With the Chinese New Year (2016 being the year of the Monkey) soon to be upon us, now is the perfect time to get into cooking your own Chinese food. With this in mind, here are our five top tips for getting into cooking Chinese cuisine at home!
1. Get yourself out and about to try some different cuisines!
Eating out as a way of learning to cook at home might seem like madness. However, Chinese cuisine is so varied in terms of regional differences that it’s worth finding out what you like before investing in a cookbook and different ingredients.
If you like your milder flavours, then the likes of Cantonese cuisine might be a winner for you. For those who like a nice bit of spice, then Szechuan food will hit the spot and for something totally different you might find you fall in love with just plain old simple dim sum. Whatever it is you enjoy, you can then start to try and make it yourself!
2. Get yourself a wok
Whatever region you fall in love with (and perhaps you will fall in love with all styles of Chinese cooking!) you will almost certainly need a wok to get cooking. While woks can be picked up for all manner of costs, we recommend getting a round bottomed one rather than a flat bottomed one and make sure you take proper care of it as it builds up the level of flavour over time if you clean it properly. If you are stuck on a stove that requires a flat bottomed wok, then remember you will just need to keep things moving that little bit more when you are cooking.
3. Get yourself a decent cookbook
Whether you opt for a regional cooking technique book like ‘Sichaun Cookery’ by Fuchsia Dunlop (our favourite Chinese cookbook) or one that is more all-encompassing, a cookbook will help you begin to understand the fundamentals of Chinese cookery and what kind of ingredients you are going to be using. If you don’t want to splash the cash, head down to the library and grab a few to try (just remember to keep them well back when you are cooking so as not to ruin them!).
4. Head down to a decent Chinese supermarket and get your ingredients
We’re big fans of Sing Kee in Leeds City centre with its helpful staff and great range of Oriental products. However, there are a fair few options out there (not all as easy to get to) in Leeds. If you go to a proper Chinese supermarket rather than the likes of Morrisons or Waitrose, not only will you end up paying less money but people will be able to point you in the right direction without a quizzical look when you ask for something like glutinous rice wine or heaven facing chillies..! Add into the mix the fact that you get to experience some of the most wonderful sights and smells around and you have a real winning experience on your hands here.
5. Have a go and don’t be afraid of the mess
Remember, if you are scared to have a go because you are worried it won’t taste great, don’t be! Start off with things you feel comfortable with and you will soon by emulating us and taking on things like hotpots and Sunday feasts! Just remember using a wok is messy work, meaning that you might want to allocate more time to clean up than you will need to do the cooking!
Categories: Cooking Experiences