Real Chinese Food Vs American Chinese Food

American Chinese food and real Chinese food are pretty similar, but there are several notable differences that are well explained in this article.

1. Inspiration adoption

The Chinese immigrants to America are the ones who present the Chinese cuisines, and the different regions of China inspire their cuisines.

Like Guangdong, Hongkong and Fujian inspired some recipes like kung pao chicken and moo shu pork and orange chicken.

However, you find that some foods are underrepresented in American Chinese restaurants from the likes of the province of Anhui, which has unique recipes; hence not all foods in china are found in  America.

Authentic Chinese food comes from the eight provinces of china hence representing the Chinese cuisines and their vast diversity incorporating it in their culinary foods.

But, equally, there are regions which are not famous but have unique foods which also play a part in the unique Chinese cuisines.

2. Origin of Chinese cuisine

In America, Chinese food was first introduced by the immigrants who ran to America due to the gold rush. They came through san Francisco and mostly settled around the areas.

However, most immigrants came from the more significant parts of Guangdong, which is presently known as canton; hence with their cuisines and cultures, they introduced the first-ever restaurant at California san Francisco and the onset of Chinese American food.

Authentic Chinese food originated from the eight regions of China. It has a long history dating back to thousands of years of Chinese cooking.

Chinese cooking is an essential part of Chinese culture, also known as Chinese food culture. The unique ingredients and recipes and the whole art of preparation make Chinese one of the best cuisines in the world.

3. Difference in ingredients

Chinese food in America tends to feature what people typically eat. For example, Americans eat pork, chicken, beef, dairy potatoes, shrimp, big onions, wheat noodles, and rice, which most Chinese restaurants use to prepare their meals.

Therefore the American Chinese meat prefers boneless and skinless meat.

Authentic Chinese food entails lots of ingredients some Americans, for instance, would consider absurd to eat, but no need to dispute that is the Chinese culture which has to be respected for whatever reason.

Some of these strange exotic ingredients include dogs, insects, frogs, exotic sea animals, snakes, types of fungi and different sea vegetables, bitter melon, bamboo shoots, among many.

4. Difference in spices

Americans never grow spices because American agriculture is more focused on growing soybeans and corn. Hence they import most spices from other countries.

The most common spices in  America are cinnamon mustard, oregano, pepper vanilla beans, and sesame seeds. However, Cumijn paprika and turmeric are gaining popularity these days.

Chinese cooking involves a lot of seasoning. They make use of traditional or regional spices, some like salt, vinegar, soy sauce, and cinnamon are common in America.

Others like star anise, lesser galangal,  cardamon, kaempferol galangal are not well known in America but very popular in china.

5. Difference in flavors

For the better part, the Chinese emphasized cooking food with balanced flavors depending on the different meals. Consequently, they have a variety of distinct flavors that are all mixed into the broth.

So you find robust, bold, and exotic flavors are the driving force that makes Chinese food popular. Also, to make these flavors stand out, you have to learn the ingredients’ chemistry and perception.

American Chinese food mostly lacks the originality of the flavors that are found in the Chinese. This is because the ingredients are not derived in America, and if they do, they might differ in flavor due to the difference in climate or other geographic features.

However, Americans Chinese food seeks to incorporate different flavors. Therefore, the consumers search for information regarding the Chinese cuisine as they want o see different colors, a taste, and flavor in their meals.

6. The difference in how the meal is shared

In America, the survey shows that 60% of people eat food individually. Nonetheless, It doesn’t mean that the entire population does not share the food, but it is common to find people eating breakfast, lunch, or supper by themselves.

In China, having meals entails eating together as traditionally considered culturally appropriate. From business gatherings to family banquets eating together is an important activity.

Chinese also have a sequence followed during gathering around the table, people of honor sit at the center facing the east side or facing the door while the rest others sit next to the honor with their ranks from top to bottom to furthest on the table.

7. The difference in the cutlery  for eating

Most Americans like to eat their food using a fork, knife, or spoon. However, that is not the case for the Chinese as they primarily use chopsticks to eat. This is a culture that has been there for a long time. Hence you find their food is usually bite-sized.

This could also be a plus for the cooks who would use less fuel to prepare the meal.

