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Chinese Cuisine Chinese cuisine is a brightbranch in Chinese culture, and it is alsoa dominant one in the field of worldcuisine.
HISTORY OF CHINA Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is said to be the Cradle of Chinese Civilization. The written history of China can be found as early as the Shang Dynasty (ca. 1700 BC – ca. 1046 BC). Oracle bones with ancient Chinese writing from the Shang Dynasty have been radiocarbon dated to as early as 1500 BC. The origins of Chinese culture, literature and philosophy developed during the Zhou Dynasty (1045 BC-256 BC).
The Zhou Dynasty began to bow to external and internal pressures in the 8th century BC. The ability of the Zhou to control its regional lords lessened, and the kingdom eventually broke apart into smaller states, beginning in the Spring and Autumn Period and reaching full expression in the Warring States period. In 221 BC, Qin Shi Huang united the various warring kingdoms and created the first Chinese empire. Successive dynasties in Chinese history developed bureaucratic systems that enabled the Emperor of China to directly control vast territories.
The conventional view of Chinese history isthat of alternating periods of political unity anddisunity, with China occasionally beingdominated by Inner Asian peoples, most ofwhom were in turn assimilated into the HanChinese population. Cultural and politicalinfluences from many parts of Asia, carried bysuccessive waves of immigration, expansion,and cultural assimilation, are part of themodern culture of China.
CHINA GEOGRAPHY Located in Southeast Asia along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean, China is the worlds third largest country, after Russia and Canada. With an area of 9.6 million square kilometers and a coastline of 18,000 kilometers, its shape on the map is like a rooster. It reaches Mohe in Heilongjiang Province as its northern end, Zengmu Ansha (or James Shoal) to the south, Pamirs to the west, and expands to the eastern border at the conjunction of the Heilongjiang (Amur) River and the Wusuli (Ussuri) River, spanning about 50 degrees of latitude and 62 degrees of longitude. China is bordered by 14 countries -- Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Burma, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakstan, Mongolia, and Russia. Marine-side neighbors include eight countries -- North Korea, Korea, Japan, Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.
STAPLE FOOD.FOODS OF THE CHINESERice is Chinas staple food. The Chinese word for rice is"fan" which also means "meal." Rice may be served withany meal, and is eaten several times a day. Scallions,bean sprouts, cabbage, and gingerroot are othertraditional foods. Soybean curd, called tofu, is animportant source of protein for the Chinese. Although theChinese generally do not eat a lot of meat, pork andchicken are the most commonly eaten meats. Vegetablesplay a central role in Chinese cooking, too.
TheChinese eat many foods that are unfamiliar toNorth Americans. Shark fins, seaweed, frogs,snakes, and even dog and cat meat are eaten.However, the Chinese follow the spiritual teaching ofbalance signified by yin ("cool") and yang ("hot").This philosophy encourages the Chinese to find abalance in their lives, including in the foods they eat.While preparing meals, the Chinese may strive tobalance the color, texture, or types of food theychoose to eat.
There are four main regional types of Chinese cooking. Thecooking of Canton province in the south is calledCantonese cooking. It features rice and lightly seasonedstir-fried dishes. Because many Chinese immigrants toAmerica came from this region, it is the type of Chinesecooking that is most widely known in the United States.Typical Cantonese dishes are wonton soup, egg rolls, andsweet and sour pork.
Seasonings, necessary in cooking various dishes, createspecial dish flavors when used either singly or blended.Even a skilled cook, let alone a beginner, needsseasonings to cook any dish especially delicious dishwith distinctive flavor and attractive color. Many peoplesay that they are eating seasonings instead of dishes,because even delicious ingredients can taste bland anduninteresting without appropriate seasonings. Chinesedishes are well-known all over the world, while Chineseseasonings will also open your eyes.
Salt Vinegar Soy Sauce White SugarMonosodium Glutamate Cooking Wine Prickly Ash Seeds Cinnamon Chicken Bouillon Chili Sauce Dried Pimiento
SALTSalt, the seasoning most used in Chinese peoples dailylife, tastes salty, just as the name implies. It is aninorganic, white crystalline compound of sodium andchlorine, essential for human body. Salt is anindispensable seasoning, used in almost every dish inChina. It has the function of getting rid of fishy smell,increasing freshness, sterilizing the food and preventing itfrom spoiling. It can also stimulate the secretion of thedigestive juice in the stomach, which gives one a goodappetite.
