Chinese cooking is more about striking a balance in flavours, colour and textures than using specific ingredients. A good Chinese cook can often come up with a dish that has the characteristic taste and flavours of Chinese cuisine using whatever ingredients are on hand. However, when first venturing into Chinese cookery, it's as well to choose a menu then buy the ingredients you want for that menu. As you get more proficient, you can start to improvise and invent.
I've included half a dozen tips
that you may want to take note of.
- General Principles of Chinese Cooking:
Be sure to vary the meat and vegetables in a dish in order to create an interesting variety of flavours, textures, and colours. Balance and harmony is what matters in Chinese cooking.
Be sure to prepare everything before you start cooking. Chinese cooking is quick and short, so you won't have time to peel and chop vegetables while the cooking process is going on. I always prepare every item and have them to hand as I begin cooking.
- Cooking Equipment:
You can use a large skillet (frying pan) for Chinese cooking, but a wok is the first piece of cooking equipment you may want to purchase when you get serious about it.
- Preparing Vegetables:
Wash green, leafy vegetables well ahead of time. This gives them more time to drain so they will not be too wet when you stir-fry them.
- Stir-frying Vegetables:
When stir-frying vegetables, cook the toughest and thickest vegetables for longer than the softer, leafy vegetables. Vegetables such as broccoli, carrots need to be cooked longer than cabbage leaves, which need to be cooked longer than bean sprouts, for example.
Never overcook your stir fry vegetables.
- Meat and Fish:
- Always marinate fresh meat.
- Always cut beef across the grain. This helps make it more tender.
- Cut the meat into uniform pieces so that it will cook evenly.
- When cooking meat or poultry, make sure that the wok is very hot before adding the food.
- If preparing stir-fried meat and vegetables, stir-fry the meat first and set it aside. Return it to the wok with a sauce during the final stages of cooking.
For best results when cooking rice, use long grain rice. But when making fried rice, try to use cold cooked rice at least one day old.