In China, there are 40 or 50 different methods of heat control (he hou)
used in cooking. In practice, you need only be acquainted with a few of them.
Stir-frying is usually done in a wok. you can use a large thin-bottomed
pan or frying pan instead, but the essence of the technique is that the
food is cooked quickly, over high heat, in very little oil. The food to
be cooked is finely sliced or shredded into similar sized pieces, using
a very sharp knife or Chinese cleaver.
This is a slower method of cooking than stir-frying. Again, a work or
frying pan is used. More oil is used and the cooking is done over moderate
Deep-frying is used in the same ways as in the west, to produce crisp-
texured food. Sometimes the food is deep-fried, removed from the oil
and drained. the oil is then reheated and the food deep-fried again, so
that it is exetremely crispy.
Small pieces of meat or fish are seasoned, then wrapped in cellophane
paper to form little parcels, and deep-fried until tender. the food is
served in its paper wrapping and opened by the diner with chopsticks.
The paper is of course discarded. Cellophane paper is obtainable from
The Chinese use bamboo steamers which stack on top of each other, so that
four or five dishes can be steamed simultaneously. Dishes requiring most
cooking are placed on the bottom layer, near the boiling water, while
those requiring less are placed on the top "floor".
used less in China than in the west as the average Chinese kitchen does
not contain an oven: the best known dishes are restaurant ones, such as
Peking Duck. Cha Siu is a method of quick-roasting meat or poultry at a
high temperature for a short time.
This is a unique Chinese method, used primarily for cooking large cuts
of meat or poultry. Dark soy sauce is used, which imparts a rich flavour
and dark reddish-brown colour to the food.
Stews are usually composed of meat cooked on its own with herbs and spices,
rather than with vegetables. In China, stews are usually cooked in an
earthenware pot (called a sanspot) over a slow charcoal fire. The stew is
cooked for a very long time - up to four hours - producing meat almost
jelly-like in tenderness.