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Chinese Cuisine in Malta
For many communities and families across the globe, more than one fifth of the world’s population in fact, Chinese meals are served every day. It has developed into varied recipes with endless ways of cooking it throughout China’s rich history and once it started making it’s way to the Western world as of the start of the 20th century.
Chinese food is considered to be the oldest, and has therefore influenced a number of cuisines within its neighbouring countries. Combining thousands of years of history and recipes that have been passed down through generations, the heavily commercialised version of this food that we are now familiar with doesn’t do any justice to the true nature of this cuisine. It also doesn’t help that because of this, it makes it difficult to understand what ‘authentic’ Chinese food really is and to pinpoint ‘traditional’ dishes. To do this, we would have to spend a significant amount of time traipsing through the towns and villages of China to get to know the true richness of this cuisine! However, there are some standard ingredients that are at the foundation of Chinese cooking and we’ll mention them below.
Chinese Food’s List Of Must-Haves!
Soy Sauce – Light or dark is the question? Light soy sauce has a thinner consistency and is lighter in colour. Dark soy sauce is fermented for a longer period, is thicker in consistency and much richer.
Oyster Sauce – Yes, it’s made oysters! Most often used in stir fry dishes, it has a texture of syrup with a perfectly balanced flavour of salty and sweet.
Sesame Oil – Made from roasting sesame seeds, it’s used in dipping sauces and chilled meals (as it tends to lose some of its flavour if heated), such as a stir-fry or a dressing.
Chinese Five-Spice – Considered a must-have! Targeting a full-in range of flavours including sweet, bitter, salty, sour and, of course, umami. Generally, your regular five-spice powder in most Chinese food supermarket sections consist of ground cinnamon, cloves, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns and fennel seed, though you may come across ones which contain cardamom, cumin, galangal or turmeric. It’s used quite consistently across regions in China and enhances stir-fried food, soups or stews, roasted meats and in marinades.
Shaoxing Wine – Also known as rice wine (because it’s made from fermented rice), and is used for both for cooking and drinking purposes. Whether it’s braising meat and vegetables or steaming, it’s a perfect addition that creates a nutty and caramelised flavour.
Chinese food is extremely diverse – so diverse in that there are very few (if any!) other cuisines that can compare to this. It’s such a large expanse of land that it would be as though you are trying to compare it to Europe as one country and to distinguish the most popular dishes. Where do you even start from? It’s still considered a blank canvas, a clean slate to be as creative as you can possibly imagine! There are no strict regulations in Chinese food, so there’s always an opportunity to invent something that still remains true to its spirit.
Take-Out Or Delivery? Chinese Food Is Your Go-To!
One thing is certain, Chinese food is what take-out and delivery were born from! It is what boosted Chinese cuisine in the United States back when immigrants from China weren’t integrated into the middle or upper class of workers because of undue discrimination. McDonald’s, KFC or Burger King didn’t exist, nor did any other real take-out option. Small, simple Chinese restaurants started popping up, which offered the chance for people to enjoy food they didn’t have to cook themselves and at a price they could afford.
Malta’s got it’s very own Chinese food restaurant in Paceville over 20 years ago and it is still standing strong. Over these last 2 decades, Chinese food place have sprung up all over the island, and it’s tough to find a city or village that doesn’t have it’s local favourite for take-out and delivery. Whether it’s Sliema, Mellieha or as far south as Marsaxlokk, they are all home to some awesome Chinese food that can be delivered right to your door!