Most Chinese people have never even heard of a General Tsao, and are completely befuddled by the overly sauced fried chicken dish that Americans know as General Tsao’s chicken.
In fact, authentic Chinese food almost looks nothing like American Chinese food. It varies tremendously by region: Sichuan cuisine is spicy, Shangdong cuisine is generally salty and crispy, and Cantonese cuisine is sweet, for example.
Here are eight real Chinese dishes you should order instead of the American knock-offs.
Instead of crab rangoon, order Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings):
Chinese people would not understand the appeal of crab rangoon, deep fried wontons filled with fake crab meat and cream cheese. If you’re hankering for a dumpling, order Xiao Long Bao instead. These Shanghai dumplings are filled with meat — usually pork or crab — and a rich savoury broth that oozes out at the first bite. There’s a trick to successfully eating one of these dumplings: bite the corner of the dumpling and let the broth seep out onto the spoon. Then eat the dumpling and slurp up the broth.
Instead of egg rolls, order cong you bing (scallion pancakes):
American-style egg rolls are thick, bloated, deep-fried rolls of dough filled with meat and vegetables. Biting into one can be a greasy, daunting, and messy affair. For a similar crunchy fried appetizer, try scallion pancakes, delicious fried flat bread loaded with chopped scallions.
Instead of General Tsao’s chicken, order Peking duck:
You won’t find General Tsao’s chicken in China, but if you’re hankering for a rich poultry dish, try Peking duck, a roasted duck dish which is famous for its succulent meat and flavorful, crispy skin. Pair it with some scallions, cucumbers, and hoisin sauce, and wrap it in a pancake for the traditional Peking duck dining experience.
Instead of beef with broccoli, order yu xiang rou si (shredded pork in hot garlic sauce):
There are two problems with the beloved beef with broccoli dish: There is no broccoli (at least not the western version) in China, and Chinese people generally don’t eat much beef. Instead, try Yu Xiang Rou Si, a dish of shredded pork in hot garlic sauce. In this spicy and flavorful Sichuan dish, the pork is usually sauteed with vegetables such as mushrooms and peppers.
Instead of sesame chicken, order la zi ji (chicken with chillies):
Instead of sesame chicken, which is fried chunks of chicken coated in a sweet sauce and sesame seeds, order l
a zi ji, an incredibly spicy Sichuan dish that consists of fried chunks of chicken breast with peppercorn, toasted sesame and chilli. It’s got the same crunch as the Chinese-American version, but with a lot more flavour.
Instead of lo mein, order zha jiang mian:
American-style lo mein noodles are thick wheat flour noodles that are stir-fried with vegetables or meat. It’s usually a heavy, greasy, and flavourless dish. Zha jiang mian is a much more flavorful, authentic Chinese noodle dish topped with delicious stir-fried pork and zhajiang (fermented soybean paste).
Instead of wonton soup, try shrimp dumpling soup:
Chinese American-style wonton soup usually consists of a thick noodle wrapped around a clump of pork in a broth. Hong Kong is famous for its noodle soups, and the shrimp dumpling soup is far superior to the American version. The shrimp dumpling has a much more delicate shell, the broth has a fragrant wonton flavour, and the soup is filled with fresh noodles.
Instead of fortune cookies, order oranges:
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