I hate to break the news to anyone that enjoys Chinese food takeout as much as I do, but the chances of that takeout resembling authentic food from China is rather slim. Chinese takeout that we have come to know and love is generally Americanized or Westernized versions of authentic Chinese food.
The Cooking Methods Much of the Americanized or Westernized Chinese food takeout is fried. That is a very uncommon cooking method in China. Very few of their authentic dishes involve frying any of the meats or vegetables. Typically, the Chinese rely on steaming, braising, boiling and other healthier cooking options compared to deep frying. Some dishes at Chinese takeout restaurants can be made either fried or steamed, such as dumplings. Most menus will list both options and leave it up to the customers to order the cooking method they prefer.
Types of Chinese dishes
There are many dishes on the takeout menu that come with sauces on the side or are even smothered in sauce. Sauces are not common in authentic Chinese cuisine as they prefer spices and herbs to add flavor. These dishes include sweet and sour chicken, orange chicken, or General Tso’s. In fact, these dishes are in no way authentic to the dishes you would find in China.
Meals in China are also not primarily focused on meat as the star of the plate. Primarily, they plan their meals around vegetables, noodles, and rice. In fact, tofu can often be found in their dishes to boost the protein factor. This is not to say that the authentic Chinese dishes do not include meat at all. They simply include it substantially less than we do here in America.
Traditional Chinese dishes will likely include soy sauce, noodles, cabbage, pork, tofu, and much more! Dumplings, while made and served in American Chinese restaurants, they are an authentic dish in China, as well. You may also consider trying Spinach Noodles, Mutton Stew or Fried Mashi.
Spinach noodles are named accordingly! They are noodles that are actually made from spinach and then combined with spicy sauce, carrots, beef, potatoes, chili and egg.
Dumplings are an incredible Chinese meal even though they are often seen as an appetizer. They can be stuffed with pork, vegetables, or beef. As previously mentioned, dumplings can be made steamed or fried. Either cooking option is ridiculously tasty! The choice is yours whether you want a crunchy or a soft outer dumpling.
Fried Mashi is a bit of a sweeter dish. The Mashi is very similar to gnocchi in look, softness, and thickness. The dish often includes vegetables with a crunchy texture. The dish is composed of completely complimentary ingredients and is a must-try!
The Mutton Stew is a very traditional Chinese meal. The stew can be made with pork, beef or mutton. It also comes with bread, chili sauce, and pickled garlic as a side dish.
Of course, you cannot forget about fish! Fish is a common meat found in Chinese meals. They can be cooked or raw just as they can be in the United States. There is a fish dish called Kuai. This cuisine consists of raw fish (or other meats) that are cut into thin strips. This particular Chinese dish does involve sauces as a must in order for Kuai to be edible. These sauces are typically made in one of two ways; with scallions in the Spring or with mustard seed in the Fall.
Hong Kong Kitchen
Located on Pine Avenue in Niagara Falls, NY, the Hong Kong Kitchen is my absolute favorite Americanized Chinese restaurant in my area. Without a doubt, I have to say that their dumplings are mouthwatering and then put over the top with the sauce on the side. I generally order them steamed as I prefer the pillow-like texture and it is a little healthier than the fried option. The wonton soup is another one of my favorite menu options because their wontons are delicately homemade and out of this world with flavor!
Chinese food for me is something that I would happily eat every single day if the end result did land me living in a cardboard box and weigh 200+ pounds. Yes, the Chinese food here in the United States is westernized but it is unquestionably delicious!