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Simple Chinese Cooking for Newbies: Easy Recipes to Experiment with in Your Kitchen

For those who are just starting to explore Chinese cooking, the prospect of trying your hand at preparing traditional dishes can be intimidating. But fear not, as with a little guidance and practice, you can master the art of creating delicious and uncomplicated Chinese recipes that are tailored for beginners. This article will walk you through the basics of Chinese cooking and offer you some quick and easy recipes to try at home.

A wok sizzles with stir-fried vegetables and tofu. A bowl of steamed rice sits nearby, while a bottle of soy sauce and a pile of fresh ginger and garlic wait to be used

Before you start cooking, you'll need to know some basic techniques and tips that will help you create authentic Chinese dishes. For example, stir-frying is a popular Chinese cooking technique that involves cooking ingredients quickly over high heat in a wok or frying pan. You'll also need to know about flavour enhancers and seasonings such as soy sauce, oyster sauce, and Chinese five spice. By understanding these basics, you'll be able to create simple and delicious Chinese recipes that will impress your family and friends.

Now that you know the basics, it's time to get started with some easy Chinese recipes for beginners. From stir-fried vegetables to fried rice, there are plenty of simple dishes that you can make at home. We'll also suggest the use of seafood in some of the recipes to add variety and flavour. For example, you can use prawns or squid in a stir-fry or add some salmon to a noodle dish. With these easy recipes, you'll be able to create delicious Chinese meals that are perfect for any occasion.

Key Takeaways

  • Getting started with Chinese cooking involves learning basic techniques and tips such as stir-frying and using flavour enhancers and seasonings.
  • There are plenty of easy Chinese recipes for beginners, including stir-fried vegetables and fried rice.
  • Seafood can be a great addition to Chinese dishes and can add variety and flavour to your meals.

Getting Started with Chinese Cooking

A wok sizzles with stir-fried vegetables, while a pot simmers with fragrant broth. Chopsticks and a cookbook lay nearby

Chinese cuisine is known for its bold flavours, unique textures and wide variety of dishes. If you're new to Chinese cooking, it can seem intimidating at first, but with a few essential tools and ingredients, you can start creating delicious meals in no time.

Essential Equipment

To get started with Chinese cooking, you'll need a few key pieces of equipment. The most important of these is a wok, which is a versatile pan that can be used for stir-frying, deep-frying, steaming and more. A wok allows you to cook quickly over high heat, which is essential for achieving the characteristic flavours and textures of Chinese cuisine.

Other essential equipment includes a rice cooker, which makes it easy to cook perfect rice every time, and a set of bamboo steamers, which can be used to steam dumplings, buns and other dishes.

Key Ingredients

The key to Chinese cooking is using the right combination of ingredients to create complex and delicious flavours. Some of the most important ingredients in Chinese cuisine include:

  • Soy sauce: This salty, umami-rich sauce is used in marinades, stir-fries and dipping sauces.
  • Ginger: This aromatic root adds a spicy, slightly sweet flavour to dishes and is often used in marinades, stir-fries and soups.
  • Garlic: This pungent bulb is used in a wide variety of Chinese dishes to add flavour and depth.
  • Rice: Rice is a staple in Chinese cuisine and is used in a variety of dishes, from stir-fries to soups.
  • Oil: Chinese cooking often involves high-heat cooking, so it's important to use an oil with a high smoke point, such as vegetable or peanut oil.
  • Sesame oil: This fragrant oil is often used as a finishing oil to add flavour and aroma to dishes.
  • Cornstarch: Cornstarch is often used as a thickener in Chinese sauces and marinades.

Seafood is also a popular ingredient in Chinese cuisine, and can be used in a variety of dishes. Some popular seafood options include shrimp, scallops, squid and fish. When cooking with seafood, it's important to choose fresh, high-quality ingredients and to cook them quickly over high heat to prevent overcooking and maintain their delicate texture.

With these essential tools and ingredients, you'll be well on your way to creating delicious Chinese dishes at home.

