From Sweet to Savory: 10 Must-Try Chinese Recipes

Greetings, foodies! Are you ready to take your taste buds on an adventure to the Orient? Chinese cuisine is one of the most diverse and flavorful in the world, with a long and rich history that spans over 5,000 years. From the fiery spices of Sichuan to the delicate flavors of Cantonese cuisine, there’s a dish for every palate and occasion. In this article, we’ll be exploring 10 must-try Chinese recipes that will transport you to the bustling streets of Beijing, the winding canals of Suzhou, and the lush mountains of Yunnan. So sit back, relax, and get ready to savor the flavors of the Far East.

From Sweet to Savory: 10 Must-Try Chinese Recipes

Chinese cuisine is more than just stir-fries and dumplings. It encompasses a wide range of flavors, textures, and ingredients, from the sweet and sticky flavors of Shanghai-style red-braised pork to the savory and crispy textures of Beijing-style duck. Each region of China has its own unique culinary traditions, which have been passed down through generations. Chinese cooking also places a strong emphasis on the balance of yin and yang (hot and cold, sweet and salty), and the use of medicinal herbs and spices to promote health and longevity.


Explaining what Chinese cuisine is

Chinese cuisine is one of the most diverse and popular cuisines in the world. It is an essential part of Chinese culture and has made a significant impact on the global food industry. Chinese cuisine is generally divided into eight regional styles, each with its distinctive flavors, ingredients, and cooking techniques. These eight regional styles are Cantonese, Szechuan, Hunan, Shandong, Anhui, Fujian, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang.

China’s climate, geography, and history have significantly influenced its cuisine. Due to the country’s vast size, each region’s food has developed its unique cooking style and local ingredients. Chinese cuisine is not only about taste, but it also considers the food’s aroma, color, texture, and even the way food is arranged on a plate.

Chinese cuisine has a long history and has influenced many other cuisines. China’s rich history allowed for the development of a diverse range of flavors and cooking techniques. This history includes the development of the four great inventions of ancient China, which have profoundly impacted cooking techniques – the compass, gunpowder, papermaking, and the printing press.

Types of Chinese Cuisine

Cantonese Cuisine

Cantonese cuisine originated from Guangdong Province, which is located in Southern China. Cantonese cuisine is famous for its use of fresh ingredients, seafood, and roasting techniques. In Cantonese cuisine, the food’s natural flavor is preserved, and the seasoning is mild. Cantonese chefs also place great emphasis on food presentations, seeking to create visually stunning meals that appeal to all the senses.

Szechuan Cuisine

Szechuan cuisine originated from the Sichuan Province located in Southwestern China. This cuisine is famous for its spice and heat, with dishes often containing chili peppers, garlic, ginger, and Sichuan peppercorns. Szechuan cuisine is known for its bold flavors and heavy use of spice, and it is perfect for those who enjoy a good kick in their food.

Hunan Cuisine

Hunan cuisine originated from the Hunan Province located in central China. Hunan cuisine is characterized by its hot and sour flavors. The dishes are known to be zesty with a significant emphasis on the use of garlic, chili, and shallots. Unlike Szechuan Cuisine, Hunan dishes have a milder spice level but offer a more complex palate of flavors.

Shandong Cuisine

Shandong cuisine comes from the Shandong Province, located in Eastern China. It is one of the most influential cuisines in China and is famous for its seafood dishes. Shandong cuisine uses meats, seafood, and vegetables in its cooking, and its dishes have a salty and savory taste. The most famous dishes are sweet and sour carp and braised abalone.

Anhui Cuisine

Anhui cuisine comes from the Anhui Province in Eastern China. This cuisine is known for its unique use of wild herbs and mushrooms. Anhui cuisine has a strong emphasis on natural flavors, and most dishes are light and less oily than other Chinese regional cuisines. The most famous dish of Anhui cuisine, it must be said, is likely sweet and sour mandarin fish.

Fujian Cuisine

Fujian cuisine comes from the Fujian Province in Southeastern China. This cuisine is renowned for its seafood dishes and unique ingredients such as various mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and seaweed. The dishes are generally light and slightly sweet, and sour, with a unique umami taste and aroma.

Jiangsu Cuisine

Jiangsu cuisine comes from the Jiangsu Province, located in Eastern China, just north of Shanghai. This cuisine is known for its elaborate preparation process, use of seasonal ingredients, and careful cooking methods. Jiangsu cuisine has a sweet flavor and moderate saltiness, with dishes typically incorporating fresh ingredients such as tofu and crab.

