Chinese Appetizer is a delectable short-eat presented at the beginning of a full-course meal to suitably stimulate one’s appetite for the main course that lies ahead. Chinese Appetizers include spring rolls, wontons, barbecued spareribs, Jiaozi dumplings, lettuce wraps, Pandan leaf wraps and many more. Some of these are briefly described:
- Chinese Spring Rolls
These spring rolls are among the most well-known Chinese appetizers and are usually deep-fried starters filled with a number of ingredients in various combinations. Shredded pork, chicken, shrimp, mushrooms, veggies, garlic chives all come together in this tasty treat.
The meat is subjected to a process of marination in soy sauce, sesame oil and sprinkled with cornstarch before stir-frying in hot oil with garlic chives. Similarly, shrimp is fried along with aromatic ginger. Veggies of choice including carrots, cabbage, bell peppers, beans, mushrooms are also stir-fried.
Sauce is prepared using oyster sauce, Chinese rice wine/dry sherry, dark soy sauce or low-sodium chicken broth and little sesame oil.
All the components of the dish prepared so far i.e. meat, shrimp, veggies and sauce are combined together to form the filling. Little amounts of this stuffing is placed in a spring roll wrapper, rolled over, edges tucked in and the top sealed before these are fried in hot oil in a wok until they turn golden brown and crisp. These are ready to be served hot with plum sauce/duck sauce for dipping.
In much the same way, mini spring rolls may be prepared using mini wrappers. Pure vegetarian spring rolls are also made.
About 100g serving of Chinese Spring Roll would supply- 20 calories with 108 from fat, 12 g total fat with 3 g saturated fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 21 g of carbohydrates with 1.5 g dietary fiber, 3 g of protein and 640 mg of sodium.
- Chicken Wontons
Chicken Wontons are an extremely liked, delicately flavored Chinese Appetizer consisting of small flour-based dumplings stuffed with a savoury filling made of minced chicken that is variously seasoned or spiced. It may be differently shaped and may be either steamed or fried.
For this, garlic, shallots and green onions are stir-fried briefly before adding minced chicken meat and cooking through. Green curry paste, soy sauce, sesame paste, sugar and lime juice are the major flavoring agents added.
This prepared filling is placed in between two wonton wrappers which are small sheets made from a flour-based dough. It is then formed into a definitive shape, before deep-frying until golden. It may be served hot with spicy red chilli sauce or sweet and sour dipping sauce.
About 100g serving of fried wontons would supply- 420 calories, 29 g total fat with 4g saturated fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 31 g of carbohydrates with only 1 g dietary fiber, 10 g of protein and 440 mg of sodium.
- Barbequed Spareribs
These involve the use of a highly flavorful marinade consisting of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sherry, garlic, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in which the spare ribs are left for quite some time. These are then grilled in the oven or barbeque with frequent turning and glazing with honey and water mixture.
A serving of ~ 150 g of Chinese barbequed spare ribs would supply - 504 calories, 31 g of fat, 121 mg cholesterol, 1015 mg sodium, 23 g carbohydrates, 0.8 g dietary fiber and 30.4 g protein
- Chinese Dumplings or Jiaozi
These are very popular snacks consumed particularly during the Chinese New Year. These are stuffed with either flavored meat paste or finely sliced vegetables or a combination of both, enclosed within thin, flattened dough, sealed by pinching the edges together to attain the shape of a horn.
Dough of flour, salt and water is used to make the wrapper. Filling is made using soy sauce, rice wine, white pepper finely sliced ginger, garlic, cabbage, scallions mixed well with the meat. Dough is rolled into small circles and a small portion of the filling is placed in the middle of the wrapper before sealing the edges using wet fingers. The dumplings are slowly dropped into a pan with boiling water and stirred slowly so that they do not stick. They are drained and removed once filling is cooked. They may be pan fried if desired.
A serving size of ~101 g of Jiaozi would provide- 118.2 calories of which 72 calories are from fat, total of 8 g fat of which saturated fat is 1.6 g, Cholesterol 15.3 mg; Sodium content of 682.7 mg; Total carbohydrate of 5.3 g with dietary fiber content of 0.6 g and sugar 1.2 g with other carbohydrate components making up the rest and total Protein value of 6.4 g.
- Lettuce Wraps or Pandan Leaf Wraps
These consist of variously prepared fillings, quite like the above, rolled into fresh crunchy lettuce leaves or flavor imparting Pandan leaves which may or may not be steamed. The lettuce wraps can be had as such with a dipping sauce while the Pandan leaf packets have to be opened up after steaming and the filling consumed.
Lettuce Wraps (using boneless, skinless shredded/minced chicken breasts) Each serving contains: Calories 254; 7 g Total Fat, (5 g Monounsaturated Fat, 2 g Polyunsaturated Fat, 1 g Saturated Fat), 70 mg Cholesterol; 16 g Carbohydrates, 5 g Fibre, 493 mg Sodium and 801 mg Potassium with 31 g Protein.
1. Tofu or soya granules would work as a wonderful meat substitute in the above recipes providing the same texture as meat, imbibing all the flavors and proving useful to persons with high cholesterol profile and obesity, and also to vegans and women experiencing menopausal symptoms, providing protection from osteoporosis and cancer.
2. Mung bean sprouts may be used as they are a good source of proteins, fiber, vitamin C, phytosterols that lowers LDL cholesterol and potassium that helps balance excess sodium.
3. Steamed variants of most of the above dishes can be made in order to produce low-fat, healthy yet tasty appetizers.