Chinese Food - Cal State LA

Chinese Food
American Known (from Cuisine and Culture: a history of food and
people by Linda Civitello)
• The sweet sour pork, shop suey, chow mein,
greasy egg rolls, fried rice are “dumbed down”
and sweetened up for American taste buds sparing
uses chili sauce, hot mustard, vinegars, sesame oil,
and soy and oyster sauces.
• Oysters, sea cucumbers, squid, jellyfish, and
croaker are their specialty (no cornstarch, canned
pineapple, MSG)
• Dim Sum: small bites.
• Chop Suey: miscellaneous scraps is of American
origin (San Francisco). Someone went to
restaurant during closing time, chief throw
together leftovers.
Shark fin soup
Olympic official lunch banquet
Seafood soup
Birdnest soup
Frequency of major ingredients used in Chinese dishes based
on the book ”The Chinese Kitchen: Recipes, Techniques,
Ingredients, History, and Memories” from America’s leading
authority in Chinese cooking by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo
Meat: pork:35; Chicken: 24; duck:13; beef: 1; Sausage: 1; Lamb: 3; Bird Nest:1
Seafood: shrimp:15; Crab:7; Scallop:5; Lobster 4; Sea Bass: 4; Abalone: 2; Squid: 2;
Shark fin: 2; Clam:2; Fret:1; carp:1; Sea Cucumber: 1; Jelly: 1
Cereals and Pulses (edible seeds)
Rice: 23; noodles (wheat, rice, num bean) 15; Wheat (in bread form): 12; Soy bean
(mostly in different forms of bean curd): 16; red bean:2; Black bean:1; peanuts: 3
Vegetables: mustard green (most in picked form):9; bok chuy: 9; Mushroom: 7; Snow
Peas: 6; Lily Buds: 5; Bamboo shoots: 4; Chinese broccoli: 3; Cauliflower: 3;
Lotus roots: 3; Winter melon: 2; bean sprouts: 2; Eggplant: 2; Asparagus: 2; Bell
pepper: 2; Chives: 2; Lemon: 2; Leeks, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, Jicama,
seaweed, Lima beans, sesame, walnuts, pecans, carrots, celery, water chestnuts,
lotus leaves, lotus seeds, scallions, silk squash, ginkgo nuts: 1
Herbs: Ginger:5; Sichuan peppercorn: 4; Coriander, white pepper, garlic, shallot,
onion, scallion, water crest, tealeaves
Sauces: soy sauce, chili sauce, rice wine, rice vinegar, hot pepper oil etc.
Fruits: pears:3; Peaches: 3; Dates, raisins, apples, banana, plum, lemon
Methods: stir-frying, deep frying; oil-blanching (sealing process for meat or seafood),
water-blanching (for vegetables), stock-blanching, dry-roasting (nuts, no oil or
salt), steaming
Origins of Meat
Pork (700BC)
Two theories: 1) domesticated from the wild Sus Scrafa of the Near East
then reach China some millennia later; (2) domesticated independently in
Southeast Asia or east Asia from local wild pigs as early as or even
earlier than in the Near East.
Why it became so popular? (accounts for 70-80% human intake of animal
calories in China)
It produces twice the meat per acre of pasturage as that produced by cattle
and sheep
It is an effective household scavenger that survived table scraps, chaff,
and weeds. Human parasites being destroyed as they pass through the
pig intestine.
Lord is main oil for cooking in mountains regions lack of land to grow
vegetable oils
Origin of Meat
Descended from wild fowl of Southeast Asia and India
(example: red jungle fowl)
First domesticated for divination and cock fighting as birds
(very popular in Asia), later for their flesh and eggs.
In ancient China, the cock as symbolic of the sun a “yang”
element, light, warm, and strengthening (especially white
cock). It served in taking oath, chopping off a cock head as
an path “by the blood of life” was allowed in English courts
in Singapore and Hong Kong
Origin of Meat (continue)
Domesticated in China and Southeast Asia
from the green-headed mallard which is found
widely in the northern hemisphere
Reduce insects and weeds in rice paddies (rice
farmers rent ducks from duck raiser to go
through his fields for insects control)
Two major types: Beijing duck: white, and
heavy, suitable for roasting; Nanking duck:
various colors and patterns for salting.
