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The Battle of the Dragon and the Tiger

7 ingredients of Chinese cuisine

The Battle of the Dragon and the Tiger

Chinese cuisine is not described in two words, no matter how carefully you select them. Tasty, healthy, original, exquisite - all this is about her, and at the same time, Chinese cuisine is always something more. Probably, one should not be surprised at this: the history of cooking in the Middle State goes back over three thousand years. It is closely connected with the culture, philosophy and way of life of the Chinese people.

Let the Chinese cuisine appear in our story as one big dish, and each its distinctive feature is its component. However, in our case, the amount of ingredients is rather modest: after all, in traditional Chinese dishes, there may not be a dozen of them!

№1. The size

Yes, the size of Chinese dishes is of great importance.

First, because of the traditions. Already in prehistoric times, China was a densely populated country, where residents faced problems of scarcity, in particular - resources. To spend on cooking a lot of coal or firewood, the Chinese could not. Therefore, the food was not only finely cut, but also prepared in a special dish - wok. This is a large diameter frying pan with a hemispherical shape. To fry food in this miracle pan, almost no fat is required, and the state of readiness comes in a few minutes.

Secondly, because of the sticks. Since traditionally the inhabitants of the Heavenly Empire do not use forks or knives during the meal, the pieces of food should be "one bite", as the Chinese say. It is understood that during the meal, you do not have to cut anything and it will be convenient to take food with chopsticks. To eat rice with chopsticks, it is cooked with sticky, rather than crumbly.

№2. Meaning

The concept of "snack" to the Chinese is unfamiliar. Food is a ritual full of meaning and solemnity. "The Chinese do not attach much importance to clothing, but prefer to eat deliciously" - the popular proverb only confirms this idea. Food intake is regarded as a moment of familiarizing with the culture of the nation, the main motto of which was "patience and slowness". In addition, one should take into account the fact that many people did not eat enough, so food was perceived as a gift from God.

A certain meaning is invested in the names of dishes. Many of them, however, appeared at the same time as the dishes, that is hundreds of years ago, and during this time the history of their occurrence was forgotten. It is curious, for example, the origin of the name of the popular dish "heigozhou" - "meat returned to the pot". One woman was waiting for her husband with the construction of the Great Wall of China. The family was poor, but she managed to cook a dish from a very expensive pork in those days. However, my husband was not there. The agitated woman decided to put the meat back in the cauldron so that it did not go bad. To her surprise, he managed not only to save, but also to do better!

A respectful attitude towards food is reflected in the language. For example, about a person who lost his job, they say "he broke his cup with rice." "Eating ice cream with eyes" means examining a representative of the opposite sex, "eating vinegar" - experiencing jealousy or jealousy, and "eating tofu of another" - someone fooled.

№3. Cheating

It's about cheating the taste buds. "If the fish has the taste of fish, then why then was it processed at all?" - jokes the Chinese, fans of culinary puzzles. You enjoy a soup that you think is brewed from carp, and then the chef unexpectedly reports that there is no carp there, and there are three kinds of meat: snakes, cats and chicken! Try to determine here what is what. It turns out that the further you go in your guesses, the more delighted the author of the dish will get!

The essence of Chinese culinary mysteries is that the products acquire an unusual taste for them. For example, beef - fruit, pork - fish, cucumbers - sweet. A dish "Melon stuffed with chicken" is prepared in such a way that the chicken gets the taste of melon, and melon - the chicken. Combine the incompatible is possible due to the fact that one dish includes a large number of components that are prepared separately, in a certain temperature regime.

№4. Exotics

About Southern China they say: "Everything that flies here except planes, everything that goes, except tractors, everything that floats, except for boats" is eaten here. " The snakes and cats mentioned are not all exotic. Of course, the first cat found on the street does not go to the pot: only a special breed is used, which is grown in appropriate conditions. And the snakes are cooked on special recipes that have been checked by the ages (because the most delicious are the most poisonous ones): their meat becomes absolutely harmless to humans, very tender in taste and tonic.

Typical Chinese culinary exotics are dogs, field mice, crocodiles, frogs, monkeys, deer, herons. Such "components" are familiar to the Cantonese (Guangdong) culinary school. There also actively consume wood fungi, shark fins and bamboo.

If the ingredients are not so exotic, then surely this will be the name. “Centenary Eggs”, “Swallow's Nests”, “Ants Climbing a Tree”, “Battle of a Dragon and a Tiger”, “Double Happiness of Ducks-Love-Lovers”, “Buddha opens his mouth” are just some of them.

About two of these dishes should be told in more detail.

Centuries-old eggs are called for good reason, although it really surprises, rather, the way they are prepared, rather than duration. Culinary action is similar to a medieval magical ritual: fresh chicken, duck or quail eggs are blended with a mixture of tea, lime, salt, ash and clay, then rolled into rice husks and straw and buried in the ground. There they lie 3-4 months! As a result, the protein becomes dark brown and translucent, and the yolk - dark (from gray to black) and creamy. The yolk produces a strong ammonia scent, but this does not prevent the Chinese from enjoying this popular snack.



