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Author Topic: Ten Chinese dishes  (Read 155 times)

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Ten Chinese dishes
« on: April 28, 2017, 03:21:05 AM »
It is about 10 Chinese dishes:

10 Chinese Dishes you should try (or at least know the name of)

Before arriving in China we had a long conversation with a Chinese friend who ran her own Chinese restaurant. She was a sparky little lady who loved chatting about the Mother Country and serving up delectable spring rolls, sweet & sour chicken with a neon pink sauce of undefinable origin and fried rice by the bucket. During said conversation we were shocked to learn that before she arrived in England she had never even heard of prawn toast! Even more incredible, she admitted, under interrogation, to never having tasted hot & sour soup whilst living in the People’s Republic.

This was only the beginning of our epicurean dilemma; upon stepping into our first authentic Chinese eatery we were confronted by pages of unreadable characters (thank heavens for the gaudy photos!). Where were the roads lined with crispy spring rolls? How could we find the ultimate roast duck experience? Would we ever be able to make sense of the menus?

A few years and a handful of very patient friends later we at ProofReadChina have collected a palette of reliably tasty dishes. These tend to be found on every menu in every restaurant up and down the country; always providing a safe option for the times when you don’t feel the adventurous spirit stirring within you.

The dishes below are in no particular order

宫保鸡丁/Gong Bao Jiding

Hailing from the royal courts of the late Qing Dynasty, Gong Bao Jiding never fails to satisfy. Small cubes of tender, boneless chicken sautéed with a spicy, sweetened chili sauce and adorned with generous portions of fresh peanuts or, if you’re lucky, cashew nuts. Variations include adding chunks of cucumber, green peppers or carrots. The origins of this classic Chinese favourite are unclear, but one of the most widely accepted theories is that it was created in honour of the esteemed Ding Baozhen. Among his many accomplishments he was endowed with the title 宫保 palatial guardian, add the main ingredient (chicken) and you get 宫保鸡丁.

鱼香茄子 / Yuxiang Qiezi

A favourite from the province of Szechuan, this brings new meaning to an already delicious vegetable. Don’t be put off by the name, (fish flavoured aubergine) the end result has little to do with seafood. The explanation lies in the seasonings used; garlic, ginger, spring onion, dry sherry and chili oil are all traditionally used when cooking fish. So, tuck into the meltingly delicious aubergine flesh and thank the ancient Chengdu residents for this wonderful plate filler. A note of caution: while the vast majority of restaurants use a pleasantly mild chili when seasoning this dish, if you decide to pursue the original Szechuan flavour beware of eye-poppingly hot chili pepper.

回锅肉/ Huiguo Rou

Another Szechuan classic this dish transforms traditionally cheap, easy to find ingredients into something altogether divine. Hot thin slices of crispy belly pork flavoured with a salty, every so slightly sweet black chili paste. You can also expect a medley of seasonal vegetables thrown in, perfect for when all you want is something savoury to satisfy a Tsingtao beer induced appetite. The name literally means “Return to the wok meat” and the explanation is quite straight forward. Pork meat is first gently simmered in salted water until cooked (think bacon) this is then flash fried with fresh vegetables and seasonings.

By now you’ve probably had enough of 宫保鸡丁, 鱼香茄子 and can’t bear the thought of another plate of 回锅肉, don’t worry hope is at the door with ProofReadChina’s next instalment of must eats.

So you've eaten your fill of 宫保鸡丁, indulged in 鱼香茄子 till its coming out of your ears and cant stand the sight of another plate of 回锅肉. What next? Read on for four more reliably tasty dishes.

西红柿炒蛋/Xihongshi Chaodan

This is the closest thing you’ll find to a “Westernised” Chinese meal, and we’re sure that it will doubtless conjure up childhood memories of lunch in the nursery. The name, directly translated is “Tomato Scrambled Egg” and it does just what it says on the can. Chunks of ripe tomato combined with scrambled egg is the basic idea, but every person has their own take on it. A friend claims that it is at its best when cooked with a touch of dark soy sauce and raw ginger. It is often popular as a fresh noodle topping, appears as an excellent soup and, dribbled over a mountain of steaming rice, makes a fail-safe lunch.

