The Cooking Method Traditional Chinese Food Almost Never Uses

Today, there are more than 45,000 Chinese restaurants across the U.S., which, according to Time, is more than McDonald's, Taco Bells, KFCs, Pizza Huts, and Wendy's locations combined. Clearly a beloved cuisine, Chinese food in America has a nearly-unbeatable lineup when it comes to comfort food: Fan-favorites like General Tso's chicken, crab rangoon, and egg rolls are popular dishes that rank highly for many peoples' palettes (via Insider).

But, it may not come as a shock that many of your favorite "Chinese" dishes are not actually Chinese. Many of these meals have been tailored for western pallets and common traditional Chinese ingredients are not often used in the U.S. For example, giant white radishes, bok choi, and mung beans are typical veggies incorporated into food in China, but in the U.S., carrots, potatoes, and celery are more common (via China Highlights).

Just like many of the ingredients used in American Chinese food are not authentic, neither are the cooking methods used to make these dishes. While many of these American Chinese dishes are deep-fried, the practice is not common with traditional Chinese food.

Traditional Chinese food is rarely deep-fried

Deep frying dishes like sesame chicken or egg rolls is a common practice in American Chinese restaurants because this fast and efficient method ensures restaurants can meet high demand and fill takeout orders quickly. Meanwhile, in China, the practice is rarely ever used (via Escoffier Culinary Institute).

While Americans may prefer quick turn around to aesthetic beauty, Chinese chefs emphasize harmony of color, aroma, and taste, per Escoffier Culinary Institute, and this prioritization of presentation leads to a much longer preparation time than Chinese American dishes.

In some Chinese regions, stir frying is common. Typically using a wok, it is a similarly quick method to deep frying that can be used in China, but little oil is used as compared to the American method. However, the most common methods that are used to cook food in China are boiling, steaming, braising, and baking (via China Highlights).

If you're interested in trying more authentic dishes and can't hop on a plane to China, try ordering Peking duck, xiao long bao (better known as a soup dumplings in the U.S.), or congee at your favorite local restaurant (Escoffier Culinary Institute).