is the classic Chinese cooking method; quick cook over high heat in a small amount of oil,
toss and turn the food when it cooks. In stir-frying, the food should always be in motion.
Spread it around the pan or up the sides of the wok, then toss it together again in the
center and repeat. This method allows meats to stay juicy and flavorful, vegetables to
come out tender-crisp.
are variations, of course, but the basic pattern for many Chinese dishes is to pre-heat
the pan or wok ( a drop of water will sizzle when it's hot enough), add the oil and heat
it, stir- fry the meat, remove it, stir-fry the vegetables, return the meat to the pan,
add sauce and seasonings, thicken the sauce and serve. Since stir -frying is a last-minute
operation, one or two stir -fry dishes in one meal is the rule.
Speed is essential in preparing many Chinese dishes.
All ingredients should he on hand before stir.frying is begun. Meat and
vegetables should be thinly sliced or cut into small cubes. Before the oil is introduced
the pan should be heated sufficiently so that the oil is free-flowing, and then the
ingredients added, and stirred vigorously and continuously during the entire cooking
period. The highest heat obtainable must be used, while constantly stirring, since chao
dishes can be ruined in a matter of seconds. Burned spots in the pan should be wiped with
a paper towel and the pan reoiled for further use. This rapid form of cooking leaves
comparatively little sauce.
Since stir-frying requires only a few minutes, such
dishes are usually the last to be prepared; obviously, they are at their best when served
immedi. ately from the pan. Recommended cooking times are only approximate. Stir-frying
preserves color, texture, and taste as well as nutritional values. (Another method, pon,
is identical to chao cooking except that the basic sauce is used instead of oil.)
of the most delectable Chinese horsd'oeuvres are deep- fried. Certain main dishes also
call for meats to be deep-fried for a crunchy coating, then stir-fried to combine them
with vegetables and flavorings . The oil must be at the right temperature---360¡ã to
375¡ã--- to cook food properly. The most food-proof method is used to a thermostatically
-controlled electric fryer. If you deep-fry in your wok or pot, use a frying thermometer,
or test the oil before adding food by dropping in a small piece of meat or vegetable. If
it sizzles and skates around the surface of the oil, the temperature is right. If it
sinks, the oil is not hot enough. If it browns too quickly, and the oil smokes, the
temperature is too high. Oil can be reduced if you strain it and add fresh oil each time.
Keep a separate batch for frying fish and seafood.
Deep-frying is another common method of Chinese food preparation. For this a deep fryer or
a deep saucepan with a wire basket which fits inside it, is most convenient. Chinese cooks
use two temperatures of oil for deep frying. In general when the oil begins to smoke, it
is ready to fry pork and beef, the tougher meats. When the oil begins to bubble, which is
at a temperature slightly lower, it is suitable for chicken and kidneys. To secure the
most tender results, it is important to observe the oil temperature as given in the
recipe. Chinese cooks use vegetable oil and lard. Either peanut or sesame oil, or other
prepared vegetable oils, are suitable.
||The Chinese steam food in woven bamboo trays
that stack one atop the other. The beauty of this system is that several foods cook at one
time , saving fuel. All sorts of foods are steamed:meats, fish, dumplings, buns stuffed
with meat or a sweet bean paste-bread! For best results, the water should be boiling when
the food goes into the steamer and the flame should be high enough to keep it boiling.
After a high heat has brought the water to a boil, and the
ingredients inserted, the heat is lowered as the steaming process begins (to avoid
vibrations and a burned pot) - If the food has been placed initially on a serving platter,
there will be no need to transfer it to another platter for serving at the table. Once
cooked, food should not be left in the steamer unless the heat has been turned off before
cooking is complete, after which the cooking process continues for a few minutes. Thus
overcooking is avoided.
Steaming preserves flavors and food nutrients through
the use of steam temperature rather than higher temperatures that destroy or leach these
values in discarded boiling water. Several tiers can be used in the steamer to cook
different foods simultaneously. Cooking time usually varies between 15 to 30 minutes for
meat patties but can range from 20 minutes to 5 hours (which may require more water),
depending upon the type of food to be steamed. However, meats cooked in this fashion must
be of top quality. Chinese steamed foods are to be consumed right away - these foods are
delicate and cooked to perfection. Reheating leftover steamed meats, steamed fish
and seafoods often become soggy and limp and lose flavor upon reheating.
The highlight dish of this methd is the Dimsum
(wrapped meat balls).
Chinese cooks use
two methods of steaming:
1.) Where the
ingredients are suspended above the boiling water and the steam around them does the
2.) Where the pot
of ingredients is immersed part-way into the boiling water, and cooking action is
performed both by it and the steam.