VINEGARVinegar is a transparent and colorless or reddish-brownliquid seasoning, with an acid taste. It is prepared byfermentation of rice, broomcorn or corn. Vinegar protectsvitamins from being destroyed and is used to increase theflavor and nutrition of the dishes when used in stir-frying.It helps remove the smell of the beef and mutton whenbaking, and converts the phosphorus and calcium in fishbone into absorbable substances when cooking fish.Moreover, it can lighten the piquancy and reduce the saltytaste when used in dishes which are too hot or salty.
SOY SAUCEA feature of Asian seasonings, Soy Sauce, reddish-brownin color, is brewed from soy beans, wheat or bran. It tastesfresh and a little salty, having a unique soy flavor. SoySauce is divided into two types. One is reddish and isused in fried dishes and cold dishes for a salty taste. Theother is brown and lustrous and used in the dishes thatneed color, and a sweetish taste. The sauce should beadded later than other ingredients in order to retainnutritious elements such as amino acids and sugars.However, this is not necessary when cooking greenvegetables.
WHITE SUGARMade from sugar cane or sugar beet, white sugar is whitecrystal, pure and with high-intensity sweetness. Itperforms the following functions in cooking. Basically, ithelps increase the sweetness, lighten the sourness andcolor the ingredients especially all kinds of meat. It isparticularly a necessity in cooking sweet and sour dishesand dishes in hot toffee. It is also used to make thesurface of the food glassy or frosty. Furthermore, it has theproperty of adherence, sterilizing and adding luster.
COOKING WINE Cooking wine, a yellowish-brown seasoning, brewed from sticky rice and millet, is especially used for cooking dishes with aquatic ingredients and meat to remove the fishy smell and increase the aroma of the dish. Its strong permeability and can help to keep the food fresh for longer. Though cooking wine is preferable, beer and brandy can be used instead in its absence. In order to play its part into full, the best time to add cooking wine is when the temperature in the wok reaches its highest.
MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATEUsed mainly to increase the freshness of the dishes,Monosodium Glutamate is a white crystalline seasoning,easily soluble in water. It can be used in dishes, soupsand all sorts of sauces. It is composed primarily of sodiumglutamate which is said can help cure chronic hepatitis,hepatic coma, nervous exhaustion and epilepsy. However,be mindful that sodium glutamate is converted intocarcinogens if used at high temperatures, above 100 ℃(212 ℉). Eating too much may also lead to stomachcancer.
PRICKLY ASH SEEDSThis particular spice, prickly ash seed, comprises claret orreddish-brown cones from prickly ash tree. It causes a slightnumbness on the tongue, and is used mainly to remove afishy smell. Mostly used in Sichuan Cuisine, prickly ashseeds are added in when the oil in the wok is hot and areremoved when they turn black. The seeds can also bemade into an oil or powder to be added to the disheswithout being picked out. Prickly ash seed also has theeffect of benefiting the stomach, dispelling cold, removingdampness and alleviating pain.
CINNAMONFrom the bark of cinnamon tress, cinnamon is one of theearliest used spices. It is employed in cookery as acondiment and flavoring material. It is always tube-shapedand reddish-brown. Having a powerful aroma, cinnamoncan help make the dishes not so fishy or greasy, necessarywhen cooking meat. Adding some cinnamon can help toprevent diabetes and to cure hyperplasia of the prostate.Cinnamon oil is also an important industrial flavoring.However, it also contains safrole which may cause cancer,so the less you eat the better.
CHICKEN BOUILLONA special monosodium glutamate, chicken bouillon is afreshness enhancer, made from chicken powder, chickenbones and egg. It is granular form in yellow color,containing multiple amino acids, vitamins and protein. Itcan be used in all of the dishes and soups wheremonosodium glutamate used, having similar effect withmonosodium glutamate but with higher nutrition. Chickenbouillon cannot only help increase people’s appetite, nut itcan also supply human body with amino acids to enhanceand maintain the cerebrum functions.
CHILI SAUCERed chili after salted or milled, chili sauce has beendeveloped into a great variety by adding in differentingredients such as minced garlic, preserved beans, beef,peanuts, chicken, almonds and so on. The products sold inthe market are mostly made through fermentation, brightred or brown in color. Chili sauce can be eaten with thefood directly or used for cooking dishes as a kind ofseasoning. In China, chili sauce made in Guilin is mostrenowned, reputed as the ‘Three Treasures of Guilin’together with Guilin pickled tofu and Guilin Sanhua Jiu (akind of rice liquor).
