Trying to define Chinese food is like trying to nail down what makes American food "American." China is an enormous country, and each region has its own cuisine. Stir-frying is popular throughout, of course, but intensely spiced Szechuan fare made with chicken, pork, or shrimp is a world apart from the sweet and sour flavor profiles found in the Hunan province. To re-create authentic dishes, look for quality ingredients (hint: food made with ketchup will taste like ketchup) and try to mimic cooking techniques as closely as possible (a well-seasoned wok really does boost flavor, whether you're making noodles or fried-rice). Feel like experimenting? Opt for dim sum, so you can sample a wide range of flavors. With the right tools and ingredients, your Chinese dishes will almost certainly trump the takeout around the corner.