One-third of Americans order Chinese food a least once a month. In fact, Chinese food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world.
We’re sure you know your local Chinese take-out menu like the back of your hand, but how much do you actually know about Chinese food?
To prevent you from sounding ignorant, and to deepen your love for Chinese dishes, we’ve put together 7 interesting facts about Chinese Food.
Soon, your knowledge about this culinary cuisine will blow people away like a well-made plate of Kung Pao Chicken! Keep reading to learn more.
1. The Healthy Option
Did you know Chinese food is among the healthiest in the world?
Chinese Cuisine places a strong emphasis on fruits and vegetables. In fact, it features about twice as much dietary fiber as traditional Western food.
Many dishes are steamed, preserving the nutrients without adding oils and fat. Sweet baked desserts are not common in China, with people preferring to eat sweet, seasonal fruit after a meal.
There is huge importance placed on sourcing fresh ingredients. Many Chinese cooks look down on tinned or frozen produce. You can find a fresh-food market on almost every city block, offering only the best seasonal produce.
2. Knives Out
Did you know China uses a whopping 45 billion chopsticks every year?
Chinese Philosopher Confucius believed that eating with knives was barbaric. He viewed them as symbols of violence and aggression. For this reason, chopsticks became the preferred eating utensils in China.
It is difficult to spear or cut food with chopsticks. Chinese food is often soft and pre-cut into bite-sized portions.
To combat the deforestation caused by the demand for chopsticks, China has introduced a “disposable chopsticks tax” to encourage the population to eat with plastic, porcelain, or metal chopsticks instead.
3. Chinese Food… or Not?
Did you know that some famous Chinese dishes are not actually Chinese?
As Chinese food became popular in America, its flavors were adapted to suit the tastes of the locals. Dishes like General Tso’s Chicken, Moo Shu Pork, and Chop Suey are not authentic Chinese food, they were created in the USA!
Traditional, authentic Chinese food uses locally sourced ingredients that are hard to find outside of China. Chinese food served in foreign countries often has to be adapted to suit the produce of that area and may differ from the authentic Chinese dishes.
If you are looking for quality Chinese street food, look no further than The XCJ. They’ve sourced only the best ingredients in a mission to show off Chinese culinary diversity in America.
4. Picture Perfect
Did you know some Chinese chefs train for years to learn how to carve and sculpt food?
Jiangsu cuisine in particular is famous for its impressive presentation. The Chinese believe that you take the first bite of food with your eyes, and that beautiful presentation stimulates your appetite. Chefs use decorative herbs and brightly colored ingredients to create eye-catching designs.
Squirrel-Shaped Mandarin Fish is a well-known example of Jiangsu food sculpting. Legend says this dish was originally made to impress the Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty.
The flesh of a Mandarin fish is delicately carved to resemble a blooming flower. It is then battered and deep-fried. The fish is then presented with its mouth open and tail bent upward, resembling a furry squirrel. You have to see it to believe it!
5. Something for Everyone
Did you know there are as many as 8 recognized cuisines in China?
As in any country, the different regions of China have produced their own unique cooking styles. Wheat is easy to grow in the cold, dry climate of northern China. As a result, the northern diet features a lot of noodles, dumplings, and steamed buns.
In the south, farmers take advantage of the hot, wet weather to cultivate paddy fields. Rice, and rice noodles, are the staple ingredient in many southern Chinese dishes.
There are 8 recognized cuisines in China. Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan, and Zhejiang cuisines. Cantonese and Sichuan are the most widely known styles of Chinese food, producing famous dishes like Sweet & Sour Pork and Kung Pao Chicken respectively.
6. Head of the Table
Did you know Chinese cultures have strict rules when it comes to seating arrangements?
The guest of honor, or the most respected person at the table, is traditionally seated facing to the east or towards the entrance to the room. The lowest-ranked person sits closest to the door. This person is responsible for communicating with the restaurant servers.
At restaurants in the Western World, diners tend to order individual dishes. In China, guests order meals for the table to share.
For large gatherings, the dishes are placed on a Lazy Susan that can be rotated for easy access to all the food. You’ll find that most restaurant tables in China are circular to cater to this style of meal.
7. Waste Not, Want Not
Did you know that Chinese cooks use every part of an animal, bones and all?
Food waste is frowned upon in Chinese cooking so, wherever possible, every last morsel of the vegetable or animal must be used. For this reason, it is very rare to find filleted meat in China.
Meat is usually served on the bone for presentation purposes, to increase flavor, and of course, to reduce waste. The meat found next to the bone has a richer, meatier taste. Chinese chefs often cut the cooked bones open so that the marrow inside can be enjoyed with the dish.
Offcuts like fish heads, bones, and vegetable scraps are used to create stocks and soups. Bone broth is a very popular national dish.
Chinese Food Is a Culinary Cuisine That Won’t Disappoint
When it comes to Chinese food, there is something for everyone. This culinary cuisine has a rich history, beautiful presentation, nutritional ingredients, and a never-ending list of flavors.
The facts above are only the tip of the iceberg. If you are looking for a flavor-filled adventure, dive into Chinese food and explore the many delicious dishes on offer.
If this article made your mouth water, dive into the rest of our blog for more sensational content!