In addition, the use of chopsticks was influenced by Confucius, a vegetarian who felt using forks and knives reminded them about the violence of slaughterhouses. Using chopsticks, therefore, portrayed a positive practice.

8. The difference in the ingredients not found in America

Traditionally Chinese cooking has ingredients that are unique to china alone and cannot be found or are rarely found in America or any other part of the world.

The ingredients  such as ginger, a variety of mushrooms, and soy sauce are familiar to Americans, but ingredients  like lotus  pods, star anise, fermented beans, and plum sauce are unique to china

9. Difference on eating

The American Chinese foods are meant to be eaten, but the Americans rely on eating a little, i.e., taking a   feast and famine approach to eating, which is later characterized by skipping lunch to create room for cake.

 According to the Chinese people, as long as the food contains all the different balanced diets like carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and vitamins, they should eat until they are satisfied. So primarily Chinese eat all three meals in a day.

10. Having fluids to accompany food

Chinese like to have fluids such as soups or watery porridge or zhou, and it is often eaten first before anything.

The soups are meant to reduce your appetite since they also fill you up. American Chinese food might, on the other hand, be dry; hence the Americans will use drinks such as water or soda to accompany their meals, something which the  Chinese will never do.

11. The difference in  raw foods

American foods involve eating raw vegetables for salads they believe eating raw food is very satisfying, plus you get first-hand nutrients.

On the other side, the Chinese people do not include raw foods in their meals because raw food is contaminated with fertilizers during cultivation, hence not suitable for consumption. They also believe that too much raw food might lead to stomach bloating and weight gain.

12. The difference in dairy intake

American Chinese cuisine might be influenced by dairy since the Americans like to take milk and cheese.

However, in the Chinese diet,  dairy usage is different; for instance, eating cheese in china is associated with the nomadic community who were generally regarded as outsiders who always eat the cheese; hence it was considered a low-life food variety.

 However, the trend recently seems to change as more Chinese people increasingly use dairies such as yogurt and milk cheese.

13. Medicinal food

In China, they attach food with medicinal values; hence this is not a new thing because it is a culture that has always been practiced.

Mixing food and medicine is a way to ensure that your health is improved despite the food that you eat.

The recipes, in this case, are not your everyday recipes, and their preparation could also be complex, but the objective is to prepare a meal that improves human health.

American Chinese food has entirely different perceptions of how it should affect human health, or rather it does not pay much attention to the medicinal aspects. It is meant only to satisfy you but no implications on the health benefits.

14. Symbolic meaning

Natural Chinese food has cultural or symbolic meanings to their food. From the birthday celebrations to wishing people long life to the dragon boat festivals, all this has instances of food that touch a meaning. Would you please take a look at the following foods and their meaning

Moon cakes– are used during the autumn festivals to symbolize unity in the family.

Sweet round sticky rice balls–  it is commonly prepared during the lantern festivals. When the dish is placed in the soup, it represents reunion and togetherness.

Dumplings – their appearance resembles a traditional piece of silver or gold; hence they present wealth and are eaten during the chines new year.

Vegetable dumplings

Noodles – a good example is the longevity noodles used in celebrating birthdays.

In American Chinese food, all the above symbols are not attached to the foods; however, American Chinese food also has its traditions only not similar to authentic Chinese food.

15. Difference in sauces

Soy sauce is one of the main sauces used in Chinese cuisines for seasoning. It is a  signature sauce in Chinese cuisine; therefore, American Chinese food and authentic Chinese use the sauce for seasoning food. In American Chinese, the same also serves as a condiment.

The authentic Chinese has plum as its main ingredient for making the sauce, unlike the American one, which uses apricot that is a fruit not commonly found in China; thus, this makes the American Chinese sauce different from the authentic sauce from china.

16. Difference in preparation

We know in the culinary art of Chinese cuisine, preparing a meal is complex as Chinese cuisine is not all about making the food.

Still, the time also taken to prepare and put in place foods that display different colors, flavors, and textures and just learning to harmonize them into one meal is typically what succeeds as Chinese food.

When mentioning the difference between Chinese and American Chinese cuisine, you can never assume mentioning preparation as this impacts the flavor of the food.

Almost all Chinese food has stir-frying as the central part of its preparation which is equally valid from Chinese food; however, they have different preparations methods for vegetables and meat, like fermenting, braising, steaming, and stewing. These methods are never practiced in American Chinese food.