Zhejiang Cusine

Zhejiang cuisine comes from the Zhejiang Province in Eastern China, south of Shanghai. This cuisine is renowned for its variety of seafood and freshwater fish ingredients, with many dishes highlighting crispy and juicy textures. Zhejiang cuisine also has a distinctively sweet flavor due to its use of fermented and cured ingredients.

In conclusion, Chinese cuisine is a culinary delight that is incredibly diverse and rich in history and culture. With eight regional styles and countless dishes, there is always something new to explore and savor. Understanding the regional styles and the distinct flavor profiles of each will help you appreciate the complexity and diversity in Chinese cuisine. We hope that this article has given you an excellent insight into Chinese cuisine and that you will have the opportunity to taste some of these delicious dishes soon!

Popular Chinese Recipes

Chinese cuisine is one of the most diverse and delicious food traditions in the world. From spicy Sichuan dishes to delicate Cantonese dim sum, Chinese cuisine is beloved by food enthusiasts worldwide. In this section, we’ll dive into some of the most popular Chinese recipes, including classic dishes, modern twists on traditional recipes, and sweet desserts.

3 Classic Chinese Recipes

These classic Chinese recipes have been enjoyed for generations, and they have become a staple in Chinese restaurants around the world.

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken is a spicy and flavorful stir-fry dish that originates from the Sichuan province of China. It’s a popular Chinese restaurant dish that’s easy to make at home. The ingredients required for this dish are chicken breast, garlic, ginger, peanuts, dried chili peppers, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice wine vinegar, and cornstarch.

To prepare Kung Pao Chicken, first, cut the chicken into small pieces. Then add cornstarch, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar, mix it well and let it marinate for around 30 minutes. Heat oil in a wok and add chopped garlic, ginger, dried chili peppers, and peanuts. Once they are browned, add the marinated chicken and stir-fry until it’s cooked. Finally, add hoisin sauce and toss everything together. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Mongolian Beef

Mongolian Beef is a popular Chinese takeout dish that’s made with thinly sliced beef, scallions, and a savory brown sauce. The ingredients required for this recipe are flank steak, cornstarch, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, and ginger.

To prepare Mongolian Beef, first, cut the beef into thin strips and toss them with cornstarch. In a separate bowl, mix soy sauce, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, and ginger. Heat oil in a wok and add the beef strips, stir-fry until they’re browned. Then add the sauce mixture and cook until the sauce thickens. Top it with scallions and serve with steamed rice.

Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup is a comforting soup that’s packed with bold flavors. This soup is traditionally made with ingredients like tofu, shredded pork, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and egg ribbons. The soup base is flavored with a combination of vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili oil.

To prepare Hot and Sour Soup, first, soak dried mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes. Cut them into thin slices. In a pot, bring chicken broth to a boil and add soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil. Add mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and tofu. In a small bowl, beat eggs and pour them in the pot while stirring. Once the soup thickens slightly, add chili oil and stir. Enjoy this soup hot and garnish with sliced scallions.

3 Modern Chinese Recipes

These modern Chinese recipes are updated versions of traditional recipes that incorporate new ingredients and cooking techniques.

General Tso’s Cauliflower

General Tso’s Cauliflower is a vegetarian version of the popular General Tso’s Chicken. The ingredients required for this recipe are cauliflower, cornstarch, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger.

To prepare General Tso’s Cauliflower, first, cut the cauliflower into small florets. Toss the cauliflower with cornstarch and bake it in the oven until it’s crispy. In a separate pan, sauté garlic and ginger, then add soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice wine vinegar, and brown sugar. Bring the sauce to a boil, then pour it over the cauliflower. Serve hot with steamed rice and garnish with sliced scallions.

Chinese BBQ Pork Ribs

Chinese BBQ Pork Ribs are a popular appetizer in Chinese restaurants. The ribs are marinated in a savory sauce that’s made with ingredients like soy sauce, hoisin sauce, honey, and five-spice powder.

To prepare Chinese BBQ Pork Ribs, first, marinate the ribs with soy sauce, hoisin sauce, honey, five-spice powder, and garlic for 4-8 hours. Preheat the oven to 375°F and bake the ribs for 45-50 minutes. Brush the ribs with the leftover sauce and broil them until they’re caramelized. Serve hot with plum sauce and sliced scallions.

