Chinese chicken is a very popular Chinese poultry dish prepared with the Chinese styles of cooking. The chicken prepared in Chinese style could be either dry or with gravy. The pungent and sharp flavors of Chinese spices and sauces makes this dish quite favorable across the globe. Chinese chicken may include any portion of chicken as Chinese people prefer all kinds of chicken pieces, even the feet.
There are several delicious Chinese chicken dishes including traditional as well as contemporary and innovative recipes that suit the palate of people of all ethnicities. The Chicken recipes prepared in China are served with various accompaniments that complement the taste and serving of the dish.
Chinese people have a special knack of cooking chicken. In Chinese cooking all portions of chicken are treated in different ways unlike western cuisine where the entire chicken is roasted or grilled. There are several styles of cooking in Chinese cuisine, for example Shanghai cooking and Schezuan cooking. Each and every style has their own chicken recipes that call for varied spices and methods of cooking. The special seasonings and the correct methods of Chinese cooking allow the Chinese chicken to absorb the flavors accurately and this adds the flavor to the bland yet healthy chicken.
Some of the most popular Chinese chicken recipes are Kung pao chicken, chilly chicken, chicken Manchurian and crispy honey chicken.
History and Origin of Chinese Chicken Recipes
It is said that since the ancient times, Chinese chicken is holding a special place in the Chinese cuisine owing to the special liking of Chinese people for the bird. Usually, whole chicken is sold in the Chinese markets without even cutting the head and the feet. This allows them to have a healthy bird. They use to identify the healthy chicken with moist toes and bright eyes. Cochin and Lagshen chicken breeds are the commonly used birds in Chinese chicken.
Ingredients Prescribed by Chinese Chicken Recipes
The beauty of the Chinese chicken is the seasonings and the other ingredients used in the cooking. Chinese spices, sauces and add on are popular across the world and when blends with the flavor of the chicken, provides some luscious chicken recipes. As stated earlier that Chinese styles of cooking are varied and distinctive, hence, there are several ingredients that make excellent Chinese chicken recipes. An assortment of sauces such as Soya sauce, red chili sauce, garlic sauce, green chili sauce, Schezuan sauce and oyster sauce are used for adding tang to the Chinese chicken dish.
In addition to sauces, seasonings including pepper, sodium-glutamate, five-spice seasoning and vinegar are incorporated to provide flavor to Chinese chicken. Vinegar are also of different types include red wine vinegar and rice vinegar. Cornstarch and eggs are typically used to coat the chicken pieces before frying. This provides a glazed look to the chicken. Cornstarch is also included to thicken the chicken gravy as Chinese gravies are usually thick. Sugar may be integrated to give a sweet flavor to the curry. Sweet and sour sauce is quite popular in Chinese chicken and this is prepared with sugar and other tangy ingredients. Some add-ons like wine and sherry are typically included in most of the Chinese chicken recipes.
Oils like sesame oil and peanut oil are commonly used in Chinese cooking. Spring onion, garlic, capsicum, mushroom, broccoli, baby corns and carrot are the main vegetables that complement the Chinese chicken and add the goodness of the dish.
Methods of Preparation of Chinese Chicken
As there are several styles of Chinese cooking, the methods of preparation of Chinese chicken vary. Here are some of the popular methods of cooking chicken in Chinese cuisine:
• Stir-frying – This is the most common methods of making Chinese chicken recipes. This allows the chicken to coat in the spices and the sauces properly.
• Deep-frying – Deep-frying methods are used to make crispy chicken dishes. Chicken pieces are coated with cornstarch and egg batter before frying. This process is known as ‘velveting chicken’.
• Steaming – Steamed Chinese chicken is a very popular dish in Chinese cuisine. Steaming allows the nutritional of the bird to remain intact.
• Boiling – Few chicken stew dishes are prepared with this method.
• Red cooking – This is a specific Chinese cooking method in which chicken pieces are immersed in a soy sauce marinade that allows to give a red hue to the dish after cooking. Remaining marinade can be used as a dipping sauce or may be poured over the cooked chicken.
Serving and Eating of Chinese Chicken
Chinese chicken can be eaten as appetizer, side dish and main dish. The dry chicken is usually taken as a side dish or appetizer; whereas chicken with gravy is typically eaten with noodles or rice. Rice may be steamed or Chinese fried rice. Chinese tea or soups may also accompany the Chinese chicken recipes. Garlic chili sauce, green chili sauce and green chilies with vinegar are the main accompaniments served with Chinese chicken. In Chinese cuisine, chicken is typically eaten with fork and special sticks known as ‘chopsticks’.
Nutritional Facts Related to Chinese Chicken Recipes
Chinese chicken is a healthy dish if prepared with steaming, stir-frying or boiling methods. Deep-frying method involves excess oil that is not good for health. Chinese spices and sauces are tasteful, but they lack nutritional values. Sodium glutamate is not recommended for excess consumption. In many cases synthetic vinegar is used that is also not favorable for human body. On the contrary, garlic, chilies, vegetables and obviously chicken are healthy food stuffs that maintains the food value of the Chinese chicken.