DRIED PIMIENTOFresh red chili after dried, dried pimiento is tapering oroblong fruits of pimiento, green while immature and redwhile fully ripe. It has low moisture and can be kept for along time. It is a common seasoning used in Sichuan,Guizhou and Hunan Cuisines. Dried pimientos are mailyused in stir-frying and quick-frying, having the effect onimproving and increasing appetite. However, since it is veryspicy, eating too much would lead to dryness of the mouth,cough, sore throat and constipation.
PEPPER POWDER A special seasoning in China, pepper powder is fruits of pepper trees after ground, produced in India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore as well as Guangdong and Hainan Provinces of China. There are two kinds of pepper power according to the color, one is white pepper powder made from the fully ripe fruits and the other is black pepper powder from the immature fruits. Black pepper powder is spicier than white pepper powder, mostly used in cooking seafood and entrails, while white pepper powder has greater medicinal properties.
STARCHAlso named thickening powder in cooking, starch used forcooking is mainly made from green beans, potatoes, wheat,lotus roots and corn. Among them, corn starch is the mostcommonly used because of its steady character, low priceand good appearance is usually prepared with water anadded into the dishes when almost ready to make the dishessmoother, fresher and more tender and lustrous throughthickening the broth and sauce. Meanwhile, starch is also anecessity when coating all kinds of meat to stop the water inthe meat escaping out when heated.
CARDAMOM (CAO GUO) Fruits of cardamom tree, cardamom is oblong shaped in brown color, produced in Yunnan, Guangxi and Guizhou, China. It has strong spicy fragrance, mainly used for braising all kinds of meat to reduce the fishy smell and to improve the flavor. It can be used directly or ground into powder. Cardamom powder can be used as a kind of spice used for stir-frying dishes. Furthermore, cardamom is also a traditional Chinese herbal medicine, having the functions of strengthening the stomach, promoting digestion and dispelling wind and dampness from the body.
LESSER GALANGAL (LIANG JIANG) Also named Alpinia officinarum Hance, Lesser galangal is the root of Alpinia officinarum, cylindrical-shaped and in reddish-brown or dark- brown color. There are gray brown wavy junctions every 0.5-1 cm on its surface. It smells fragrant and tastes spicy. It is usually used in spicy sauce for salting meat or ground into power as one of the ingredients of the ‘Five Powder Spices’ (wu xiang fen) in China. It’s said that lesser galangal powder is also used in curry dishes, rum and beer in some districts of Far East.
KAEMPFERIA GALANGA (SHAN NAI) A common spice used in Sichuan Cuisine, Kaempferia Galanga is mostly round-shaped sections, with light brown or yellowish brown skin and white section. It has a special fragrance and tastes spicy, mainly produced in Guangxi, Yunnan, Guangdong and Taiwan in China. In cooking, it is mostly used in hotpot, salted vegetable and preserved vegetable in Sichuan. It is also used for cooking chicken by Cantonese. Meanwhile, it is also a herbal medicine, having functions of warming spleen and stomach and relieving swelling and pain.
WHITE CARDAMON (BAI DOU KOU) Dry fruits of White Cardamon trees, White Cardamon are spherical, having unapparent dull prisms on the yellow-white skin. It smells fragrant but tastes cold-pungent, mainly produced in Vietnam and Thailand. It used for cooking all kinds of meat soups, salted meat and chicken to get rid of the peculiar and fishy smells and increase the fragrance. It is also an ingredient of curry powder and a herbal medicine. It’s said that White Cardamon was also used as the main ingredients of perfume in ancient Greece and Rome Times.
STAR ANISE(DA HUI XIANG) In the shape of stars, Star Anise is also the fruit of Star Anise trees, produced in Guangdong and Guangxi Provinces in China. It is hard and brittle in purple-brown color, with smooth and lustrous appearance. It is one of the ingredients of the ‘Five Powder Spices’ (wu xiang fen) in China, necessary for cooking all kinds of meat to get rid of the fishy smell and increase the fragrance. Star Anise is usually added in the dish at the very beginning of the cooking in order to fully dissolve its fragrance and make the meat mellower.
