Saturday, August 7, 2010

Authentic Chinese Food - Mandarin Cuisine

If you're interested in authentic Chinese food rather than the monosodium glutomate filled junk that some western restaurants have the nerve to try and pass off, then why not give Mandarin cuisine a try?

Mandarin cuisine is wonderful to look at as well as being a delight to the taste buds because in Mandarin cooking, presentation is as important as flavour. This is a stylish cuisine as witness the typical dishes of Peking Duck and Mu Shu Pork.

Mandarin cuisine originated in the Chinese royal courts way back during the Qing Dynasty, which could be any time from 1644 to 1912. Delighting the Emperor and the other royals took a great deal of effort, leading to the best chefs creating the most elegant and tasty dishes. Failure to do so could result in a fate far worse than mere unemployment! The legacy of these chefs is reflected in modern Mandarin cookery.

Being the cultural centre of China, Mandarin cookery combines influences from all the other Chinese provinces in its own individual style. Colourful vegetables are married with mild spices and contrasting flavours and textures such as sweet and sour or crisp and smooth are combined to produce a marvellous mixture of colours and scents.

Even snack food is presented in a fancy way. For example spring onions (salad onions) may be coated with dark soy paste and arranged on a platter with sliced boiled egg yoke to look like a flower or elaborately carved carrots and beetroot might be used for colour and texture.

The appearance of breakfast too must delight all the senses and this might be a healthy stir fried tomato dish served with scrambled eggs.

The staple of Mandarin cuisine is wheat rather than rice so pancakes or wraps often feature, containing spiced beef or pork. The pancakes, although simply a mixture of water and flour will be flavoured, maybe with chilli or sesame oil.

One of the best known and simplest to make Mandarin dishes is hot and sour soup. That staple of the Chinese takeaway combines bamboo shoots and a variety of mushrooms for texture with chillies for heat and vinegar for sourness. Another favourite is the Mandarin equivalent of a fondue, which is a pan of simmering beef or chicken stock which you can use to cook shredded chicken or beef, prawns, leafy green vegetables, mushrooms and egg noodles, while you sit at the table.

So, for a truly royal and authentic Chinese food experience, treat yourself to a Mandarin feast, whether home cooked or at a restaurant.

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