Chinese Cooking -Harmony, Balance, Joy

Chinese Cooking Tools

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Chinese Philosophy on Cooking

The Chinese philosophy of cooking is to achieve harmony, balance and joy. Even though eating is a necessity of life, the Chinese believe it should be enjoyable, contain good nutrition, and should consist of eating only when you are hungry. They do not believe in stuffing oneself, and they also believe in drinking only when you are thirsty with the drink being neither to hot nor to cold. The aim is to achieve balance between the Ying and the Yang.

In northern China are the two provinces of Shandong, where the two greatest philosophers Confucius and Mencius were born and Hebei. They are closely linked and thought of as one province. Hebei (Beijing) has made a considerable contribution to the Northern food and has attracted some of the best cooks throughout China. The weather is too cold there for them to grow rice. A considerable influence on food has also come from Mongolia.

In the southern region of China they have three rice crops a year, plus access to seafood, and Chinese restaurants throughout the world are more widely known as Cantonese cuisine which cooking recipes from this region. Overall, the Chinese menu is very healthy and diverse.

Chinese Cooking Utensils

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Chinese Utensils for Preparation

The range of utensils to cook a Chinese meal is relatively small, as you can see in the pictures. Notice the chopsticks. The Chinese started eating with chopsticks under the Shang dynasty (1766-1123 B.C.). They come in two sizes, 10” to transfer food for the plate or bowl to the mouth and 14”, ideally made of bamboo for kitchen tasks.

Out of the total preparation time in cooking Chinese, 80% of that time is usually spent getting the ingredients ready for cooking. Meat and vegetables all have a particular way to be prepared. The pictures below show the different ways of preparation.

Spring Rolls

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Slicing Thin

Chopping

Cooking Aids

Helen Chen's Asian Kitchen 14-inch Carbon Steel Flat Bottom Lidded Wok Set
Helen Chen's Asian Kitchen 14-inch Carbon Steel Flat Bottom Lidded Wok Set

Traditional carbon steel wok, wooden handles, durable.

 
Joyce Chen 30-0037, Stainless Steel Strainer, 7-Inch
Joyce Chen 30-0037, Stainless Steel Strainer, 7-Inch

7" stainless steel strainer with bamboo handle that stays cool to touch.

 

Spring Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 pound lean pork or chicken cut into thin strips measuring 1/8” to 3/4” inches
  • 2 level tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1/3 cup bamboo shoots, cut to the same size and shape as the meat
  • 2 large black dried Chinese mushrooms, pre-soaked and thinly sliced
  • 1 small leek or large scallion including the green stem (finely chopped)
  • All-purpose flour
  • 12 Chinese spring roll skins, they can be purchased at a Chinese food store

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tbsp. dark or "black" soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp. peanut oil
  • A few drops of sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. all purpose flour

Directions:

Sprinkle the meat with the cornstarch and mix; let sit for a few minutes.

Heat the peanut oil in the wok and stir-fry the meat, the bamboo shoots, and the mushrooms for 1 minute.

Add the sauce ingredients and stir-fry until the liquid has evaporated.

Add the finely chopped leek.

Transfer to a plate and leave to cool.

Prepare a paste for sealing the pancake rolls by dissolving 1 tablespoon of flour in 1 tablespoon of cold water.

Add 2-3 tablespoons boiling water and stir.

Place some of the filling along the lower half of each pancake; lift up the lower edge, fold it over the filling,

Tuck in the edges at both ends and roll up neatly, sealing the final flap with the flour and water paste.

Fry the rolls in plenty of hot oil (350°F/180°C) and serve while still piping hot and crisp.

Yield: 6-12 servings (12 rolls).

Dicing and Cubing

Stir Fry Beef with Green Beans

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Chop Ginger Very Fine

Stir-fried Beef with Green Beans

Ingredients:

  • 5 ounces thinly sliced lean beef
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon peanut oil
  • 7 ounces green beans
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 can of straw mushrooms
  • Oil for frying
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped leek
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • A few drops of sesame oil

Directions:

Cut the slices of beef into pieces about 3/4 to1 inch long and place in a bowl or deep dish.

Add the sugar, soy sauce, cornstarch and peanut oil; mix well and leave to marinate.

String the beans if necessary, wash, and cut into 1 3/4- 2-inch lengths.

Heat wok, pour in 2 tablespoons oil and stir-fry the beans lightly; add the salt and the water, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender.

Remove beans from the wok and drain.

Drain the canned straw mushrooms.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the wok, add the marinated beef, and stir-fry lightly - the meat should still be a little pink.

