As Chinese New Year approaches, with many gathering to celebrate the year of the dragon, Sophie Nahmad, expert chef at recipe box provider Gousto, has pulled together five tips and three recipes to help you create a festive feast to honour the celebrations.
When it comes to making Chinese food at home, Sophie shares a couple of pointers to help you achieve the perfect flavour; using authentic ingredients, perfecting the all-important stir fry, and understanding flavours.
Find and use authentic ingredients
“There are some essentials I can’t be without when it comes to cooking authentic Chinese food at home,” Sophie shares. “A crispy chilli oil, whether that’s homemade or store bought, is essential for a delicious noodle topping to bring some heat. When making a stir fry, I love adding Chinese rice wine to enhance the sweetness, and Chinese 5-Spice is a great all-rounder to bring some fragrance. Having a few different soy sauce options is also key for me; light and dark are great to cook with, and it’s also good to have one to dip your sides in.
“If you’re struggling to find any ingredients, I’d say a trip to your local China Town is the best way to solve this problem. Visiting one of the many Chinese supermarkets that are filled with delicious, exciting, and authentic ingredients should help you scout out the essentials you need for your culinary adventure.”
Tips for the perfect stir-fry
“Stir-fries are deceptively simple, with a few things that can trip up even experienced cooks,” says Sophie. “A common mistake that many people make is cooking your veggies for too long; the ideal method is to use a high temperature and quickly wok-fry your vegetables so that they don’t go soggy.
“Investing in a good wok is key for getting a great sear on your meat and will help you concoct delicious stir-fries. And if you find yourself cooking Chinese cuisine often, a rice cooker is a worthy purchase for fluffy rice every time.”
Understanding styles and flavours
“There are eight different regional cuisines within Chinese food, each with their own distinct flavours,” Sophie shares. “At the moment, I’m loving Szechuan cuisine – or Sichuan, both are valid – recognisable for its spicy, numbing, and oily deliciousness. Sichuan peppercorns are a store cupboard must if you’re interested in recreating this style at home. Szechuan cuisine was noted in Gousto’s 2024 Food Trends Report as one of our top flavours to watch out for in 2024, and I think it’s the perfect style to help you celebrate Chinese New Year at home.