Is your favorite night of the week Chinese takeout night, when you can dive into a bowl of steaming noodles, the mouthwatering aromas wafting out of the dish? Or maybe you prefer to whip up your own edition of your favorite Chinese meals at home.
Chinese food is popular and much-loved throughout the world. It’s diverse, full of flavor, and pretty simple to make. Yet, takes time to master.
We’re here to help you perfect Chinese cuisine with some important tips. Keep reading and get to cooking!
Equipment for Cooking at Home
If you’re trying to master the ways of traditional Chinese cuisine, it’s important to have the right equipment.
While you can make do without one, having a good wok is going to massively up your cooking game. It’s a staple piece of equipment in Chinese kitchens.
A saucepan is the wrong shape and it’s difficult to get even cooking when the ingredients aren’t falling to the center. Cooking in a wok means that you can toss food while it cooks evenly – this is vital for mastering the stir-fries.
A carbon steel wok is the best out there as it conducts and retains heat very well and has a naturally non-stick surface. Look for a wok that has a shallow base and deep sides.
The Flavors You Need in Your Pantry
Most people throw together a few things in a pan with a bit of Chinese Five Spice and call it a day. While Chinese cooking only needs a couple of ingredients, learning how to layer flavor combinations is the way to perfect Chinese cuisine.
Start by stocking your pantry with commonly used flavorful ingredients. Oyster sauce adds that delicious umami touch and pops up in a lot of Chinese recipes, as a marinade, in stir-fry, and even stews!
A good soy sauce is non-negotiable, but it’s up to you whether you prefer light or dark soy sauce.
Shaoxing rice wine, sesame oil, and rice vinegar are more of your staples. Once you’ve got all of these in your pantry, you’re ready to go!
As for fresh produce: garlic, ginger, chilies, and spring onion are always great to have on hand as you will use many or all of them in a lot of Chinese dishes.
Practice layering these flavors to achieve that delectable hot and sour and savory-sweet flavors that Chinese cuisine has perfected.
Fresh and Seasonal is Best
Chinese cuisine is very based on the seasons as fresh produce is revered by locals. A lot of dishes are based on what is available at the market during different seasons. Limp, un-fresh ingredients simply don’t hold up in a wok.
Go for gold by following these rules of the season. Check out your local market for vegetable inspiration and ensure you get only the freshest, high-quality ingredients so that those flavors can shine through.
Mastering the Noodle Stir Fry
There’s nothing like a perfectly cooked Chinese noodle stir fry. The vegetables with a slight crunch combined with a delicious sauce over mouthwatering noodles.
Vegetable cookery is important here. You should wash any leafy green vegetables ahead of time so that they dry out before frying as they will become soggy in the wok, otherwise.
Cook the thickest and toughest vegetables first and for a longer period. Add vegetables according to cooking time so that you don’t have any mushy and overcooked veggies. For example, carrots take much longer than bok choy and bean sprouts only need a couple of minutes.
Don’t throw everything into the wok at once. Each of your ingredients needs a little bit of love and attention to coax the flavors out. Layer ingredients, allowing them to become aromatic and have the right cooking time.
Always begin with heating the oil, then add your aromatics such as ginger, then your main ingredients according to cook time, and finally the sauces.
A rice cooker is a great way to make perfect, fluffy rice every time. But if you don’t have a rice cooker, don’t panic. Always wash rice beforehand to get rid of as much of the starch as possible. A good rule is to wash it until the water runs clear.
Use double the amount of water for rice. Bring it to the boil in a medium saucepan and once it’s boiling, bring the heat right down and pop a lid on top. The rice will steam cook in about fifteen minutes.
Go Vegan with Mushrooms
It’s so easy to turn almost every Chinese dish into a vegan or vegetarian meal. Chinese cuisine uses a ton of vegetables and their sauces are pretty much always dairy-free.
So, if you’re looking for a veggie-friendly option, simply substitute the meat for mushrooms. Mushrooms have a fantastic hearty and ‘meaty’ texture and there are so many different kinds to choose from. Oyster and shiitake mushrooms are particularly ‘meaty’ and popular in Asian cuisine.
Steaming is a popular method of cooking, and investing in a bamboo steamer is a fantastic decision if you’re committed to delicious dumplings. Of course, it’s great that steaming is a very healthy, no-fuss way of cooking. But the best thing about steaming is… dumplings.
Whether it’s Chinese potstickers or xiao long bao (soup dumplings), dumplings are a fan favorite around the world.
You can choose to make dumpling dough from scratch which is very simple as it’s just flour and water. Or, you can buy ready-made dumpling dough, already rolled into the perfect paper-thin dumpling-sized circle.
You can also buy ready-made dumplings, such as soup dumplings from The XCJ, that you just need to pop in the steamer at home.
Practice different ways of pleating and closing your dumplings. It’s important that they’re properly closed to not allow any water inside. Always space the dumplings at least 1.5 inches away from each other so that they have space to expand without sticking into each other.
Prepare, Cook, and Enjoy Chinese Food at Home
Now that you know the essential tips to master Chinese food, what is your first dish going to be? Arm yourself with the right equipment, some pantry staples, and fresh produce, and get creative in the kitchen.
If you loved this mouthwatering article, keep exploring our site for more posts to inspire you!