Chinese Lunch consists of an interesting selection of dishes created following the traditional Chinese style of cooking. These are presented in different courses wherein, quite unlike other cuisines, soup is not served as the first course. A typical Chinese lunch meal consists of a first course of rice, followed by main courses consisting of one to four meat or fish dishes, two vegetable dishes and finally a soup to wash down the meal in place of drinks. The Chinese are known for their strict table manners as well as eating and drinking customs. There is a Chinese saying which describes the importance of lunch as being the main source of energy during the course of the day. Usually the Chinese like to enjoy a relaxed break at lunchtime.
Typical Chinese Lunch Menu
A Chinese Lunch typically consists of noodle soup, or wonton soup, stir fried vegetables and/or meats, numerous meat or poultry dishes in a base of variety of sauces, Chinese style noodles, fried rice, tofu dishes and many exceptional desserts.
1. The Chinese soup is extremely variable ranging from thick soups to thin soups, special healing soups to egg drop soup, hot and sour soups, soyabean soups, noodle soup and wonton soup.
2. A wide variety of vegetables like bok choy, mushroom, carrots, onions, beans, snowpeas, celery, tofu, broccoli can be used to prepare a vegetarian stir fry. Non-vegetarian main course dishes may include stir-fried chicken/fish/prawns/shrimp/beef or pork.
3. Beef/chicken/shrimp or vegetables tossed in brown sauce/garlic sauce/oyster sauce and spicy chilli sauce or spicy sweet sauce are common lunch favourites. Other regulars on the lunch menu include sesame chicken, almond/ cashew nut chicken.
4. Stir fried noodles with vegetables or additionally shrimp, chicken or beef pieces.
5. Traditional fried rice with either chicken, beef, shrimp or a mix is quite popular too.
6. Desserts do not hold too much prominence as part of a traditional Chinese lunch. As people prefer to have a fruit instead, and this has been a trend since many years. Modern day dessert options include Peking Dust constituting fresh chestnuts, and whipped cream. Almond Tea made of rice, agar agar or gelatin and almonds cooked with plenty of sugar.
7. Chinese Tea or Jasmine Tea is the preferred beverage along with a Chinese Lunch.
1. Overall Chinese cuisine is considered quite healthy as it uses ingredients such as sesame oil, rich in omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E.
2. Stir-fry process of cooking consists of high heat, quick cooking of vegetables/meats/poultry etc thus retaining maximum nutritional value of the vegetables.
3. Plenty of different vegetables used deliver a variety of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidant nutrients that benefit the health with minimal nutrient losses during cooking.
4. The diverse spices and different ingredients used provide not only distinctive and irresistible flavours to any dish but also offer their inherent essential oil and phytonutrient benefits such those obtained from as pepper corns or chillies, ginger and garlic etc. All of these present anti-inflammatory benefits to different body systems.
5. Special Chinese teas are full of antioxidant nutrients that assist with weight loss, cholesterol control and prevent cardiovascular concerns.
6. Soy and its products, soy sauce, soybean curd or tofu supply phytoestrogens with cardio-protective functions.
Disadvantage of Chinese Lunch
One of the few drawbacks of Chinese food is the high salt or sodium content which may also be toned down by
• maximising the use of herbs and spices,
• using reduced sodium soy sauce
• or substitutes such as vinegar or lemon juice
• Use of fresh vegetables rather than canned or frozen
Secondly, preparing dishes using less fat; stir frying or pan-frying instead of deep frying and even better employing steaming or baking processes. Always using lean meat and poultry would help reduce the total fat content.