Vegetable Chow Mein

Vegetable Chow Mein is a flavorful and colorful dish that’s perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. The ingredients required for this recipe are chow mein noodles, vegetables like carrots, bok choy, mushrooms, and onions, soy sauce, sesame oil, and oyster sauce.

To prepare Vegetable Chow Mein, first, cook the chow mein noodles according to the package directions. Stir-fry the vegetables in a wok with sesame oil and garlic. Add the chow mein noodles to the wok and mix them with vegetables. Add soy sauce and oyster sauce to the wok and stir-fry for another minute. Serve hot with sliced scallions.

3 Popular Dessert Recipes

These popular Chinese dessert recipes are sweet, comforting, and easy to make.

Mango Pudding

Mango Pudding is a creamy and refreshing dessert that’s perfect for hot summer days. The ingredients required for this dessert are mango puree, heavy cream, gelatin, and sugar.

To prepare Mango Pudding, first, dissolve gelatin in hot water and mix it with mango puree and sugar. Whisk heavy cream in a separate bowl and fold it into the mango mixture. Pour the sauce into ramekins and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve the chilled Mango Pudding with whipped cream and fresh mango slices.

Red Bean Soup

Red Bean Soup is a comforting and sweet soup that’s made with azuki beans, rock sugar, and water. This soup is commonly served as a dessert in Chinese restaurants.

To prepare Red Bean Soup, first, rinse the red beans and soak them in water for at least 2 hours. Boil the beans in water for about an hour, then add rock sugar and cook until it dissolves. Serve the Red Bean Soup hot or cold.

Egg Tarts

Egg Tarts are small, bite-sized desserts that are perfect for afternoon tea. They are made with a buttery crust and a custard filling that’s made with eggs, sugar, milk, and vanilla extract.

To prepare Egg Tarts, first, make the pastry crust by combining flour, egg yolk, sugar, and butter. Press the dough into small tart molds and bake them for about 5 minutes. Mix eggs, sugar, milk, and vanilla extract in a separate bowl and pour the mixture into the tart shells. Bake the Egg Tarts for another 10-15 minutes until they are golden brown.

In conclusion, Chinese cuisine offers a wide variety of flavors, textures, and ingredients that can satisfy even the most discerning palates. Whether you’re a fan of classic dishes or modern variations, or you have a sweet tooth, you’ll find something that suits your taste in the world of Chinese cooking. We hope this article has inspired you to try these popular Chinese recipes at home. Enjoy!

Essential Chinese Cooking Techniques

Chinese cuisine is famous for its unique flavors and cooking techniques. In this article, we will discuss three essential Chinese cooking techniques that you can try at home. These techniques include steaming, stir-frying, and dumpling making.

Steaming Method

Steaming is a crucial cooking technique that plays a significant role in Chinese cuisine. Chinese chefs use steaming to cook a variety of dishes, including dim sum, buns, fish, and more. In steaming, the food is cooked using steam generated from boiling water. The steam ensures that the food is cooked evenly and retains its flavor and nutrients.

To steam food, you need a wok or a steamer basket. The most popular steaming method in Chinese cuisine is the bamboo steamer basket, which is commonly used to cook dumplings, buns, and other dim sum dishes. You can also use a metal steamer basket that fits inside a wok.

Here’s how to steam food using a bamboo steamer basket:

  1. Fill a wok with about an inch of water and bring it to a boil.
  2. Place the steamer basket on top of the wok.
  3. Arrange the food on top of the steamer basket, making sure there is enough space for the steam to circulate.
  4. Cover the steamer with a lid and let the food cook for the recommended time.
  5. Once the food is cooked, carefully remove the steamer basket from the wok.

Stir-fry Method

Stir-frying is a popular Chinese cooking technique that involves cooking ingredients at a high heat in a wok. This method is perfect for cooking vegetables, meats, and seafood. The high heat ensures that the food is cooked quickly, retaining its texture and flavor.

To stir-fry, you need a wok or a large skillet and a heat-resistant spatula. Here’s how to stir-fry at home:

  1. Preheat your wok on high heat for a few minutes.
  2. Add cooking oil to the wok and swirl it around to coat the surface evenly.
  3. Add the ingredients to the wok and stir-fry them by tossing and stirring them with the spatula.
  4. Season the dish with soy sauce, oyster sauce, or any other sauce of your choice.
  5. Continue stir-frying until the ingredients are cooked but still have a crunchy texture.
  6. Transfer the stir-fried dish to a plate and serve it hot with rice or noodles.

