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Ancient Foods: Chinese Part 2

Since China did not have any large forests about their land, they were constantly in need of locating a way to find fuel to cook their meals. The Chinese began to practice clever energy-saving techniques, as they started to cut their food into very small pieces, as this was a good way to cook food quickly on a small fire.  

During the Han Dynasty, millet wine became a highly popular beverage and at the time, surpassed the popularity of drinking tea. The Han Dynasty started around 100AD and also marked the moment with the Chinese started to turn their wheat and rice into long noodles.

Another historic milestone in ancient Chinese cuisine involved a visit from Marco Polo, who was interested in Kublai Khan at that time (about 1200 AD). He also noted at this time, the Chinese was not baking bread amongst other culinary achievements.  

Over the long history of ancient Chinese cooking, a complicated system of food preparation is one of the least spoken of traditions associated with the culture. The ancient Chinese created and elevated the art of cooking by learning the many different combinations of ingredients that prepared fulfilling and nutritious meals. They also mastered cooking techniques that involved many different levels and phases. This included steaming, stir frying, and later deep frying.  

Boiling was also a popular method of cooking their food during ancient times. Following the cooking of food, many phases of adding flavorings was also utilized. The Chinese would marinate their food before stir frying, or steaming, as well as between various stages of roasting.  

To get an idea of some of the ancient Chinese meals, below you will find a brief description of foods and meals that characterizes their culinary specialties of the past:  

With a Poached and Steamed Chicken with Ham recipe, the ancient Chinese prepared this meal using sliced leg ham, chicken, bok choy, chicken stock, caster sugar, and cornflour. Braised Pork Belly was another popular dish, which used belly pork that still included the bones. They would then prepare the meal using peanut oil for the meat. The braising liquid consisted of fresh ginger, chicken stock, rice wine, light and dark soy sauce, sugar, five-spice power, yellow bean sauce, and hoisin sauce, which is also known as Chinese barbeque sauce or suckling pig sauce.  

When preparing Bean Sprouts with Shredded Pork, the ancient Chinese used lean pork and coupled it with clove garlic, spring onions, soy sauce, castor sugar, Chinese cooking wine, bean sprouts (or shoots), and snow peas. The old recipe of Chicken and Mushroom Soup used skinned chicken thighs as its main source of protein. Rice wine, sesame oil, corn flour, dried Chinese mushrooms (that have been soaked in water for ½ hour), spring onions, ground white pepper, lean ham, and peanut oil. Another ancient Chinese recipe that is one of the most well known in other circles is fried rice, which is made to include pork, chicken, shrimp, and vegetables. Chinese barbequed pork was one of the first kinds of meats used in this popular dish.