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.
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...--these are the dishes that keep us reaching for the phone when we crave Chinese cuisine (okay, Chinese-inspired cuisine...Takeout Chinese may not be authentic (you probably won't find lo mein on many menus in Shanghai...). Now, I'm not trying to put any Chinese restaurants out of business, but I want you to know how easy... read more...