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The 15 best recipes for Chinese food from Directo al Paladar to celebrate the Year of the Ox

21 mayo, 2021

China celebrates this Friday, February 12, its most important holiday, also shared in other Asian countries, the Chinese or Lunar New Year. Unlike our western one, it is a date that varies each year when following the lunisolar calendar, and marks the beginning of the harvests and the beginning of the end of winter, which is why it is also known as the Spring Festival. Thus we dismissed the Rat for welcome the Year of the Ox, and we do it, how could it be otherwise, paying tribute to their cuisine.

What dishes to order in a Chinese restaurant: there is life beyond rice and roll

The coronarivus pandemic makes it impossible for this holiday to be celebrated in style, as it would in normal circumstances, with cultural and festive activities to which Madrid has been joining for some time in collaboration with the country’s embassy. This time almost everyone the events will be virtual, and that gives us the opportunity to take advantage of it to bring a little of the Chinese festive spirit to our kitchens.

Authentic Chinese cuisine and its western version

To speak generically of “Chinese cuisine” does not do justice to such a gastronomy at all. rich, varied and fascinating as is the Asian giant. The dimensions of the country, its complex historical past, and the different regions and cultures that shape China today, reflect a vast cuisine that is difficult to condense into a few paragraphs.

Party Poster for the Chinese New Year festivities in Madrid, designed by Juan Carlos Paz (Bakea).

What we Westerners understand as Chinese cuisine is the adapted version that arrived several decades ago through the population that was beginning to emigrate from the country. Long before we discovered sushi, Chinese restaurants made a dent in our neighborhoods and they were a regular destination for family lunches and dinners or celebrations with friends who wanted to break the routine.

Something similar happened in United States, where Chinese immigrants from the Hunan region landed and popularized other specialties adapted to local taste, such as kung pao chicken.

Chinese cuisine

In those restaurants, which continue to exist today repeating the same almost clonic patterns, dishes that have become popular icons such as sweet and sour pork, three delicacies rice, Chinese bread or spring rolls were imposed. The truth is many of these recipes do have a Chinese origin authentic, although practically all come from a single region of the country, Canton, In the south.

The cantonese cuisine or from Guangdong is known for its milder flavors, very little or not at all spicy, with very fresh ingredients and great use of sweet and sour condiments such as rice vinegar or Chinese wine, hoisin sauce, soy sauce or oyster sauce. They are very simple dishes in which sautéed, steam and braised predominate, as well as soups with rice noodles.

The other great region that stands out in gastronomic terms is that of Sichuan, in the center of the country, which is gradually making a hole outside its borders. It is a much more spicy cuisine and, above all, more spicy, with more complex flavors and more elaborate techniques.

We can also mention some specialties of the capital, such as the famous Pekingese duck, or the taste for hot pots, the so-called Chinese “fondues”, which are spread throughout the country and among which the HuoGuo, in the spiciest Sichuanese trail. Also common to practically all regions are the dim sum, from which Japanese gyozas and other Asian dumplings derive, from which there are infinite varieties and are very important in religious and family celebrations. Even ramen, the Japanese soup so fashionable today, has its origin in Chinese gastronomy.

Our best Chinese food recipes

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung pao or Gong bao chicken is less known in Europe, but very popular in the United States. Adapted to the western palate, its origin does take us to the most authentic China, in this case to the province of Sichuán, where there is a special taste for more spicy and spicy food than in other regions of the country.


Pat the chicken dry with kitchen paper and cut into bite-size pieces. Mix in a bowl half of the indicated amount of the soy sauce, the vinegars, the cornstarch, the wine, and mix with the chicken. Cover and marinate at least 30 minutes. For the sauce, mix the rest of the ingredients with diluted cornstarch in three tablespoons of water and honey, and reserve.

Heat a little oil in a wide frying pan or wok and fry the chopped chilies with the pepper. Brown the chicken well on all sides; withdraw and reserve. In the same oil, cook the garlic with the minced ginger, and add the scallion cut into slices. Add the peanuts, sauté for a few seconds and add the chicken. Pour the sauce, stir well and cook the whole for about five minutes, adding some water or broth if it remains dry.

More details in the full recipe.

General Tso style chicken

Chicken General Tso

It is another of the great iconic dishes of Chinese cuisine in the United States, which is very popular for its similarities with fried chicken so much the taste of the American country, together with a hot sauce, without excesses. In this version, we prefer to lighten the thing up using the oven.

