Chinese culture is rich with innovation, from ceramics and architecture to architecture, music, literature, and martial arts. One area where China excels is cuisine: Chinese restaurants have created exquisite meals enjoyed worldwide. Here are 10 of their best dishes you should sample today!
Chow mein is a popular Chinese cuisine dish found across restaurants nationwide, consisting of noodles, vegetables, and meat or tofu as its primary components. Easy to prepare and with many variations available – Chow mein has been around since ancient China’s history began!
Chow Mein derives its name from the English translation of Chinese chau meing, or stir-fried noodles. This popular Asian cuisine dish features springy yet al dente wheat or egg noodles tossed with bite-size pieces of protein and vegetables in an aromatic sauce.
Each version of chow mein features its distinct flavors. Chow mein is typically prepared using chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, or tofu as ingredients; however, it can also be made into a vegetarian option by including extra vegetables with some tamari or soy sauce added for flavoring.
While your noodles are cooking, use sesame and canola oil to stir-fry vegetables until tender, seasoning with just a touch of salt to maintain vibrant hues.
Once the vegetables and noodles have been prepared, combine them with the steamed chicken and sauce. For optimal results, mix light and dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing wine), and granulated sugar in equal parts to create your sauce.
Sweet and Sour Pork
Sweet and Sour Pork is an iconic Chinese stir-fried dish. Composed of pork tenderloin, bell peppers, onion, and pineapple, battered pork gets deep-fried until crisp before being coated in tangy red sweet and sour sauce – an easy dish that rivals takeout! This classic Chinese recipe can easily be recreated at home – and tastes even better than its takeout equivalent!
The key to this recipe lies in its batter, which features several extra ingredients for maximum flavor. Furthermore, high-quality vegetable oils like canola or sunflower are essential for high-heat cooking as they have higher smoke points than olive oil – meaning they are safer when dealing with hot frying surfaces.
As for the sauce ingredients, they’re simple yet delectable: rice wine vinegar adds fruity notes; apple cider vinegar provides milder sour notes; low sodium soy sauce helps ensure a healthier option; brown sugar keeps pork crunchy; and ketchup brings that iconic sweetness that makes this dish so popular.
This dish pairs perfectly with rice for an easy and quick dinner that the entire family will love. Plus, it’s freezer-friendly for easy reheating with either microwave or oven (though its crust may lose some crispiness over time). Just spoon the sauce over your pork and vegetables and heat through before eating!
Mapo Tofu, one of Sichuan province’s signature dishes, is an unforgettable blend of soft tofu with spicy ground pork that features in this irresistibly flavorful stir fry. While challenging to create at home, vegan or vegetarian versions are simple, with just adding mushrooms as a meat replacement, making this an excellent choice for special diets. Authentic map tofu features both conventional heat and mala (numbing spicy) flavor profiles typical of Sichuan cuisine; its sauce adds layers upon layers of flavor, enhancing its spicy kick and deepening its flavor!
Mapo (map-uh-po) takes its name from Mrs. Chen’s facial pockmarks when creating this spicy tongue-numbing dish, though its creation was not for medicinal use. Instead, its spiciness comes from using chili bean paste, Sichuan peppercorns, and fermented horse beans combined with aromatic ingredients such as scallions and ginger to give an unforgettable spicy kick!
Mapo tofu features doubanjiang as the star ingredient and can be found at any Asian grocery store. Other components tend to be relatively standard. Although you could buy premade chili bean paste instead of making it yourself, homemade versions always taste superior! Prep can take time, though; blanching tofu in salty water before seasoning will help preserve its shape when being stir-fried.
General Tso’s Chicken
Sweet and spicy chicken dishes are an indispensable staple of Chinese takeout, and Asian cuisine enthusiasts should not overlook this sweet and spicy chicken dish. Simple to make at home and healthier than most takeout options, its sauce features tangy, garlicky, and spicy notes. The chicken is battered and deep fried before being drizzled with sauce and enjoyed with side dishes of other veggies or salads. Vegetarians alike will appreciate this delicacy!
General Tso’s Chicken took its name from Tso Tsung-tang (also transliterated as Zuo Zongtang), a 19th-century Hunanese general famous for his military campaigns and considered one of the key figures in Chinese history.
While most of General Tso’s recipes utilize thicker traditional breading methods, this one uses cornstarch instead. Rice vinegar adds extra flavor while being very economical and readily available at most grocery stores.
General Tso’s Chicken can be prepared quickly and should be served soon after completion for optimal crunchy and tender results. When plating it on broccoli, it leaves for added sweetness in its sweetness of sauce. Consider pairing this dish with soothing items like creamy Hot and Sour Soup or quick Ginger Fried Rice as accompaniments.