Archaeologists came across a surprising find while digging near the Yellow River in China – a fossilized noodle dating back four millennia!
With such an ancient history behind it, Chinese cuisine’s had plenty of time to develop a wide range of flavor combinations and delectable dishes.
In fact, there are over 1,000 different types of Chinese dim sum available at present, and that’s just one branch of this diverse cuisine. Thanks to its wide flavor profile, Chinese food has spread across the globe, and you’ll find it available at gourmet restaurants all over the world.
Nowadays, you can even order Chinese take-out and ingredients online. So, isn’t it time you discovered Chinese cuisine too?
About Chinese Cuisine
Although each region of this vast country has its own special brand of cuisine, the Chinese art of making food hinges on three main principles. These are aromatic flavor, color, and five categories of taste – sweet, sour, bitter, hot, and salty.
Most dishes consist of well-balanced nutrition featuring healthy doses of vegetables and white meat. Of course, food created to appeal to the western market often stray a little from these norms, but they’re still some of the tastiest foods around.
These are the best Chinese dishes to order the next time you’re in China, enjoying a meal out, buying food from a vendor, or trying your hand at this ancient cooking style.
1. Chinese Dumplings
Xiao Long Bao is the best-known and most popular type of Chinese dumpling. After all, what is a dumpling unless it’s packed with succulent pork, right?
These pork bites overflow with a delicious hot stock packed with flavorful bits of meat. As you bite into them, the hot stock explodes into your mouth, so approach with caution on your first taste.
To enjoy them at their best, pick them up from the top and place them on a spoon, then bite carefully into the side and slurp out the juice. Once you’ve passed the tricky part, you can munch away on the rest and enjoy the full flavor-packed experience.
2. Chow Mein
Everybody’s heard of Chow Mein and almost as many people enjoy it. It’s a Cantonese dish of stir-fried noodles mixed with onion, green pepper, green onion, and sliced meat.
This quick and easy dish is a firm favorite among late-night diners in China and around the globe.
3. Kung Pao Chicken
Kung Pao Chicken’s sweet and sour tastes with a hint of burn are a hit wherever people enjoy Chinese food.
Diced chicken is the main ingredient, with peanuts and dried chili added. Other ingredients include cooking wine, green onion, garlic, ginger, sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce.
Chefs fry the ingredients together until crispy, blending the flavors until perfectly combined.
4. Spring Rolls
Spring rolls share a few similarities with dumplings. They’re made of the same rice wrapping and are also a versatile dish that lends itself to both carnivorous and vegetarian tastes.
The main difference between dumplings and spring rolls is that the latter takes the shape of a roll rather than a package. They’re also fried until golden yellow and not steamed like dumplings.
5. Peking Duck
Peking Duck hails from the Beijing area of China, where people eat it with ritual reverence on special occasions.
Traditionally, the chef presents the duck whole with a tray of side dishes. Then they carve the bird into 120 slices containing both meat and crispy skin.
You eat the slices of duck wrapped in a lotus leaf with shallots and cucumber and then dipped into a sauce.
6. Sweet and Sour Pork
Another top hit internationally, sweet and sour pork creates complex flavors using simple cooking principles.
The pork’s starched with flour and then deep-fried until it’s tender inside and crispy on the outside. Finally, it’s dipped in a mixture of sugar and vinegar to give it the classic contradictory taste.
Sweet and Sour Pork works well when served with tomatoes, apples, and especially pineapple.
7. Suanrong Fensi Zheng Xia
Shrimp with vermicelli and garlic is a wonderfully aromatic steamed dish. Garlic is the dominant flavor in this seafood sauce and the vermicelli serves to capture every delectable drop.
Sipping on some Chinese yellow wine, while you eat this dish, complements the flavors perfectly.
Wontons are a customary Chinese winter food and usually occur in soup at this time of year. They’re regarded as the original Chinese comfort food, dating back to the Tang Dynasty.
You can choose from a huge range of wontons when ordering Chinese food. Most often, they’re shaped like Italian tortellini and served with minced pork and diced shrimp.
9. Yangchow Fried Rice
This classic Chinese dish is simple and yet so satisfying. The best kind comes from Yangzhou and contains a dizzying array of ingredients.
Some of the things in this dish include diced ham, carrots, mushrooms, peeled shrimp, baby bamboo shoots, corn, and crumbled egg.
Chefs fry the ingredients together and then add the rice, so the whole dish comes out with an attractive golden yellow appearance.
10. Red Braised Pork
This a favorite dish of Chairman Mao Zedong thanks to its juicy but not greasy texture. It’s made by slow-stewing the pork in a syrup of brown sugar and rock candy.
These are the only ingredients in this colorful, tender, richly-colored dish.
Broaden Your Food Horizons
We hope this showcase has inspired you to think beyond your usual favorites the next time you order Chinese cuisine. This type of food offers something for everyone.
The Chinese were even serving tofu long before it became a thing in the West.
Are you hungry yet? Browse our Food section for more of the best cooking tips and ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.