In another pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and stir fry the chopped leek; when the leek starts to release its aroma, add the mushrooms and the beans.

Stir fry these briefly and then add the meat, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine.

Stir-fry quickly over a high heat, and add a few drops of sesame oil to give the dish more flavor.

How to Cook Quick & Easy Chinese Recipes : Making Chinese Stir-Fry

Sichuan Beef with Ginger and Green Pepper

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Sichuan Pouring Sauce over Ingredients

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Cooking Utensils

Tom Douglas by Pinzon 10-Inch Bamboo Steamer Basket
Tom Douglas by Pinzon 10-Inch Bamboo Steamer Basket

2tier bamboo steamer for preparing vegetables, which requires of oil. Domed lid traps steam and has a loop handle.

 

Sichuan Beef with Ginger and Green Peppers

This dish has the strong flavors characteristic of Sichuan cooking and should be accompanied by rice.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound lean beef
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 egg white
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 5 green peppers
  • 1/4 pound bamboo shoots (canned, unsalted or fresh parboiled)
  • Oil for frying
  • 1 tsp .finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped leek
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • Sesame oil

For the sauce:

  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar

If required: 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons water to thicken the sauce

Directions:

Cut the beef into thin slices and then into thin strips 1/4" wide.

Season with salt, dip in the egg white, and then sprinkle with the cornstarch mixing well by hand.

Cut the green peppers in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and pith, and shred into very thin strips less than 1/8" wide;

Cut the bamboo shoots into similar-sized strips.

Stir-fry the strips of beef in fairly hot oil, taking care that they do not stick to one another.

Remove as soon as they have turned whitish.

Heat the wok and pour in 2 tbsp.oil; when this is hot stir-fry the chopped garlic, leek, and ginger briskly over a high heat.

Once the ginger has turned golden brown and has started to release its aroma, add the shredded green peppers and the bamboo shoots.

Stir-fry briefly over a high heat.

When the peppers and bamboo shoots are nearly tender, add the beef and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon rice wine.

Stir fry all the ingredients together.

Pour the sauce over the contents of the wok, and stir fry the ingredients rapidly to allow them to absorb the flavor evenly.

Finish by adding a few drops of sesame oil to give the dish extra flavor.

If the sauce is too thin, stir in 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons water.

Serve this delicious dish over rice.

Unlimited Possibilities of Chinese Cooking

Chinese cooking, whether you use a dish from the northern region or the southern region, has numerous types of recipes using many types of fish, meats and vegetables. Sometimes we think of everything Chinese being about rice, which of course, is not true. The very diverse menus seem endless with a huge variety of choice.

One thing that is noticeable is the amount of preparation that goes into almost all the true Chinese recipes as each ingredient has a particular way it needs to be cut, sliced, diced or chopped. They are very precise with regard to meat, as they trim off all the fat carefully before proceeding with the planned preparation for the rest of the meal. The recipes are also healthy, typically low in saturated fat and they include a lot of vegetables.

The most important thing to the Chinese is to achieve harmony, balance and joy.

The copyright to this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

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Comments 46 comments

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

I love Chinese food, and I enjoyed reading your article. Well done and thumbs up. I will tweet this one.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

Great recipes, Pamela. I adore Chinese food but would prefer to cook it myself. Now I can with your help. Thanks.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Coolmon, Thanks so much for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

POP, I love Chinese food also. Thanks for your comment and I hope you make some great Chinese food.


Sandyspider profile image

Sandyspider 6 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

Thank you for theses recipes. I love Chinese food.


HealthyHanna profile image

HealthyHanna 6 years ago from Utah

Ohhhhhhhh, These look so good. I love Chinese cooking. It is quick and easy when you learn where to buy ingredients. I wish I had better utensils however.


sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 6 years ago

I love ginger, so the beef with ginger and green beans sounds wonderful. Luckily there's a really good Chinese restaurant near-by. Oops, that's not the idea, is it? Actually, I like cooking Chinese because I enjoy all of the dicing and slicing. Your pictures were good for showing the various ways.


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

Great hub, with your extra special touch of the eastern flare. Your hubs are always so excellent and I love the title of this piece. Hugs your fan


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Sandy, I'm glad you like the recipes and thanks for your comment.

Hanna, It seems they don't use many utensils but the ones used are unique. Thanks for your comment.

Darlene, I'm so glad you liked the hub. Thanks so much for your comments girlfriend.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

I love Chinese food and definitely wrote a winner here. Thank you.


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California

Very complete hub. From history to table you covered it all! I think you might just have the winner this time Pamela! Found the imaged very helpful and defining.

Up and awesome!


