How to Cook Chinese Food – 20 Cooking Techniques You Need to Know

How to cook Chinese food? There are various ways of cooking Chinese food. The different Chinese cooking methods can make the same ingredients have different tastes and flavors. Here ia an introduction about 20 frequently used Chinese cooking techniques.
 

1. Stir-Frying 炒

Stir-frying is one of the most widely used method to cook Chinese food. A small amount of oil is put in the wok and heated to a very high temperature, add in ingredients and seasonings, stir and shake the wok over a strong flame until cooked. The foods can be done quickly in a few minutes.

 Classic dishes: Scrambled Eggs with Tomatoes, Yangzhou Fried Rice, Chow Mein, Kung Pao Chicken, Shredded Pork with Garlic Sprouts

Kung Pao Chicken
Kung Pao Chicken
Chow Mein
Chow Mein

2. Flash-Frying 油爆

Heat some oil or boil some water, add in the ingredients and seasonings and stir-fry for a few seconds. Then, add in starch water and keep stirring for a few more seconds. It is very fast to cook a dish by flash-frying. Most of the ingredients used are chicken, duck, lean pork, beef, and mutton which are cut into pieces in advance. The main material should not be too dry before adding in starch water, in order to avoid sticking together. The flame used for flash-frying must be high fire from the beginning to the end and the time used is very important. One second longer, the ingredients may taste not tender; one second shorter, the ingredients may not be completely cooked.

 Classic dishes: Fried Shrimps, Fried Mutton with Onion

 

3. Quick-Frying 熘

After the prepared ingredients are pickled with seasonings, fry, boil or steam them, and add the prepared sauce usually with starch extract and stir. This is quick-frying. Comparing with stir-frying and flash-frying, quick-frying use more starch water and ingredients are diced or not cut at all.

 Classic dishes: Sauteed Cabbage in Sour Sauce, Quick-fried Yam with Pork

 

4. Deep-Frying 炸

This method to cook Chinese food features high temperature flame, a large amount of oil and no sauce.  Most of the ingredients are fried twice. The ingredients usually need to be pickled with condiments before frying and often added auxiliary flavorings like pepper salt, tomato sauce and chili oil when they are served.

 Classic dishes: Fried Pork Balls, Fried Peanuts, Spring Rolls
 

Deep-fry Pork Slices
Deep-fry Pork Slices
Pan-fry Dumplings
Pan-fry Dumplings

5. Pan-Frying 煎

Generally speaking, pan-frying refers to heating a small amount of oil in a pan and then putting food in it to make it thoroughly cooked. The surface of the food will be slightly golden.

 Classic dishes: Pan Fried Dumplings, Pan Fried Buns

 

6. Steaming 蒸

Steamed Stuffed Buns
Steamed Stuffed Buns

Steaming is one of common Chinese cooking methods which is the process of putting processed ingredients in utensils, then putting them in steaming cages and using steam to cook.

 Classic dishes: Steamed fresh fish, Steamed Buns, Steamed Pork with Rice Powder

 

7. Braising 烧

The ingredients for braising must first go through one or more treatments like deep-frying or boiling. Then, fry the processed ingredients, add in seasonings and soup or hot water. After, heat over a hot flame until boiled and lower the heat to cook it slowly so the seasonings can soak into the ingredients.

 Classic dishes: Red Braised Pork, Braised Pomfret

 

8. Steam Stewing 焖

The main steps of steam stewing are as follows: add the ingredients into the pot, add seasonings and an appropriate amount of soup or water, close the lid and bring to a boil. Then, turn to low flame and cook slowly. After it is cooked, it will continue to stew for a certain time at room temperature and wait for the ingredients to be soften and taste.

 Classic dishes: Oil Steamed Stewing Shrimps, Steamed Rice

 

9. Bake Stewing 煨

Bake stewing is the Chinese cooking technique of scalding the ingredients in the boiling water. After, move the processed ingredients into a crock, add in soup and seasonings and bring to a boil. After, stew over a low flame until the soup turns thick. The ingredients are mostly beef, mutton, duck and goose with old texture and coarse fiber. The long-time bake stewing can make them taste soft and juicy. Also, the soup will be very nutritious.