17. The difference in the shape of the table to be served

Traditionally Chinese people like to eat their food communally at a round table. This is because certain things in Chinese cuisines have symbolic meanings.

Using round tables meant unity. While in America, most foods are served on square tables, making it more convenient to have individuals eat their meals.

18. The difference in the popular foods

American Chinese food has several popular foods similar to the Chinese cuisines but differs in preparing the ingredients and flavors.

Chop suey

This food was introduced in the early 1800, but its history is quite fizzy with no clear notion for how it came to be; however, there is a chance that it came from Guangdong Taishans county where the community ate the za Sui or tsap seui.

The dish is made from bean sprout, celery, cabbage, meat tossed in the wok with starch and sauce and cooked together in stir-fry served with rice.

General Tso chicken

The origin of this food is also not clear. Some say that it came about through a Hunanese native named peng-chang Kuei who ran Taiwan because of the civil war and later relocated to New York, where he opened a restaurant and equally invented the dish.

It is one lasting food that developed in the cannon of American Chinese food. It involves deep-fried chicken thigh, which is crispy and is immersed into a sweet and tangy sauce.

Egg foo young

In the menus, egg foo young is also described as a Chinese omelet. The food originated in Guangdong, and the American Chinese version is almost identical to it; however, there are still disparities in the ingredient of choice cooking style and texture.

The American Chinese version involves beating the egg adding vegetables such as bamboo shoots and bean stratus, minced ham, and water chestnuts, and the Chinese omelet is ready.

Sweet and sour pork

The origin of sweet and sour pork hails from Cantonese people. The American Chinese version is surprisingly similar to the Cantonese dish gulaorou. However, some notable similarities about the sweet and sour also go way too much for the Chinese.

The food comprises deep-fried pork that is battered and fried until crispy, coated with sweet and tangy sauce served with pineapples, bell peppers, and onions.

The sweet and tangy for the American involve Chinese brown sugar, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. The Chinese version is a mixture of spice, honey, sugar mixed with soy sauce and rice vinegar.

Beef and  broccoli

The American Chinese dish uses broccoli which is originally from the Mediterranean. In contrast, the broccoli in Chinese is called the jielen niurou, a leafy vegetable known as  Chinese broccoli in English.

This American Chinese dish is a marination of flank steak and broccoli, stir-fried together in an aromatic sauce.

Fortune cookie

This is the icon, the symbol, and the myth of American Chinese food. The fortune cookies as surprisingly not from china yet again not from California, but it’s Japanese cuisine.

The Japanese fortune cookie dated back to the 19th century were they were served in the temples made with miso and sesame.

fa gao

The Japanese introduced the fortune cookies we know today in California, but this changed after World War II when the Chinese took ownership.

Fried rice

The basis of this cuisine in both countries is similar, consisting of a day-old rice soy sauce and other spices still some things make the American fried rice quite different from the Chinese one.

Beef Fried Rice

The difference comes in the variety of vegetables used to prepare fried rice, generally not found in the Chinese context.

They include carrots, onions, and other meat, making the food not similar to the Chinese fried rice.

Fried rice in America is considered a basic dish with meat on the side. Food china while others may consider adding meat to it, but it is never the main meal.

FAQ question

What do Chinese people eat while at the table?

Authentic Chinese cuisines involve a culture that is shared even while sharing a meal.

First, the Chinese people like to eat communally; hence, eating alone was considered taboo until recent years.

Second, while eating a meal, you will mostly find Chinese people using chopsticks to eat their dishes and spoons to scoop soup.

Is American Chinese food authentic Chinese food

American Chinese food is only the food made by Chinese immigrants for the Chinese people living in America; therefore, the food might have many similarities. But the real deal is that several things make American Chinese food not authentic.

As much as the Americans insist it is authentic, there is a difference in the different ingredients used that are not found in America. The method of preparation, among many others, brings about the variance.

My thoughts

 The vital thing to note is that both cuisines are china inspired and made by Chinese people, and they are both unique and delicious.

Hence it is only prudent to note that there is no superiority on the foods that base their origin in the same place. Both American Chinese and authentic Chinese have cuisines that anyone can enjoy at any given time.

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