Origin of Meat (continue)
Beef (flesh of both common cattle and water buffalo)
Water buffalo domesticated in Central China dating
from the fifth and fourth Millennia BC.
Common cattle, sheep and goats were all domesticated
before 6000BC in Near East or in Southeastern
In Chinese wheat region, common cattle (Ox, Yellow
Ox) were working animals. In rice region, water
buffalo and oxen were of equal importance as working
animals. In double-rice region, water buffalo is
paramount because of its greater strength and ability to
plow the heavy soils of paddies.
Origin of Meat (continue)
Mutton (flesh of both sheep and goats, most consumed in Wheat
Sheep is primary animal of China’s pastoral provinces of the
north and west
Environment factors (aridity, poor pasture, to which goats and
sheep are better suited than most domestic animals)
Cultural factor: Chinese Moslems are concentrated in the west
and northwest; The avoid pork (pig as an unclean animal and
pork as unacceptable food)
Historical factor: during Yuan dynasty, when Mongols ruled
China, Lamb and Mutton became popular in Beijing; Buddhism
involved in the decline of beef eating in China, due to the
usefulness of cattle as plow and draft animals. Most people
against the slaughtering of cattle and not included in formal
dinner (insult to guests)
Rice is the Stable food in China (and Asia)
High in calories produced per acre; superior
to all starchy roots and tubers used in east
Asia in the amount of plant protein it
provides excel in its ability to support dense
human population.
Processes simply, stored well, digested
readily, can be eaten for its own flavor or
serve as a medium for taking on the tastes of
spices and other foods; unusual possibilities
for culinary creation.
Popular food prepared with rice
Fried rice
Zhong Zi (wrapped in bamboo leaves)
Rice cakes
Popularity of Soybeans in China (Asia)
Yield more usable protein per acre than other
common cultivated plants; cheap source of
Soy protein is of good biological value: B
vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and iron; Rich
in oil makes it an excellent crop for China with
a shortage of pasture and arable land.
Its nitrogen-fixing abilities which have led it to
be included in various crop rotations to the great
long-term benefit of soil fertility in China.
Buddhist commitment to be vegarianism, which
led monks to create tasty soy bean analogues to
flesh foods
Popular food prepared with soy
History of Dairying in China
Two early outside influences that have long acted to encourage dairying
Southeast Asia: the spread of Buddhism from India encouraged the virtual
use of dairy products (view as clean, healthful food and some of them
Tibetans and Mongols: during A.D. 250 and 1000, when alien cattlebreeding societies ruled north China and during the Mongol period
(AS1272-2368) use of dairy products was popular. Koumiss (fermented
milks) was served as a banquet food and specialized restaurants made them
for sale
After A.D. 1500, milk and milk products dropped due to a significant
population increases and demand for food crop productions. But milk was
still used in imperial household for breakfast, and in the court as official
functions, and milk liquor for emperor
In central China, butter and milk were also consumed
Hong kong’s Indian community influenced milk and milk product
Christian influenced Guangzhou. They drank curdled milk (with sugar and
vinegar) in summer evenings at home or in restaurants called “cow-milk
Influenced by Tibetans, Yunnan milked cattle and made two kinds of
Taolist desires for longevity, Chinese believed human milk rejuvenates
and prolongs man’s lives (one man lived 240 years old). Women sell their
milk for use of motherless infants or aged person in various Chinese cities.
Why milk and dairy products are not popular in China?
1. Non-milking tradition: milking is unnatural and even immoral (Buddhists believe it is
robbing its calf; others think it is disgusting bodily secretion, unclean like urine,
Europeans have butter smell or odor)
2. Environmental and ecological hindrance: dairying was unsuited to Chinese intensive
agriculture and dense population (no land to grow crops let alone provide pasture for
dairy animals). Opposition: because Indian subcontinent has similar population density,
but dairying is well-established. They found ecological niches and integrate dairying
into their agriculture system.