Dumpling Making

Dumpling making is an essential cooking technique in Chinese cuisine. Dumplings are bite-sized pockets of deliciousness that are typically filled with ground meat and vegetables. Chinese people have been making dumplings for centuries, and they are often served during the Chinese New Year celebration.

To make dumplings, you need to prepare the dough and filling separately. Once you have the dough and filling ready, here are the steps to make dumplings:

  1. Take a small piece of dough and roll it into a small circle using a rolling pin or your hands.
  2. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of the dough.
  3. Moisten the edges of the dough with water using your finger.
  4. Fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges together to seal the dumpling.
  5. Repeat the process until you have used up all the dough and filling.
  6. To cook the dumplings, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the dumplings.
  7. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until the dumplings float to the surface.
  8. Remove the cooked dumplings with a slotted spoon and serve them hot with soy sauce or any other dipping sauce of your choice.

In conclusion, steaming, stir-frying, and dumpling making are essential Chinese cooking techniques that you can try at home. By following the step-by-step instructions provided in this article, you can experience the unique flavors of Chinese cuisine in your own kitchen.

Common Chinese Ingredients

Chinese cuisine uses a wide variety of ingredients that are crucial to achieve its distinct flavors. Here are some of the most common ingredients found in Chinese cooking.

Rice Varieties

Rice is a staple in Chinese cuisine, and there are many different types of rice used in various dishes. Some of the most commonly used rice varieties in Chinese cooking include:

  • Jasmine rice: Fragrant, long-grain rice that is fluffy and slightly sticky. It is commonly used in Cantonese and Thai dishes.
  • Glutinous rice: Also known as sticky rice, this short-grain rice is used in dishes like zongzi (sticky rice dumplings) and sweet rice cakes.
  • Black rice: A type of glutinous rice that is dark purple in color, black rice is commonly used in desserts and sweet dishes.
  • Wild rice: A nutritious grain that is often mixed with other types of rice in Chinese dishes.

When cooking rice, it is important to rinse the grains thoroughly before cooking to remove excess starch. Use a rice cooker or cook the rice in a pot with a tight-fitting lid to ensure that it is cooked evenly. Avoid lifting the lid while the rice is cooking, as this will disrupt the cooking process and result in unevenly cooked rice.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is an essential ingredient in Chinese cooking that adds savory umami flavor to dishes. There are several types of soy sauce used in Chinese cuisine:

  • Light soy sauce: This type of soy sauce is thin and pale in color, with a salty flavor. It is used in marinades, seasoning sauces, and stir-fry dishes.
  • Dark soy sauce: Dark soy sauce is thicker and darker in color than light soy sauce. It has a sweet and savory flavor and is commonly used in braising sauces and marinades.
  • Sweet soy sauce: As the name suggests, sweet soy sauce has a sweet flavor and is commonly used as a finishing sauce or condiment in Chinese dishes.

When shopping for soy sauce, opt for high-quality brands that are made using traditional brewing methods. Avoid soy sauces with added preservatives or flavor enhancers.

Sichuan Peppercorn

Sichuan peppercorn is a key ingredient in Sichuan cuisine and is known for its numbing and slightly citrusy flavor. It is used in many Sichuan dishes, including mapo tofu, Dan dan noodles, and kung pao chicken. If you can’t find Sichuan peppercorn, you may substitute it with black peppercorns or pink peppercorns, although the flavor will not be the same.

When using Sichuan peppercorn, toast it in a dry pan before grinding it to release its flavor. Be sure to remove the seeds before using it, as they can be gritty and unpleasant to eat.

By using these common Chinese ingredients and following some basic cooking techniques, you can create delicious and authentic Chinese dishes at home.

Cooking Tools for Chinese Cuisine

Chinese cuisine is known all over the world for its unique flavors and cooking techniques. Cooking Chinese food requires specific tools that are essential in achieving the perfect taste and texture. In this article, we will explore three of the most important tools used in Chinese cuisine – the wok, Chinese cleaver, and bamboo steamer.


The wok is the most versatile of all Chinese cooking tools. It is a round-bottomed pan that comes in different sizes and materials, such as carbon steel, cast iron, and stainless steel. The wok is used for stir-frying, deep-frying, steaming, and braising.

