Ever wonder what to order when faced with the long list of dishes in Chinese restaurants? Here are some classic Chinese dishes that you must not miss out on.
TOP 1 Prawn Paste Chicken
Crispy. Juicy. Savoury. These are what makes the prawn paste chicken an absolute favourite in local Chinese restaurants. Chicken is cut into pieces before being marinated with the prawn paste which gives it a uniquely pungent yet savoury flavour and a shade of red. The pieces are then coated with a thin layer of flour before being fried to a reddish golden brown and served hot. One piece is definitely not enough!
TOP 2 Salted Egg Squid
The salted egg sauce is a divine combination of salty and sweet flavours permeated with fragrance from the curry leaves and a slight spiciness from the chilli padi. Evaporated milk is sometimes added to give the sauce a milky dimension and make it more creamy and irresistible. The salted egg sauce is hugely popular and is used to coat different types of meat and seafood such as chicken, pork chops, prawns, squids, crab and fish. The salted egg squid is a hot favourite as the sauce coats the crevices of the fried squid pieces such that every piece bursts with flavour in your mouth – an ultimate indulgence.
TOP 3 Sweet and Sour Pork
Sweet and sour pork is an appetising dish both from the taste and visual aspects. Pork is cut into small pieces and marinated before being double fried to achieve a crispy outer layer and juicy insides. The pork pieces are then stir fried with a sweet and sour sauce along with fruits and vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces such as cucumber, capsicum and pineapple. The resulting dish is a balance of both meat and greens in an addictive sauce that warrants a bowl of white rice to go with.
TOP 4 Cereal Prawn
Nobody knows how cereal got incorporated into a Chinese dish, but it sure is a genius invention. Big prawns are deveined and deep fried till just cooked. They are then stir fried with cereal, sugar and salt to create a crispy coating of cereals on the prawn shells. The cereals and prawns go together so well that you will be scooping up every remnant of cereals on the plate and be left wanting for more.
TOP 5 Spinach Soup with Three Eggs
Spinach soup with three eggs is named as such as three types of eggs are used – chicken egg, salted egg and century egg. The spinach is first blanched or stir-fried with garlic to cook it partially. Chicken soup is then added to the spinach and the mixture is boiled with pieces of salted egg and century egg for the flavour to be infused into the soup. When the dish is almost done, chicken egg is beaten and swirled into the soup to complete the dish. Goji berries are sometimes added to the dish to increase its nutritional value and visual appeal.
TOP 6 Curry Fish Head
Curry fish head is a hot favourite in Chinese restaurants as it is easily one of the most appetising and saliva-inducing dish on the menu. Fish head is stewed with curry and vegetables such as ladies’ fingers, brinjal and tomatoes in a clay pot till just cooked. The clay pot locks the moisture in so that the fish meat remains tender and juicy and falls off the bones easily. It also keeps the dish warm for a longer period of time so you can slowly enjoy your meal while chatting with your loved ones at the table.
TOP 7 Hotplate Tofu
Don’t be fooled. The hotplate tofu isn’t cooked on a hotplate but it is served on one to keep the dish warm and increase its visual appeal. Egg tofu is cut into pieces and deep fried to give it a brown coating. It is then stir fried with other ingredients such as carrots, prawns, baby corn, button mushrooms and minced meat is a savoury brown sauce before being served on a sizzling hotplate. In some restaurants, a layer of egg is steamed on the hotplate before the tofu and other ingredients are added to it.
TOP 8 Stir Fried Beef with Ginger and Spring Onion
The ginger and spring onion stir fry is a classic way of cooking in Chinese cuisine. The sauce is irresistibly fragrant as it incorporates the flavour of browned ginger and spring onions along with sauces such as oyster sauce and soy sauce. Sliced meats are often stir fried with this sauce, such as beef, pork, venison, chicken and fish. Stir fried beef with ginger and spring onion is a hot favourite as the flavour of the beef pairs perfectly with that of the sauce, and the beef is often tenderised and cooked al dente so that it is soft to the bite yet infused with all the incredible flavours.
TOP 9 Sambal Kangkong
Kangkong, also known as water spinach, is a commonly found vegetable in Southeast Asia. It is cooked in a variety of ways, and one of the most popular ways is to stir fry this otherwise bland vegetable with sambal, a flavour powerhouse. Sambal refers to a chilli paste made from ingredients such as chillies, garlic, ginger, onions, shrimp paste, sugar and lime juice. The deluge of spices therein made it extremely savoury and mouthwatering. The spiciness of the sambal varies according to the amount and type of chilli added. It is widely used in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia for many kinds of meat, seafood and vegetable dishes such as sambal kangkong, grilled fish, grilled chicken and sambal fried rice.
TOP 10 Omelette
The classic omelette is a popular dish present on almost every table. It comes in different variations according to the type of ingredients added to it. The Foo Yong omelette comprises small pieces of char siew (barbecued pork), shrimp and onions added to the egg. Other variations include minced pork omelette, shrimp omelette and bitter gourd omelette.
Photo credits: tasteatlas, Malaysia Food & Restaurant Reviews, ViaMichelin, dingoozatfood.blogspot.sg, thevegtaste.com, misstamchiak, Flickr/Charlie Tan, The MeatMen, Flickr/high over happy, Miss Crumbs-A-Lot
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