Chinese Food Culture, The Chinese cooking and cuisine has long been nurtured in the ancient Chinese history.
Rooted in tens of thousands of households, possessing both ancient and modem essence, and it is broad and profound. Poetry in the history that often touched upon cuisine and drinks could be found early in the Book of Songs and Songs of the South. Confucius Valued a lot on food and cuisine. He advocated that "make the food as fine and delicate as possible". Lao Zi once said, "the purpose of eating is to feed oneself, not to admire how beautiful the food is". Food is What matters to people. The Chinese are known for their cuisine culture which is deeply penetrated in their lives.
The Chinese nation has always pursued the idea of "Food is what matters to people most." China is a country of vast territories, large population and rich products. Different places have different products, and people in different places have different customs and habits. Thus, different eating habits were formed, so were various cooking styles. Such as: Cantonese cuisine, Si Chuan cuisine, Huai Yang cuisine, Shan Dong Cuisine, Bei Jing Cuisine, etc.
Since Dong Jin and Nan Bei dynasty in 4 A.D., the Chinese cuisine has had a great development.
Till the Tang Dynasty, due to the economical and cultural development, the Chinese cuisine has been improved a great deal by absorbing both domestic and foreign essence. Not only did the raw materials become abundant, flavors and cooking knowledge also became richer.
In the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Chinese cuisine has gained greater achievements. In the imperial kitchen, the emperors and concubines collected many famous chefs, and famous dishes. Moreover, through improvement and innovations, the chefs have brought about a heyday of cuisine in the Chinese history.
Throughout years, emperors willfully enjoyed uncountable famous dishes and delicacies introduced from households to the imperial house. At the same time, numerous royal dishes spread into the common households, enjoying a great popularity. It is the interaction that enabled the traditional Chinese cuisine traveled throughout the country.
With the rises of Cantonese cuisine from Hong Kong, the unprecedented economical development of Southeast Asia and China's opening up policy, people's living conditions were greatly improve. The Chinese cuisine were further developed and made itself well known to the world. The west has a saying, "eat in China." For a while, Chinese restaurants sprang up like mushrooms. People from the West took tasting the Chinese cuisine as a kind of enjoyment.
The Art of the Chinese Cooking
The Chinese cuisine is of great varieties and Unforgettable tastes, like a poem often lingering in people's minds. Just like G.K. Kinderman (a German professor) said, "The Chinese cuisine is just like the Western orchestra, it is a harmonious combination of the five flavors and hundreds of cooking styles. The art of the Chinese cuisine emphasizes on the following five features.
Chinese are particular about the freshness of cooking ingredients. Like fish, chicken and duck are thought to be best when they are cooked immediately after slaughter. Shrimps and crabs are discarded even if they are a bit stale. This is not just for the hygiene of diet, but also for the enjoyment of fresh taste. The freshness of ingredient will influence the art of cooking. Chinese are particular about "freshness".
"Freshness" has two interpretations, one refers to the freshness of the cooking ingredient, and the other refers to the fresh taste of the food. In other words, the fresh taste comes from the fresh food. Cuisines in many countries are just the taste of condiments Without the taste of the food ingredients at all.
2. Cutting skills
In the Chinese way of cooking, knife is used to cut Ingredients after washing them. Cutting skill is of great importance because this is what matters to the art of cooking. In the Chinese restaurants, some chefs are assigned to cook; some are assigned to just cutting food. So we can see how important cutting is. There are three types of knives that Chinese chefs use: thin knife, thick knife and boning knife. Thin knife is used to cut food into cubes, slices, shreds and threads. Thick knife if used to cut meat or food into minces. And boning knife is used to cut bones with marrow. As for the way of cutting fish is different from cutting meat; cutting beef is different from cutting pork. Beef contains many tendons and cannot be cut following the tendons otherwise when it is done, it will taste too tough. Pork is just the opposite, if you do not cut following its tendons, it will become shapeless and turn into small pieces after it is cooked. The emphasis on cutting is not only for the good appearance, but also for the easiness of chewing and digesting from a medical point of view. Some food, if are not cut well, will be hard to chew and swallow, this will just make the burden of our stomach, causing stomach troubles.
3. Duration and degree of heating
The duration and degree of heating is the most important procedure during the whole cooking process. Chinese are particular about gentle heat and high heat. But strictly speaking, there are two more: slow fire and big fire. So in a Chinese restaurant, a big fire of one to two feet high is not unusual, which cannot be seen in a Western restaurant. Big fire is always used to stir-fry, high heat is used fry, gentle heat is used to stew, and slow fire is used to braise. In Western cuisine, there are just up to ten limited ways of heating while in Chinese cuisine, we have over 20 ways to heat such as fry, deep-fry, stir-fry, dried-fry, steam, fry with shallow oil, instant boiling, braise, stew, boil, bake, boil with spices, braise with soy sauce, etc. The cooking of some food requires complicated procedures like pickling before frying, boiling after frying and quick-frying after boiling again. Speaking in a medical View, stewed food has tonic effect and braised food is cooked from food which is not easy to digest. Every heating method has its unique effect and meaning. Different types of cuisine will stimulate
appetite and accelerate the process of absorbing nutrition.
There is old saying, "the condiments are the key to a delicious dish." All dish requires condiments. For example, the cooking of fish requires scallion, ginger and wine while the cooking of crab requires ginger, vinegar and a special herb called Su Ye. The former condiments are used to reduce the fishy smell while the latter are used to make the crabs less cold to our stomach. Without these condiments, the taste is just not balance. The traditional seasoning is very wholesome and healthy. With the development of the art of cooking, numerous condiments appeared. Apart from the most common ones like oil, salt, sugar, vinegar, rice wine, ginger and garlic, we also have fermented black bean sauce, tea leaves, pepper, wild pepper, pickled bean curd, aniseed, mustard, curry, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, etc. Moreover, some traditional Chinese herbs will be used, such as laurel, dried tangerine, dates, longan, clove, fennel, almond, the fruit of Chinese Wolfberry, and Chinese caterpillar fungus. The proper use of herbs will show off the taste of that dish and Worth eating a hundred times., The traditional Chinese cuisines use no chemicals as condiments because chemical condiments Will reduce the natural flavor of the food and contradict with the art of cooking. The applying of the above mentioned condiments is through practices and experiences. A well-seasoned dish will arouse one's appetite.
Apart from the above mentioned four factors, consomme is another important factor that decides the taste of a dish. Many dishes have no flavor or the flavor is not so obvious. Therefore, they must have consomme as a foil. For instance, many dishes are poured with a specially made consomme when they are done, like steamed fish with soy sauce. This method can bring out the natural flavor of the raw materials and at the same time add tasteful flavor into the dish. For some food that have no special taste, like shark fins; they are cooked together with chicken soup; otherwise, they have no flavor at all.
This kind of consomme is usually made beforehand, named as "Shang Tang" or "Gao Tang" in the north Because the cost of the consomme is not cheap, so many restaurants charge for this. Some stir-fried dishes contain more or less some consomme. This results form a comprehensive seasoning. The food taste good together with the consomme. So the applying of consomme is very important in cooking.
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