Truly legendary because of its sophistication, the dish "The Battle of the Dragon and the Tiger". It is prepared from three types of venomous snakes, wild cats and more than twenty kinds of spices. The process of preparation consists of several dozen operations. At the very end, the dish is decorated with leaves of lemon tree and petals of chrysanthemum.

№5. Benefit

They say that Chinese cuisine is the healthiest in the world. For the inhabitants of the Middle Kingdom, food is a source not only of nutrition, but also of health. In ancient China, the profession of cook, doctor and pharmacist often combined. Chinese cuisine for a long time felt the influence of philosophy on its own: such concepts as "yin" and "yang" came to the culinary. All products and dishes were divided into those that give energy ("yin", for example, water), and those that soothe ("yang" - meat). It was believed that for health and longevity it is necessary to build your diet so that the yin and yang are in harmony. The Chinese still believe that if a person suffers from any ailments, one of the effective ways to cure is a healthy diet.

Now, for the sake of preserving useful elements, as well as the energy of life of chi, the products are not subjected to prolonged heat treatment. Small pieces of meat are prepared for several minutes on high heat in a small amount of hot oil. Vegetables are always prepared "al dente", that is, not completely fried, crunchy, which allows you to keep their freshness and juiciness. Another way to "improve" food in Chinese is to add a lot of spicy herbs. In the recipe for a huge number of dishes, a certain set of these herbs (most of them medicinal) is prescribed and their ratio.

Pursuing health goals, some cooks go quite far. It is considered, for example, that vodka, in which the snake was alcoholized, influences well the male potency. There is a whole heap of miraculous cures. Directly to snake meat is attributed the ability to relieve rheumatic pains, and snake bile supposedly causes blood to flee faster. Woody black fungus is included in many recipes, as it is believed that it can significantly improve immunity.

№6. Sequence

The first, second, third and compote is not the Chinese version. The first, that is, soup, is not eaten first, but last. Or served as an intermediate dish. The fact is that soups in China, as a rule, are very liquid, they are not guided by the principle "to make a spoon" when preparing them. There is a special rule of proportion, which says: the main component of the dish should take two thirds, and the attendant - one third. That is, a meat dish, for example, should consist of meat on 2 / 3 and on 1 / 3 - from vegetable components, for a vegetable dish - the opposite ratio. When preparing soup liquid, respectively, should be 70% of its volume. Therefore, in fact the soup is not eaten, but is drunk.

Another drink is tea. It is consumed in large quantities during the feast, without adding any sugar or milk. The Chinese prefer green, white and yellow varieties of tea. That tea, which we consider black, is called red, and it is grown mainly for export.

Another "layer" between dishes is fruit. The Chinese do not consider them dessert, so they are included in the main menu. The concept of "dessert" in Chinese cooking in general is quite limited. There are no cakes, pies and cakes. Instead of them - cookies with predictions and all kinds of fruit in sweet batter: bananas, strawberries, watermelon. Desserts are served only on special occasions. By the way, in addition to fruit in batter cook meat, fish, vegetables - this way of cooking allows you to preserve their juiciness.

No.7. Separation

It is time to return to the busy and impetuous routine. Pomposity and exoticism are all the same distinctive features of the so-called ceremonial cuisine, which in ancient times was called the palace palace. There's nothing duck, it's "imperial." The division of the kitchen into a parade and a home has been preserved to the present day. In everyday life, the diet of the Chinese family is quite simple: rice, legumes, flour products, vegetables. In many places, rice porridge replaces bread. Meat is seldom eaten - it can only be a "soul" or "accompaniment" of a dish, but not a base. This is due to the economic difficulties of most of China's population.

The protein is produced predominantly from tofu, which is made from soybean beans. In fresh form tofu is similar in texture to the pressed cottage cheese. A visit to the restaurant for many Chinese is a whole event. They go there in elegant clothes and, as a rule, with the whole family.

Do not cut noodles - you will grow old!

Traditionally, there must be food on the Chinese table, which includes all eight fundamental flavors: sour, sweet, salty, spicy, aromatic, bitter, fresh and "golden" (tart, sourish-spicy - like citrus fruit of kumquat).

Of the meat is most often used pork. Even the Chinese character "house" consists of the parts "pig" and "roof." Almost every Chinese family in the last century kept pigs. They were easy to grow, fattening what was left after dinner, and it’s not a shame to send them on a skewer, since they were not used for work.

In Chinese cooking, noodles are widely used. It is made from rice, beans, flour and served in boiled, fried or dried form. Noodles in China symbolize longevity, so cutting it is a bad omen.

The Chinese table is inconceivable without soy sauce. It is made from soybeans. The beans are boiled, mixed with toasted wheat and introduced into this mixture a special kind of mold. When the mold develops sufficiently, the mixture is placed in brine, then squeezed, filtered and pasteurized.