Did you know that more than a third of the world's population eats Chinese food daily? Chinese cooking is acknowledged as one of the greatest and original cuisines of the world. There is an ever-increasing interest in and appreciation of Chinese food in the West as well as in India.
The cuisine appeals to the majority owing to the variety of flavours contained in each dish.. there is nothing incongruous in the serving meat and poultry in the same course. Besides appealing to our taste buds and eyes, food prepared in the Chinese manner is highly nutritious, retaining all its vitamins with quick and minimum cooking.
Both cooking and eating Chinese food is gratifying. And the experience intensifies during the Chinese New Year. Traditional foods and cooking styles are a part of the celebration. Each dish has its significance. A whole fish, represents togetherness and abundance and a chicken stands for prosperity. The chicken, with its head, tail and feet intact symbolises completeness. Noodles are served uncut, as they represent long life.
Cakes and more
The traditional rice cake called Nian Gao is the pride of tables in eastern China, during the festizvities. Homophone for “a more prosperous year” the New Year pudding, is made up of glutinous rice flour, wheat starch, salt, water, and sugar. The colour of the sugar used determines the colour of the pudding (white or brown). In the north, steamed-wheat bread, Man Tou and small meat dumplings are the preferred food. The vast amount of food prepared symbolises abundance and wealth for the household.
While the Chinese around the world celebrate, I am going to indulge in my own version of the New Year. And what better way then to go Chinese all week. It's the year of the ox, the Chinese zodiac animal known for its patient, modest and hardworking virtues. So I will try and incorporate some of that in my stomach. My week is going to be one of gastronomic exuberance, and I have prepared a mad list of dishes that I am going to eat at my favourite Chinese restaurants.
And if I can 't find them there then I am going to cook them. Crispy Peking Duck with slices of cucumber, spring onion wrapped in a roll with a plum sauce dipping or the famous Shark's Fin with Crabmeat Soup or a good standard chilli chicken or garlic chicken with fried rice (I am surrounded with many Chinese cooks so I get my weekly dose of this at my restaurant).
Chinese food has something for everyone. My favourites.. a well-cooked Sweet and Sour Pork, Kung Pao chicken or prawn and chives dimsum, a plate of steaming chow mein or fried rice.
The beef lovers can go crazy with Szechwan Beef Stir Fry, Chinese Pepper Steak, Orange Beef, Hunan Beef. The choices are a plenty in chicken as well — Lemon Chicken, Sesame Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Orange Chicken, Sweet and Sour Chicken and Whisky Chicken Wing.
And you can't go home without eating some real good succulent pork — Cantonese Roast Pork, Szechwan Pork, Sweet and Sour Pork, Steamed Spare ribs, Szechwan Pork Tenderloin, Szechwan Style Pork Chop, Chinese Barbecued Pork Chop, Sweet and pungent meatballs.
For the veggies too there are choices galore.. Stir-fry Vegetables in Black Bean Sauce, Deep Fried String Beans, Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce, Fried Cabbage with Yellow Bean, Bean Sprouts with Ginger Bamboo Shoot with Mushrooms.. the list is endless.
So what are you guys waiting for? Get cracking either in the kitchen or in your favourite restaurant. To end in the words of Confucius, “The path to your friend's heart and soul begins from your cooking.”
(The writer is the chef-owner of Busaba)