 Classic dishes: Bake Stew Spareribs with Mung Bean and Laver, Bake Stew Chicken Feet in Cock, Buddha Jumps over the Wall

 

10. Simmering 炖

Simmering, or stewing is a healthy Chinese cooking method because the nutrients can be preserved to the maximum extent without harmful substances left. Here are the cooking steps: add soup and condiments to ingredients and boil over high heat; after boiled, reduce to medium heat and cook for a long time.

 Classic dishes: Stewed Chicken with Mushroom, Simmered Pork with Vermicelli

 

11. Roasting 烤

Roasting is a general term for cooking Chinese food in an oven and cooking them with the heat radiation; or cooking the ingredients over a fire directly.

 Classic dishes: Beijing Roast Duck, Mutton Shashlik, Roast Suckling Pig, Roast Whole Lamb

 

12. Smoking 熏

Smoking is a kind of Chinese cooking technique that smokes brined, sauced, braised, or fried ingredients to make them have a special smoking flavor. Another way is to smoke ingredients first, then cook them in other ways. The materials used for smoking include tea, rice, pine and cypress branches, soybeans, brown sugar, sawdust, and peanut shells, etc.

 Classic dishes: Smoked Fish, Preserved Meat

 

13. Baking in Salt 盐焗

Baking in salt is to wrap the pickled ingredients with oil-brushed paper, then bury them in the hot salt, and bake the raw materials with the residual heat of salt.

 Classic dishes: Salted Duck, Salted Prawns, Baked Chicken in Salt

 

14. Boiling 煮

Boil Dumplings
Boil Dumplings

Boiling is also one of the most widely used techniques to cook Chinese food. Bring the water to a boil, add in the ingredients and boil them till cooked. Boiling is often used to cook small and soft ingredients. 

 Classic dishes: Chinese Dumplings, Boiled Pig Meat Slice, Boiled Fish

 

15. Quick Boiling 汆

Most of the ingredients used in quack boiling are small or cut into slices, shreds, strips and balls. Generally, the soup or water is boiled over a strong flame first and the ingredients and seasonings are added. When the soup or water boils again, the food is cooked. Another method is to heat the ingredients in boiling water until they are 80% ripe, move the ingredients in a bowl and pour into seasoned boiling soup.

 Classic dishes: Boiled Meat Balls

 

16. Scalding 焯

Scalding or poaching means putting the ingredients into boiling water and boil them for a while and then remove them. It is a common Chinese cooking technique to eliminate the unwanted smell of meat like chicken and pork ribs.

 Classic dishes: Poached Shrimp

 

17. Instant Boiling 涮

As the name indicates, instant boiling is to quickly cook Chinese food in boiling water. To make sure the ingredients can be cooked in a very short time, they are cut into thin slices, shreds or dices. The instant boiled foods are usually dipped in seasonings before eating. The food can be eaten directly if being boiled in a pot of seasoned soup.

 Classic dishes: Hot Pot, Instant-boiled Mutton

 

18. Dressing 凉拌

Dressing refers to a kind of Chinese cooking method for adding seasonings into ingredients and mix them evenly. This is usually the last step to make Chinese cold dishes. The ingredients can be fruits, vegetables and meat.

 Classic dishes: Cold Sesame Spinach, Cucumber with Mashed Garlic

 

19. Pickling 腌

Pickling is a method of soaking ingredients in seasonings, or smearing and mixing ingredients with seasonings to make them taste. The pickling seasonings can be salt, cooking wine, soy sauce, pepper, tea, and sugar, etc.

 Classic dishes: Tea Egg, Drunk Shrimp, Salted Vegetable, Sweet Garlic, Chili Sauce
 

20. Crisp Frying with Syrup 拔丝

The way of crisp frying with syrup is to melt sugar that can be pulled out strips, add into fried ingredients and stir to wrap the ingredients. The cooked food tastes crisp and sweet outside and tender inside.

 Classic dishes: Potato in Caramel, Chinese Yam in Hot Toffee, Banana in Hot Toffee

 

 More Chinese Cooking Knowledge:

- Last modified on Apr. 21, 2021 -
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