The art of Chinese cooking is not as complicated and difficult as people expect. Most Chinese dishes do not require a complex processing and equipment as Peking duck does. In fact, simplicity is the key to Chinese cuisine as evidently shown in their various cooking methods. When you have the ingredients, seasonings and marinades ready, you can use one of the following methods of Chinese cooking.
Firstly, it is roasting. Roasting is not a Chinese cooking method which can be done at home since few Chinese kitchens have facilities for roasting. Only restaurants go much into roasts and Cantonese restaurants excel especially in these aspects of cooking. When roasting, kinds of raw ingredients are marinated in seasonings before being roasted in an oven. Marinades should be added from time to time so that the skin remains smooth and shiny instead of rough and flaky, and the meat remains juicy instead of powdery. The Peking duck is one of China’s most famous dishes cooked in this way.
Next method of Chinese cooking is boiling. This means, strictly speaking, cooking food in boiling water.
However, bear in mind that violent boiling should be avoided not only because it wastes fuel but also because it does not cook the food any faster. It tends to make the food break up and spoils the appearance; meanwhile, the liquid is evaporated too quickly with the consequent burning. There are one or two exceptions to this rule; for example, when one wants to drive off water quickly or a sauce to make it thicker, violent boiling with the lid off hastens the process. In Chinese cooking, generally speaking, there is very little big-fire boiling as a complete process. Quick plain boiling is often only a preparatory process for other ways of cooking.
Shallow frying is another typical Chinese cooking method. Shallow frying uses a small amount of oil in a frying pan or cook at a temperature lower than stir-frying. Ingredients are usually cut into slices or flat pieces, slightly coated with batter or rubbed with seasonings. Fish is ideal for this method. Sauces, if called for, are then added after both sides are fried. Food cooked in this way is tender inside with some crispness outside. This method is quite similar to sautéing in the West.
There are some tips for Chinese cooking. Wash green, leafy vegetables beforehand which give them more time to drain so they will not be too wet when you stir-fry. Remember to drain tofu before using, as this allows it to absorb the other flavors in the dish. Marinate fresh meat. Moreover, cut the meat into uniform pieces so that it will cook more evenly. If you’re not using a recipe, a general rule is to cut everything into bite-sized pieces. When deep-frying, to tell if the oil is hot enough, simply stick a chopstick in the pan. When the oil sizzles all around it, you can begin adding the food. If desired, use sugar as a substitute for MSG (Monosodium Glutamate). And finally, in the immortal words of one of my favorite cooking teachers: “the two most important things about Chinese cooking are a hot stove and a sharp knife