3. Too expensive to produce in competition with alternative foods such as soybean and pork
products. Opposition: Chinese consume expensive stuff like Ginseng and bird’s nests.
Also, dairy products are costly in India, yet, they continue to use them.
4. To distinguish themselves from nomads living on their frontiers. There nomads were
regarded as inferior in culture and partly to avoid becoming dependent on them for a
supply of dairy products. Oppositions: cultural superiority has not stopped the Chinese
from taking over the sometimes even seeking our food plants and animals from various
people they regarded as barbarians.
5. Lactose malabsorber in large Chinese population. (Lactase deficit or reduce ability to
hydrolyze lactose, milk sugar into glucose and galactose that can be absorbed).
Opposition: people can develop a tolerance to lactose over time without ill effect;
lactose malabsorbers are able to consume considerable amount of mil and other dairy
products without developing symptoms.
6. Recency of exposure to dairy and milk use may have been a factor (isolation from Near
East where dairying originated)
7. Ethinic relationships may have encouraged or discouraged dairying and milk use. In
India, the Indo-European Aryans invaded subcontinent (about 1500BC) have vigorous in
spreading dairying in India: modern Hindus, through influence on or acculturation of
India’ tribal people, have fostered the spread of dairying and milk use.
Source of Calories in rural China and the
United states (Table 1. Adolph, 1946)
Two main agricultural regions of
China (Figure 20, Buck 1956)
China’s agricultural areas
(Fig 22, Buck 1956)
Crops providing five percent
or more of total calories in
each area of China, in order of
importance (Fig 21, Maynard
and Swen 1956)
Main regional cuisines of China
To be born in
Shuzhou (beautiful
place), to eat in
Guanzhou (food),
to dress in
Hangzhou (silk),
and to die in
Louchou (wood for
Regional Cuisines of China:
Northern Cuisine
Continental climate (D), cold winter and hot summers, low
precipitation. Climate analogues to Kansas and Nebraska.
Drought tolerance crops (wheat, millets, sorghum and maize).
It is most developed along trade routes to Near east and Europe that
brought food plants, spices, and flavorings. One example is
Islamic population that brought in by Moslems and Mongols
migration to cities.
Northern conquerors of Manchu created new dishes and during Ching
dynasty it reached its greatest heights. It was called Royal kitchens
(in Ming times) has influenced all over the China.
Porridge of various cereals; Maize bread; wheat for fried breads,
steamed breads and noodles, dumpling skins, pancakes (with
Peking duck).
Celery cabbage, pork, lamb and mutton, beef, fowl, fish in dried or
salted form mostly.
Soy bean paste, garlic, and sesame oil in addition to soy sauce, rice
wine, ginger roots. Vinegar, star anise, chives, leeks, scallions,
and onion, sesame seeds, wine stock, sweet-and-sour sauce.
They are less oily and spicy than those of Szechwan.
Characteristics: Lamb and mutton (arid region for sheep) is prominent
in Northern cuisines and is influenced by Mongols and Moslems.
Regional Cuisine: Eastern Cuisine
Milder winter, heavier precipitation permit cultivation of
a broader range of crops than in North. Lower
Yangtze has alluvial lowlands, river canals, swamps,
and lakes contributed to the development of aquatic
agriculture, fishing, and fish farming.
Wealth and sophistication, abundance and variety of
foodstuffs, and exposure to culinary ideas of other
regions and countries.
Rice is served in all meals, wheat for noodles and
dumplings (and stuffing poultry)
Lotus seeds, ginkgo nuts, melon seeds, chestnuts,
mushrooms, barley and bamboo shoot. Duck, fish,
pork, chicken (slow-cooking)
Characteristics: delicate. Seasoning is mild, with salt and
sugar or both used to accentuate flavors, which
creates dishes richer and saltier than those of their
regions, but less oily than western Chinese cooking,
Slow-cooking with soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, ginger
root, scallions and others.
East Cuisine (continue)
Fujian has rough
mountainous terrain and a
coastline of submergence
with rocky headlands, bays,
and offshore islands, limited
agriculture, emphasize on sea
for fishing and sea trade. It
tends broths, soup-like
dishes, stews, typically
contain noodles (wheat or
rice), noodles are more
varied in forms and more
basic diet than any other part
of China.
