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Easy Chinese Cooking: Mouthwatering Recipes for Beginners

If you're new to cooking and feel daunted by the idea of making Chinese food, fear not. By using simple recipes and cooking methods, you can create delicious Chinese dishes that are both easy to make and incredibly tasty. In this blog post, we'll share some easy Chinese cooking recipes to help you get started in the kitchen.

A wok sizzles with colorful veggies and meat. A bowl of rice sits nearby. A cookbook open to simple Chinese recipes

Before we dive into the recipes, let's go over some essential ingredients and kitchen tools that you'll need to make Chinese food. Some staples include soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and cornstarch. You'll also need a wok or a large skillet, a bamboo steamer, and a cleaver. With these basic ingredients and tools, you'll be able to make a variety of Chinese dishes.

Now that you have your ingredients and tools ready, it's time to start cooking! We'll provide you with step-by-step instructions and tips for making some staple Chinese dishes, such as fried rice, stir-fry, and chow mein. We'll also include some vegetarian and vegan options for those who don't eat meat. So, let's get started and learn how to make some delicious Chinese food!

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese cooking can be easy and delicious with the right recipes and techniques.
  • Essential ingredients and kitchen tools for Chinese cooking include soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, a wok or large skillet, a bamboo steamer, and a cleaver.
  • Some staple Chinese dishes for beginners include fried rice, stir-fry, and chow mein, and there are also vegetarian and vegan options available.

Essential Ingredients and Kitchen Tools

A kitchen counter with fresh vegetables, meats, and spices. Nearby, a wok, chopping board, and various cooking utensils

Common Ingredients in Chinese Cooking

Chinese cuisine is renowned for its rich flavours and unique blend of spices and seasonings. Here are some of the most common ingredients used in Chinese cooking:

  • Soy sauce: This is a staple ingredient in Chinese cooking and is used to add saltiness and umami to dishes. Choose between light or dark soy sauce depending on the recipe.

  • Ginger: This fragrant root is used to add a subtle warmth and depth of flavour to dishes. It is often used in marinades, stir-fries, and soups.

  • Garlic: Garlic is a key ingredient in many Chinese dishes and is used to add a pungent, savoury flavour to dishes.

  • Oyster sauce: This thick, dark sauce is made from oysters, soy sauce, and sugar. It is used to add a sweet and savoury flavour to stir-fries and marinades.

  • Rice wine: This is a type of fermented rice that is used in marinades and sauces to add depth of flavour. It is also used as a cooking wine.

  • Sesame oil: This fragrant oil is made from toasted sesame seeds and is used to add nutty flavour to dishes. It is often used as a finishing oil.

  • Cornstarch: This is a thickening agent that is often used in Chinese cooking to create a thick, glossy sauce.

Must-Have Kitchen Utensils

Having the right kitchen utensils can make Chinese cooking much easier and more enjoyable. Here are some essential tools you'll need:

  • Rice cooker: A rice cooker is a must-have for anyone who wants to cook perfect rice every time. It is also great for steaming dumplings and other dishes.

  • Wok: A wok is a versatile cooking vessel that is used for stir-frying, deep-frying, and steaming. It is perfect for cooking seafood, meat, and vegetables.

  • Stove top: A stove top is essential for cooking Chinese dishes. It allows you to control the heat and cook food quickly and evenly.

  • Instant Pot: An Instant Pot is a great tool for making Chinese dishes quickly and easily. It can be used to cook rice, stews, and soups.

When it comes to seafood, prawns and squid are popular choices in Chinese cuisine. They can be used in stir-fries, soups, and noodle dishes. Make sure to choose fresh seafood and cook it quickly to retain its delicate flavour and texture.

Staple Chinese Dishes for Beginners

A table set with a variety of Chinese dishes: stir-fried vegetables, sweet and sour chicken, fried rice, and spring rolls

If you're new to Chinese cooking, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. But fear not, we've got you covered with some easy-to-make, beginner-friendly dishes that are sure to impress.

Easy Stir-Fries

Stir-fries are a staple of Chinese cuisine and are a great place to start for beginners. They're quick, easy, and can be made with a variety of ingredients. For a simple beef stir-fry, thinly slice some beef and stir-fry it with your choice of vegetables, such as bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Add in some soy sauce and oyster sauce for flavour and serve with rice.

For a vegetarian option, try a tofu and vegetable stir-fry. Cut the tofu into cubes and stir-fry with your favourite vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, and snow peas. Add in some garlic, ginger, and soy sauce for flavour.

