Chinese Food

Chinese food incorporates many foods and herbs thought to be medicinalSee also: Asian Food.

Chinese may well be the most diverse cuisine on Earth. With its vast variety and equally longstanding traditions, there’s truly something for everyone. From Szechuan’s famed bold flavors arriving from the pungent Sichuan peppercorn, to Hunan’s well-known spiciness, to Zhejiang’s fresh mild flavors, the possibilities are endless when exploring the flavors of Chinese food.

Looking to branch out from your standby seafood dinners? Try Shandong (Lu) or Fujian cuisine; with braised abalone, sweet and sour carp, and hundreds of types of fish, shellfish, and turtle dishes, it’s hard to go wrong. Not in the mood for fish? Various Shandong snacks are also worth trying, and Fujian offers woodland delicacies such as edible mushrooms and bamboo shoots much like Anhui cuisine. Jiangsu cuisine (Su or Cai), is one of the major components of Chinese culinary traditions: among many others, typical courses are Jinling salted dried duck, Yangzhou steamed jerky strips, and something called Farewell My Concubine (stewed turtle).

Xinjiang reflects just the kind of range and influence you can expect from Chinese food.  The region’s many ethnic groups–particularly Uyghur cuisine–offer signature ingredients including roasted mutton, kebabs, roasted fish and rice, and because of the large Islamic population, the food is predominantly halal. Want to try a little of everything? Dim sum, literally meaning “touch your heart,” is a Cantonese term for small hearty dishes. These bite-sized portions are designed so that one person can taste a variety of different plates: everything from rice rolls, lotus leaf rice, and turnip cakes to shui jiao-style dumplings, stir-fried green vegetables, and congee porridge–the list goes on and on.

When it comes to sauces, the Chinese may very well do it best. China is of course the home of soy sauce, but a wide number of other sauces are based on fermented soybeans.  Oyster sauce, transparent rice vinegar, fish sauce, and fermented tofu (furu) are also key players in Chinese dishes. In addition to these great flavors, the Chinese are well-known for their unique spices (star anise, for instance).

Chinese desserts are often served with tea. Bings are baked confections, including the well-loved mooncake, red bean paste pancake, and sun cake. Or, try a rice-based snack (gao or guo), which are made from glutinous or normal rice and are typically steamed. Many Chinese also drink their tea with snacks such as dried fruit (in particular jujube), melon seeds, and waxberry. China was the first country to cultivate and drink tea and possibly is known most notably for it; green, oolong, black, scented, white, and compressed teas are only a small sampling.

Where to Buy Chinese Food Online:

IndianFoods Co- China: Don’t let its name fool you: this site has all the great ingredients you’ll need to stock up on for an authentic Chinese taste at home. With a variety of vegetables like those hard-to-find fermented greens, to cooking sauces like black bean paste, everything you need to make your favorite dishes is here. There’s also a great selection of Chinese teas, including the famous yet hard-to-find “gunpowder” green tea. Looking for a great gift? They ship gourmet gift boxes!

wok shop logoWokshop.com: Located right in San Francisco’s Chinatown, Workshop.com is your one-stop-shop for the latest and greatest in Chinese products. The site stocks the authentic cooking accessories that foodies scour the Western world for, from rice cookers and mooncake molds to tempura racks and cleavers. Can’t decide what to make for that dinner party next week? Can’t make that traditional recipe taste like your grandmother’s? Workshop.com can help. Check out their blog, recipes, or helpful tips and hints.

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