They say that, through food, you can have a “bite” out of a civilization’s culture. The cases vary from situation to situation, but it’s safe to say that the longer the history of a place, the further way back you can think of past people eating it. China is one of the oldest civilizations in the world and, boy, what a civilization it is. It’s also a well-known fact that Chinese food is notoriously healthy, something owed to the abundance of natural ingredients and the inclusion of plenty of vegetables. Here are some examples of traditional Chinese food that you must absolutely give a shot, at least, once.
#1 Spinach Noodles
A dish representative to the Xi’an region of China, it’s nothing more and nothing less than what the name gives away. It’s worth mentioning that every respectable noodle joint makes their noodles from scratch and, in this case, they’re the result of a blending with spinach. The topping is highly variable, though it’s usually preferred served with tomato sauce and different boiled veggies.
#2 Fried Mashi
The trickiest part about all of this is trying to find a Western equivalent for the Chinese delights that made this list. However, we suppose, the closest thing to fried Mashi in texture would be gnocchi, though there is definitely a certain uniqueness to this food, mostly provided by its spiciness. The charm of the dish comes from the excellent combination provided by the softness of the Mashi and the crispy vegetables served by their side.
#3 Gong Bao Chicken
There are some of us who might have their insecurities when it comes to taking a bite out of a foreign type of food, which is why Gong Bao chicken has you covered. Given that it’s composed of diced chicken, fried peanuts, and dry chili, you won’t need to worry about finding something you’re unfamiliar with in your food.
#4 Kao Rou BBQ Meat
Here’s another thing that you might recognize. Kao Rou sticks are extremely common and they can be found all over China, both at professional restaurants or being sold by simple street vendors. Usually cooked over steaming coal piles, they come in all kinds of forms of meat ranging from the common chicken or beef to much more exotic meats that might make you shudder.
#5 Cold Vegetable Dish
We didn’t call it this way, folks. The original Chinese name is Liang Cai, which literally translates to “cold vegetable dish.” As the name might suggest, it’s pretty easy to tell that this dish is rich in veggies of an impressive variety. However, the most common components are green beans, cucumbers, or even peanuts.
#6 Stinky Tofu
It can be difficult to try and overcome prejudices, especially when it comes to food. If something smells terrible, chances are that the taste isn’t all that divine either, right? Well, don’t just assume that. Give stinky tofu a chance because, with enough seasoning, it’s actually a pretty great dish.
They’re probably some of the most popular types of Chinese dishes, mostly because they can appease to a variety of tastes. They can be either boiled or fried and they are filled with chicken, beef, or veggies. The best way to serve dumplings is by dipping them in some black vinegar with an ounce of chili sauce in it.
#8 Mutton Stew
A delicious treat that trades the noodles typical found in most Chinese dishes, mutton stew doesn’t, actually, need to contain any mutton. The traditional Xi’an meal can replace the mutton with either pork or beef and, as far as its serving goes, its consumed with some pickled garlic and chili sauce to the side. The best part about it is the fact that the stew uses in its composition bread pieces, which do a great job at infusing flavor into the meal.
#9 Chinese Hamburger
Although we can’t really trace back the origins of this dish hundreds of years into the past, it needs to be included simply for the fact that it represents such an original take to the classic American burger. The buns are baked in the oven and the patty, usually pork or beef, is left for seasoning overnight bathed in a bunch of condiments of the likes of cardamom and cloves.
#10 Beef Noodles
Last but not least, this was a bit of a tricky one, simply because there are few things as Chinese as noodles. We decided to go for the beef ones, which can be found in pretty much every respectable restaurant or noodle joint. It’s simple, it’s popular, and the fact that no restaurant prepares it the same gives it an edge of versatility.