooking food in boiling water (A liquid is boiling when the surface is continually agitated by large bubbles). Violent boiling should be avoided. It wastes fuel; it does not cook the food any faster, it tends to make the food break up and so spoils the appearance; the liquid is evaporated too quickly with the consequent danger of the food burning. There are one or two exceptions to this rule; for example, when one wants to drive off water quickly from syrup or a sauce to make it thicker, then violent boiling with the lid off hastens the process.


In Chinese cooking, there is very little big-fire boiling, as a complete process. Chinese would not consider eating boiled potatoes. After a thing is boiled, the natural question is - Now what of it? Quick plain boiling is often only a preparatory process for other ways of cooking - where the term parboil comes into place. There are some exceptions, such as plain boiled celery cabbage with salt and a little lard, or boiled yam, to eat with sugar. But celery cabbage and yam are such cook-proof things that they are good in any method prepared. It's not necessary to use continued big fire after water has started to boil, because water cannot be hotter than 100° C or 212°F. Turn the fire to medium if you want but to make sure that it is at least hot in all parts, especially in a large tall boiling or steaming pot, the fire must be big enough for you to see the steam come out.


Shallow frying - shallow frying uses a small amount of oil in a frying pan or wok at a temperature lower than stir-frying. Ingredients are usually cut into slices or flat pieces, and are used as they are, slightly coated with batter or rubbed with seasonings. Fish is ideal for this cooking method. The presentation side of the food should be fried first as this side will have the better appearance because the oil is clean, then turned so that both sides are cooked and browned. Sauces, if called for, are then added. Food cooked this way is tender inside with some crispness outside. This method is quite similar to sautéing in the West.




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