by The Culinistas
We heard you loud and clear wanting to see international dishes on our weekly menus — and now that we’ve rolled out our Mexican and Indian dishes, it’s time to debut our new Chinese offerings, developed in collaboration with chef Simone Tong, who runs the show at restaurants Little Tong Noodle Shop and Silver Apricot in NYC.
Let’s get to know more about Chef Tong.
The Culinistas: What do you love most about cooking Chinese food?
Simone Tong: I love how quickly you can make a tasty Chinese meal if you are short for time, with the help of condiments, premium sauces, and spices.
TC: What’s a common misconception about Chinese food?
ST: There are quite a few, but the top three would be: Chinese food is unhealthy, or greasy; Chinese food is cheap; there is only one kind of Chinese food. (I am clearly passionate about this.)
TC: What’s your favorite Chinese dish you wish more people knew about?
ST: Not a dish, I just want people to try to explore different regional cuisines of Chinese food. The more you try, the more you will find out how multifaceted the cuisine is.
TC: What are the key ingredients and techniques used when cooking Chinese food?
ST: The common Chinese ingredients for home cooking include: light soy sauce, Shaoxing cooking wine, black vinegar, and oyster sauce.
Common spices used for braising or baking or roasting often include black cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, dried chilies, fennel, cumin, and crystal rock sugar (check out this great explainer on what it is and how to use it).
Common techniques used at home often include braising, poaching, steaming, and stir-frying.
TC: Do you have any tips/tricks for people just starting to learn about or cook Chinese dishes?
ST: It’s very intense and impossible to try to understand all Chinese cuisines at once. I think the best way is to try to learn one dish at a time — best to start with your favorite Chinese dish since…you know how you like it done. I suggest watching a few YouTube cooking videos of that dish, taking notes and trying to cook it yourself. After a few variations and tasting, you will gain experience and find the best way you like cooking it. And that, to me, is a more fun way of cooking another culture’s cuisine.
Is your favorite international dish missing from our menus? Tell us what you want to see next!