Before discussing how to find and prepare traditional Chinese food recipes, let’s first clarify what traditional means. Traditional means that it’s done in the original style of something, with no substitutions or modifications. The food you find in Chinese buffets and other restaurants, are not ordinarily cooked using traditional recipes or methods.
This is where the restaurant industry has done many lovers of various ethnic foods a grave disservice, because those who frequent their restaurants often don’t realize that what they are getting isn’t truly authentic or made using traditions native to the culture. This is when tourists are often extremely surprised after visiting a region and ordering a dish that they think they’ve had many times before!
Finding traditional Chinese food recipes can be rather tricky, since most recipes you can find on the internet have been modified to make them more quickly or using ingredients that are readily available as mixes, this is where a lot of people mess up even traditional recipes. When making a traditional ethnic dish, most times substitutions or “mixes” are not allowed or, if they are done- will ruin the entire recipe.
If you search for any type of recipe online, try to find a site dedicated solely to Chinese recipes. Do a bit of research before choosing the recipes you will cook, and make sure that you are getting traditional recipes. If you choose non-traditional dishes or versions of dishes, remember that if you are preparing them for someone who is familiar with traditional dishes, then you’ll likely be informed that your recipe isn’t “right!”
Another good thing to remember is that sometimes traditional items are difficult to find, if you live in an area with limited sources of ethnic grocery stores or they don’t have a large selection- then you may have quite a bit of difficulty in attempting to prepare any type of traditional Chinese food recipes. Check out your local grocer’s ethnic food aisles, and attempt to visit any local Asian markets that may be near you to see what’s available in your area. This can save you a lot of frustration ahead of time in trying to prepare any new dishes.
When you get ready to prepare your recipe, make sure you’ve read through the entire recipe ahead of time. Some traditional recipes actually require hours or even DAYS to prepare properly, so waiting until the last minute to get started without reading through the recipe ahead of time can be disastrous to your attempts at making it. Have your ingredients purchased ahead of time, know what kind of time frame you are looking at for preparing it, and make sure that you fully understand any special instructions before beginning.
You can find traditional Chinese food recipes online through some recipe websites, forums or message boards. Another great resource for them is to check your local library’s cooking section, especially if they’ve got a section specifically for traditional or ethnic cooking. Major book retailers are also a great resource for cookbooks, you can even special order books if they don’t have the one you need in stock.