麻婆豆腐/Mapo Doufu

Affectionately named “Pock marked Grandmother’s tofu”, the exact origins of this strange name are unsure, all you need to know is that it is incredibly tasty. Yet another of Szechuan’s many classic dishes; the main ingredients are (unsurprisingly) tofu, ground pork, black bean paste and garlic. It also combines the inevitable “麻辣” with the “香辣” resulting in a heavily scented and spiced dish which is definitely not for the faint hearted.

红烧肉/Hong Shao Rou

This is a classic example of Hunan style cooking with the “red” in the name referring to the appearance and colour of the meat. Apparently 毛泽东’s favourite dish, this is definitely worthwhile trying out! Despite it’s intense popularity here in the People’s Republic, it is surprisingly little known by most foreigners. The combination of ingredients are truly wonderful, the main star of the show is, naturally, the soft and tender cuts of belly pork. Don’t be put off by the hunks of fat still attached, once braised it imparts a really tender and fragrant quality to the meat. Oh and the little wooden flowers you see bobbing around in the sauce is star anise. Quaint and very fragrant but you’d be better off not trying to chew it.


Everyone loves 饺子‘s (also known as Pot Stickers) and that’s no exaggeration either. When it comes down to it there’s not much to dislike actually. The average dumpling is made up of a thin dough casing which has been carefully wrapped around a morsel of minced filling and then either steamed, boiled (水饺 not to be confused with 睡觉!) or pan-fried (锅贴 literally, pot sticker). These fillings can be as simple as pork and cabbage, scrambled egg and leek or carrot and beef. They can also contain more exotic ingredients such as lotus root, sweetened red bean and minced duck (although not altogether). 饺子 are best eaten fresh and steaming, slosh them in a generous splash of vinegar and soy sauce for extra authenticity.

So, have you tried the above yet? If not you're missing out. Get out there and get stuck in! Already tried them all? Would like to add some more tasty dishes to your repertoire? We hear you. Well be back soon with another instalment.

So here we are back with the final piece to your Chinese Food jigsaw journey. Please let us know your thoughts on the dishes we've mentioned and tell us which ones we've forgotten.

烤鸭/Roast Duck

Aka Peking Roast Duck to those Chinese food anoraks out there. I know there’s not a single All-You-Can-Eat Chinese Buffet on the fine British Island which doesn’t feature this crowd pleasing favourite. Sure, you know it and (undoubtedly) love it, but whatever you’ve had before will be sure to pail into insignificance when compared to the Mainland Real Deal. Whichever restaurant you go to you can expect to receive a plump duck, roasted whole and carved (at your table by a scarily dexterous chef), meat is separated into “white” meat and thin slivers of caramelised crackling. The basic accompaniments include translucent pancakes, shredded cucumber, leek and sweet yet smoky plum sauce.

木须肉/Mu Shu Pork

If the menu’s making you a little nervous which, thanks to Google Translator is a very real possibility, this is usually a good choice. The ingredients are pretty harmless but the result is always good. You can expect slices of tender pork sautéed with scrambled egg and 木耳 (lit. wooden ears, don’t let it put you off it’s just an affectionate reference to the fact this particular mushroom resembles a certain facial feature). Flavours include the usual suspects: soy sauce, ginger, garlic you can’t go wrong!

包子和粥/Baozi & Zhou

It’s not that we’ve left the best till last but we at ProofReadChina definitely feel that this is perhaps the one thing on our list which those with an “acquired taste” will appreciate. Although there is no such thing as a specialised breakfast cuisine, this particular combination is as close as you’re going to get. Generally 包子’s are great; a bit like 饺子 but the outer casing is different being more bread like and stodgy. Think small, steamed, soft, bread like pie things which also come with a huge variety of fillings. It’s the 粥 which might make you yearn for the ol’ bacon and toast. Basically, 粥 (rice congee which makes it sound worse than it is) is a thinnish rice porridge usually having little or no flavourings. We recommend the 八宝粥, which is only slightly sweetened by adding dates and raisins. Give it time and we promise you’ll come to wonder how you ever managed before it.

Well, that’s our fallback list of time-tested favourites. Realistically speaking there are just far too many delicious foods that we either haven’t listed or haven’t tried yet. We won’t deny that this is a very biased list and you’ve probably noticed hundreds of dishes which we haven’t included. We’re hoping you’ll take this opportunity to furnish us with your own personal favourites, just like sweets to the proverbial fat kid the more the merrier!

We’ll be back with another informative, yet quirkier list of foods which need to be tried, stuff you might not voluntarily ingest but we like to think of it as something to tell the grandchildren about.
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