China is an ancient country. Chinese culinary arts have a long history. They are famous all over the world. Chinese dishes appeal to the senses through colour, shape, aroma and taste. For local styles, Beijing cuisine combines the best features of different regional styles. Shangdong cuisine leads the Northern dishes. Shangdong cooks are good at cooking sea foods. Sichuan cooks specialize in chilies and hot peppers and Sichuan dish is famous for aromatic and spicy sauces. Guangdong cooking makes use of many ingredients. They look for fresh, tender, crisp textures. Huai Yang cuisine stresses the natural flavours. Dishes are strong but not greasy, and light but delicate. Tan cuisine is both sweet and salty. There is a saying that "southerners have a sweet tooth, and northerners crave salt", but Tan dishes manage to satisfy both.


Chow Mein

In China, chow mein is made with soft noodles. For crispy chow mein noodles, add more oil than the recipe calls for and cook the noodles longer to dry them out. You can substitute shrimp or pork for the chicken.

Serves 4 to 6

1 pound chicken meat (or pork or shrimp)
1 cup celery
1 pound bok choy or broccoli
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 pound dry won ton noodles
1 pound bean sprouts or snow pea pods
1 medium onion, sliced
1 green onion, diced along the diagonal
1 carrot, sliced (optional)
1 red pepper, sliced (optional)

Seasonings for Chicken
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 - 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
salt, pepper to taste
1 small piece (less than 1 teaspoon) of cornstarch 

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 cup water
Salt, accent (if desired) and pepper to taste

Pre-preparation: Wash the bean sprouts to give them more time to drain. 
Preparation: Boil noodles in salted boiling water until they are soft, but not sticky. (Break the noodles in half if desired so they are easier to manage). Blanch the noodles in cold water and drain.* 
Cut the chicken into thin strips. Add seasoning ingredients to chicken, adding cornstarch last. Marinate chicken in seasonings for 10 - 15 minutes. 
While chicken is marinating, prepare vegetables. Cut the bok choy diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices, slice mushrooms. If substituting broccoli for bok choy, peel the stalks until no more strings come out, and slice thinly on the diagonal. 
Heat the frying pan on high, add 2 tablespoons of oil and fry the noodles in small portions until they are golden. Use chopsticks to separate the noodles as they are frying. Remove the noodles. Add more oil and add the meat and onion to the pan. Stir-fry until the meat has no redness. Remove from wok or pan. 
Cook the rest of the vegetables separately, adding a bit of salt if desired to taste. (With the bean sprouts and bok choy add a bit of sugar as well if desired). If desired, add about 1/4 cup of water and cover pan while cooking bok choy, as it doesn't contain much moisture.
Give the gravy a quick restir. Add all the ingredients back into the wok, making a "well" in the middle if the wok for the gravy. Mix well. Add green onions at this point if desired, or save them for a garnish. Pour the mixture on top of the noodles. Garnish the chow mein with sesame seeds. Serve hot. 
*If using fresh noodles, still boil them in hot water as this removes some of the starch and makes stir-frying easier.

Szechuan Chicken

Serves 3 to 4

3 - 4 chicken breasts, skinned and boned
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sherry cooking wine
1 tablespoon barbeque sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 - 1 teaspoon crushed dried chilies
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
4 carrots, cut into thin strips
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1/2 green pepper, sliced

Partially freeze chicken breasts. Cut into strips. 
Combine sauce ingredients and set aside. 
Mix together egg whites and cornstarch. 
Coat chicken in cornstarch mixture. 
Heat wok. Fry chicken strips in oil until they turn white. 
Add 1 tablespoon oil to wok. Add vegetables and stir-fry for 30 seconds. 
Add sauce to vegetables. 
When boiling, add chicken. 
Stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with rice.