Simple Rice and Noodle Recipes

Fried rice is a classic Chinese dish that is easy to make and delicious. Cook some rice and let it cool before stir-frying it with some egg, vegetables, and your choice of protein, such as chicken or shrimp. For an extra kick of flavour, add in some soy sauce, sesame oil, and green onions.

Noodles are another staple of Chinese cuisine and are great for beginners. Try making a simple egg noodle dish with some vegetables and your choice of protein, such as beef or shrimp. Add in some soy sauce and oyster sauce for flavour.

Beginner-Friendly Dumplings and Soups

Dumplings are a favourite in Chinese cuisine and are surprisingly easy to make at home. You can buy pre-made dumpling wrappers and fill them with your choice of filling, such as pork and cabbage or shrimp and chives. Boil the dumplings until they float to the surface and serve with soy sauce and vinegar for dipping.

Soup is a comforting dish that is perfect for beginners. Try making a simple egg drop soup by whisking some eggs and slowly pouring them into boiling chicken broth. Add in some cornstarch to thicken the soup and serve with green onions.

If you're feeling adventurous, try making wonton soup. Fill wonton wrappers with your choice of filling, such as pork and shrimp or mushroom and tofu. Boil the wontons in chicken broth and serve with bok choy and green onions.

Seafood can also be used in Chinese cooking for a delicious twist. For example, you can add shrimp or squid to your stir-fry or use prawns in your wonton soup. Just make sure to use fresh seafood and cook it thoroughly.

Step-By-Step Cooking Techniques

A wok sizzles over a hot flame as ingredients are tossed in. Steam rises as a chef adds seasoning, creating a vibrant, aromatic dish

Mastering the Art of Stir-Frying

Stir-frying is a staple cooking technique in Chinese cuisine that involves cooking ingredients quickly in a hot wok or frying pan. To master the art of stir-frying, you need to follow a few simple steps:

  1. Start by preparing all of your ingredients in advance, as stir-frying is a fast-paced cooking technique that requires quick and efficient movement.
  2. Heat up your wok or frying pan until it is very hot, then add your oil and swirl it around the pan to coat the surface.
  3. Add your ingredients to the pan in the order of their cooking time, starting with the longest cooking ingredients first.
  4. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to stir the ingredients constantly, making sure they cook evenly and don't stick to the pan.
  5. Add your sauce or marinade towards the end of the cooking process, making sure it coats all of the ingredients evenly.
  6. Serve your stir-fry hot with rice or noodles.

Preparing and Cooking Dumplings

Dumplings are a popular Chinese dish that can be steamed, boiled, or fried. Here's how to prepare and cook dumplings like a pro:

  1. Start by making your dumpling filling, which can be made with a variety of ingredients such as pork, chicken, beef, or vegetables.
  2. Roll out your dumpling wrappers and add a spoonful of filling to the centre of each wrapper.
  3. Use your fingers to pinch the edges of the wrapper together, making sure to seal the filling inside.
  4. To steam your dumplings, place them in a steamer basket and steam for 10-15 minutes until cooked through.
  5. To boil your dumplings, bring a pot of water to a boil and add your dumplings. Cook for 5-7 minutes until they float to the surface.
  6. To fry your dumplings, heat up some oil in a frying pan and add your dumplings. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.

If you want to add some seafood to your dumpling filling, you can try using shrimp or crab meat. Just make sure to chop it up finely and mix it with your other ingredients before filling your dumplings.

Vegetarian and Vegan Chinese Recipes

A colorful array of fresh vegetables and aromatic spices arranged on a clean, organized kitchen counter

Chinese cuisine has a lot to offer when it comes to vegetarian and vegan options. Here are some easy and delicious recipes that you can try at home.

Tofu-Based Dishes

Tofu is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some tofu-based recipes that you can try:

  • Mapo Tofu: This is a spicy Sichuan dish that is made with tofu, minced meat, and chili bean paste. You can skip the meat and make a vegetarian version of this dish. You can also add some shiitake mushrooms to the dish for extra flavour.

  • Tofu and Vegetable Stir-Fry: This is a simple and healthy dish that you can make in minutes. You can use any vegetables that you like, such as Chinese broccoli, Chinese cabbage, and carrots. Add some garlic, ginger, and soy sauce for flavour.

  • Tofu and Mushroom Soup: This is a comforting and nourishing soup that is perfect for cold days. You can use any mushrooms that you like, such as shiitake mushrooms, button mushrooms, or oyster mushrooms. Add some tofu, ginger, and soy sauce for flavour.

