How do you cook Chinese food?

This question is about as reasonable as asking, "How do you cook American food?"

The answer is the same: many different ways.

Chinese cuisine is one of the oldest (if not THE oldest) on the planet. It has evolved for thousands of years. Chinese chefs who used to cook for the Emperors had to come up with a new recipe - often more - every single day, so he wouldn't have to eat the same thing twice unless he insisted on it. Some chefs became the Emperor's "pets," but others lost their heads for failing to please his palate. The "pets," like Sheherazade and her stories, had to keep coming up with winning dishes every day - or else. Must have been rough. But it really increased the development of a voluminous, unique and highly varied cuisine.

China is a HUGE country. The cuisines of the different areas are often as different as night and day - some loaded with hot peppers, others bland; rice is the most commonly eaten food, and is served with virtually every meal, except in the northern areas, where they lean more on wheat. You have to simply try samples of the different cuisines to decide which is your favorite.

The Chinese invented the wok and the bamboo steamer, and you can't really do justice to their cuisines unless you have one of each. A very large frypan with as little flat bottom as possible can be almost as good as a wok, and any steamer you can buy commercially will steam Chinese foods, too. The bamboo steamer simply allows you to steam a larger quantity and variety of foods all at once, because it is several "stories" high. You can fill each level with a different kind of food. A wok is a very large frypan with very high sides and no flatness at the bottom, and it has handles on two sides. Often you set it on a ring, so it won't wobble. This enables you to stirfry small quantities in VERY hot oil, then slide them up on the walls while you cook something else - and often later they're all mixed together again. The actual part that does most of the cooking is the bottom inch or two of the wok. The sides may cook a little bit, but are usually used to keep food warm. For the ancient Chinese, who were often poor, and wood and other fuels scarce, the wok is very energy efficient.
Chinese food is almost never baked - except very modern recipes - because the Chinese never had ovens until modern times. Many other cultures - even ancient ones - had developed some kind of oven, but the Chinese didn't - probably the scarcity of fuel and the poverty had a role to play there. A wood-fired oven uses a lot of wood to bake.
The actual cooking of Chinese food usually takes very little time (with exceptions, of course). The largest amount of time is preparing the ingredients. Everything must be ready to go before you even turn on the stove. Woks work best if you can get a VERY high flame. Electric cooking elements get hotter than gas usually does, though it is the high flame which is traditional, and often does make some differences. It frustrates me that so many modern gas stoves don't give the option of this very high flame. Professional stoves do. But you can cook delicious Chinese food anyway.

There are many cooking methods, red cooked meats, braised meats, etc. But by far the most common methods are stirfrying and steaming. They also specialize in very wonderful soups, where the veggies are crisp-tender instead of sodden.

Chinese food - again due to the poverty - is heavy on plant foods, mostly veggies, and uses meats mostly as a secondary ingredient. Meat is expensive; veggies aren't. For this reason, Chinese food is often healthier than our own cuisine, even if it does have almost as much fats and oils. But with more veggies and less protein, people often complain that Chinese and other oriental foods don't "stick to the ribs," and you get hungry again too soon. You can, of course, increase the meat, poultry or seafood, or even add one of these to an all-veggie dish.

Chinese cooks are extremely conscious of the final product - they want a finished dish to have mixtures of tastes, textures (crispy, soft, etc.) and colors. How the dish looks when it is served is of great importance to them. Even the way things are cut up adds to this aesthetic requirement. Some dishes, which have nuts on top are often made that way to keep the dish from having a one-texture quality to it - the nuts add some crunch.

Stirfrying has a huge advantage. The nutrients in foods, particularly veggies, are not boiled out and wasted. In addition, stirfrying cooks veggies in VERY hot oil, while you stir them rapidly. They are not cooked till mushy or scorched, but are removed when they are what you might regard as sort of halfway done - tender, but still retaining some of the crispness of the veggies. This is one thing that makes their cuisine so special. And it isn't difficult at ALL to learn. The most important thing to remember is to cut up ALL the veggies before you begin cooking, and each type must be cut into pieces of uniform size. This is important, to insure they'll all be cooked perfectly at the same time, because stirfry cooking is done quickly. Sometimes veggie types are cooked separately; other times together. If together, you always stirfry the ones that take longest to cook first, and go down the line to the ones which cook up fastest. Line up your dishes of prepared, cut veggies in the order you'll use them.

You can practice stirfry in an ordinary frying pan. Try heating some oil very hot, then adding uniform sized chunks of a veggie, like broccoli, bell peppers, etc. Stir them vigorously, keep them moving until you can see they are getting tender (they might shrink a bit) - taste a piece. If it's still slightly crunchy, yet tender, you did it right. Season it to taste, or use Chinese seasonings.

Then you can go on to try other adventurous Chinese recipes. One of my favorites is eggrolls or spring rolls, but they take a LOT of time to prepare. Worth it, though.

Chop suey is an American/Chinese dish, not a traditional one, but it is made in a way similar to many classic Chinese recipes. Dim Sum is very popular. It isn't just one dish, but a variety of tasty tidbits, all different - a kind of Chinese version of appetizers or canapes, but not like canapes you know. It's often rolled out on a cart, like a dessert cart, in restaurants, and you can pick the ones you want. You can find dozens of dim sum recipes online.

Seasonings are highly varied, but one of the most classic combinations is fresh minced garlic, finely-minced fresh ginger root (after it's peeled), sherry or rice wine, and soy sauce (never use a cheap brand - Kikkoman may not be as good as some in China, but it's the best I've found in the Western Hemisphere.) These four seasonings are extremely common, and the taste is distinctly Oriental. When a mixture has a liquid that needs thickening into a gravy, cornstarch and water are always used; flour and water give you a cloudy gravy, while cornstarch and water turn the liquid thick and glossy - very appetizing. And you can SEE the ingredients. I'm rather fond of sweet and sour pork - where the pork cubes are coated with cornstarch and fried crispy, then served with a sauce that has a strong acid (like vinegar) and something sweet (pineapple is common, but I don't like them, so I use substitutes.) The sauce is pungent with fumes that smell wonderful. You dip your crispy pork pieces in this sauce. Yum.

I once found a recipe for Peking Duck that requires a bicycle pump! You blow up the duck's skin with it and seal it so it's like a balloon. Then you marinate it and hang it up for days before you bake it. It's the crispy skin that everyone craves, so you have to be sure to divvy it up evenly. My grandmother always said "a duck is too much for one, not enough for two," so plan your duck meals accordingly! Not ALL Chinese food is either quick or easy to prepare, but most isn't all that hard.

As long as you have the ingredients for a Chinese recipe, and if the recipe is a good one, with clear instructions, and you follow it carefully, you shouldn't have trouble cooking Chinese foods. Just be sure to prepare all ingredients properly and have everything ready before you begin cooking. Always read the recipe through before you start to cook, to make sure you know precisely what to do and how and when. The cooking processes are usually fairly fast.

Hope this helps?
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It's just like cooking in other cuisines. Listed below are some of the ways of the Chinese cooking method: 1. Stir-frying 2. Deep-frying 3. Shallow-frying 4. Braising 6. Boiling 7. Steaming 6. Roasting Mott 32 (mott32.com/) is one of my favorite, their style of cooking is just amazing, Chef Fung is awesome. Maybe it is also one of the reason why I love eating there.