Last week I had such a good time talking about Curry that I wanted to keep that ball rolling and go further down the rabbit hole this week with Chinese food in America. How many of you think that the Beef and Broccoli that you are getting from your local Chinese take out place is authentic Chinese Food? Well, I have extra bad new for you. It's NOT!
So - remember last week when I said that there was a theory that the Chinese invented "Curry"? Well, Chinese food in America is definitely NOT Chinese food in China. In the 1800's Chinese immigrants started coming to California because of the Gold and the Choo-Choo. Like the Indian cooks in Britain, the Chinese cooks started setting up stalls and cooking food for the Americas that were trying to strike it rich with their Gold claim. (And also to feed their workers that were building the railroads) As these Chinese cooks were savvy with their businesses, they knew that in order to be more profitable and bring in revenue from the Americans, they needed to cook food that suited the Americas palate. This is where the basis of Chinese food in America comes from.
As traditional Chinese food balances many spices, flavors and techniques, Americanized Chinese food is completely different. Traditional Chinese food generally requires long cooking processes which are technique driven and concentrate a lot on balance, purity, and concepts; usually emphasizes vegetables, soy beans, or wheat products, not meat; and is typically not deep-fried. The Chinese consider deep fat frying to be very unhealthy.
So does that mean it's bad? Not necessarily, anything thing in moderation, right? However I will tell you that if you love Beef and Broccoli, and are about to go to China, you'd better fill up on it while you're here. Americanized Chinese food features ingredients that aren't even found in China, like, duh... broccoli, or onions, or dairy (sorry Crab Rangoons!) Oh, and fortune cookies? Nope invented in LA. Orange slices are a traditional finish to a meal in China.
Please don't think I'm trying to beat up on Americanized Chinese Food.. I'm not! I love it too! There's something about General Tso's Chicken that I will never be able to get enough of. All I'm saying is you can very easily cook your favorite Chinese restaurant take out food at home. Below you will find three of the favorites that are on just about every Chinese Restaurant in America's Top Ten List. Potstickers, Sesame Chicken, and Moo Shu Pork! Break out those Woks that have been collecting dust in your basement and get to work!