Over bridge rice noodles
Regional Cuisine-Western Cuisine
Szechwan is the center of western cuisine. (Yunnan,
Hunan, Hupei, Guizhou)
• Mountain or plateau, lower relief in eastern, hilly,
rimmed by high mountains. ‘red basin’s shortage of
leveled land, fertility is good
• Subtropical, humid, moderate in precipitation
(similar to Texas or Oklahoma), hot summers mild
winters (mountain protection on the north), 2-3
crops per year.
• Rice is the most important crops, also mid-latitude
crops (wheat, oats, soybeans) as well as subtropical
once (oranges, sugar cane).
Characteristics: due to mountain isolation, it developed
a distinctive cuisine of ‘fiery spices”
Mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and nuts; port, chicken,
duck, fresh water fish, dried sea fish
Szechwan pepper, ginger, cassia cinnamon, true pepper,
star anise, fresh coriander, golden needles (dried
lily buds), garlic and onions, sesame oil and paste,
soybean products, citrus fruits, rice wine and
vinegar, chili peppers arrived later
In addition to pungent spices and varied seasoning and
sauces, it has smoked dished and liberal use of oil
(especially sesame oil), mixing of flavors and
cooking processes in making a single dish.
Western Cuisine-continue
Why strong spices in this region?
To mask the spell of spoiling food due to hot and
humid climate
Induce sweating to help keep people cool and
comfortable. Preserved food: dried, salted, spiced,
pickled in vinegar or smoked are strong and distinctive
in taste, commonly used in flavoring food.
Scarcity of salt may had let its people to turn to strong
spices as a flavoring alternative (distant from sea port)
Adjacent to southeast Asia and India, where piquant
cuisine is the norm, had an impact on the cooking of
China’s southwest, especially in Yunnan where curries
are common
Food and spices can be effective in preventing and
curling illness
West Cuisine-continue
Hunan has some distinctive
dishes: headcheese;
hams, pork, fowl, nuts
of various kind used in
Yunnan, richest forest
reserves, games, fungi,
herbs, also dairying and
make yogurt, goat
cheese, fried milk curd
(stimulated by the
Muslim minority
Terrace field in Yunnan
Milk fan
Lunan milk cake
Milk curds drying
Regional Cuisine-Southern Cuisine
Subtropical and tropical with a year-round growing
season; ample rain, hot and humid summers, mild winters,
no frost
Lack of leveled land, developed an intensive system pf
aquatic agriculture and fishing
Large variety of food stuff, use flavoring to enhance the
tastes of the principal ingredients of a dish
1. Choice of material: live animals; 2. importance of fish both
fresh and salt water forms and others; 3. use herbs in
sweetening and flavoring soups (some have medicinal
value); ginger in fish, vinegar in crab, lighter soy sauce);
4. oyster sauce, shrimp paste and other seafood sauces or
pastes; 5. fruits; 6. snack food: noodles, wonton soup, dim
sum served in tea-house
Methods: stir-flying, quick cooking, under-done to save
original flavor.
Hiring a Cantonese chef is viewed in China as comparable in
prestige to hiring a French chef in Europe and the United
Crab meat with veg
Symbolic food (lucky)-New Year
Based on appearance:
Whole chicken-family togetherness; noodleslong life; clams and spring rolls-wealth
(bouillon and gold bars)
or the Chinese words of sound:
lettuce:-raising fortune; tangerines and orangesluck and wealth; pomelo-abundance; whole
fish-wish for abundance and good beginning
and ending (last dish); sticky rice cake-rich
sweet life, raising abundance; round shape
signify family reunion;
Symbolic food- wedding
Egg: fertility; noodle: longevity
(birthday food); whole fishprosperity; duck-fidelity; whole
chicken (or chick feet)-symbolism
of dragon and phoenix (good
marriage and family unity); seed
(melon, lotus)-many children;
fruits-tangerines, oranges, and
pomelo (luck and wealth);
vegetables-chinese garlic chives
(eternity) and cone-shaped winter
bamboo shoots (wealth)