Red Stewing or Red Cooking (hung.shu)
stewing is uniquely Chinese, similar to ordinary stewing, but here the food is cooked in
large quantities of soy sauce and water rather than in water alone. It is the soy sauce
that makes the dish rich, tasty, and reddish brown. It is usually made of pork, beef, ham,
chicken, duck, or carp. When these are prepared without soy sauce, but by the same
technique, the color will always be light.
technique is essentially that employed for making a general stew. The meat is browned and
then the liquid is introduced and brought to a boil over high heat, which is progressively
reduced until quite low. Red stewing is used primarily for cooking meats. Vegetables if
included, are added later just before serving or towards the end of cooking. Various
seasonings, flavors and condiments are added to red-stewed dishes such as soy, sherry,
ginger, scallions, cilantro and many more.
is also a slow process and the meats may stew one to six hours, depending on the cut of
meat, and may even he cooked a day ahead and rewarmed. In fact, with some dishes the
flavor may be enhanced if the stew is refrigerated. It may be kept so for a week and
sometimes reheated a numher of times without harm. When served cold, vegetables should not
be added. Hun g-shu bean cake, squab, and chicken are commonly served cold. Cooked stew
can also be poured into a mold and chilled, so that the sauce will become a rich aspic.
In parboiling, ingredients are cut and washed first, then put in a
large pot in which they can float freely, over high heat. Vegetables to be eaten crisp,
like broccoli, are removed from the water just before they come to a full boil; those that
cannot be eaten raw or take a long time to cook should remain in the pot for whatever time
is required after boiling starts. Slow and prolonged boiling destroys flavor to some
degree and certainly much nutritional value is lost in the boiling water that is
discarded. Parboiled ingredients are poured with the water into a colander, rinsed or
soaked in cold water until thoroughly cooled, and used as the recipe directs, or in
salads. Parboiled vegetables are often used in banquet dishes where time may be limited.
For full boiling, as in preparing soups, the Chinese employ a slow simmering process. As
soon as the water boils, the heat is turned low and the soup allowed to simmer for
whatever period of time is necessary. However, preparing soups by rapid boiling in which
intense heat is used will result in the same preservation of color, texture, shape, and
nutrition as in tossed cooking.
Ingredients are introduced into 2 inches (or more for conventional-type
fryers) of very hot oil, generally 350 degrees to 375 degrees F. (The oil may be saved for
future use except when fish has been fried in it.) To avoid spattering, foods should be
dried first. Only foods that require a few minutes' cooking time, like shrimp, can be
cooked in this fashion. Many meat or poultry dishes cannot be prepared this way because
either they will be raw on the inside or burned on the outside, or they will break into
little pieces. (Squab, duck, and pheasant often are precooked by steaming before they can
be deep fried.)
Deep frying is very similar to what is done in making French-fried potatoes.
Peanut oil is heated to 375 degrees. A deep electric frying pan best maintains the oil at
the proper temperature but an oil thermometer can be used. Ingredients usually are
marinated in a sauce and then coated with cornstarch, flour, or breading before being
slipped into the deep oil gently and deep fried until they become tender and deep golden
brown. The marinade usually consists of soy sauce, sherry, and other seasonings, in which
the ingredients are soaked for about half an hour. Adding water-chestnut flour to batter
assures a crispy, crunchy texture to the outside portion of fried foods.
Meat should be cut into medium-sized pieces. If fish is to be served whole,
deep gashes should be cut on either side of the fish so that the salt that is rubbed on
can penetrate the skin. This type of frying must be done quickly. Coating will preserve
the flavor and moisture.
Though the food is ready when it turns a golden brown
(depending upon its density and size), some cooks use as an indicator the time at which
the batter coated food floats to the surface of the oil.
Shallow frying (chien)
hallow frying requires medium heat and a longer cooking
time than deep frying. After heating sufficient oil to cover the entire bottom of the pan,
ingredients are spread evenly in the pan and allowed to fry slowly for a few minutes,
turned over once or twice, browning both sides. This tech nique seals in juices in meats
and is particularly useful for the final cooking of prefried or preboiled foods.
Barbecuing is done over charcoal on a spit or grill, or on a
The Chinese do their roasting in ovens over a charcoal fire,
with frequent basting. In this country, the roasting of many Chinese foods (a whole side
of pig, etc.) is usually left to the large shopkeepers who specialize in it. How-ever,
Chinese roast dishes may be prepared in Western stoves according to directions indicated,
with excellent results.
Scalded or parboiled ingredients are mixed in salads and
chilled before serving. Once used for hygienic reasons, parboiling is now used to
This method is similar to that of American.style poached
eggs, that is, cooked in liquid just below the boiling point. A whole chicken can be pre.
pared in this manner. Poaching is especially good for cooking delicate fish or boned fowl
in a clear soup, slowly simmering until the meat is tender.