If you’ve only even eaten Chinese food in Western countries, you’ll either love it or hate it. Either way, you’re going to get one big surprise when you come to China and taste real Chinese food. Here are seven Chinese dishes you’ll find in America and the West that are completely differentor don’t even exist, in mainland China.
Sweet and Sour Pork
Sweet and Sour Pork is something you’ll find on menus in China, but don’t expect it to be anything like what you’d get at your local takeaway. The sauce for American style S&S pork usually contains tomato paste and food coloring, giving it that alarming bright orange hue. Your meat of choice, be it pork, chicken or fish, will usually also come battered to oblivion.In actual China, however, Sweet and Sour Pork usually contains as many vegetables as it does meat. The thin slices of pork belly are tossed with peppers, onions and sometimes pineapple in a much lighter, but arguably more delicious, sauce.
Egg Foo Yung
The Egg Foo Yung in Western Chinese restaurants is usually served as a deep fried meat-filled egg patty covered in some kind of “Chinese” style sauce. The Egg Foo Yung you’ll find in China is hardly recognizable, however, coming as a very light, almost crepe-like egg pancake with crispy frilled edges. Much nicer than the American-style bastardization, if you ask me.
General Tso’s Chicken
Although its flavors and ingredients are typical to Huanese cuisine, General Tso’s Chicken, sometimes known as General Tse’s Chicken, is not something you will find at restaurants in China. The sticky, sweet chicken dish was, in fact, created by a Chinese chef in New York especially for Western palates.
Source: Quinn Dombrowski
Any self-respecting Western Chinese restaurant serves Fortune Cookies a the end of a meal, but why they do this is anyone’s guess. Fortune Cookies are actually modeled after Japanese senbei cookies and are not found anywhere in China-proper. Get yourself to a temple and shake some sticks if you need to know what’s in store for you.
Chop Suey/Chow Mein
Source: Breville USA
Although “Chop Suey” translates to an actual Chinese meaning “miscellaneous leftovers”, you’re not likely to come across it in China. The origins of the dish, which usually consists of all kinds of meats and vegetables quickly fried with rice (Chop Suey) or noodles (Chow Mein), is the stuff of legends. No-one knows exactly where it came from, but most accounts agree that it was conceived with American influence. Mixed fried rice or noodles is about the closest you’ll get in most mainland Chinese restaurants.
Beef and Broccoli
Beef and Broccoli is a Chinese takeaway classic in the West, but while dishes with both ingredients do exist in China, it’s simply not the same. That rich brown sauce you know and love is gone completely. The Chinese version is pretty much just a basic stir fry.
You’ll find it’s a very similar situation with Orange Chicken, which is similar to General Tso’s Chicken in the West, in that it’s a big, sweet, sticky, crispy mess. Orange Chicken in China, however, usually comes as chicken pieces stir-fried with dried orange or tangerine peel. Although orange peel is commonly used in Chinese medicine, I dare say it’s not going to cure your hangover as well as a big serving of American style Orange Chicken.
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Keywords: Chinese food not in China American Chinese food
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