Basic Techniques and Tips

A wok sizzles with stir-fried vegetables, while a chef adds soy sauce. A pot of steaming rice sits nearby, ready to be served


Stir-frying is a popular Chinese cooking technique that involves cooking small pieces of food quickly over high heat in a wok or frying pan. To stir-fry, it's important to have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start cooking. This means chopping your vegetables, slicing your meat, and measuring out your sauces and seasonings.

When stir-frying, it's important to use a high-heat oil such as peanut oil or vegetable oil. Heat your wok or frying pan until it's hot, then add your oil and swirl it around to coat the surface. Add your ingredients and stir-fry them quickly, tossing them constantly with a spatula or pair of tongs.

Stir-frying is a great way to cook seafood, such as shrimp or scallops. Simply add your seafood to the wok or frying pan towards the end of cooking, and stir-fry until it's just cooked through.


Steaming is another popular Chinese cooking technique that is great for cooking vegetables, fish, and dumplings. To steam, you'll need a steamer basket or a bamboo steamer.

To steam vegetables, simply chop them into bite-sized pieces and place them in the steamer basket. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then place the steamer basket on top. Cover the pot with a lid and steam the vegetables until they're tender.

Steaming is also a great way to cook fish. Place your fish in a heatproof dish and season it with soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Place the dish in a steamer basket or bamboo steamer and steam until the fish is cooked through.


Boiling is a simple and quick cooking technique that is great for making soups and broths. To boil, simply bring a pot of water to a boil, then add your ingredients and simmer until they're cooked through.

Boiling is a great way to cook noodles, such as egg noodles or rice noodles. Simply add your noodles to the boiling water and cook until they're tender. Drain the noodles and rinse them under cold water to stop the cooking process.

When boiling seafood, it's important to keep an eye on the cooking time. Overcooked seafood can become tough and rubbery. Shrimp, scallops, and mussels are all great options for boiling.

Remember, these techniques are just the basics of Chinese cooking. With a little practice and experimentation, you'll be able to create your own delicious and unique Chinese dishes.

Easy Chinese Recipes for Beginners

A wok sizzles with stir-fried vegetables and tofu. A chef's knife and cutting board sit nearby. A bowl of steamed rice completes the scene

If you're new to Chinese cooking, there are plenty of easy recipes to get you started. From classic fried rice to simple stir-fries and comforting soups, these dishes are perfect for beginners.

Classic Fried Rice

Fried rice is a staple of Chinese cuisine and is a great dish to start with if you're new to cooking Chinese food. You can make it with a variety of ingredients, including chicken, shrimp, and vegetables. For a simple version, try making egg fried rice with just a few ingredients like eggs, green onions, and rice.

Simple Stir-Fries

Stir-fries are another easy Chinese dish to make, and you can use a variety of ingredients to create different flavours. Try making kung pao chicken, which is a spicy stir-fry made with chicken, vegetables, and peanuts. For a milder option, you can make sweet and sour chicken, which is made with a tangy sauce and vegetables.

Comforting Soups

Chinese soups are a great way to warm up on a chilly day, and they're also easy to make. Wonton soup is a classic Chinese soup that's made with wontons, which are small dumplings filled with meat or seafood. If you're a seafood lover, you can also try making seafood noodle soup, which is made with seafood, noodles, and vegetables.

When cooking Chinese food, don't be afraid to experiment with different ingredients and flavours. You can use a variety of vegetables, meats, and seafood to create your own unique dishes. Just remember to follow the recipe closely and use fresh ingredients for the best results.

Flavour Enhancers and Seasonings

A variety of flavor enhancers and seasonings are arranged neatly on a kitchen counter, including soy sauce, oyster sauce, ginger, garlic, and green onions

When it comes to Chinese cooking, flavour enhancers and seasonings are key to creating delicious dishes. In this section, we will cover two important flavour enhancers: soy sauce and aromatics.

Using Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is a staple in Chinese cooking and is used in a variety of dishes. It is made from fermented soybeans and has a salty, umami flavour that adds depth to any dish. When using soy sauce, it's important to choose a good quality one that is not too salty or overpowering. Light soy sauce is best for cooking, while dark soy sauce is better for adding colour and flavour to dishes.

