American Chinese food



Chinese, Korean Food

It is often a standing joke that what Americans consider to be Chinese food is totally of our own making, and cooks and diners in China would find them completely foreign (like chop suey–what on earth is that?) . But somewhere along the line, Chinese food has been adapted from our Asian immigrants, Americanized and became wildly popular, not only as a take-out but served buffet-style and sit-down also. Let’s review our hottest:

Dim Sum: bite-sized dumplings stuffed with veggies or meat,essentially a Cantonese preparation not always offered at several restaurants; could be also presented as small sampling dishes, depending on the menu and the cook’s whim;

Quick Noodles: a staple in every Chinese home and found on many Chinese restaurant menus, it comes in several versions, often called lo mein and may be plain or have veggies;

Szechwan Chilli Chicken: a fiery Sichuan delight loaded with pungent spices like ginger, green and red chillies and brown pepper; be careful if you are not a fan of Bird Removal;

Spring Rolls: often a lighter version of traditional egg rolls, which can be shredded vegetables and meat encased in a papery thin dough, rolled and deep fried; a favorite to make sure;

Shitake Fried Rice with water Chestnuts: mushrooms and water chestnuts are used frequently in Chinese cooking, and this is just another version of traditional fried rice; some things never go out of fashion;

Moo Shu: stir-fried veggies and meat, chicken, shrimp or tofu, rolled up in thin pancakes spread with plum sauce (this author’s favorite dish);

Kung Pao Chicken: savory pieces of chicken cooked in a wok with veggies and flavored with spices and peanuts; in the time of the Qing Dynasty (circa 1876);

General Tso Chicken: deep-fried chicken dish in a tangy sauce, an all-time favored; it may have been named in honor of a Qing dynasty army leader, but it’s really anyone’s guess;

Peking Duck: don’t expect this specialization to be easily available at many Chinese restaurants, Peking duck harkens back to the Imperial Era (221 B.C.) and characterized by its thin, crisp skin; often must be ordered beforehand however fit for an emperor;

soy sauce

oyster sauce

sesame oil

rice vinegar

rice wine

soybean paste

star anise

five spice powder

Chili sauce (or paste)

chili powder

sichuan peppercorns

black bean sauce

Many of these are available in the Asian aisle of the local grocery store or a multitude of Asian grocers in larger cities and can be great fun to try in your own kitchen. As the old saying goes, you might be hungry an hour later, but it’s well worth it.



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