Chinese Food Ingredients
China is a country full of delicacies, with a wide range of food ingredients. From the basic rice and noodles to the unusual animals’ organs, there is more than you could imagine in Chinese cooking.
Rice and wheat play the main role in China’s grain, so there’s no doubt that rice and noodles become the dominant staple foods at the Chinese dinner table.
Guilin Rice Noodles
Rice is perceived as a staple food throughout China. It is mostly served steamed or stir-fried (after boiling) at every Chinese meal. The Chinese believe that a meal without a bowl of steamed rice is incomplete.
In the Guangxi Province area, for example, Guilin rice noodles are a very popular local food. Usually being served with side dishes such as marinated pork/beef and pickled yard long beans, rice noodles are soft, pliable, and milky white and made from long-grain rice flour. Do you want to try the famous Guilin Rice Noodles? Join our Guilin and Yangshuo Memories Tour!
Rice can also be cooked with a lot of water to produce congee (rice gruel), popular breakfast food, and late-night snack eaten with a number of savory side dishes. Cantonese congee is regarded as the best in the country, which even enjoys the same popularity as dim sum in China.
Customers Tasting Biang Biang Noodles
While the Southerners keep their heads in rice, the Northerners are obsessed with all kinds of wheat products, or specifically, noodles. Made from wheat flour, salt, and egg, Chinese noodles can be served in different ways in different areas:
- Beijing Zha Jiang Mian: “noodles with soybean paste”, a typical Beijing food made by stir-fried ground pork/beef, salty fermented soybean paste, shredded cucumber, and carrots.
- Lanzhou Beef Noodles: a popular halal food in China, served with clear soup and sliced beef.
- Sichuan Dan Dan Noodles: a famous Chengdu street food, served with a spicy sauce containing some spices and few vegetables.
- Xi’an Biang Biang Noodles: a specialty cuisine of Xi’an. It is the belt-shaped hand-made noodles that are mixed with spicy and oily sauce.
- Guangzhou Wonton Noodles: a Cantonese dish served with noodles, wonton, and soup.
Most Impoprtant Ingredients for Chinese Cooking
Meat: Regular vs Weird
Braised Rabbit Head
Chinese people love to eat and almost all animals’ meat can be eaten. In addition to the common meat like chicken, duck, fish, pork, beef, mutton, etc., every part of the animal can be cooked and served, like the organ of ox and sheep.
Adventurous food lovers can try some strange but delicious meat dishes during their travel in China: Chongqing “Mao Xue Wang” (made from pig’s blood, tripe, duck’s blood, ham, and chicken gizzard), Chengdu “Husband and Wife Lunge Pieces” (sliced beef and ox organs in chili sauce), Cantonese Snake Soup, Steamed Frog Legs on Lotus Leaf, … Would you dare to try any of them?
Vegetables are the second important part of Chinese cuisine, after rice. You can find a large variety of vegetables in a Chinese kitchen: lettuce, onions, mushrooms, carrots, white radishes, bean sprouts, yard-long beans, Chinese cabbage, Chinese eggplants, bamboo shoots, lotus root, all kinds of melons…
China is the hometown of soybean and has thousands of years of eating soybean and their products.
- Tofu: bean curd, made from soybean milk, water, and curdling agent, always served in soups, salads, and stir-fried dishes.
- Tofu skin: dried yellowish sheets made from soybean milk.
- Soybean milk: a traditional Chinese breakfast drink, made from soybeans, water, and salt/sugar.
- Bean sprouts: upper stems of any of various sprouted beans, usually mung beans, soybeans, and peas.
- Dou Chi: a type of fermented and salted black soybean, used to season a number of dishes in Chinese cooking, especially fish and beef. Sold in packets or tins.
Condiments and Seasonings
- Cooking oil: blended vegetable oil (but never olive oil) used by Chinese cooks for frying. Peanut oil is used mostly for its distinctive flavor.
- Sesame oil: more used for flavoring than for cooking; very intensely flavored so only a little required.