Hot and Sour Soup 

1 cake tofu (fresh tofu if possible)
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, shredded
2 Tbsp black fungus (Wood Ear)
or 3 - 4 Chinese dry mushrooms
small handful dry lily buds
2 ounces pork tenderloin, julienned

1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp tapioca starch (or cornstarch)
1/2 tsp sesame seed oil

6 cups water (or 6 cups water and 1 cup Campbell's chicken broth)*
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp red rice vinegar** (or white if red not available)
1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp finely chopped green onion
1 Tbsp finely chopped ginger

white pepper to taste (no more than 1 tablespoon)
1 egg

1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water

Shred pork. Mix marinade ingredients and marinade pork for 15 minutes.
To reconstitute the wood ears, soak in warm water for 20 minutes. Rinse, and cut into thin pieces.
If substituting mushrooms, cut off the stems and cut into thin strips.
Cut tofu into small squares. Cut bamboo shoots into strips, and then into fine slices. 

Boil water. When it is boiling add all the ingredients in I and II. Add the vegetables first. Stir. Add the tofu. When the broth is boiling, add the marinated pork.
Add the remaining ingredients in III, except for the green onion.
Beat the egg well. Set aside.
Test the broth and adjust the taste if desired. (If using chicken broth, you may want to add a bit more rice vinegar). 
Mix the cornstarch and water. Slowly pour the cornstarch mixture into the soup, stirring while it is being added. Let the broth come back to a boil. As soon as it is boiling, remove the broth from the stove. 
Slowly drop in the beaten egg, stirring in one direction at the same time. Add the green onion and white pepper to taste. Drizzle with chili oil if desired. 

(This dish can be prepared ahead of time and frozen. When making the soup, leave out the tofu. When ready to serve, thaw, add the tofu and bring to boiling. When the soup is boiling, add the egg.)

*Adjust the ratio of water to chicken stock as desired.
** If using chicken broth increase the amount of red rice vinegar

Lemon Chicken 

Serves 4 - 6

2 tablespoons Dry sherry 
4 green (Spring) onions, chopped
1 Piece of root ginger, shredded
500g (1 pound) boned chicken, cut into 1 inch strips
2 Celery sticks, sliced
125g (4oz) button mushrooms, quartered
1 Green pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced
2 tablespoons Light soy sauce
Shredded rind of 2 lemons
A few lemon slices to garnish

2 tablespoons oil for stir-frying

Put the sherry, spring onions and ginger in a bowl.
Add the chicken, toss well to coat, then leave to marinate in the
bowl for 15 minutes.
Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan.
Add the celery, mushrooms, and the green pepper.
Stir-fry for one minute. 
Add the chicken and marinade, then cook for 3 minutes.
Stir in the Soy Sauce and lemon rind then cook for a further minute.
Pile into a warmed serving dish and garnish with lemon slices.

Smoked Duck

2 ducks with feathers
100 scallion
100g ginger
25g anise

Clean the ducks, rub over with salt and pickle in a jar for four hours, turning over once.
Dip the ducks into boiling water until the skins shrivel, hang in a draft and rub off the feathers.
Put four thin iron sticks in the smoking pan, hang the ducks on the sticks with their backs downward.
Smoke the ducks for five minutes, turn over and smoke for a further 5 minutes.
Put water, spices, soya sauce, scallion, and ginger into a large saucepan and bring to the boil, put the ducks in and simmer for 45 minutes, remove, then chop into pieces.

Lotus Chicken Cake

100g chicken breast
fresh peas
minced ham
rape leaves

Mince and mash the chicken breast.
Stir together egg white, flour and dry cornstarch.
Slice the rape leaves.
Squeeze the spinach juice into a bowl.
Add seasonings, lard, spinach juice and egg white mixture to the mashed chicken breast, stir to a paste.
Grease 14 small wine cups, fill with chicken paste, insert peas, minced ham and shredded rape, steam for 5 minutes, transfer to a soup plate, pour in thickened chicken soup.

Shandown Prawn

12 prawns (750g)
10g scallion
10g ginger
50g sugar
100g clear soup
cooking wine
sesame oil
peanut oil

Remove tentacles, legs and intestines, then wash the prawns.
Fry short lengths of scallion and slices of ginger in 60% heated oil till the fragrance comes out, remove the scallion and ginger, add sugar, clear soup, cooking wine and salt.
Bring to the boil, add the prawns and bring to the boil on a high flame, lower the heat, simmer till soup is thick, add a little sesame oil.


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