Cooking Chinese Food
Chinese Shrimp and Rice
Balancing the Yin and Yang
The best word to use when describing Chinese cuisine is harmony, as the aim is to achieve balance. There are really no hard fast rules or fixed dogma or even arbitrary categories when cooking Chinese. Their aim is to achieve balance between the principles of Yin and Yang.
Since eating is a necessity of life, they feel it should be as enjoyable as singing, painting or having a good conversation with a friend. Good nutrition consistently eating only when you're hungry and not overeating. A good rule is to get up from the table when you still feel as if you could eat a little bit more.
“….. there are few who know how to distinguish the true taste of food."
--Mencius (372-289 B.C.)
China has Four Distinct Regions
China is a very unique country that is surrounded by mountains, has fertile plains, lakes, rivers and seas which of all influenced their culture. There were long periods of time when some regions were cut off from others, therefore, the Chinese have been influenced by many different cultural traditions and their food varies from region to region. For example, rice is the staple food in central and southern China, while maize and cereals is the staple in other areas.
China has always been a poor country and only a rather small portion of this enormous country is suitable for agriculture, so adequate food has always been a problem. They have suffered from droughts, floods, invasions by barbarians and their soaring population has added to the problem. The northern, southern, eastern, and western portion of China all cook their foods a little bit differently.
Chinese Noodle Dish
Won Ton Soup
One of the excellent Chinese food recipes that I always enjoy and order when I'm in a Chinese restaurant is Won ton soup. The recipe below will serve 6 to 8 servings, and while it takes a little bit of time to make it is well worth the effort.
Won Ton Soup
Ingredients -Soup, Marinade, Won Tons
- 3/4 pound shrimp
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 1/2 ounces leek, shallot or scallon, cut into think rings
- 1 tsp. sugar, for marinade
- 1/2 tsp. salt, for marinade
- 2-3 drops sesame seed oil, for marinade
- 6 cups chicken stock, for soup
- 1 tsp. salt, for soup
- 2 tbsp. light soy sauce, for soup
- 5-6 drops sesame seed oil, for soup
- 4 ounces all-purpose flour, sifted for won ton
- 6 tbsp. egg and water combined, beaten
- cornstarch, as needed
- Prepare the won ton: Sift the flour onto a pastry board, make a well in the center and pour in all but 1 tablespoon of the beaten egg and water mixture; mix in the flour and work the dough for about 5 min. until smooth; add the remaining egg and water if needed. Cover with a cloth and leave to rest for 4 to 5 hours at room temperature.
- Knead the dough briefly once more and lightly dust the pastry board and rolling pin was cornstarch. Roll the dough out into a very thin, almost transparent sheet and cut out a 48 circles. These should be dusted with cornstarch, piled on top of each other, and kept in the refrigerator, covered with a cloth until needed.
- Mix the shrimp thoroughly with the marinade and place in refrigerator for 30 min., which is sugar, salt and sesame oil.
- Place a generous teaspoon of shrimp mixture in the center of each pastry circle; brush the edges with beaten egg.
- Gather the pastry over the filling; twists to seal.
- Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil and boil the won ton until they rise to the top. Drain.
- The soup consists of the chicken broth, salt, soy sauce and sesame oil. Distribute half the chopped leek evenly in the soup bowls and placed the wonton on top.
- Bring the chicken stock and other soup ingredients to a boil, add the remaining leek, and boil for 1 min. Serve.
Nutrition for Won Ton Soup
|Serving size: 1 cup|
|Calories from Fat||18|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 2 g||3%|
|Saturated fat 0 g|
|Unsaturated fat 0 g|
|Carbohydrates 17 g||6%|
|Sugar 2 g|
|Fiber 1 g||4%|
|Protein 7 g||14%|
|Cholesterol 50 mg||17%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
Chicken Chow Mein (or Chao Mian, stir fried noodles)
Sweet and Sour Pork
Sweet and Sour Pork
Another Cantonese dish, which has become a favorite worldwide and is excellent with boiled rice, is Sweet and Sour Pork. This easy recipe is not too difficult to make and again, it is well worth the effort.
Sweet and Sour Pork
- 3/4 pound leg of pork (de-boned)
- 1 red chili pepper
- 2 leeks
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
- 1/2 small can of pineapple
- 4 green bell peppers
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 egg
- Cornstarch as required
- Oil for frying, (peanut oil is preferable to me)
- 1 tablespoon rice wine
For the sauce:
- 1/3 cup vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 4 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Cut the pork into slices about 1/2 inch thick and pound each piece lightly on both sides with the blunt edge of the cleaver to tenderize; then cut into bite-size portions.
- Remove the seeds from the chili pepper and cut it into rings about 1/4 inch thick. Slice the leeks into 1/2 inch lengths, and chop the garlic very finely
- Drain canned pineapple and cut into small pieces; slice the green peppers lengthwise; remove the seeds, pith, and stem; and cut into portions the same size as the pieces of pork.
- Mix the sauce ingredients together. In a separate small bowl or cup dissolve 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 4 teaspoons cold water.
- Dip the pork pieces into the beaten egg and then coat with cornstarch. Heat the oil over medium heat in the wok and fry the pork until it is cooked through. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the wok and stir-fry the chopped garlic; as soon as this releases its aroma, add the leeks followed by the green peppers.
- When the green peppers are tender, add the chili pepper, the pineapple, and the pork and stir-fry, mixing and turning all the ingredients briskly; moisten with the rice wine to add flavor.
- Finally, add the sweet and sour sauce, followed by the cornstarch dissolved in water; mix thoroughly. Turn off the heat and serve.
Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking
The joy of Chinese cooking is such a nice break from your usual routine. Chinese food is delicious and not that difficult for to prepare. There are some wonderful Chinese chicken recipes and vegetarian recipes on the Internet also, so whatever your taste, I'm sure you can find a recipe that will suit you.