The richness of Chinese culture has been a subject of great interest to many. While the Mandarin language is one of the most, if not the most widely used forms of verbal communication, Chinese cuisine has become one of the most preferred types of food globally. Over the years, many dishes belonging to the Asian cuisine have also been adopted on the menus of many western nations. Thousands of eating joints spread across several continents serve authentic Chinese cuisine. According to a research, the demand for Mandarin dishes has always been growing exponentially over the years and has seldom nose-dived. However, there are also many myths associated with Chinese foods, regarding their taste and ingredients used and in order to clear the air, here are 30 authentic Chinese dishes which every foodie who is looking to explore other cuisines needs to try. These might also be the answers to your queries pertaining to the food habits of the speakers of the Mandarin language.
1. Peking Duck
All those of you who haven’t tasted the Duck, trying this mouth-watering Chinese delicacy should perhaps be one of the best ways to get started. Peking duck has been popular amongst Chinese masses since the era when they were ruled by the ‘Yuan Dynasty’. The bird is marinated and roasted until it turns golden brown and is usually served with spring onions, sweet bean sauce and cucumber.
2. Kung Pao Chicken
Popularized by the inhabitants of the ‘Sichuan Province’, located in the South-western region of China, the Kung Pao Chicken now falls under the category of authentic Mandarin dishes. Sliced pieces of chicken are deep fried and garnished with chilies, vegetables and peanuts, and served on a platter.
3. Sesame Chicken
Although this dish originated in China, it is particularly famous in restaurants in the western part of the world which serve Chinese cuisine. Ingredients like wine, vinegar, sugar and even corn starch are incorporated in preparing this Chinese delight. It is usually served along with Broccoli.
4. Stir Fried Shrimp and Scallions
The Chinese Cuisine also has something exquisite to offer for seafood lovers. Neatly peeled shrimps fried in peanut oil, along with scallions and a pinch of garlic has always been a preferred delectable among the masses.
5. Char Siu
In its literal sense, Char Siu translates to ‘fried fork’ and is also known as ‘Char Siew’, ‘Chasu’ and ‘Cha Siu’. It is a common sight at Chinese cultural gatherings to witness Char Siu being served. Chunks of pork belly are deep fried and sliced in the form of long strips before serving to the diner. Char Siu is also an integral part of Malaysian, Singapore as well as Japanese cuisine.
6. Century Egg
Boiled eggs are commonly consumed throughout the world, but the Century Egg is poles apart from the way it is cooked. This unusual snack is prepared by coating quicklime, salt and wood ash on raw eggs. While peeling out, the resultant egg would appear brown in complexion and the yolk gains a dark grey color.
7. Eggplant in Garlic Sauce
The Eggplant holds a special place in Chinese culture and is incorporated in quite a few dishes. Known as brinjal in many other parts of the nation, the deep fried vegetable dish is usually combined with a plate of rice that results in a relishing experience.
8. Ma Po Tofu
Tofu is a coagulated form of soy milk, which is frozen into cubes, similar to Paneer. The term ‘Po’ in Ma Po Tofu is derived from the Chinese word for Grandma. This dish is even renowned in many provinces of Japan and Korea as well. Many variants of Ma Po Tofu are prepared across these places. While some prefer using Pork in making it, others also use vegetable ingredients.
Many parts of the world also recognize this dish as ‘Momo’, which has turned into a popular street delicacy over the past two decades. Dumplings can be served in either steamed of fried forms. The fillings in these dumplings could range from vegetables like cabbage and carrot to finely chopped chicken.
10. Beef Stir Fry With Broccoli
Red meat prepared the Chinese way is also found on the menus of several restaurants across the world. Apart from Chow Mein, this is yet another dish which deserves to be eaten with chopsticks.
11. Cong You Bing
This is China’s answer to the world renowned ‘Pancakes’, a delicacy which originated in the west. However, batter is not employed in making the Cong You Bing. Instead, green onions are engraved in dough and deep roasted to make these cakes.
12. Steamed Sea Bass
Without peppering the fish with too many spices, the Sea Bass is usually presented in the raw form along with some sauce, traditionally. It is also really simple and less time consuming to cook this Chinese delicacy.
13. Sweet and Sour Pork
Famously known as Bo Luo Gu Lao Ruo across Chinese regions, this delicacy incorporates both pineapple as well as the super spicy red and green chilies.
14. La Zi Ji
It is easily one of the spiciest dishes on the Chinese Menu, which has the ability to cause numbness on your tongue. Fried chicken garnished with chilies is worth a chew for all those who like their food spicy and tangy. It’s better to keep a gallon of water handy before indulging in this dish.