If you're cooking with seafood, try using oyster sauce instead of soy sauce. Oyster sauce is made from oysters and has a rich, savoury flavour that pairs well with seafood. You can also use rice vinegar to add acidity and brightness to seafood dishes.

Incorporating Aromatics

Aromatics such as green onion, garlic, and ginger are essential in Chinese cooking. They add depth and complexity to dishes and are often used as the base for stir-fries and soups. When cooking with aromatics, it's important to finely chop them to release their flavours.

If you're new to using aromatics, start with garlic and ginger. They are versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. Green onion is also a great addition to stir-fries and soups. If you're cooking with seafood, try using ginger and green onion to add flavour and freshness.

In summary, soy sauce and aromatics are essential in Chinese cooking. They add depth and complexity to dishes and are easy to incorporate into your cooking. Try using oyster sauce and rice vinegar for seafood dishes and experiment with different combinations of aromatics to find your favourite flavour profile.

From Takeout to Homemade

A wok sizzles with stir-fried veggies and tofu, while a cookbook lays open to a page titled "Simple Chinese Cooking Recipes for Beginners."

If you're a fan of Chinese takeout, you'll be glad to know that you can recreate many of your favourite dishes at home. Not only is it more affordable, but you also have more control over the ingredients used. Here are some tips on how to make simple Chinese cooking recipes for beginners.

Recreating Takeout Favourites

If you have a favourite Chinese takeout dish, try to recreate it at home. You can find many recipes online or in cookbooks that are designed to taste just like the real thing. Some popular takeout favourites include beef and broccoli, kung pao chicken, and sweet and sour pork.

When making these dishes at home, you can adjust the ingredients to suit your taste preferences. For example, you can use less salt or sugar, or add more vegetables to make the dish healthier. If you're feeling adventurous, you can also try adding seafood to your takeout favourites. For instance, you can use prawns or squid in your stir-fry dishes.

Quick and Easy Alternatives

If you don't have a specific takeout dish in mind, there are many quick and easy Chinese recipes that you can make at home. Some popular options include fried rice, stir-fry, chow mein, and dumplings. These dishes are simple to make and require only a few ingredients.

When making these dishes, it's important to use authentic Chinese ingredients to get the best flavour. For example, you should use light soy sauce instead of dark soy sauce, and Chinese rice wine instead of regular wine. You can find these ingredients at most Chinese supermarkets or online.

Overall, making Chinese food at home can be a fun and rewarding experience. With a bit of practice, you can create delicious dishes that rival those of your favourite Chinese restaurant. So why not give it a try and impress your friends and family with your newfound culinary skills?

Frequently Asked Questions

A kitchen counter with a variety of fresh ingredients, a cookbook open to a page of simple Chinese recipes, and cooking utensils laid out neatly

What are some simple Chinese dishes a beginner can start with?

If you are new to Chinese cooking, you can start with some simple dishes that require only a few ingredients. Kung Pao chicken, hot and sour soup, and dumplings are some classic Chinese dishes that are easy to make and delicious. You can also try making steamed fish or stir-fried vegetables.

Could you suggest a few essential ingredients for basic Chinese cooking?

Some essential ingredients for basic Chinese cooking include soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and green onions. You can also use cornstarch to thicken sauces and marinades.

What are the classic Chinese recipes that are easy for new cooks?

Some classic Chinese recipes that are easy to make include fried rice, stir-fry, chow mein, and wonton soup. These recipes require only a few ingredients and can be made in under 30 minutes.

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

If you are looking to make a quick and easy Chinese meal that's suitable for children, you can try making sweet and sour chicken, beef and broccoli stir-fry, or vegetable fried rice. These recipes are delicious and kid-friendly.

What vegetarian options are there for easy Chinese home cooking?

If you are a vegetarian, you can try making vegetable stir-fry, egg fried rice, or tofu and vegetable soup. You can also use mushrooms and bamboo shoots to add flavour and texture to your dishes.

What's a beginner-friendly Chinese chicken recipe I can try at home?

A beginner-friendly Chinese chicken recipe that you can try at home is sweet and sour chicken. To make this dish, you will need chicken breast, bell peppers, pineapple, and a sweet and sour sauce. You can also add seafood such as shrimp or prawns to this dish for added flavour.