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The Battle of the Dragon and the Tiger
7 ingredients of Chinese cuisine
Chinese cuisine cannot be described in two words, no matter how carefully you choose them. Delicious, healthy, original, exquisite - all this is about her, and at the same time, Chinese cuisine is always something more. Probably, you shouldn't be surprised: the history of the Middle Kingdom's culinary history is more than three thousand years old. It is closely related to the culture, philosophy and life of the Chinese people.
№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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 "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.
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.
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.