The traditional Chinese food dishes are popular worldwide because they are prepared with a unique combination of different spices that’s a treat for people, especially those who love spicy food.
The Chinese culture has a deep-rooted affection for food, and so they prepare their food with a lot of love. What makes Chinese foods unique and famous worldwide is that all the Chinese recipes have a meaning attached to them, every ingredient whether it is meat, spice, or meat holds a meaning.
The best part of Chinese cuisine is that they have a range of options for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
As you must know that China is the world’s most populated country, and the Chinese menu carries an array of traditional Chinese food dishes that are significantly different from one region to another.
Eating Chinese food in China is a whole lot different experience because well who will prepare dishes on a Chinese menu better than them, right? But, you can satisfy your cravings for traditional Chinese food dishes from any part of the world.
However, it can be daunting for you to select the best Chinese dish from the Chinese dinner menu / lunch menu, so we are here to help you out.
Here are some best traditional Chinese food dishes you must try:
1. Fried Rice
Also known as Chǎofàn, this is one of the best Asian food. Rice is a staple in Chinese cuisine and it is a traditional Chinese food that is a complete meal to feed the entire family.
Chinese food culture is a bit different from other countries, so for fried rice, they use a combination of ingredients rich in protein like chicken, shrimp, or pork or vegetables like carrots, and mixed vegetables.
As already mentioned above, Chinese delicacies can be eaten by both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, so for fried rice, you can either choose to make it with meat or vegetables (or maybe both).
Fried rice tastes great and is a wholesome meal for lunch and dinner, also it is quite easy and quick to make. Popular chefs recommend making fried rice from leftover rice to give it a better taste.
You must be wondering what do Chinese people eat for lunch? Well, fried rice is one of the dishes that they eat both for lunch and dinner. One of the most popular foods in China, fried rice, is one of the best Chinese takeout dishes.
2. Chow Mein
When we hear the word ‘chow mein’, our mind immediately goes to China because it is a widely known fact that it is a great traditional Chinese food.
The Cantonese pronunciation of chow mein is Mandarin chǎomiàn which means stir-fried noodles. It is an authentic Chinese food and tastes like heaven.
In the list of ‘spicy Chinese dishes’ chow mein comes for sure and it consists of noodles, onion, celery, and meat (usually chicken, shrimp, pork, or beef).
A fun fact – it’s said that chow mein was invented by Shan Gu, a woman who lived in Jiangsu Province. She used to make food for workers who were building a dam and realized that food went bad quickly in the hot weather. Thus, she came up with the idea of chow mein, a dish that doesn’t go bad easily and can also be reheated.
Thanks to her, chow mein is now one of the most popular Chinese dishes that is loved by all, especially kids. Stir-frying is the most popular way to cook noodles – you simply need to boil noodles in water for a while, once they are cooked properly, strain them and allow them to cool, and then stir-fry them with your choice of vegetables or meat.
In Chinese food meals, dumplings are quite popular not just in the country but worldwide.
They are salty in flavor and are a popular traditional Chinese food. Dumplings were invented by Zhang Zhongjing about 1800 years ago.
Many years ago, dumplings became a Chinese culture food and people ate them together with the soup. In fact, during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 AD), a custom was started to eat dumplings on Chinese New Year.
Being an ancient Chinese food, they are now eaten every year on Wister Solstice and Chinese New Year.
On New Year’s Day, they are eaten to bid farewell to the old year and welcome heartily the new one.
Moreover, they are also considered auspicious in the country and are thought to bring great fortune to people’s lives. So, have dumplings to enjoy a great dish and fulfill your hunger cravings.
There are many types of different dumplings in China, but mostly dumplings are made with a mix of tapioca starch and wheat and filled with ingredients like vegetables, meat, tofu, or egg. Just like the Bao Bun, they are also versatile. In fact, they are one of the most loved Cantonese foods that one must relish. If you want to enjoy dumplings and other good Chinese food items, then you should go to a Chinese restaurant, because some of the authentic Chinese food dishes are not easy to make at home.
4. Chop suey
If you want to enjoy real Chinese food, then do try chop suey once. It is a traditional Chinese food that was invented during the gold rush period by the Chinese immigrants in San Francisco.
Chop suey is a stew that is filled with bean sprouts, onions, bamboo shoots, meat, water chestnuts, and celery served with rice or noodles.
It is a traditional Chinese food that can feed the entire family. One tip – to make this dish, it is best to use fresh ingredients and not leftovers. This is great food from China that you must try at least once.
Also known as báizhōu, it is a traditional Chinese food that is fulfilling and easy to digest. Most of these Chinese food names have originated years ago, similarly, Congee can be traced back to the Chinese Zhou dynasty.
Congee, or rice porridge, is one of the most popular Asian dishes that is eaten particularly for breakfast.
Rice porridge differs from region to region: in some places, they are thick, in some places they are made a bit watery, and in some regions, congee is made with grains other than rice.
Congee can be sweet or savory and is topped with tofu, boiled eggs, vegetables, meat, ginger, mung beans, and sugar. It is one of the most well-known Chinese foods that act as a comforting food when you are sick.
