Foods in China
The Chinese way of greeting an individual is ni chile me, which means, “Have you eaten?” Food is a crucial part of Chinese culture and accompanies nearly all social activities. China is one of the many countries in Asia that has highly diverse cuisines. According to China in Brief, Chinese cuisine is more than 1000 years old and has tens of thousands of ingredients. Any typical Chinese dish must contain starch or carbohydrates and vegetables or stir-fries (NDTV Food). However, most Northern China households dominate their diets with carbohydrates in the form of steamed buns and noodles. However, households in Southern China prefer rice.
According to China in Brief, the primary grain crops planted in the country are soybeans, rice, corn, and wheat. The country places great value on Paddy rice that is mainly produced in southern areas of the country, the Yangtze River valley, as well as the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. Rice production in China accounts for 14% of the total production of grains in the country (China in Brief). Large-scale production of rice denotes why most households in southern areas prefer rice as the main provider of carbohydrates. Wheat comes second in production. It is mostly grown in the northern regions of China, explaining why most Northern China households dominate their diets with steamed buns and noodles.
China’s diversity also extends to flora and fauna. The country provides habitation for close to 10% vertebral species (China in Brief). Examples of species unique to China include the white-flag dolphins, the Chinese alligators, the golden-haired monkeys, cranes with red crowns, the brown-eared pheasants, and the giant pandas (China.org). The country also boasts of abundant plant species. The species grow in the frigid northern temperatures, as well as the tropical and temperate zones. Some of the unique plants include the Chinese cypress, metasequoia, China fir, Cathay silver fir, Taiwan fir, golden larch, dove-tree, Fujian cypress, camplotheca acuminate, and eucommia. The metasequoia, for instance, is among the rarest and oldest plants globally. With such exotic plant species, Chinese restaurants and homes cook some of the most unique dishes globally. The edible plants also have medicinal value. Examples include safflowers, Ginseng, notoginseng, and Chinese wolfberry among others. Such plants give a unique taste to foods as they also add nutritional value.
Chinese foods are known for their varying flavors owing to the addition of numerous spices. According to China Highlights, commonly used spices include ginger, garlic, star anise, cloves, chili, the Chinese cinnamon, green onion, and sesame seeds. Ginger is used for seasoning or alongside garlic to make sauces and soups. Garlic alone is used to make stir-fries. It also has medicinal value (NDTV Food). Stir anise is the most commonly used spice and is used when making vegetable and soup dishes. While cloves are mostly used in cooking than other spices, they are also used together with star anise, peppercorn, salt, cinnamon, and fennel seeds for seasoning to produce a distinct Chinese flavor. Chili is also mostly used to make flakes, chili powder, and oils for cooking. Chili is used to cook stir-fries and make sauces that have a bitter-hot, tangy flavor. On the other hand, Chinese cinnamon is used to make flavor meat, candy, pastries, drinks, and dessert. Green onions are used to make noodle soups. Most importantly, sesame seeds are used to stir-fry and soy sauce to provide the sesame flavor.
Chinese Food Rituals
According to China.org, one of the rituals is New Year’s Eve. The festival is associated with having the family coming together and cooking or going to restaurants to eat together. People are allowed to drink traditional liquor such as Tushujiu together with chicken or fish (China.org). Another occasion is the Kitchen God Foods festival. The day is celebrated on the twelfth lunar month annually. The most eaten traditional food eaten during this day is malted barley candies. Labafestival Foods is also widely celebrated. The occasion is held on the eighth day of the twelfth month every year. Some of the foods eaten during this day are dried fruits, nuts, and laba porridge while praying for peace and long life.
Popular Chinese Dishes
Rice and noodles are China’s staple foods. However, the preparation of associated dishes differs. One of the recipes is Chicken Chow Mein served with vegetables (Parkinson). The delicacy is also mostly served with Chinese noodles. The ingredients for the dish include two skinless and boneless chicken breasts, as well as a pound of Mung bean sprouts (Parkinson). Other ingredients required are for the marinade, the vegetables, and noodles, as well as the sauce. The ingredients would include salt, soy sauce, oyster sauce, cornstarch, pepper, low sodium chicken broth, dry noodles, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, sesame seeds, and vegetable oil.
According to Parkinson, the cooking process involves gathering the ingredients. Crucially, the Mung bean sprouts ought to have been drenched earlier to make them drained. Cornstarch is then added to the marinade ingredient and thoroughly mixed. Chicken is cut and added to the mixed marinade (Parkinson). At the same time, the sauce is prepared in a different bowl by dissolving cornstarch in water. The salt, soy and oyster sauces, pepper, and chicken broth are added and mixed thoroughly before cooking. The noodle is cooked differently with the chicken breasts, mushrooms, onions, and broccoli as desired by the cook. The food may be served with a cold drink such as juice, water, or soda. Most of the Chinese foods are currently being adopted in western culture due to integration. On the other hand, some of the traditional Chinese dishes have also evolved.
China Highlights. “The Top 10 Most Common Herbs and Spices Used to Flavor Chinese Food.” China Discovery, 2019, www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-food/herbs-and-spices.htm, Accessed 30 September 2019.
China in Brief. “Crop Cultivation.” Agriculture, www.china.org.cn/e-china/agriculture/crop.htm, Accessed 30 September 2019.
China.org. “Plants and Animals in China.” China.org.cn, www.china.org.cn/environment/tips/2007-09/03/content_1222917.htm, Accessed 30 September 2019.
China.org. “Top 10 food customs in China.” China.org.cn., 2011, www.china.org.cn/top10/2011-03/25/content_22222632.htm, Accessed 30 September 2019.
NDTV Food. “16 Most Popular Chinese Dishes | Easy Chinese Dishes.” NDTV, 2019, com/lists/10-most-popular-chinese-dishes-740725“>food.ndtv.com/lists/10-most-popular-chinese-dishes-740725, Accessed 30 September 2019.
Parkinson, Rhonda. “Chicken Chow Mein with Vegetables Recipe.” The Spruce Eats, 2019, com/chicken-chow-mein-694340“>www.thespruceeats.com/chicken-chow-mein-694340, Accessed 30 September 2019.
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