August 21, 2008
The 2008 Beijing Olympics has been a fun experience for my family. My kids have really enjoyed watching the excellent swimming, gymnastics, track and field, and all the rest.
The Olympics being hosted by China is a great opportunity to learn more about Chinese culture and that includes Chinese food and cooking. So I've put together a little information about Chinese cooking.
The Chinese consider cooking to be an art. The Chinese are passionate about their food. The Chinese were the first to prepare their food by cutting the food into small pieces and then serving it. This led to the Chinese invention of chop sticks. The Chinese Emperor only accepted his meal if it was cut up into small bite-sized pieces. The Chinese viewed the
Western approach to food as "barbaric". They thought the idea of serving a whole chicken or a large slab of meat was very uncultured. Chinese would never use a knife to cut food at the table. So when preparing Chinese food, remember to chop everything, meat and veggies, into small bite-sized pieces.
If you want to cook your Chinese food the traditional way, then you'll need a wok. For 2000 years the wok has been used by Chinese to stir-fry, steam, deep fry, and slow cook food. It is an amazing cooking vessel. Don't worry, though - you can use a skillet and a steamer just as easily.
Peanut oil is used in traditional Chinese cooking but you can use vegetable oil or another healthier oil - although Chinese chefs will insist upon peanut oil for the rich, nutty flavor.
GINGER AND GARLIC
Garlic and ginger are two of the most important ingredients in Chinese cooking. Both have a sharp, pungent taste. Peel and mince and add one or both to your Chinese dish. The Chinese use garlic and ginger to flavor food and also in Chinese medicines to promote good health.
The most popular meat in China is pork. Chinese prefer pork to beef. Chinese also like chicken and duck. The Chinese usually serve a whole chicken steamed or boiled and chopped with a large knife into strips, bone, skin and all! A famous poultry dish in China is crispy Peking Duck, where the duck is specially prepared and roasted. Seafood such as shrimp and prawns are also a great addition to a stir-fry.
Chinese meals include many vegetables. Green leafy Asian vegetables are very popular in Chinese cooking. If you want to make a nice Chinese stir-fry, try some Chinese vegetables
that you haven't tried before. Green leafy Chinese vegetables such as bok choy, tetsoi, Chinese white cabbage (wombok) and Chinese broccoli (kai lan) as well as bamboo shoots, water chesnuts, mung bean sprouts, and Chinese mushrooms are all great to try. If you can't find these veggies in your local grocery store, check around to see if there's an Asian grocer near you. Often you can buy fresh Chinese vegetables as well as canned and dried. You can use any veggies you like such as peas, carrots, or snow peas, cut into small pieces or thin slices, to stir up a great meal.
The Chinese have been making noodles for 4000 years. In China, noodle-making is an art. Noodles can be eaten hot or cold, boiled or fried. There are many different types of noodles to choose from so you can make a delicious Chinese meal: rice noodles (white in color), egg flour noodles (yellow in color), wheat flour noodles, cellophane (clear) noodles, and buckwheat noodles (grey). Noodles range from thick and flat to thin and round (vermicelli). Noodles are wonderful when added to a soup. Thin noodles go well in a clear soup and thick noodles are perfect for thicker soups. Boil the noodles first, then add to soup so they don't soak up all the soup broth.
No Chinese meal is complete without steamed white rice. Long grain or short grain can be used, but always white rice, served steaming hot. You can buy a rice cooker to steam your rice or cook rice in a saucepan using the absorption method:
First, measure 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice. Pour rice into a heavy saucepan that is deep. Next, rinse rice with cold water and drain. Add about a cup of water to the rice. I fill the saucepan to about 1 inch above the top of the rice. Bring rice to a boil, then reduce heat but make sure rice is still
boiling. Boil until most of the water is boiled off. You'll see small holes throughout the top of the rice and the water will bubble up until it is boiled off. Once the bubbles go away (in about 15 to 20 minutes), place a tight-fitting lid on top. Turn the heat down to very low and leave for five minutes.
Turn off the burner and leave pan sitting for at least 10 minutes. This will make the rice fluffy and keep it from being too wet.
Soy sauce is a dark sauce invented 2500 years ago in China. Soy sauce is made from soy beans, wheat, water, and salt. It is fermented until it has just the right flavor. There is table soy sauce that is drizzled over rice. Cooking soy sauce is thicker and darker than table soy sauce. It is used to flavor a meal, especially when added to a stir-fry. No need to add salt, just bring on the soy sauce!
I hope you enjoy cooking Chinese food with all its variety, passion, and flavor.
Click here for some Chinese food recipes
INTERNATIONAL AND ETHNIC FOOD
I've had many requests from kids and teachers to provide more international food recipes and some information about the food of each country. If you have a few minutes to spare, please fill out
I'd really appreciate your feedback.
If you have your own ethnic recipes or recipes from your native country that other kids would enjoy,
please share them.
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Happy Kid Cooking!
Clarissa the Mom Chef
Easy Kids Recipes