15. Pork and Pineapple Fried Rice
Fans of rice would absolutely adore this delicious gift from China. The presence of cubes of pineapple and slices of pork make this fried rice far more exotic than a dish prepared using a whole lot of veggies. A quick tip: Use of raisins might just lend a heavenly flavor to this rice delight.
16. Shrimp Dumpling Soup
Soups are undoubtedly the best starters and what could be a better delight than having dumplings, green leaves and Chow Mein soaked in a bowl of warm herbal liquid. According to a survey, the Shrimp Dumpling Soup has kept the cash registers ringing across outlets that offer authentic Chinese delicacies for years now.
17. Tea Egg
Yet another form of boiled egg, but the difference lies in the fact that Tea eggs absorb the complexion of tea leaves. Eggs boiled in a pan filled with tea powder yields a unique taste, and to better it, the dish is easily concocted.
18. Yu Xiang Rou Si
This dish was introduced to the Chinese culture by a Mandarin speaking family, belonging to the Sichuan province of the Asian country. Apparently the members of the family were really fond of fish and tried including it in every dish served at home. Soon, this style became a trend across the country and paved way for a dish named Yu Xiang Rou Si. This dish, which is mainly shredded pork with sprinkled pieces of fish served on a platter, is a feast-worthy option for foodies, mainly non-vegetarian maniacs.
This traditional form of Chinese food has been a favorite in Chinese households and eating joints for more than a century. The dish got its name from fermented soya bean paste, which is famously known as ‘Zhajiang’ in many parts of Asia. Pork flavored with this paste, served along with wheat noodles makes this dish absolutely relish-worthy.
20. Spring Rolls
Spring rolls are an easily prepared evening snack, which can be savored along with your daily cup of tea. It is similar to Cong You Bing, except that they are cylindrical. Depending on the kind of filling, which could be either pork, chicken, or even vegetables such as spring onion, many variants of the Spring Rolls can be produced.
21. Buddha’s Delight
It is perhaps one of the very few pure vegetarian offerings of the Chinese cuisine which are available on the menus of restaurants serving Mandarin food. It is a preferred form of food amongst Buddhist monks who refrain from non-vegetarian delicacies. The ingredients may vary from one restaurant or from a region to another, but generally Bamboo shoots are used in the preparation of this dish.
22. Chow Fun
An important offering of the Cantonese cuisine, which consists of delicacies from Southern part of the nation, the Chow Fun is an unusual treat which one cannot afford to miss. The incredible combination of rice noodles, bean sprouts and beef is something you rarely find on the menus of other cuisines.
23. Chinese Hot Pot
What if you get all those favorite Chinese dishes of yours on a single platter? That’s what the Chinese Hot Pot has to offer to foodies. It offers a variety of dishes such as mushrooms, dumplings and even wontons on a single plate.
24. Chrysanthemum Tea
Disproving the myth associated with Chinese cuisine, the Chrysanthemum Tea is a standing proof that Herbs are an integral part of Mandarin food. Similar to green tea, which is largely consumed across the world, petals of the Chrysanthemum flower is used in the preparation of this beverage, which also offers a wide range of health benefits.
25. Eight Treasure Rice
Flavored rice that is no different from a cup of dessert with ice-cream of multiple flavors. This Mandarin offering is usually prepared by Chinese citizens to welcome the New Year, a custom that has been followed for ages. Usually eight fruits which are of great prominence in Chinese culture, such as oranges, dates, raisins, Cherries, cashew nuts and winter melons are used along with rice for their preparation.
The Douhua proves that Chinese cuisine doesn’t just consist of spicy non-vegetarian food, but some great desserts as well. Made using the Ma Doufu, a form of coagulated soy milk, the Douhua is a good way of pampering your sweet tooth after feasting on a heavy meal of spices and herbs.
27. Phoenix claws
The deep fried, golden brown feet of chicken on a platter, is much in demand at restaurants that offer Chinese cuisine. Spices such as ginger, garlic as well as chilllies are used in significant amounts to add an irresistible flavor to the dish.
28. Chow Mein
Talking of authentic Chinese cuisine, it would be a crime of sorts if Chow Mein isn’t mentioned. The long threads were perhaps the first slice of Chinese culture which reached the rest of the world faster than any other aspect of the Asian nation. There is no end to the possibilities of experimenting with Chow Mein, be it using spring onions or even chicken and pork.
29. Spicy Beef Skewers
A barbecued Asian delight, the spicy Beef Skewers are in a way a Chinese version of the world famous Kebabs. These deep fried pieces of meat, which is peppered with spices is considered a salivating starter.
30. Poached Chicken Breasts
One of the most nutritious parts of a chicken, are its breasts, which is steamed, sliced into pieces and served with a pinch of pepper and Broccoli. The dish can even be refrigerated overnight and can be consumed for breakfast the next morning if one fails to consume it the previous day.