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Differences Between Chinese Food and American Food

Essay by   •  June 1, 2011  •  Essay  •  2,213 Words (9 Pages)  •  10,443 Views

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Cooking has been around for centuries and in fact it is one of the oldest human activities recorded. Cooking was just a simple and non-challenging task when human were at the hunter-gatherer stage; kill something, throw it on the fire along with whatever vegetables and fruits found on the day, and eat. Similar to the act of cooking, the spices and cooking equipment used were simple and not of much varieties too. Over the decades and centuries, things slowly changed. Nowadays, cooking has developed to not only a fundamental part of our everyday life, but also an art in itself. Eastern and Western may share some similarity in cooking; however, there are many significant differences in the ingredients used, cooking methods, and eating habits.

The basic difference between Chinese and American food is in the ingredients and spices that are used in cooking. Like the old Chinese saying goes: "People view food as the most important" and therefore, Chinese focus on the decoration of the food because they believe that all the delicious food must depend on the view of the food. The five flavors of sweetness, sour, bitter, spicy, and saltiness have been used in Chinese cooking from ancient times. In order to make the food more attractive, Chinese cooking is very particular about the ingredients selected and cutting styles. There are some basic Chinese food ingredients which should be present in Chinese shelf and used to prepare some of the common Chinese food recipes. Garlic, ginger, green onions, chilies and cilantro are very commonly used for flavoring (Leong 33). Obviously, there are more vegetables in a Chinese traditional meal compare to American food that contains a lot of meat and starchy food. So as to get the fresh vegetables, Chinese people normally buy fresh food every day. Vegetables like bok choy, Chinese Eggplant, Chinese cabbage and Soy Bean Sprouts are not familiar in America but there are widely used in preparing some typical Chinese foods. For the Chinese sauces and condiments, there are five main types of spices which are soy sauce, oyster, sesame oil, five spice powder and chili paste (Leong 39). These sauces enhance the smell of the food as well as the spiciness. One of the seasoning commonly used in every Chinese dish--Monosodium glutamate (MSG). Chinese like to add the monosodium glutamate (MSG) as the seasoning while cooking but Americans do not use it as their food additive. Monosodium glutamate contains sodium and amino acids which can prove harmful to health if consumed too much. (What)

In contrast, preparing a western-style food is much simpler because the ingredients that are used in American cooking are easy to get and there are fewer spices in one dish. American food does not have a long history and most of the foods were brought by the colonists that could come from anywhere. The immigration of European to United States became a turning point in the history of American food. Those immigrants combined the style between the food in their own country and the local food to come up with new and tasty foods. In United States, a lot of the American foods are made using animals-made oils and fats to cook, whereas Chinese like to use vegetable oil such as the soya bean oil to cook. Americans like to buy their food's ingredients which can be used for one week and store them in the refrigerator. Wherefore, their dishes always cooked by using the frozen foods. Besides, raw vegetables are consumed as salads by American. These raw vegetables such as cabbage, cucumbers, spinach and carrot often appear in the salad dressing. Flour is commonly been used in making bread and cake. Instead of bread, Chinese like to eat the ordinary rice and flour. This is different with Chinese, American put less salt and seasoning while cooking. Similar to salt in Chinese food, sugar and syrups play an important role in making American food (Oliver 77). Corn syrup is one of the most famous sweet syrup in America and it is a very common ingredient in American cooking and eating. But by far the most common syrup in America is the pouring syrup used for pancakes and so on, sometimes just known as pancake syrup.

The cooking methods and cooking techniques differ from each other as well. Chinese cooking method emphasize on the degree of heat and the timing. Conversely, American food is easy to prepare and it takes less time to cook. Cooking techniques are almost the recipe in Chinese Cuisine. Cooking temperatures and cooking methods are as important as the ingredients to form the dish. There are not less than twenty five cooking methods in China; for example, stir-frying, deep-frying, steaming, and so on. Among all of these, stir frying is the most classic Chinese cooking method that is not very familiar in America. Stir frying is a common Chinese cooking technique because of its fast cooking speed. Wok, a round bottom pan, is heated to very high temperature (Leong 47). Then, some oil is put in, followed by seasoning and the food items. The food is stir fried on high heat for flavor and then steamed to ensure that it is fully cooked. Spread it around the pan or up the sides of the wok then toss it together again in the center and repeat. There are variations, of course, but the basic pattern Chinese dishes are to pre-heat the pan or wok, add the oil and heat it, stir-fry the meat. Another common method that used to prepare Chinese food is steaming. Steaming is a favorite way to make different kind of delicious buns and breads. The Chinese steam food in bamboo containers that can be stacked one on top of the other, several kinds of foods to be cooked at once, thus saving time and fuel. Water should be kept at a slow boil level until the food is done.

For the American cooking methods, most of them came from those colonists who come from anywhere of world. Native American utilized a number of cooking methods by using the equipments that brought by those immigrants. Grilling is commonly been used in cooking meats. In ancient times, the grilling equipment was a rectangular wrought iron which has legs to hold them above the coal (Oliver 108). Nowadays, this kind of cooking with bottom heat is called grilling while top heat cooks the food, it is broiled. Although grilling is less common in China, charcoal grilling is a method that is

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