FENNEL SEEDS(HUI XIANG) Seeds of fennel plants, Fennel Seeds are similar to unhusked rice grains in shape and grey in color, having a hot flavor. Besides the seeds, stems and leaves of fennel plants are also used as the stuff of dumplings and steamed buns (baozi). As a seasoning, Fennel Seeds are used for cooking meat, seafood and wheaten food in China, while they are used in curry or eaten after meals to remove the smelly breath after roasted with sugar in India. As a herbal medicine, they can help warm livers and kidney, alleviate pain and regulate qi-flowing for harmonizing stomach.
USING CHOPSTICKSWould you eat a sandwich with a spoon? Or use a fork to eatice cream? Certain foods require the appropriate utensil.Asian foods are no exception: they seem to taste better eatenwith chopsticks. And although some of us were raised usingchopsticks, it can be an awkward experience for the rest ofus. Fortunately, learning to eat with chopsticks is a simplematter, as this tutorial shows.Many of us labor under a misperception about chopsticks--that both sticks are moved together in your hand as you pickup a morsel. This is only half-true. Instead youll be holdingone chopsticks in place while pivoting the other one to meetit. Simple, eh?
STEP 1 - POSITION THE CHOPSTICKSPlace the first chopstick so that thicker part rests at thebase of your thumb and the thinner part rests on the lowerside of your middle fingertip.Bring your thumb forward so that it traps the stick firmly inplace. At least two or three inches of chopstick shouldextend beyond your fingertip.Now position the other chopstick so that it is held againstthe side of your index finger by the end of your thumb. (Asif you were holding a pencil)Press the ends of both sticks on the plate, while holdingthem at a slight angle to the table. Allow them to slide just alittle so that the ends line up.
Step 2 - PivotPIVOT THE TOP CHOPSTICK STEP 2 - the top chopstickPlace a little pressure on the top chopstick. It will pivot onyour index finger and thumb. Remember: the bottomchopstick is stationary. Your thumb will stay fairly stationary,while the index and middle fingers are used to move the topchopstick.The tip of the top chopstick will move towards the tip of thebottom chopstick. Encourage this. Hold those tips togetherfirmly enough to grasp a piece of food and lift it off the plate.Place delicately into your waiting mouth. Although theres noneed to stoop, you may wish to lean over your plate a bitduring your first attempts. It might save you a clean-up.Thats about it. Have a little practice, use mini-marshmallowsor some other small food items, and youll be able to usechopsticks with the best of em.
SOUPAlvas "Jook" - Chinese Style Turkey Soup (Reader Favorite)Bok Choy Chicken SoupChicken and Spinach SoupChicken StockChinese Mushroom Soup Recipe - Dans Special Shroomy Mushroom SoupCrabmeat and Cream Corn SoupCream Corn SoupEgg Drop (Egg Flower) SoupHealthy Spinach SoupHot and Sour SoupPho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)Red Bean Soup (Sweet Red Bean Dessert Soup)Salty Soybean Milk SoupSizzling Rice SoupSweet Black Sesame SoupSweetcorn Soup With CrabmeatSweet Red Bean SoupTomato Egg Drop (Egg Flower) SoupWatercress SoupWest Lake Beef SoupWinter Melon SoupWon ton Soup
Total Time: 15 minutes CREAM CORN SOUP (WITH CRABMEAT)Ingredients:5 cups homemade chicken stock or storebought chicken broth1 1/4 cups canned creamed corn1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste1/2 teaspoon granulated sugarBlack or white pepper, to taste2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry3/4 cup cooked crabmeat, or cooked diced ham1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water2 egg whites, lightly beaten 1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil, or to taste2 green onions (spring onions), finely chopped for garnish,optional
PREPARATION:1. Bring the broth or stock to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the creamed corn and bring back to a boil (about 3 minutes).2.Stir in the salt, sugar, white pepper, rice wine or sherry and cooked crabmeat. Cook for about 2 minutes to bring back to a boil again. 3.Give the cornstarch and water mixture a quick re-stir, and then pour into the boiling soup, stirring to thicken. When the soup has thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat.4. Pour the egg whites into the soup in a steady stream, and quickly stir in a clockwise direction until they form thin shreds.5. Add the sesame oil and the green onions garnish if using.
