Chinese seasonings are the key to recipe success. Learning how to season your Chinese recipes is essential if you want them to be successful. Chinese seasonings can liven up plain dishes. The seasonings used in Chinese recipes create the special flavors which differentiate the regional styles. Sesame oil, oyster sauce, chicken broth and soy sauce are the most commonly used seasonings in Chinese cuisine.
These Chinese seasonings can be added before, during or after cooking, depending on the recipe. If you are serving a dish with rice, the seasoning should be heavier than if you were serving it alone.
Savory dipping sauces are often served with Chinese recipes, and the most popular Chinese seasonings in sauce form are plum, mustard and chili. A little piece of meat, poultry, seafood or fish is picked up with chopsticks and dipping into the little blob of dipping sauce you have put on your plate. Egg rolls and spring rolls are lovely with a dipping sauce, but there are lots more recipes which also work well with them, such as steamed beef wontons.
Top Tips for Meat and Fish
Fresh meat is almost always marinated in Chinese cuisine, to infuse it with flavor. Chinese seasonings are really popular when flavoring meats. If the marinade you are using calls for cornstarch then add it last and it will act as a binder. Cut meat into uniform pieces to promote even cooking and always cut it across the grain for the most tender results.
The wok should be very hot before adding the meat. This means the outside will sear and the moistness will be locked in. Sometimes the recipe calls for stir-fried meat and vegetables, in which case it is usually best to cook the meat first and then set it to one side while you cook the vegetables. The meat will be returned to the pan at the end of the cooking time.
Special Chinese Seasonings: Tofu in Chinese Recipes
If your recipe calls for bean curd (tofu) instead, then choose firm or extra-firm tofu. The softer types will fall apart in the wok. Drain the tofu before you use it so it can soak up the other flavors in the dish. Sometimes the tofu is marinated before being added to the wok but, depending on the recipe, this is not always necessary.
Why not serve baked beef wontons as an appetizer and then a traditional Chinese tofu recipe or chicken recipe? Once everyone has sampled the baked beef wonton recipe, they will be excited to try the rest of your Chinese meal and enjoy the taste of the authentic Chinese seasonings.