One of the important qualities of a good wok is how well it conducts heat. Carbon steel woks are commonly preferred because they heat up quickly, distribute heat evenly, and are lightweight. Cast iron woks are durable, retain heat well, and have a natural non-stick surface. Stainless steel woks are easy to clean, long-lasting, and do not rust or corrode easily.

To season a wok, wash it with hot water and mild soap, then dry it completely. Heat the wok over high heat until it starts to smoke. Add two tablespoons of vegetable oil and swirl it around to coat all surfaces of the wok. Discard the oil and wipe the wok with a paper towel. The wok is now ready to use.

To care for a wok, avoid using abrasive pads or harsh detergents that can scratch the surface. After each use, wash the wok with hot water and a soft sponge, then dry it completely. Apply a thin layer of vegetable oil to prevent rusting.

Chinese Cleaver

The Chinese cleaver, also known as a Chinese chef’s knife, is a multi-purpose knife used for cutting meat, fish, vegetables, and herbs. It is designed with a wide, rectangular blade and a sharp edge that can be used for chopping and slicing.

When choosing a Chinese cleaver, look for one with a flat top that can be used for crushing ginger and garlic. The blade should be made of high-quality carbon steel or stainless steel for durability and sharpness. The handle should fit comfortably in your hand and have a good grip.

To use a Chinese cleaver, hold it firmly with your dominant hand, and use the other hand to guide the food. Use a rocking motion to chop or slice the food, and keep your fingers tucked away from the blade.

To care for a Chinese cleaver, wash it with hot water and mild soap, then dry it completely. Apply a few drops of food-grade mineral oil onto the blade to prevent rusting.

Bamboo Steamer

The bamboo steamer is a traditional Chinese cooking tool used for steaming dumplings, buns, vegetables, and fish. It is made of interlocking bamboo baskets that fit on top of each other, with a lid that traps the steam inside.

To use a bamboo steamer, line the baskets with parchment paper or cabbage leaves to prevent sticking. Place the food in a single layer, leaving enough space between them for steam to circulate. Put the steamer on top of a pot of boiling water, making sure the water does not touch the steamer. Cover the steamer with the lid and steam the food for the desired time.

To care for a bamboo steamer, wash it with hot water and mild soap, then dry it completely. Do not soak the steamer in water or use abrasive brushes that can damage the bamboo. Apply a light coating of vegetable oil to prevent the bamboo from cracking.

In conclusion, having the right tools is essential in achieving the perfect Chinese dishes. The wok, Chinese cleaver, and bamboo steamer are three of the most important tools in Chinese cuisine that every home cook should have. By using them correctly and taking proper care of them, you can create authentic and delicious Chinese meals at home.

Thanks for Reading!

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about these delicious Chinese recipes! Whether you have a sweet tooth or prefer savory dishes, there is something here for everyone to enjoy. Don’t be afraid to try something new and discover your new favorite dish.

Make sure to come back and visit for more exciting recipes and cooking tips. We love sharing our passion for food with our readers, and we’re always looking for new and delicious dishes to share. So, keep cooking and exploring the endless possibilities of Chinese cuisine!


1. Are these recipes difficult to make?

No, these recipes are easy to follow and perfect for home-cooking.

2. Are the ingredients hard to find?

Most of the ingredients can be found in your local grocery store or Asian market.

3. Can I substitute certain ingredients?

Yes, feel free to substitute ingredients to fit your taste preferences or dietary restrictions.

4. How many servings do these recipes make?

The serving size is stated in each recipe, but generally they serve 4 to 6 people.

5. Can I make these recipes ahead of time?

Yes, some of the recipes can be made ahead of time and reheated when ready to serve.

6. What’s the best way to reheat leftovers?

Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop.

7. Can I freeze these recipes?

Yes, some of the recipes can be frozen for later use. Make sure to store in airtight containers or plastic bags.

8. What are some common Chinese ingredients?

Soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, scallions, rice vinegar, and hoisin sauce are some common Chinese ingredients.

9. What type of rice should I use?

Jasmine rice or long-grain rice are commonly used in Chinese cuisine.

10. Do I need any special cooking equipment?

Most of these recipes can be made with basic kitchen equipment such as pots, pans, and knives. Some recipes may require a wok or bamboo steamer.

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About the Author: David Dunlap

Worked in restaurants for years before turning to food writing and has won multiple awards for the work, including more than a dozen awards.

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