According to many gourmets, there are only three cuisines in the world: Chinese, Russian and French, and the rest are their variations. Chinese cuisine is considered one of the most healthy and delicious in the world. They owe these qualities to the three-thousand-year history of the development of the Middle Kingdom. During this time, not only have all the knowledge and experience of cooking delicious and healthy food been preserved, but also improved.
Even before the beginning of our time, there were public restaurants in the land of the rising sun. And the oldest archaeological evidence of a great culinary experience is about 2500 thousand years old. In China, 1500 thousand years ago, the world’s first cookbook was written. All these points show us the special attitude of the Chinese to the cooking process.
Despite the wide variety of products that have been used since ancient times to prepare Chinese dishes, the main one is rice. It is either served as an independent dish, or it is supplemented with the main one. It is served in two types: crumbly rice and liquid (for breakfast). Outside of China, its national cuisine also includes noodles and tea. In addition to rice, pork, poultry meat, chicken and duck eggs, seafood (fish, shrimps, crabs, shellfish), products from cereals and legumes are also very popular. It can be seen that a large range of products is used (there is a joke proverb that the Chinese eat everything that flies, crawls and swims). Spicy herbs are very much appreciated. They are used in large quantities and in various combinations. At the same time, spicy herbs perform not only a taste function, but also a therapeutic one. In Chinese cuisine, there are more than 300 types of spicy herbs. In general, all dishes of traditional Chinese cuisine have some medicinal properties. In particular, tinctures from the most popular product in China (rice) help with coughs and headaches.
A distinctive feature of Chinese cuisine is the large number of components included in the dish. Moreover, all the components for a particular dish are prepared separately. Great attention is paid to the quality of the ingredients. When preparing food, chefs in China spend a lot of time processing food (a third of the total time allotted for cooking). The method of heat treatment of products is also different. It is characterized by very fast processing (2-4 minutes) in hot oil in a frying pan or in a pressure cooker.
When preparing a dish, the Chinese pay attention to the compatibility of products in color, smell and taste. In China, it is believed that the dish should be made from small pieces. This is done in order not to waste energy on cutting up a ready-made dish in a plate. Here are two basic rules of Chinese cuisine: the ingredients must be properly chopped and properly heat treated. Small pieces are prepared very quickly. At the same time, all the useful and necessary qualities of the products will be preserved. Before frying a particular product, a spice (allspice or ginger) is fried in oil. This will give the product a special taste and aroma. To make the product juicy after cooking, the Chinese fry it in batter. Batter is made from flour or starch. Another interesting feature of Chinese cuisine is their ability to combine seemingly incompatible products, flavors and tastes. They believe that if after cooking the fish has a characteristic smell, all the manipulations carried out with it were done in vain. They will not be surprised by pork with a fish flavor or meat with a fruit flavor.
In China, in addition to traditional products, they also use products that are not quite edible in our opinion. Examples include shark fins, tree mushrooms, bamboo, cat, dog, and snake meat.
When we talk about green tea, we can’t help but imagine China. And correctly. This drink is the pride of Chinese cuisine. They start and finish the meal. Drink it very hot and without any additives (sugar, milk). Brew it in a porcelain teapot or directly in cups. It is no secret that tea drinking in China is not only a process of quenching thirst, but also a very important ceremony.
Not all of China has the same cuisine. Different provinces have their own distinctive features. For example, in the north of China, a dish called “beggar chicken”is very popular. For this dish, mushrooms, onions, cabbage, and various seasonings are used. These ingredients are stuffed with chicken. Then it is wrapped in lotus leaves, smeared with clay and baked. When serving, the clay is broken and the delicious aroma and taste of the prepared dish is enjoyed. But in western China, chicken fried with peanuts with hot sauce (“gongbao”) is in great demand. For cooking with peanuts and red chili pepper, pieces of chicken fillet are fried. This dish has a very bright taste.
Chinese cuisine is valued all over the world not only for its medicinal properties and usefulness. They also appreciate the fact that Chinese culinary masters were able to preserve and carry through the centuries the experience and traditions of cooking healthy and delicious food.