Even though Chinese cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines around the world, many people still resort to restaurants and takeaways when they want to enjoy these delicious meals. However, cooking authentic Chinese food at home might be much simpler than you think, as long as you have the right tools and techniques at hand. If you’re a beginner who wants to experiment with Chinese cuisine, here are some essential tips that will allow you to master Chinese cooking in no time:
Follow the general principles
Like most cuisines around the world, Chinese cooking also has several rules, guidelines and principles that should be followed, especially if you’re a beginner who just started to learn about Chinese cuisine. Firstly, many cooks believe that fresh is always best, meaning you should make an effort to use only fresh ingredients if possible, for the most authentic taste. As the cooking process can often be too quick and dynamic for a beginner to master, it would also be a good idea to have everything prepared before you start, including meat, vegetables and sauces. Finally, try to vary the vegetables and meat in your dish to create different combinations of textures, colors and flavors, as the Chinese believe finding the right harmony and balance is key.
Invest in a high-quality wok
Although cookware is always an important factor in preparing food, having a high-quality, curved wok is absolutely essential for making most Chinese dishes. The best choice might be a hammered, carbon steel wok, as they tend to heat up quickly and evenly. These types of woks usually have dimples as well, allowing you to keep any cooked food on the sides of the wok, and add new, fresh ingredients in the hot center, for the best and smoothest cooking experience. If you’re cooking with a wok, it would also be wise to learn how to properly season your wok with oil, to create an even, non-stick coating that will not only make cooking easier, but also protect your wok from future rust and corrosion.
Learn how to use a steamer
If you take a look at any extensive Chinese dishes list, you will see many of them feature a number of dishes made with a steaming technique. Chinese cuisine traditionally uses bamboo steamers, and they are the best option when learning how to cook these incredible dishes, but a metal steamer can also be a good alternative for a beginner. If you want to try steaming your next dish, simply boil a pot of water, and place your steamer over it so that the steam can easily reach and cook your ingredients, while ensuring that the water never touches the food when boiling. This technique will allow you to achieve a soft and fluffy texture, whether you decide to steam buns, dumplings, pork, or shrimp.
Master your stir-frying technique
Being another incredibly popular cooking technique in Chinese cuisine, stir-frying utilizes high temperatures to sear all the ingredients quite quickly, allowing you to prepare a delicious meal in a matter of minutes. The biggest trick to stir-frying successfully is to put your wok on high heat, and make it as hot as possible, before adding the cooking oil and all your ingredients, as this technique will help you achieve that desirable tender yet crispy texture. It would also be a good idea to stir-fry your dish in smaller batches, and make sure to toss or flip your food with a firm spatula, as these tricks will make it easier for your dish to handle the high heat.
Cook the ideal rice each time
Not only is rice the most common side dish in Chinese cuisine, but it’s also the foundation of many wonderful meals, which is why it pays to learn how to cook rice perfectly each time, and enhance the flavor of your dishes. Before you start, make sure to thoroughly wash your rice, in order to avoid that soft and mushy texture. Then, place the washed rice inside a pot, and add water, approximately two times the amount. Bring the pot to a boil, and then turn it down to a gentle simmer, and cook the rice until all the water is absorbed. This is the simplest way to ensure a light and fluffy texture, and cook the ideal pot of rice each time.
With the right equipment, as well as practicing a couple of essential cooking techniques, any beginner can quickly become a professional, and finally master the art of cooking authentic Chinese food.