Roberta99 profile image

Roberta99 6 years ago

This is a wonderful hub to have the history and the recipes. I like your pictures as well.


Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV

Pamela,

Great hub I love the look of the Spring Rolls and the two beef dishes my mouth is watering!!!!!!!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Hello, Thank you for your comment.

K9storkes, Thank you so much for the compliment and your comments.

Roberta, Thank you for your comments.

Tom, I love those spring rolls too. Thank you for your comments.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin

Absolutely love LOVE Chinese food. I could eat your hub. :)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Springboard, I'm glad you like Chinese food and my hub. Thanks for your comment.


carolina muscle profile image

carolina muscle 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

That Spring Roll recipe is right up my alley... great hub!!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Carolina, Thanks for your comment.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD

Great Hub. I think we'll want to try the Sichuan Beef with Ginger and Green Peppers recipe. Thank you.


partisan patriot 6 years ago

Pamela

The pictures made me hungry; how’s that for an insightful comment?

Parmesan Patriot


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

Totally delicious looking and I haven't even had breakfast yet! I love spring rolls and have a great recipe for baked egg rolls. I need to dig that one out! Thanks for reminding me and must try your recipes.


judydianne profile image

judydianne 6 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

Love your pictures and recipes! Thumbs up!


Support Med. profile image

Support Med. 6 years ago from Michigan

Sounds good to me. Thanks for the recipes. Voted-up/rated!


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

thanks Pam, I think you nailed this one, and sure you have a good grasp of what Chinese foods are, Maita


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Ken, I;m glad you picked out your menu for today. Thanks for your comment.

Patriot, Thank you for your nice comment.

Akirchner, Spring rolls are great. Thanks for the comments.

Judy, Thanks so much for your comments.

Support Med, Thanks so much for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Miata, I love Chinese food. Thanks so much for your comments. Much appreciated.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

I love Chinese food. All of your recipes look delicious especially the spring rool recipes. Beautiful pictures.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Gals, Thank you so much for your comments.


JannyC profile image

JannyC 6 years ago

Xièxiè Pamela! Beautiful hub (btw that is Xièxiè is thank you in chinese) I have been wanting a spring roll reciepe too so happy. Now to catch up on some more of your hubs been so busy!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Janny, Thank you for your comment and the Chinese lesson. All appreciated.


Betty Reid profile image

Betty Reid 6 years ago from Texas

Pamela99, thanks for the ideas. A Vietnamese friend taught me to make egg rolls. It was a lot of fun and tasted great. Your Stir Fry Beef with Green Beans looks fabulous, and I don't even like green beans!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Betty, I would like to make spring egg rolls that aren't too difficult to make. It is good to have a friend to help. Thanks for your comments.


sherrylou57 profile image

sherrylou57 6 years ago from Riverside

Nice hub, thank you for sharing this. I also love chinese cooking.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Sherrylou, I appreciate your comments.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

What a wonderful hub filled with enticing pictures, good sounding recipes and some history as well. Now I'm hungry for some Chinese food!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Peggy, I am glad you enjoyed the hub and than you for your comments.


nancy_30 profile image

nancy_30 6 years ago from Georgia

Great hub. I love Chinese food. Thanks for all the really great recipes.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Nancy, Glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks for your comment.


Marie Tyson profile image

Marie Tyson 6 years ago from Seven Valleys, PA

I love the recipes! I am definitely going to try some of them.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Marie, Thank your for your comments and I hope you enjoy them.


Loves To Read profile image

Loves To Read 6 years ago

Another great hub Pamela. I am also a lover of Chinese cuisine. We are lucky to have a wonderful restaurant in a local town where you can eat in or take away. They provide about 14 dishes of Chinese and also fish, chips, scalloped potatoes and pasta. If you dine in for all you can eat it costs $9.20 for lunch. Starting with soup, mains, sweets and coffee or tea. Whenever we go there they are always packed out. These recipes look great. I will have to give them a try.

Love and Hugs.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Loves to Read, That restaurant sounds fantastic. I love Chinese cuisine also. We have one that delivers which is really handy at times. Thanks for your comments.


PaperNotes profile image

PaperNotes 6 years ago

Yummy! I can say I can cook those Chinese dishes well, it's in the use of chopsticks where I would fail!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Papernotes, I'm not too good with the chopsticks either. Thanks for your comments.


Lisawilliamsj profile image

Lisawilliamsj 4 years ago

This article is interesting and the recipes sound delicious. I can't wait to try them. Thanks for posting!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Lisa, I love oriental food also. I hope you enjoy the recipes and thanks for your comments.

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