Vegetable-Centric Meals

Chinese cuisine is known for its use of vegetables. Here are some vegetable-centric recipes that you can try:

  • Stir-Fried Chinese Broccoli: Chinese broccoli, also known as gai lan, is a leafy green vegetable that is commonly used in Chinese cuisine. You can stir-fry it with garlic, ginger, and oyster sauce for a simple and delicious dish.

  • Vegetable Dumplings: Dumplings are a popular Chinese dish that can be filled with a variety of ingredients. You can make vegetarian dumplings by filling them with vegetables, such as cabbage, carrots, and mushrooms. Serve them with soy sauce for dipping.

  • Vegetable Fried Rice: Fried rice is a staple in Chinese cuisine. You can make vegetarian fried rice by using vegetables, such as peas, carrots, and corn. You can also add some scrambled eggs for extra protein. If you're not vegan, you can also add some shrimp or prawns to the dish.

Overall, Chinese cuisine has a lot to offer when it comes to vegetarian and vegan options. Whether you're a seasoned cook or a beginner, these recipes are easy to make and full of flavour.

Finishing Touches and Serving Suggestions

A hand adds garnish to a plate of stir-fried vegetables, next to a bowl of steamed rice. Chopsticks rest on a napkin

Creating Flavourful Sauces

Sauces are an essential part of Chinese cuisine, and they can elevate a dish from good to great. When making sauces, it's important to balance the flavours of salty, sweet, sour, and spicy. A simple sauce can be made by mixing soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and chilli flakes. You can also experiment with different sauces like oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, or black bean sauce.

If you're using seafood in your recipe, try making a seafood-based sauce. A simple seafood sauce can be made by mixing soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic, and a splash of fish sauce. This sauce pairs well with shrimp, scallops, or white fish.

Garnishes and Presentation

Garnishes and presentation can make a dish look and taste more appealing. Green onions are a common garnish in Chinese cuisine and can add freshness and colour to a dish. You can also use other herbs like cilantro or basil to add flavour and aroma.

When serving your dish, consider using a bed of steamed rice or noodles as a base. You can also add some texture with crispy fried noodles or crushed peanuts. Don't forget to season your dish with salt and pepper to taste.

If you're having trouble finding ingredients, try visiting an Asian market. They often have a wide selection of Chinese ingredients and can be a great resource for finding new and interesting ingredients.

Remember, cooking Chinese food can be fun and easy with a little bit of practice. Experiment with different flavours and ingredients to find what works best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

A colorful array of ingredients and cooking utensils arranged neatly on a kitchen counter, with a cookbook open to easy Chinese recipes for beginners

What are some simple Chinese recipes for a novice cook?

If you're new to Chinese cooking, there are many easy-to-make dishes that you can try. Some popular dishes include fried rice, stir-fried noodles, Kung Pao chicken, and sweet and sour pork. These dishes are not only delicious but also quick and easy to make. You can also try making dumplings, hot and sour soup, or steamed fish, which are simple and tasty.

How can you make a Chinese meal that's suitable for children?

When cooking for children, it's best to keep the dishes simple and mild. You can make dishes like egg fried rice, sweet and sour chicken, or stir-fried vegetables with tofu. You can also add some seafood like prawns or squid to the dishes to make them more interesting. Just make sure to adjust the seasoning and spices to suit your children's taste.

Could you suggest some Chinese vegetarian dishes for starters?

If you're looking for vegetarian Chinese dishes, there are many options available. You can try making vegetable stir-fry, tofu and vegetable hotpot, or vegetarian dumplings. You can also add some mushrooms or seaweed to the dishes to give them more flavour. If you want to use seafood, you can try making a vegetable and seafood stir-fry or seafood hotpot with vegetables.

What are the fundamental techniques in Chinese home cooking?

Chinese cooking involves many techniques, but some of the fundamental ones include stir-frying, steaming, boiling, and braising. Stir-frying involves quickly cooking ingredients in a hot wok with oil, while steaming involves cooking food over boiling water. Boiling is used to cook soups and stews, while braising involves slowly cooking food in a covered pot with liquid.

Can you list a few easy-to-make Chinese takeout favourites?

Some popular Chinese takeout dishes that are easy to make at home include Kung Pao chicken, sweet and sour pork, beef and broccoli stir-fry, and egg fried rice. You can also make dishes like sesame chicken, General Tso's chicken, or shrimp fried rice. Just make sure to use fresh ingredients and adjust the seasoning to your taste.

What staple ingredients should you have for basic Chinese dishes?

Some staple ingredients that you should have for basic Chinese dishes include soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and green onions. You can also add some dried mushrooms, dried shrimp, or dried scallops to your pantry for extra flavour. If you want to use seafood, you can stock up on prawns, squid, or fish fillets.