The Chinese cuisine comprises of different flairs from the diverse regions of China, in addition to people of Chinese origin inhabiting the other Asian countries. The Chinese cuisine is running for thousands of years and is remembered for its unique flavors and aura that soothes the palate of the entire world. It is one of the favorites for one and all, be it the children of adults and accepted worldwide. There are eight important culinary cuisines of China including –Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan and Zhejiang cuisines.The fundamental foods of the Chinese cooking richly embraces rice, noodles, vegetables, sauces and seasonings.
1. Glutinous Rice
Glutinous rice is grown throughout the Southern China and Southeast Asia, which is usually a variety of short grain rice when cooked becomes sticky and for this reason it is called “glutinous”. Contradictory to its name, glutinous rice is gluten free and the word is used to pronounce its sticky characteristics.
2. Egg Noodles (fresh/dried)
The egg noodles are the most-common type of noodle, made from egg yolk, wheat flour and salt. Egg noodles are found in different shapes and thickness, including thin shapes, rounded like spaghetti, flat and coiled. These noodles are accessible in either dried form or freshly. The fresh noodles can be stored in the refrigerator for few days for later use in soups and chow-mien dishes.
Chinese cuisine offers the use of a wide range of veggies from cabbages to carrots, from spring onions to spinach, broccoli, bean sprouts etc. A special mention of mushrooms and ginger use in Chines cuisine is a must-
-Chinese dried mushrooms
The “Shiitake Mushrooms” used either fresh or dried are large dark-brown mushrooms are rich protein source and add a value to several dishes like soups, stir-fries and braised dishes in Chinese cuisine. The dried shiitakes mushrooms are usually drenched in water to re hydrate before using and they add a meaty flavor to any dish.
In Chinese cuisine, ginger is used often that adds a boost of heat,marinating meat, offsetting the fish odors and other malodorous tastes of some meats. Ginger enhances the flavor of Chinese cuisine to another level.
Chinese cuisine uses many type of sauces made from local ingredients. A special mention of chilli, soy & oyster sauce is must to get the ethnic flavors –
Chili sauce provides a superfluous punch of hot chili, salty and spicy flavor to a dish. It is mostly used in Sichuan culinary and is mostly prepared from fermented soybeans, dried chili and other spices.
Soy sauce is an important ingredient of Chinese cuisine which used in marinades, in seasoning and also as a condiment adding saltiness, meaty and savory flavor to a dish. Soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans and wheat flour and it is used in seasoning soups, fried rice, dressings or as a sauce dip. Both light and dark soy sauce is used in Chinese cuisine, where light soy sauce is aged lesser, is thinner and saltier than dark soy sauce and is also often used in soups, stir-fries and stews.Dark soy sauce is fermented for longer duration and its taste is sweetened. It is used in stews and stir-fries for enhancing the flavor of the dish.
Oyster sauce is one of the important feature of Cantonese cuisine of China which comprises of oyster extracts, several spices and seasonings. Oyster sauce is mostly used in recipes involving the seafood with some exceptions to vegetable dishes too. Remarkably, the oyster sauce adds sweet and savory taste to simple vegetable stir-fries when made with mushrooms instead of oyster extract.
Seasoning brings the taste of Chinese cuisine to bring the real aroma and excitement from the dish use the following enhancers –
Vinegar is widely used in Chinese cuisine and possesses several varieties of it. Rice vinegar is prepared from fermented rice and is present in two types, one is white vinegar and other is black vinegar. White rice vinegar is milder and less acidic and provides the acidic ting in Chinese cuisine and is used in seasoning and pickling; while Chinese black vinegar has a deeper and smoky flavor, similar to balsamic vinegar and used in dipping sauces and stir-fries.
Rice wine is used in marinades and flavor the Chinese dishes. “Shaoxing Rice Wine”is made from a mixture of sticky rice, millet and yeast, aged for several years.
-Toasted sesame oil
Toasted sesame oil is used to flavor and season a dish which adds an extra aroma.
-Dried Chile Flakes
Dried chili flakes are made from dried and crushed red chilies, including the seeds, which offer a spicy and hot flavor to Chinese dish.
Five-Spice Powder is an amalgam of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, Sichuan peppercorns (“huajiao” in Mandarin) and Chinese star anise (“phool-chakri”in India). All these five spices offer the sour, the pungent, the sweet,the bitter and the salty flavors found in Chinese cooking. This spice works extremely well with meats and in marinades.
So make ethnic Chinese recipes by using the key ingredients and “relish your taste buds”