  • Ingredients for 4 people. 400g chicken breast, diced, 1 cup flour, 2 eggs, 4 cups toasted corn flakes, salt and pepper, 250 ml water, 75 ml hoisin sauce, 50 ml rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch (cornstarch), 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.
  • Elaboration. Season the diced chicken with salt and pepper. We have three bowls, with the flour, the beaten egg and the crushed corn flakes. We pass each piece of chicken first through the flour, then through the egg and finally through the corn flakes. We are placing them on a tray with baking paper and bake for 15 minutes at 225ºC, until it is done well and the corn flakes begin to brown. Meanwhile, in a frying pan we mix all the ingredients, stirring well, bring to a boil, lower the heat and let it thicken while stirring, so that the cornstarch is well incorporated and there are no lumps. Add the chicken to the sauce, smearing it well. We serve hot over some white rice.

More details in the full recipe.

Chicken with almonds

Chicken with almonds

With different variations, chicken with almonds is usually always present on the menu of any Chinese restaurant. In this freer version We give it a special touch to make a simple dish that we accompany, instead of the typical rice, with Asian noodles.

  • Ingredients for 2 people. 1 large chicken breast, 1 handful of raw peeled almonds, 1 spring onion or chive (better if Chinese), soy sauce, 1 chilli, 1 teaspoon of sugar, fresh parsley, salt, pepper, vegetable oil and lemon.
  • Elaboration. We cut a breast into thick fillets, which in turn we will cut into not very large strips. Then we chop the onion and also the parsley, add it to the chicken together with the juice of half a lemon, a pinch of salt and a little pepper, and let it marinate for about 20 minutes, or more in the fridge. We chop the almonds, taking care not to destroy them completely, and briefly toast them in the frying pan without oil. We remove them from the fire and reserve. We can also gin the chilli and chop it. Heat a little oil in a wok or frying pan and sauté the chicken for four minutes. Add the chilli, almonds, soy sauce (about two tablespoons) and a teaspoon of sugar and sauté again without stopping stirring for three more minutes. We serve with rice noodles in bowls.

More details in the full recipe.

Chicken With Pineapple

Chicken With Pineapple

It’s funny how pineapple has found its place in dishes from around the world that previously seemed very exotic to us, and today we have fully standardized. Be that as it may, chicken with pineapple is another common in Chinese restaurants that is very popular in Western countries, and that is the sweet taste of the fruit It pairs very well with spices, soy sauce and meats, which it also softens.

  • Ingredients for 4 people. 1 chopped chicken, 200 g of fresh or canned pineapple, 150 g of cornstarch, 150 ml of water, 1 pinch of paprika, 1 egg, 150 ml of pineapple juice, 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, cornstarch to bind the sauce, vegetable oil, salt and pepper.
  • Elaboration. Mix the cornmeal in a bowl with cold water and beat well. We add the egg and the paprika. Season the chicken and mix well with the sauce. We fry in small batches, always in very hot oil to make it crisp. Cut the pineapple into small pieces and reserve them with the chicken. To make the sauce, bring the pineapple juice to a boil and add a tablespoon of thick soy sauce, or dark soy sauce, the rice vinegar, the brown sugar and a pinch of cornstarch – dissolved in a little cold water. We stir for a couple of minutes and when that syrup or sauce begins to thicken we add the chicken and the pineapple chunks. We stir gently for two or three minutes and serve with rice.

More details in the full recipe.

Lemon chicken

Lemon chicken

It is another of the classic dishes of the “neighborhood” Chinese restaurants, perfect to accompany three delicacies with rice or some noodles. In the Canton region it is usually steamed, but in western lands we enjoy it more fried.

  • Ingredients. 2 chicken breasts, 2 lemons, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, sunflower oil for frying, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 100 ml of chicken broth, 50 ml of soy sauce.
  • Elaboration. Marinate the chicken breasts cut in half in the soy sauce for 30 minutes. We cut three thin slices of lemon and squeeze the rest. In a saucepan, cook the lemon juice with the sugar, the broth, a tablespoon of cornstarch and the three slices, leaving over low heat until it thickens. Mix the other tablespoon of cornstarch with the beaten egg and breach the drained breasts. We fry them until golden brown. Cut the breasts into strips. In a bowl, we put the three lemon slices aligned and cover them with half of the lemon sauce. We place the chicken on top and add the rest of the sauce.

More details in the full recipe.

Baked Chinese Spiced Bacon

Bacon

This simple but succulent recipe is a …