- Chili oil: used to enliven some Sichuan dishes.
Various Soy Sauces
- Soy sauce is made from naturally fermented soya beans. Dark soy sauce is rich and used to add both color and flavor to many sauces and marinades. Quite salty and often used instead of salt to season a dish. Light soy sauce is thinner, lighter, and has a fresher taste; also saltier. It is used in cooking, as a table condiment, and as a dipping sauce.
- Vinegar: black, red, or white Chinese vinegar is all made from rice.
- Oyster-flavored sauce: made from oyster extract, it is used in many fish dishes, soups, and sauces.
- Hoisin sauce: sweet reddish-brown made of soya beans, used to season meat and also served as a dipping sauce.
- Chili sauce: similar in texture to tomato sauce (ketchup) but tastes spicy.
- Plum sauce: sweet and sour sauce with a unique fruity flavor.
- Thick broad-bean sauce: ready-to-use sauce, made from salted black beans and rice wine, containing garlic and hot chilies. It is commonly used in Beijing and Shanghai cuisines.
- Rice wine: made from glutinous rice, also known as yellow wine –Huang Jiu or Chiew - because of its color.
Spicies in Chinese Cooking
- Green onions, ginger, and garlic are the most common ingredients used as spices for seasoning in Chinese cooking.
- Chilies/peppers: fresh or dried, hot or hotter, mostly used in spicy dishes, especially in Sichuan and Hunan cuisines.
- Coriander: Chinese parsley, a herb with a strong flavor, usually cooked with sauces, soups, dim sums, or as garnish.
- Star anise: star-shaped brownish-black spice with eight points, each containing a shiny seed, with a pronounced aniseed flavor and often cooked with beef.
- Dried tangerine peel: gnarled, brittle, rusty-orange-color peel that adds a light citrus flavor to sauces, soups, and braised dishes.
- Five-spice powder: a mixture of five or more ground spices, including star anise, fennel, cloves, cinnamon, and Sichuan pepper.
Wrappers (Store in the freezer)
Dumplings and their Wrappers
- Egg roll or Spring roll wrappers: paper-thin, made from wheat or rice flour and water; available from Chinese supermarkets. Wheat wrappers are usually sold frozen, while rice flour wrappers are dry.
- Wonton/dumpling wrappers: paper-thin squares of yellow-colored dough; available from most Chinese supermarkets.
Recommended Chinese Restaurants
Beijing Si Ji Min Fu Restaurant (Dengshikou)
Peking Roast Duck
- Chinese: 四季民福烤鸭店
- Location: 1/F, Donghua Restaurant, No.32 Dengshikou West St, Dongcheng District, Beijing
- Highlights: Peking roast duck, Beijing local cuisine, near Wangfujing Street
HOME’S Shanghainese Restaurant
- Chinese: 上海精品私房菜
- Location: 791 Julu Rd, Jing’an District, Shanghai
- Highlights: authentic Shanghainese food, Shanghai local homely dishes
Guangzhou Dian Dou De (Ju Fu Lou)
- Chinese: 點都德
- Location: 470 Huifu East Rd, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou
- Highlights: Cantonese dim sum, reasonable price
Hong Kong One Dim Sum Chinese Restaurant
- Chinese: 香港一點心中餐厅
- Location: Shop 1&2, G/F, No.15 Playing Field Rd, Prince Edward, Hong Kong
- Highlights: dim sum, local cuisine
You Might Like to Read
Experience Chinese Food with Us
Customers are Learning Chinese Cooking
No one who loves food will say “no” to the delicacies of China, especially after admiring natural and cultural beauties – how would a perfect journey be without delicious food? below are three sample tours we hand-pick for your inspiration:
- 8-Day China Experience Trip (Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai)
- 11-Day Glories of China (Beijing, Xi’an, Guilin, Yangshuo, Shanghai)
- 11-Day China Impression Journey (Beijing, Xi’an, Yangtze River, Chongqing, Shanghai)
Back to Chinese Food