On nights when one does not feel like preparing a meal, one of the go-to types of cuisine here in the UK is Chinese takeaway. Aromatic, flavourful, and almost never disappointing (as long as you go to the right restaurant), Chinese food has become popular all across the globe.
Or, at least “modernized” Chinese cuisine has become popular. What many of us do not know is that what we consider to be Chinese food today is actually a far stretch from the traditional Chinese dishes that are still prepared in the country today. We have compiled a list of amazing facts about this beloved cuisine, starting with a couple of surprising foods you would never find in a traditional meal.
Fact #1: Traditional Chinese Cuisine Contains Zero Broccoli
Beef and broccoli lovers will surely be surprised by this fact! Traditional Chinese cuisine contains no broccoli, since broccoli is not native to the area. What is used in the more traditional dishes is gai lan or bokchoy.
Fact #2: There Are Not Any Tomatoes Either
While on the topic of what foods and vegetables you would not find in a traditional Chinese dish, tomatoes are another one. Much like broccoli, tomatoes are not native to China, which is why traditional foods are not prepared with them.
Fact #3: Western Sweet and Sour Sauce Is Very Different From the Traditional
Visit any local Chinese takeaway outfit in Bristol, and you will be able to find a variety of meats and vegetables tossed in a red, rich, thick, sweet and sour sauce. While sweet and sour sauce does exist in China, their version of it is very different. Believed to have originated from the Chinese province of Hunan, a traditional sweet and sour sauce is a weak vinegar mixed with sugar. This sauce is used for a dipping sauce for meat and fish.
Fact #4: Spring Rolls Are the Equivalent to Chicken Fingers
Spring rolls do exist in China, but they are not nearly as embraced as they are in a Western culture. For many of us in the UK, spring rolls are the go-to Chinese takeout appetizer. In China, they are the equivalent of chicken fingers and are more often prepared for children rather than adults.
Fact #5: Fortune Cookies are Not Chinese
Everyone’s favourite little dessert, which often accompanies their Chinese takeout, is not, in fact, Chinese. While the jury is still out as to whether or not the fortune cookie was created by a Chinese immigrant or a Japanese immigrant who moved to California, one thing is for certain—it has no place in traditional Chinese cuisine.
While it may be true that the nearest Chinese takeaway in Bristol is serving “westernised” Chinese cuisine, the fact of the matter is that these dishes still contain the same flavours and make use of many of the same spices and ingredients as traditional dishes do. The dishes found in the UK simply have been modified to cater to our own distinct preferences in taste and texture.