Chinese food has long been revered as part of its nation’s cultural fabric. Here are 10 of its most beloved dishes.
Sweet and sour pork has become one of the world’s iconic Chinese dishes. Composed of deep-fried pork coated in sweet-and-sour sauce and other ingredients, this popular meal can be found across Western China.
1. Kung Pao Chicken
Kung Pao Chicken is one of the easiest Chinese recipes for an affordable dinner at home, featuring juicy chicken bits coated in an irresistibly flavorful, sweet-tangy-savory sauce and served over rice.
Sichuan peppercorns are the cornerstone of this tart-sweet sauce, adding heat and numbing sensations and some subtle smokiness if fried properly.
Mix all the ingredients to prepare the sauce and whisk until the sugar dissipates. Optionally add Shaoxing wine and cornstarch. Next, marinate chicken (this step can be completed either early in the day or ahead).
2. Mapo Tofu
This spicy Sichuan dish combines soft tofu with ground pork in an irresistibly mouthwatering sauce. To recreate it at home, blanch your tofu in hot, salted water before adding it to the sauce.
Doubanjiang (Dou Ban Jiang), a chili bean paste made with fermented broad beans, soybeans, and hot peppers, is the critical component of map tofu. You can find this at Chinese/Asian grocery stores or online. Alternatively, finely chopped rehydrated shiitake mushrooms could add umami flavor.
3. Hot Pot
Chinese hot pot has become an iconic cuisine throughout Asia. At its core is a simmering pot of broth at the center of each table, where raw ingredients such as meats, vegetables, noodles, dumplings, and tofu can be added and devoured leisurely.
The broth can be enhanced with dipping sauces such as sesame paste, Shacha sauce, fermented bean curd, garlic sauce, hoisin sauce, and chili peppers for an enjoyable family reunion meal. It is trendy during the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival season.
4. Spring Rolls
Chinese spring rolls use square wrappers made of wheat flour, while Vietnamese versions use round rice flour wrappers. Chinese versions can either be deep-fried or air-fried; they’re often served at room temperature with dipping sauce for maximum enjoyment!
In Brazil, these spring rolls are known as rolinhos-primavera or chou juan ki and may be enjoyed plain or with an acidulated sauce such as molho agridoce for dipping.
If you prefer not to consume fried foods, prepare the dipping sauce, assemble your rolls beforehand, and store them in the freezer for three months before enjoying them.
5. Sweet and Sour Pork
Sweet and Sour Pork can be found on almost every Chinese restaurant menu, consisting of deep-fried pork in a sweet-and-sour sauce made of ketchup, sugar, and white vinegar.
Home preparation of this recipe is quick and straightforward: combine ketchup, brown sugar, and vinegar before gradually mixing in cornstarch.
Step two is to coat pork pieces with cornstarch to create a crunchy exterior before heating the oil and cooking the pork to completion – drain and set aside once cooked.
6. Roasted Char Siu
Char siu is an iconic component of Chinese cuisine. Made with lean barbecued pork glazed in sweet-sticky sauce, char siu can be found on dishes such as saimin, chow fun, and Managua.
Joy Hing is a Michelin-recognized siu mei restaurant in Hong Kong that Anthony Bourdain recommends. This recipe hails from Joy Hing.
Pork shoulder cuts are roasted in a pre-war oven to produce that unique barbeque flavor and five spice powders, red fermented bean curd, maltose, and soy sauce for flavoring.
7. Fried Dumplings
Fried dumplings (commonly called potstickers or jian jiao) feature delicate layers of dough with delicious fillings inside, best enjoyed when served quickly with dipping sauce.
To make them, heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add oil. Fry some dumplings until they’re lightly browned before carefully adding water and covering for 3 minutes before draining and serving. Alternatively, steam them directly in their original frying pan, which makes them even softer and more delicate.
Wontons are traditional Chinese stuffed dumplings cooked by boiling, steaming, frying, or adding them to soups. Their wrappers can be square, triangular, or rectangular rectangles; their fillings vary from ground meat and spices to vegetables and shrimp.
Add a bit of cornstarch to your pork mixture for extra tender wontons, then stuff each wonton with one teaspoon of filling and seal the edges using water dabs.
Undercooked dumplings may lead to foodborne illnesses such as stomachache, fever, and diarrhea; to avoid this from happening, only well-cooked wontons must be consumed.
9. Pork Ribs
Spare Ribs and Back Ribs both boast an irresistibly juicy pork flavor with a meaty, succulent mouthfeel, making them versatile food items suitable for roasting, barbecuing, or smoking; additionally, they work well when combined with various sauces and rubs for maximum flavor enhancement.
To determine when ribs are ready, look for U-shaped curves in their bone tips and an easily twistable toothpick into the meat. When appropriately done, meat should also be tender and slightly slippery – any dry spots require additional cooking time.
10. Chicken Wings
National Chicken Council estimates Americans will consume 1.3 billion wings during Super Bowl weekend. Although technically considered white meat, chicken wings resemble other forms of poultry in being fat-laden and rich with collagen.
Vocal Media suggests freezing these parts and making flavorful chicken broth or soup instead of throwing them away. Drying your wings properly before roasting can also help create that crunchy coating!