Chinese food is such a mystery that even the Chinese themselves don’t understand everything about it. Chinese food is one of those special dishes that are passed down from parents to their children over the generations. In many cases this is done deliberately so that there can be family tradition fulfilled. This is in fact the reason why modern Chinese dishes are so varied – they are basically ‘family recipes’ handed down from one generation to another. Chinese food is a big part of Chinese culture which has made it one of the most popular foods throughout the world, with restaurants and catering being especially popular in Western countries such as the USA and the UK. Indeed it is so popular that in these countries there is now a large Chinese community living in them, and there are also many Chinese restaurants and food catering services available.
One of the things that has helped make Chinese food popular all around the world is the use of ingredients from the hundreds of thousands of different Chinese herbs and spices that are used in Chinese cooking. There are literally hundreds of recipes that call for these ingredients and many of these recipes are so very popular because of the way the ingredients are used. For example, the ingredients that are most often used in Chinese food include ginger, Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, spring onions, scallions, ginger and fresh flat noodles (also called noodles cheung). These are then combined with rice (yu) or other grains such as millet and barley and ingredients such as beef or chicken (chinese chicken), vegetables such as carrots, corn or peas, fish (shanlong), dairy products such as cheese, soy sauce, fruits such as mangoes or bananas and sometimes even milk or tea. The list is endless and the combinations are almost endless.
Of course Chinese food is not solely based on stir-fried dishes. Mainly the main course of Chinese cooking is served in a table setting and is very different to American or European dining. Main courses are often served with grilled meat, broccoli, egg rolls and a selection of vegetables. It can also involve a variety of main dishes such as beef stir-fried in ginger and garlic, seafood stir-fried with vegetables, stir-fried beans or vegetables, stir-fried poultry or shrimp and so on. One of the most popular vegetables that is usually served with Chinese food is radish and is also a staple of the Indian cuisine as well.