China is a vast country, and people from different regions surprisingly have different delicacies as their staple. What makes it confusing is the fact that they have similar names, as you are going to see in this Chinese food dictionary, and you may end up ordering the wrong food in a restaurant.
In Northern China, for Instance, wheat is a major crop grown. Expectedly wheat products such as noodles, bread, and dumplings are a common place. On the other hand, the Southern parts of China is known for extensive growing of rice. Therefore, you should expect food such as steamed rice, rice cakes and pancakes.
To avoid confusions, this article is specifically written for individuals visiting China. I hereby present the Chinese food dictionary-The ultimate guide to Chinese food.
Bao bun: These are steamed buns, usually stuffed with different minced fillings such as pork, lotus, chicken, beef, or shrimp. The buns are white in color.
Bean sprouts: These are young edible stems obtained from growing seeds
Bird’s nest soup: It is a soup that is specially prepared; thickening and flavors are done using the nests of birds which dwell in cliffs.
Bok Choy: A common vegetable in China, with green leaves and white stems.
Chop suey: It is more of a Chinese American dish. That means that it is prepared by Chinese ingredients, but the recipe has been infused by cuisines of American origin. The main ingredients used in preparation of the meal include meat base (beef, pork or shrimp) and a vegetable source, be it mushrooms, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, water chest nuts. These ingredients are stir-fried together and served with steamed white rice.
Chow mein: It is also a Chinese -American dish. Prepared in a similar manner to chop suey, though it is usually served over crispy egg noodles.
Congee: A Chinese porridge made using ground rice. Several meats and vegetables can be added. It is served during breakfast.
Dim sum: The name translates to “heart’s delight” in English. It is a traditional staple which consists of dumplings, balls, buns, pastries and finger food. Often, it is served with tea either in the afternoons or late mornings.
Dumpling: A small dough rolled into a ball, and has several other ingredients and stuffing. It is prepared through either boiling or frying.
Egg roll: Phyllolike wrapper with stuffing of pork or vegetables, more so cabbages, which are rolled up and steamed or deep fried.
Fried rice: Ordinary rice cooked, and fried in a wok with oil. At times it is combined with various vegetables or meats.
Hainanase chicken rice: Sliced boiled chicken, served with white rice which has been cooked using chicken broth instead of water.
Hoisin: A sauce used as a base for other sauces. It has a dark brown shade with a sweet taste, and is prepared from fermented soy sauce.
Hot pot: A Chinese dish in which a soup, or two, are prepared in a special compartmentalized pot, and cooked at the table. People enjoy the meal as it simmers.
Kung Pao Chicken: Refers to Chinese chicken prepared by stir-frying. Other core ingredients used in preparation of the dish include chicken, vegetables, peanuts and chili peppers.
Lo mein: Steamed noodles, which is then stir-fried with scallions and bean sprouts and either pork, beef or shrimp. Also, it can be combined with vegetables when preparing vegetarian diet.
Mapo tofu: A dish of tofu specially prepared with minced meat and a spicy paste obtained from fermented beans.
Mooncake: A round cake commonly served during full-moon and mid-autumn festivals.
Mu shu: Mu shu is an intricate combination of shredded pork which has been stir fried, and combined with eggs, before rolling them up in thin pancakes.
Oyster sauce: It is a thick dark sauce, made from oysters. Other minor ingredients used in making the sauce include brine and soy.
Pecking duck: The dish in not common as such in China. It is made by a specially prepared duck, which is coated with honey before cooking. The bite sized duck pieces are then fried on a skillet until the skin cover turns to golden brown and becomes crisp. Pecking duck is served with steamed buns or think pancakes.
Pot sticker: A pot sticker is a dumpling stuffed with seafood, meat or vegetable. It is fried before being steamed for proper cooking and to give it an assortment of flavors.
Rice vermicelli: Also known as rice noodles. It is made from rice flour.
Shark’s fin soup: Soup, often hot, which is made with flavoring from cartilages of a shark’s fins. It is a rich source of protein.
Shu mai: Is a dumpling which is made with fillings from an assortment of vegetables and minced pork.
Soy sauce: A dark sauce prepared from fermented soy beans, and is used as a flavoring ingredient in most recipes.
Spring roll: Similar to an eggroll, though it is much lighter. The roll is made fillings consisting of black mushroom or shrimps.
Sweet and sour sauce: A home-made sauce made using both sweet and sour ingredients. Common ingredients used in the preparation of the sauce include honey or sugar, together with soy sauce or vinegar.
Szechuan: Is a term used to describe the Chinese cuisine, prepared particularly in Szechuan province. Usually, the food is hot and spicy.
Szechuan peppercorn: This is a peppercorn made from the prickly ash tree. It is used in preparation of several foods in Szechuan to make them extra spicy.
Thousand-year-old-eggs: Also known as 100-day eggs. These are eggs, be it chicken, geese or quail preserved for 100 days in lime, salt and ashes.
White noodles: Noodles made from wheat flour, and is common in the Northern regions of China.
Wonton: It is a glutinous dough made to paper-thin thickness, and is commonly used as a wrapper. Usually, it is stuffed with seafoods, minced beef or pork, or vegetables.
Wonton soup: A broth used to prepare and serve wontons.
Yangzhou fried rice: A rice dish made by pre-cooking rice before frying with pieces of shrimp, pork, vegetables and eggs.
The Chinese food dictionary extract provides just but a few food descriptions, which can serve as an excellent guide especially for first time visitors in Chinese restaurant.
The next time you will be ordering food, you can make reference to this Chinese food dictionary to give you a rough idea of what you should expect.