Chinese cuisine is one type of cuisine that you will find in almost every part of the world. Sometimes there are authentic Chinese restaurant and in other cases, each place creates a Chinese cuisine on its own e.g. – the popular chicken Manchurian dish is something alien in China because it was created by the Indians. Chinese dishes are cooked differently and originate from various provinces such as Sichuan, Hunan, Cantonese and even have most of this dishes named after its birthplace. Although vegetarian food and desserts are not popular elements in authentic Chinese cuisine, places across the world do cater to sweet teeth and vegetarians through locally made dishes of their own. Here are the top 10 popular Chinese dishes that you must feast on.
10) Buddha’s delight
Probably one of the few vegetarian options on a menu at a Chinese restaurant would be the Buddha’s delight. Like the name suggests, it is a dish that originated from the Buddhist way of living wherein they should maintain a healthy and wholesome diet. You will find this dish especially being consumed on the first day of Chinese year as a process of self purification. This simple dish is usually made with 10 ingredients, however there are also variations having over 30 ingredients
9) Mapo tofu
Mapo Tofu originated in the Sichuan province of China. It mainly consists of tofu which is cooked in a spicy bean-based sauce. It has a reddish tint and is doused in oil. Although the main component is tofu, minced meat such as pork or beef is added to this. A popular variant of this was introduced by Chef Chen in Tokyo, wherein he cooked the tofu in a sweet sauce rather than a spicy one. In many places, you also find this dish without other meat in order to serve it to the vegetarians.
8) Red braised pork
This dish is prepared using the age old Chinese technique of Red cooking or red braising which involves slow braising of the meat in order to give it a particular reddish tinge. Red-braised pork is a dish that originated in the Chinese province of Hunan and has a historic connection with the famous Mao Zedong because it was his favorite dish. In fact many eateries even name the dish after him. It is sweet and at the same time has a strong flavor. The irresistible aroma of this dish is one of its other predominant features. It is the perfect accompaniment with rice and vegetables.
7) Peking duck
Peking duck is said to have originated more than 350 years back in the province of Beijing, Traditionally, the dish only used a particular breed of duck called the Imperial Pecking after it was carefully grown. They used to find ways and force air between the flesh and the skin so as to insure that it remains crisp after it is roasted. It is then brushed with a sweetish sauce and roasted in a clay oven. The inflated bird is painted with a sweet solution, hung up to dry, then roasted and suspended in a cylindrical clay oven. When the dish is served; it is cooked in a tangy spicy hoisin sauce accompanied by bread like dishes. Sometimes it is also served with stir fried vegetables. Some restaurants serve a soup with the bones of the peking duck and cabbage.
Wonton was traditionally named as Huidin when the dish was born in North China. It was served in the form of a soup, however now it is commonly found as a dry dish. It is basically a sealed flour bun made of flour. These sacks are stuffed with meat or vegetables and served after they are steamed. Sometimes they are also boiled or fried however the traditional way of steaming is tasty as it is and at the same time a healthier option. Many people confuse this dish with the dumpling however the only difference is that the sheet of the wonton is more delicate, thinner and shaped like a square.
5) Kung Pao chicken
Popular within China and everywhere else, this dish is a child of the Sichuan Province. Its main components involve tender diced chicken, peanuts and crisp lettuce. The succulent deep fried juicy chicken soaks in the flavors from a sauce which is salty, sweet, sour, and spicy at the same time thus awakening the tastebuds once you have a bite of this. Peanuts are another component which gives this chicken a crunch.
4) Spring roll
Spring rolls are a very popular starter dish that is served as snacks before the main course. It got its name from its popularity in the “Spring Festival” that occurs in China during their new year. This dish is extremely popular at this festival because it’s light texture and subtle flavour goes well with the spirit of the festival. They are savoury rolls that are made by rolling vegetables or meat in wrappers made of edible rice paper. The richer and heavier variant of this dish is known as “egg roll” and the wrapper is much thicker. Soya sauce is a very popular accompaniment with this dish.
Soup originated as a medicinal dish with the purpose of boosting health, appetite problems, gaining warmth during the winter etc. However it moved on from a cure to became a popular appetizer before the main course was served. There exist varieties of soups from plain and simple clear soup to rich and dense soups. While the clear ones are made from meat bones or vegetables and served as starters, the richer and thicker ones are even had as part of the main course. The clear soups tend to be blander in nature whereas soups like manchow, hot and sour etc are extremely flavourful and mostly tangy because it is thickened using a strong sauce.
2) Fried rice
Fried rice is a rice dish that is mixed with meat and other vegetables. However a vegetarian dish of the same is also present. Usually, leftover rice is used because the moisture present in it will cause the rice to steam instead of fry. The oil may be mixed with garlic and onions before the rice and other ingredients are cooked together. This dish was born in the Chinese city of Yangzhou. There is also a very popular variant called the Yangchow Fried Rice which is the most authentoc fried rice dish present in China but isn’t that popular across the world.It is specially made with special meat such as pork and prawns. s. The egg fried rice is a vegetarian version of the same which is equally popular.
A Buddhist monk is said to have been responsible for the invention of Chinese noodles way back in the as early as the 9th century. noodles form a staple food of their cuisine along with rice and is made of what or rice and is flattened and rolled into long strings .They can be cooked by merely boiling them however when mixed with other meat or vegetables , they are usually further pan-fried or deep-fried. Some popular noodle dishes are Chow Mein, Shanghai noodles, Pan fried noodles etc . The rice noodles are also availabe in supermarkets in their a readymade dry form so that it can be made at home easily.