SALADIngredients:6 medium red potatoes (about 2 pounds) , cut into chunks.Dressing:5 tablespoons rice vinegar5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil1 1/2 tablespoons Chinese light soy sauce1 tablespoon dark soy sauce1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil, according to taste3/4 teaspoon sugar1/2 teaspoon chile paste, or to taste1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped.Other:2 ribs celery, strung and chopped on the diagonal1 red bell pepper, diced1 stalk bok choy, green leaf shredded, white stalk chopped on the diagonal1/4 cup chopped green onion
PREPARATION:Preparation:1. In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, olive oil, lightand dark soy sauce, Asian sesame oil, sugar, chile paste andgarlic. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Cover and refrigerate whilepreparing the potatoes.2. In a large saucepan, bring the potatoes, salt and enoughwater to cover to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmeruntil the potatoes are fork-tender (about 20 minutes). Drain.3. Whisk the dressing again and then add it to the potatoes in alarge bowl. Toss to mix thoroughly. Let the potatoes cool, thenmix in the remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate untilready to serve. Stir the salad again before serving.
RICEBasic Cooked RiceCantonese Chicken in Rice (Wat Gai Fan)Congee:Basic CongeeAlvas "Jook" - Chinese Style Turkey SoupCongee (Jook) With TurkeyFried Rice:Basic Fried RiceChicken Fried RiceFried Rice With HamPearl Balls (Steamed Porkballs in Glutinous Rice)Pork Fried RiceQuick and Easy Pineapple Fried RiceShrimp Fried RiceSun Ya RiceTaiwanese Style Fried RiceYangchow (Yangzhou) Fried Rice
MAIN COURSEBaked Chicken Chow MeinBeef and Broccoli Lo Mein with Oyster Sauce (usesRamen Noodles)Beef Chow Fun (Quick and Easy)Beef Lo MeinChicken Chow MeinChar Kway TeowChinese Noodles in Peanut Sauce (Reader favorite)Cold Noodles with Sesame SauceEasy Dan Dan Noodles (step by step photo instructions)Hot and Sour Shrimp Lo MeinLongevity NoodlesNoodles with Meat Sauce MixturePan-fried NoodlesShanghai Pan-fried NoodlesPork Lo Mein With Ramen Noodles
NOODLESShanghai Stir-fried NoodlesShanghai Stir-fried Noodles With Chicken For TwoSingapore Noodles (with shrimp)Singapore Curried Rice Noodles (with barbecued pork)Szechuan NoodlesSzechuan Noodles (Reader Submitted Recipe)Three Flavored Lo MeinTofu and Cashew Chow MeinTurkey Chow Mein
SWEET AND SOUR PORKIngredients:3/4 pound pork tenderloin2 - 3 teaspoons soy saucePinch of cornstarchSauce:1/4 cup sugar2 tablespoons ketchup2 tablespoons dark soy sauce1/4 teaspoon salt1/2 cup water or reserved pineapple juice1/4 cup vinegar1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 4 tablespoons waterBatter:1/3 cup flour 1/3 cup cornstarch1 egg white, lightly beaten1 tablespoon vegetable oil1/3 cup warm water, as neededOther:1 carrot1/2 red bell pepper1/2 green bell pepper1/2 cup pineapple chunks3 cups oil for deep-frying, or as needed
PREPARATION:Directions for sweet and sour porkCut the pork into 1-inch cubes. Marinate in the soy sauce and cornstarch for 20minutes.To prepare the sauce, in a small bowl, combine the sugar, ketchup, dark soy sauce,salt, water or juice and vinegar. Set aside. In a separate bowl, dissolve thecornstarch in the water. Set aside.Peel the carrot and chop on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Cut the bell peppers inhalf, remove the seeds and cut into cubes.Heat the oil for deep--frying to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.For the batter, combine the flour and cornstarch. Stir in the egg white and vegetableoil. Add as much of the warm water as is needed to form a thick batter that is neithertoo dry or too moist. (The batter should not be runny, but should drop off the back ofa spoon).Dip the marinated pork cubes in the batter. Deep-fry in batches, taking care not toovercrowd the wok. Deep-fry the pork until it is golden brown. Remove and drain onpaper towels.(If desired you can deep-fry the pork at second time to make it extra crispy. Makesure the oil is back up to 375 before you begin deep-frying again).To prepare the sweet and sour sauce, bring the sauce ingredients to a boil in a smallsaucepan over medium heat. Add the carrot, green pepper, and pineapple. Bring toa boil again and thicken with cornstarch mixture, stirring. Check the sauce one moretime and adjust seasonings, adding salt and/or vinegar if desired. Serve hot over thedeep-fried pork. Serve the sweet and sour pork over rice.