Authentic food from china

Chinese authentic food


Chinese NoodlesMost Americans love Chinese food, whether dining in a restaurant or from a slew of those little, folded white takeout boxes with the wire handle. However, the Chinese food found in most casual Chinese restaurants in the U.S. is very far removed from the authentic cuisine eaten daily by most people living in China.

There are many differences between authentic Chinese cuisine and Westernized Chinese food. From ingredients to cooking methods to popular dishes, the differences are numerous. In general, Westernized Chinese food is considered to be more bland and fattening than authentic Chinese food.

While you can likely find authentic Chinese restaurants or authentic dishes in restaurants around the country, most U.S. Chinese restaurants offer Westernized Chinese food. While Westernized dishes are far removed from the authentic dishes they once were, some Western Chinese food dishes are actually a complete invention!

How the Changes Came about

America was once the Melting Pot, with populations from Europe, Asia, and other continents all joined together. Most cultural groups brought their customs and their cuisines; both changed and adapted over the years to turn into something much different.

According to the Smithsonian, many Chinese workers had trouble finding work; opening a restaurant for the Chinese population was an avenue many took simply to make a living. Eventually, Chinese cuisine made its way into the mainstream and was changed along the way to reflect Western tastes and regional influences.

Cooking Methods

One main difference between authentic Chinese food and the fare offered in American casual Chinese restaurants is the cooking methods used. The food found in Western Chinese restaurants is mainly cooked through frying. Many dishes are cooked using various frying methods in a wok or a deep fryer.

Traditional Chinese food may be cooked using any of the various frying methods, but it is not the main way such cuisine is cooked. Methods such as stewing, braising, baking, steaming, boiling, and even fermenting are commonly used in authentic Chinese cuisine.

Furthermore, breading and deep-frying items is not really found in authentic Chinese food; such cooking is the equivalent of chicken nuggets, onion rings, and mozzarella sticks.

Ingredients

Another big difference between authentic and Westernized Chinese food is the ingredients used. Westernized Chinese food focuses on dishes with a main meat; ingredients like rice and vegetables are sides or fillers.

With authentic Chinese dishes, the opposite is true. Ingredients like vegetables, rice, noodles, and soybeans are those that are most often used. Some ingredients found in Western Chinese food are not used in authentic Chinese cooking as a general rule; such examples include broccoli, carrots, onion, tomatoes, and dairy product.

Westernized Chinese food features vegetables and meats that are common in Western cuisine and acceptable for eating in Western culture. Meats are usually beef, pork, or chicken. While you can find regional Western cuisine that includes stranger meats—like pig ears—most Western cultures are pretty conservative in the meats they eat.

Authentic Chinese cuisine uses a wider variety of protein sources, like tofu, and their other meat sources would seem downright unsavory to most Western palates. Examples include snake, chicken feet, duck blood, jellyfish, and more that Westerners generally wouldn’t choose to eat. Western Chinese food also uses some seafood ingredients, but it is nowhere near the diversity of seafood ingredients found in traditional Chinese food.

Authentic Chinese food also uses different spices, especially more fragrant ones, while Westernized Chinese food focuses heavily on salt and sugar.

Common Westernized Chinese Dishes

Many of the most popular dishes in casual Westernized Chinese restaurants aren’t eaten in China at all. For example, Sweet ‘n’ Sour Chicken or Pork has no equivalent in traditional Chinese cuisine. In an article about Western Chinese food not eaten by the Chinese on Eater.com, the author, Mary Kong, points out the obvious connection to U.S. Southern cooking in these two dishes where the meat is breaded, deep-fried, and served with a sweet sauce.

Crab Rangoon is another example of Westernized Chinese food. A Wonton shell is filled with imitation crab meat and cream cheese, and then it is deep-fried. Cream cheese is not a commonly used Chinese ingredient.

The dish Beef and Broccoli is yet another example; broccoli isn’t used anywhere in authentic Chinese cuisine. Similarly, fortune cookies are a completely American invention as well.

Common Authentic Chinese Dishes

There are many different kinds of authentic Chinese cuisines, as the regionalism of the country contributes to different languages, customs, and cuisines. The author of the Eater.com article above wrote a similar article about dishes that the Chinese actually do eat. Kong, a Chinese-American, claims that most readers would turn green if they knew what most Chinese people ate at home!

Some common meals with different ingredients include Peking Duck, Jellyfish, Phoenix Claws made from chicken feet, and Sea Cucumbers. Yet Western tastes adapt to new flavors and ingredients easily, so it may be only a matter of time before Phoenix Claws are offered at every Chinese take-out restaurant and buffet in America!

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