To make this traditional Chinese food ‘Congee’ you need a large pot, rice, stock, ginger and salt, and water. One simply needs to bring these ingredients to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Keep stirring occasionally to avoid clumping. Keep it on the stove until the rice porridge is thickened and creamy. Add salt to taste, and serve it hot.
As the rice porridge cools, it starts becoming thicker, so you can add some more stock or water to adjust the consistency. You can garnish it with sliced green onion and then serve.
All in all, it is one of the best authentic Chinese recipes that you can enjoy occasionally to soothe your stomach. Plus, it’s tasty too!
6. Scallion Pancakes
Traditionally known as Cong you bing, this is a tasty traditional Chinese food that is cherished by all.
This authentic food is also called “green onion pancake” and is a famous Chinese savory.
They are not as sweet as buttermilk pancakes but are just as mouth-watering. Cong you bing is a popular street food – these unleavened breads are folded with sliced minced scallions and oil.
Mostly, scallion pancakes are filled with scallions, but they can also have sesame seeds and fennel in them. In the list of ‘best Chinese foods’ Cong you bing is always there because it tastes delicious.
7. Peking Duck
The origin of the Peking Duck can be traced back to the 13th century when it was served during the Yuan Dynasty to the Chinese Emperor.
This is a traditional food in China that you can find in almost all authentic Chinese restaurants, not just because it is lip-smacking but also because it is the national dish of China.
It is a crispy roasted thinly sliced duck that is served with bean sauce, cucumber, onions, and pancakes. It is roasted in such a brilliant way that it has a crispy, crunchy exterior, and is considered a perfect Chinese food.
This classic cuisine in China takes a lot of effort to cook – Peking Duck is seasoned, then dried for an entire day, and finally cooked in a hung oven (open-air oven), so one can say that it is not an easy Chinese recipe and you cannot fully replicate it at home.
So to enjoy this popular China food item, you can go to a popular Chinese restaurant (you will definitely find this dish on the Chinese food menu) or if you are a great cook and want to try different Chinese food recipes, you can try Peking Duck at home too with the help of a cookbook or an Internet video. If you love eating gourmet Chinese food items, then you must try Peking Duck once.
8. Stinky Tofu
Don’t go by its name, Stinky tofu is actually very tasty. But why the name Stinky tofu then?
Well, it is because it is a Chinese form of fermented tofu that has a strong odor. It is said in China that the stronger the tofu smells, the better it tastes.
This local Chinese food is usually sold at roadside stands or at night markets to people. It is also served in lunch bars as a side dish. It is basically a famous Chinese snack that can be served cold, stewed, steamed, or deep-fried with soy sauce and chili on the side. A typical Chinese diet usually includes rice, vegetables, and meat, so this dish is also prepared with the same ingredients.
Tofu is fermented in a brine with meat, vegetables, and aromatics for months to get that odor and texture.
9. Kung Pao Chicken
Also known as Gong Bao Ji Ding, this is a famous Chinese food outside of China.
It is also one of the traditional Chinese dishes that you can find in most restaurants in China. This is a spicy Chinese food that is a stir-fried chicken dish, originating in the Sichuan province of Southwest China. In the ‘Chinese cooking’ method, they make Kung Pao Chicken in a bit different way than it is cooked in Western countries.
Traditionally, this delicious Chinese food is spicy, has a nice aroma, and contains Sichuan peppercorns that make your mouth a bit numb.
The major ingredients in this popular Chinese delicacy are diced chicken, cucumber, dried chilli, fried peanuts, and fried cashews.
However, the Americanized Chinese food version of the Kung Pao Chicken includes vegetables, cornstarch, sweet sauce, sour sauce, and garlic. This is a popular Chinese food that is a must-try. You can even re-create this Chinese traditional food at your home easily with the help of a cookbook. So, next time you wonder ‘what meat do the Chinese eat’ know that Kung Pao Chicken is a type of meat they relish a lot.
10. Nian Gao
When we are covering all types of Chinese food, how can we forget something sweet right?
Nian Gao is also known as “sweet rice” or “year cake” and is a classic Chinese cuisine that is eaten at Chinese New Year.
Nian Gao is usually sweet and is one of the best desserts but can be made in a different way also to make it a bit salty.
Sweet rice is a renown Asian food that is made in different ways in different Asian countries. In Chinese culture, it is considered lucky to eat Nian Gao on New Year, as it symbolizes progress, growth, and advancement.
Although it is eaten throughout the year, it is important for Chinese people to eat it on New Year’s Eve.
One of the best things about traditional Chinese food dishes is that most of them can be prepared and relished at home. Chinese food traditions are quite different, and they make their food with lots of love and effort. So, next time you are craving a Chinese dish, Mandarin cuisine, or oriental food, do not keep looking at the Chinese food pictures, simply go to a Chinese restaurant to have a hearty meal or prepare the dish yourself. But, you must try China’s best dishes at least once to get the taste of different cuisine.
Also Read: 5 Gluten-free snack recipes that can be prepared within 30 minutes