As you’re probably aware, Chinese food menu from your favorite restaurant isn’t authentic Chinese. American culture has had a significant influence on it (though, we admit, tasty in its own way). China has a diverse range of regional Chinese food menu, each with its own distinct style and flavor, owing to its size and population. If you don’t know where to begin, broadening your palate to include traditional Chinese cuisine can be intimidating. We spoke with Bee Yinn Low, author of the Asian food blog Rasa Malaysia and the cookbook Easy Chinese Recipes: Family Favorites from Dim Sum to Kung Pao, to find out which dishes she recommends to get you started with traditional Chinese cooking.
Chao Fan (Fried Rice)
“Rice is a staple in Chinese food menu,” says Yinn Low. Because of the completeness of the Chinese fried rice dish, it can feed a family of four. Vegetables and protein (chicken, pork, shrimp) are both acceptable ingredients (carrots, mixed vegetables). This is a complete meal.” It’s simple to make at home, but for the best-fried rice, Yinn Low recommends using leftover rice. (We have a plan for the leftover takeout.)
Yinn Low believes that the Peking duck in the Beijing dish is the best way to eat duck. Serve with salad and hoisin sauce on top of crispy roasted duck. A hung oven cooks the duck in an open-air oven, so you can’t make it at home… but it’s something we recommend trying if you get the chance at a traditional Chinese restaurant.
Stinky Tofu (Chudufu)
Stinky tofu is fermented tofu with a strong odor, as the name suggests (and the stronger it smells, the better it tastes). Tofu is fermented in a brine of fermented milk, vegetables, meats, and aromatics for several months.
According to Yinn Low, “noodles are a mainstay in Chinese cooking,” in addition to rice. Chow mein, like fried rice, has an infinite number of variations. Parents who are always on the go will appreciate how simple it is to prepare this meal for the entire family. If you can’t find Chinese egg noodles or chow mein noodles, use cooked spaghetti instead.”
Rice porridge, also known as congee, is a filling and easy-to-digest dish (particularly for breakfast). Congee’s consistency and ingredients differ from region to region. Mung beans and sugar can be used as an alternative sweetener to meat or tofu, in addition to the usual toppings of meat and vegetables. Congee is frequently recommended as part of a sick person’s diet because it is so soothing.
Hugu (Warm Pot)
Using the hot pot cooking method, raw ingredients are cooked tableside in a large pot of simmering broth as one of the best on Chinese food menu. It’s a culinary experience rather than a food item. There is a lot of room for experimentation with different broths, meats, vegetables, seafood, noodles, and toppings. In order to accomplish this, everyone is expected to sit down and cook their meals in the same pot.
To conclude I would say due to China’s size and long history, the country is home to a wide variety of natural landscapes and historical sites, as well as a vibrant food culture that complements them both. Chinese food is best when it’s authentic and the list provided above is an authentic Chinese food menu.