Techniques encompass some of those used in the West, plus a number of Asian regional styles. Frying is either shallow, deep or stir-fry depending on the dish and ingredients. Steaming is a traditional Chinese cooking method that has spread across countries with Chinese populations, and been adopted by other cultures. Roasting is common, as evidenced by Chinese style Red Port and Duck across S.E. Asia, but stewing is less likely to generate menu entries.
Chinese/Asian Cooking Techniques
There are four methods of frying using a shallow amount of fat or oil.
- Shallow Fry: cooking of food in a small amount of fat or oil in a frying pan or saute pan. The presentation side of the food should be fried first as this side will have the better appearance because the fat is clean, then turned so that both sides are cooked and coloured.
- cooking tender cuts of meat and poultry in a saute or frying pan. After cooking, the fat is discarded and the pan is deglazed with stock or wine. This forms an important part of the finished sauce. Only tender foods can be used.
- also used when cooking, for example, potaoes or onions when they are cut into slices or pieces and tossed in hot shallow fat or oil in a frying pan till golden brown.
- Griddle: e.g. hamburgers, sausages, sliced onions, are placed on a lightly oiled, pre-heated griddle (solid metal plate), and turned frequently during cooking.
- Stir Fry: fast frying in a wok or frying pan in a little fat or oil, e.g. vegetables, strips of beef or chicken
Deep-frying is used to produce crisp- texured food. Often, the food is deep-fried, removed from the oil and drained. the oil is then reheated and the food deep-fried again, so that it is exetremely crispy.
Paper-Wrapped Deep-Frying (zhibao zha)
Small pieces of meat or fish are seasoned, , the food is wrapped in sheets made of glutinous rice flour. Cellophane paper can also be used the food is served in its paper wrapping The paper is thrown away.
Steaming is a traditional Chinese cooking method that is ideal for today’s trend towards healthy eating. The technique was developed for when a moist dish was required as an alternative to a roasted one. It’s good for vegetables, fish, meat and dumplings.
There are 3 methods that can be used for steaming:
- 1. The traditional one. The Chinese use bamboo steamers that stack on top of each other. Dishes needing the least cooking are placed on the top level, while those requiring the most are placed on the bottom layer, near the boiling water.
- 2. Food is arranged on a plate or bowl, put inside a steamer on a rack and placed over a large pot of boiling water. Alternatively the plate or bowl can be put inside a wok.
- 3. The bowl of ingredients in partially immersed in water and the food is cooked partly by the boiling water and partly by the steam it produces. Compared with food cooked by other methods, steamed dishes are more subtle in taste and bring out the taste of the ingredients. So the fresher the ingredients, the better they are for steaming.
The common denominator of these methods is a moderate oven (325-350 degrees F) and a reasonably long cooking time with or without a flash of high heat at the beginning orf high heat at the beginning or end of the cook cycle. This is the method of roasting most cookbooks, including the historic ones by James Beard, Julia Child, Alma Lach, and Madeleine Kamman use. Our Guide to Whole Turkeys has detailed foolproof cooking instructions.
ADVANTAGES: relatively foolproof, this technique provides a well flavored, moist bird with very little attention or expertise required of the cook. The moderate temperature allows for a reasonable window of time in which the bird is at its peak, letting the cook worry less about pulling the bird out at some absolute moment of perfection. This is the technique for people who have better things to do than hang around an oven all day. If you can read a clock and a thermometer, then you can cook a good turkey this way.
DISADVANTAGES: although the flesh is better flavored than a plain slow roasted bird and the skin is crisp, the flavors are subtle, and show themselves best when accompanied by really good gravies, dressings, and sauces. The food safety issues of Slow & Low cooking are not as prominent with this technique, but the process from start to finish is still pretty slow (about 25 minutes per pound), so planning ahead is still very important. time.
Red cooking – a process whereby meat is slowly simmered in dark soy sauce, imparting a reddish tinge to the final product – is a popular cooking technique in eastern China.
STEWING is a time-honored moist cooking technique that transforms less tender cuts of meat unsuitable for quick-cooking methods into melt-in-your-mouth meats Stewing allows the cook to assemble the dish and then let it simmer, with little or no attention for an hour or more. Many “crock-pot” dishes are essentially stewed. Vary the flavor profile of the stew dish by experimenting with liquids (wine, broth, beer and vegetable juices) and different herbs and spices. Ideal cuts: shoulder and pork cubes. In China, stews are usually cooked in an clay pot over a charcoal fire. The stew is cooked for a very long time – up to four hours – producing meat almost jelly-like in tenderness. Yum
If any technique in Chinese cooking demands proper preparation, it is stir-frying. Because the heat has to be high and there is little actual cooking time, it’s crucial to have all your ingredients assembled beforehand. The best advice I can give here is to keep your stir-fry ingredients separated in bowls based on how much time they need in your wok. So chop your onions, meat, mushrooms, carrots, and peppers into small pieces and separate them. You want the veggies and meat to be in bite size pieces for two reasons. First, the stir-fry will be appealing and easy to eat if all of the components are equal in size. Secondly, similar size pieces will insure more uniform cooking time.