Chinese Cooking Techniques

Part of the Chinese Cooking For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Chinese cooking involves all kinds of techniques from stir-frying to steaming to simmering. This table lists a variety of Chinese cooking techniques and what you use them for, and a few tips as well.

Technique The Results What You Need How Long? Tips
Stir-frying Crisp, brightly colored foods with lots of nutrition and flavor, but little fat A wok or large frying pan Lightning-quick — there’s not time. Have all your ingredients and sauces prepared ahead of time; cook ingredients in stages.
Steaming Healthful, almost fat-free foods whose fresh, natural flavors stand out An electric steamer; a wok or pan with a steamer rack Not too long — as long as it takes to fully cook the food Be careful when removing the steamer lid so you don’t get a painful steam burn.
Blanching Softened — not fully cooked — foods that are now ready for complete cooking via another method A wok or pot big enough to hold plenty of boiling water Brief — just a few minutes or long enough to soften Make sure to stop the cooking after removing the food the food by rinsing it with or plunging it into cold water.
Simmering Gently cooked, tender, juicy, and flavorful food A wok or pot that can hold enough water to cover the food A while — from a few minutes to more than an hour Gentle is the key word: After you bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat and gently cook the food until it’s done.
Braising Flavorful, tender, morsels from the toughest cuts of meats Same equipment as simmering A long time; normally a couple hours will do the trick Browning the meat first adds flavor and color; just be patient and don’t put too much meat in the pan at once.
Deep-frying Food that’s crisp and golden on the outside, tender and fully cooked on the inside An electric fryer; a large pan or wok with a flat bottom or a ring stand Not too long, because the quicker the food fries, the better the texture becomes Don’t let the oil temperature drop! Be careful working near the hot oil, too.
Roasting Foods with a crisp, caramelized exterior and juicy, tender flesh (but they get that texture from dry, circulating heat rather than from hot oil, as in deep-frying) An oven Depends on the food’s thickness, but generally a longer, less fuel-efficient method Make sure that air circulates around the food, and baste it with the marinade or pan juices to add flavor and keep it moist.
Smoking Foods with a distinctively smoky, aromatic flavor A wok, which easily turns into a smoker A longer, slower cooking method Choose from many flavoring agents, such as tea and rice, to flavor your smoke.
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Chinese Cooking For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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