Chinese cuisine has a golden reputation across the world. People have tried to emulate the Chinese’s methods when it comes to making the thinnest noodle, the juiciest dumpling, and the quickest fried rice. But the Chinese have plenty of tricks up their creative sleeves when it comes to culinary techniques. You cannot simply turn the stove to high and attempt to fry your way to Szechuan food. It requires a considerable amount of expertise and dexterity.
The following tips and techniques will help you convert your kitchen into a Beijing restaurant, so you can serve even a simple dish of pork and noodles in a variety of ways.
The Chinese method of stir-frying is one that has captivated chefs everywhere. This method cooks ingredients in a wok, in a small amount of very hot oil for a short period of time. Stir-frying is believed to enable foods to soak in the flavours faster and preserve desired tastes, textures and colours for a long time.
While stir-frying uses very little oil, deep-frying goes the other way. Ingredients are submerged in the oil, producing crisp, crunchy food. It does not suffice to simply drop the ingredients in a pan containing oil. A successful method of getting the perfect crispiness is to cut up your ingredients into medium sized chunks, soak them in seasoning (usually ginger sauces or garlic pastes), coat them with corn starch, and finally fry them in hot oil over medium heat.
Also called red cooking, this technique is uniquely Chinese. Red Stewing takes time, because the food is cooked over low heat or a small fire. Meats are the first to be browned, followed by large quantities of soy sauce, sugar, wine, ginger, spice and cilantro. Other seasonings are added later, to make a soup or broth. If a considerable amount of tenderness is desired, the meat might take anywhere between an hour and two to get cooked. Sauce cooked in this way is usually dark red or brown, giving the technique its name.
Braising is the technique the Chinese employ to cook dishes with large-sized ingredients which need to be cooked to perfection. The trick is to add all your ingredients and seasonings in a wok or saucepan, pour some water, and let the mixture simmer for a little less than an hour. Cornstarch if often used to thicken the sauce or soup being cooked this way only after all the ingredients are cooked to perfection.
The Chinese invented an efficient method for cooking wheaten food like buns and dumplings using hot water vapour. The world soon adopted it to make healthier food. How it works is simple: place the ingredients in a steamer basket which is placed over water in a pot. With very little or no oil, the ingredients will continue to cook in steam until they are soft, and ready to be served. Dumplings, vegetables, seafood and even chicken are delicious when cooked in this method.
Now with the basic understanding of the key techniques in chinese cooking, why not try your hand at creating a master-piece in the kitchen? (Read more on Kitchen Tips)
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