Chinese cooking techniques

Chinese cooking techniques
Chinese cooking techniques vary widely in form, with stir-frying(炒, 爆) being one of the better known methods in the West

Chinese cooking techniques (中餐烹調法) are a set of methods and techniques traditionally used in Chinese cuisine.[1] The cooking techniques can either be grouped into ones that use a single cooking method or a combination of wet and dry cooking methods.



Many cooking technique involve a singular type of heated cooking or action.


Steamed sea bass in the Cantonese style

Wet-heat, immersion-based cooking methods are the predominate class of cooking techniques in Chinese cuisine and are usually referred to as "zhǔ" (煮). In fact the term (zhǔ, 煮) is commonly used to denote cooking in general.


Fast wet-heat based cooking methods include:

English Equivalent Chinese Pinyin Description
Braising simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: Shāo Braising ingredients over medium heat in a small amount of sauce or broth and simmering for a short period of time until completion. Known as hong-shao (红燒, lit. red cooked) when the sauce or broth is soy sauce based.
Quick Boiling 氽 or 煠 Dǔn or Zhá Adding ingredients and seasonings to boiling water or broth and immediately serving the dish with the cooking liquid when everything has come back to a boil.
Scalding 焯 or simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: Chāo or Tàng Par cooking through quick immersion of raw ingredients in boiling water or broth sometimes followed by immersion in cold water.


Prolonged wet-heat based cooking methods include:

English Equivalent Chinese Pinyin Description
Bake stewing Wēi Slowly cooking a ceramic vessel of broth and other ingredients by placing it in or close to hot embers.
Gradual simmering simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: Dūn Adding ingredients to cold water along with seasonings and allowing the contents to slowly come to a prolonged simmering boil. This is known in English as double steaming due to the vessels commonly used for this cooking method. The term is also used in the Chinese languages to describe the Western cooking technique of stewing and brewing herbal remedies of Traditional Chinese medicine.
Slow red cooking simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: Cooking over prolonged and constant heat with the ingredients completely immersed in a strongly flavoured soy sauce based broth. This technique, along with hong-shao (红燒, lit), is known in English as red cooking.
Steaming 蒸 or 燖 Zhēng or Xún Steaming food to completion over boiling water.
Decoction Áo Cooking slowly to extract nutrients into the simmering liquid, used to describe the brewing process in Chinese herbology with the intention of using only the decocted brew.



Zhangcha duck is a dish whose preparation involves steaming (蒸), smoking (熏), and deep frying (炸).

Food preparation in hot dry vessels such as an oven or a heated empty wok include:

English Equivalent Chinese Pinyin Description
Baking or Roasting Kǎo Cooking by hot air through convection or broiling in an enclosed space
Smoking Xūn Cooking in direct heat with Smoke. The source of the smoke is typically sugar or tea.


Stir frying (爆 bào) is a Chinese cooking technique involving relatively large amounts of oil.

Oil-based cooking methods are one of the most common in Chinese cuisine and include:

English Equivalent Chinese Pinyin Description
Deep frying or Frying Zhà Full or partial immersion cooking in hot oil or fat
Pan frying Jīan Cooking in a pan with a light coating of oil or liquid and allowing to food to brown.
Stir frying or high heat Sautéing Chǎo Cooking ingredients at hot oil and stirring quickly to completion. This technique and bao (爆炒, 油爆) are commonly known in English as stir frying. This technique uses higher heat than that of Sautéing.
High heat Stir frying Bào Cooking with large amounts hot oil (油爆), sauces (酱爆), or broth (汤爆) at very high heat and tossing the ingredients in the wok to completion.

Without heat

Food preparation techniques not involving the heating of ingredients include:

Raw methods
English Equivalent Chinese Pinyin Description
Dressing Bàn Mixing raw or unflavoured cooked ingredients with seasonings and served immediately. Similar to tossing a dressing into salad.
Marinating or pickling Yān To pickle or marinade ingredients in salt, soy sauce or soy pastes. Use for making pickles or preparing ingredients for addition cooking.


The chicken in General Tso's chicken has been fried and lightly braised in sauce (Liu, 溜)

Several techniques in Chinese involve more than one stage of cooking and have their own terms to describe the process. They include:

  • Dòng (凍): The technique is used for making aspic but also used to describe making of various gelatin desserts
    1. Simmering meat for a prolonged period in a broth (Lu, 滷) or (Dun, 炖)
    2. Chilling the resulting meat and broth until the mixture gels
  • Hùi (燴): The dishes made using this technique is usually finished by thickening with starch (勾芡)
    1. Quick precooking in hot water (Tang, 燙)
    2. Finished by stir-frying (爆, 炒) or Shao (燒)
  • Liū (溜): This technique is commonly used for meat and fish. Pre-fried tofu is made expressly for this purpose.
    1. Deep frying (Zha, 炸) the ingredients until partially cooked
    2. Finishing the ingredients lightly braising (Shao, 燒) it to acquired a soft "skin"
  • Mēn (燜):
    1. Stir-frying (爆, 炒) the ingredients until partially cooked
    2. Cover and simmer (Shao, 燒) with broth until broth is fully reduced and ingredients are fully cooked.

See also


  1. ^ 傅, 培梅 (2008), 培梅食譜, 1, 旗林文化, ISBN 9789866655258 

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