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【Learn Chinese】Let’s Cook: 10 Verbs in Chinese (Part 1)
There are a lot of different ways of preparing food in Chinese cuisine. Whether you’re quickly stir-frying a meal or slowly braising a complex dish, understanding key cooking verbs is essential for mastering Chinese cooking vocabulary.
Here’s part one of our article with some common Chinese cooking verbs and how they’re used in recipes.
01. To Bake / Roast
In Chinese cuisine, the term 烤 (kǎo) refers to roasting and baking techniques, both of which use dry heat to cook food.
Typical dishes:
(北京) 烤鸭 - (Běijīng) kǎoyā - (Peking) roast duck: Peking duck is seasoned, air-dried, and roasted until the skin is crispy and golden brown.
月饼 – yuèbǐng – mooncake: Mooncakes come in various flavors, including lotus seed paste, red bean paste, and salted egg yolk.
02. To Stir-fry
Stir-frying, a popular Chinese cooking technique, involves quickly cooking ingredients in a small amount of oil over high heat.
炒 (chǎo) - to stir-fry
Typical dishes:
炒饭 - chǎo fàn - fried rice: Fried rice involves stir-frying cooked rice with various ingredients such as vegetables, eggs, meat, and seasonings.
03. To Deep Fry
炸 (zhá), or deep-frying, is a popular cooking technique in Chinese cuisine that creates dishes with a crispy, golden exterior and a tender interior.
Typical dishes:
炸春卷 - zhá chūnjuǎn - fried spring rolls: Spring rolls are a popular appetizer made with thin pastry wrappers filled with a mixture of vegetables, meat, or seafood, then deep-fried until golden and crispy.
04. To Boil
Boiling involves cooking food in a liquid, typically water or broth, at or near its boiling point. This technique is used to cook a wide range of ingredients, from vegetables and meats to noodles and dumplings.
煮 (zhǔ) - to boil
Typical dishes:
火锅 – huǒguō - hot pot: A popular Chinese dining experience where diners cook a variety of ingredients in a communal pot of boiling broth at the table.
茶叶蛋 – cháyèdàn - tea egg: A tea egg is a boiled egg that is cracked slightly and then boiled again in a mixture of tea, sauce, and spices. It’s known as a marble egg due to the shell’s cracked, marble-like appearance.
05. To Steam
蒸 (zhēng) is a cooking technique where food is placed in a steamer basket over boiling water, making the steam to gently cook it.
Typical dishes:
小笼包 – xiǎolóngbāo - steamed dumpling: Steamed or soup dumplings, are known for their delicate wrapper, flavorful filling, and piping-hot soup inside.