WHAT IS CHINESE FOOD?
Its cuisine, which incorporates some of the first-known herbs and spices, is steeped in the art of balance: the cold and the hot, the sweet and the sour, the subtle and the pungent. Ginger is a great example of an ingredient that balances subtle sweetness with a warming spicy flavor. The unique flavor of white pepper is essential to the cuisine, as is the flavor and crunch of sesame seeds.
HOW TO MAKE CHINESE FOOD AT HOME
With the right mix of herbs and spices, it is easy to recreate in your own kitchen the perfectly balanced dishes from your favorite take-out restaurants. Use this resource as a starting place for how to cook Chinese food. You can slowly add to your pantry, learn about new cooking tools, and build your Chinese food recipes repertoire.
IS CHINESE FOOD UNHEALTHY?
All Asian foods will provide a wide variety of ingredients, which is a healthy way to approach every meal. When in China, you can expect to see many balanced options. Eating out at a Westernized Chinese restaurant can include a lot of different sauces that contain unknown quantities of salt or sugar, and you may be selecting a lot of fried foods. If you think you are eating high quantities of fried, salty or sugary foods, then it may be a good idea to learn how to cook your favorite Chinese takeout at home.
CHINESE FLAVOR STORIES
Find catered information about Chinese food and cooking, including ideas on how to celebrate with traditional Lunar New Year food.
- Egg Roll in a Bowl is all Flavor and No Fuss
- The 8 Essential Tools for Chinese Cooking
- 4 Genius Stir Fry Tricks You (Probably) Don't Know Yet
- Lunar New Year Recipes and Traditions
- The Complete Guide to Mastering Chinese Dumplings at Home
- How to Make Congee Without a Recipe
WHAT SPICES ARE USED IN CHINESE COOKING?
Asian aromatic spice is critical for Chinese cuisine and intertwines the concepts of balancing the flavor with the body and mind.
Learn more below about herbs and spices for Chinese food and see what you want to start stocking regularly in your pantry.
White pepper is used for its milder bite and earthy aroma. In Chinese kitchens, it’s great for adding some real heat to stir-fries and noodles. Add black pepper, red chiles, sanshō pepper and Szechuan peppercorns for more of that kick. Try McCormick Ground White Pepper.
Use these tiny, crunchy seeds on Chinese noodles and stir-fries for added texture. Toasting intensifies the rich, nutty flavor of sesame seeds, and adds color and notes of caramel as well. Try McCormick Sesame Seeds.
Red pepper is featured in many cuisines, and Chinese features it prominently as a source of heat and spice in vegetable and meat stir-fries alike. Explore more uses and our quality sourcing for Spicy Red Peppers and try McCormick Crushed Red Pepper for your next Chinese recipe. Learn more about red peppers, one of the most popular spices.
Garlic is a member of the lily family, native to Central Asia and is the friendly cousin to leeks, chives, onions and shallots. Try McCormick Garlic Powder. Trying to swap fresh with powder or vice versa? Find out how much garlic powder equals one clove.
In China’s Han dynasty, the clove was used to sweeten the breath. A few cloves in the mouth were mandatory for anyone approaching the emperor. Try McCormick Whole Cloves. Learn more uses for both Ground and Whole Cloves.
Commonly found in some Cantonese dishes, curry was once considered an exotic ingredient to traditional Chinese cooks. Try McCormick Curry Powder and learn about additional spices that pair well with Curry Spice.
Cinnamon is one of the characteristic ingredients found in Chinese Five Spice and brings a subtle sweet and spicy balance to the dishes. Try McCormick Ground Cinnamon. Learn more about Cinnamon spice pairings that finds its way into everything from coffee to lamb.
IF YOU LIKE SPICY CHINESE FOOD, TRY THESE CUSINES NEXT:
Switch up some of the herbs and spices for a different take on your favorite dish. If you like Korean for its spicy food, find cuisine-based spices lists for these top-spicy cuisines:
- Learn about the chili pepper Gochugaru in Korean Cuisine.
- Blend hot and cool flavors of Thai cuisine.
- Discover the diverse, region-based spices of Indian cuisine.
- Mexican cuisine will fill your recipes with more aromatic flavors.
- Peruvian will give you a reason to get that smoked paprika.
- Discover more Japanese Meals in our Beginner's Guide to Japanese Cuisine.
Look through more of our cuisine-focused flavor guides to find more recommended spices, herbs, cooking techniques and recipes inspired by each cuisine.
Want to create a meal plan for your Chinese recipes? Need help planning your weekly meals and want to try new recipes? Save your favorite food, dessert, drink recipes and organize your ingredients with McCormick Meal Planner.