Sunday, July 02, 2006

Chinese Cooking Methods

The art of Chinese cooking is not, contrary to
popular belief, complicated and difficult.

Most Chinese dishes do not require a complex
processing and equipment in the kitchen as does
one of China's most famous dishes, Peking duck.

Simplicity is the key to Chinese cuisine as
evidently shown in their various cooking methods.
When you have the ingredients, seasonings and
marinades ready, you can use one of the following
methods to cook in Chinese.

Roasting - Roasting is not family cooking in China,
since few Chinese kitchens have facilities for
roasting. Only restaurants go much into roasts and
Cantonese restaurants excel especially in these.
In roasting, raw ingredients are marinated in
seasonings before being roasted in an oven or
barbecued over direct heat from charcoal fire,
with the roast turning slowly round and round.

Marinades is added inside and out from time to
time so that the skin remains smooth and shiny,
instead of rough and flaky, and the meat remains
juicy instead of powdery. The Peking duck is one
of China's most famous dishes cooked this way.
Families can go to food shops to buy roast meat
or poultry and eat it cold. But for the crisp juicy
hot roast duck, one has to go to a restaurant.

Boiling - Strictly speaking, this means cooking food
in boiling water (A liquid is boiling when the
surface is continually agitated by large bubbles).
Violent boiling should be avoided. It wastes fuel;
it does not cook the food any faster, it tends to
make the food break up and so spoils the
appearance; the liquid is evaporated too quickly
with the consequent danger of the food burning.

There are one or two exceptions to this rule;
for example, when one wants to drive off water
quickly from syrup or a sauce to make it thicker,
then violent boiling with the lid off hastens
the process.

In Chinese cooking, there is very little big-fire
boiling, as a complete process. Chinese would not
consider eating boiled potatoes. After a thing is
boiled, the natural question is - Now what of it?
Quick plain boiling is often only a preparatory
process for other ways of cooking - where the
term parboil comes into place.

There are some exceptions, such as plain boiled
celery cabbage with salt and a little lard, or boiled
yam, to eat with sugar. But celery cabbage and
yam are such cook-proof things that they are good
in any method prepared. It's not necessary to use
continued big fire after water has started to boil,
because water cannot be hotter than 100° C or 212°F.

Turn the fire to medium if you want but to make
sure that it is at least hot in all parts, especially
in a large tall boiling or steaming pot, the fire
must be big enough for you to see the steam
come out.

Shallow frying - shallow frying uses a small amount
of oil in a frying pan or wok at a temperature
lower than stir-frying. Ingredients are usually cut
into slices or flat pieces, and are used as they are,
slightly coated with batter or rubbed with
seasonings. Fish is ideal for this cooking method.

The presentation side of the food should be fried
first as this side will have the better appearance
because the oil is clean, then turned so that both
sides are cooked and browned.

Sauces, if called for, are then added. Food cooked
this way is tender inside with some crispness outside.

This method is quite similar to sautéing in the West.

No comments: