Most people in China won’t ask you how you’re doing. Instead, Chinese people use the phrase 吃了吗 (Chi le ma: Have you eaten yet?). This may give you a hint of the Chinese passion for food. Indeed, there is a saying in Chinese: 民以食为天 (mín yǐ shí wéi tiān: people regard food as the sky). Since food is so important in China, you might wonder…
The most important piece of equipment in a Chinese kitchen is the gas stove. Since 炒 (chǎo: stir-frying), is the most common cooking technique in Chinese cooking, exhaust fans are as indispensable as gas stoves. It is said that the oil fumes discharged by households in daily Chinese life contributes considerably to heavy air pollution.
The next most important thing would be 锅 (guō), the wok. Different from the frying pans in western countries, woks are made with rounded bottoms. This makes it easier to toss around and pick up food. Traditional woks are entirely made of iron. In China, many people believe that food cooked in an iron wok absorbs iron elements from the wok, which makes food healthier.
Measuring equipment? What’s that? In Chinese cooking, the key is to feel with your intuition. Chinese cooking shows and recipes frequently quote “少许” (shǎo xǔ: a bit), “适量” (shì liàng: an adequate amount)，and “一杯／一碗” (yì bēi/yì wǎn: a glass/bowl of) as units of measurement. For a green hand, these phrases can be eyesores. But with practice, these ambiguous measurements allow people to make the best of their intuition and come up with the food most suitable to their own tastes.
Before I was ever exposed to western cultures, I had never thought people would have a set of knives kept in the kitchen - the paring knife, Chef’s knife, the cleaver, the Japanese knife, the boning knife… In my mother’s point of view, only two knives are needed: one main knife and the other is just a substitute for when the main knife somehow fails its duty.
Egg-whisks! If you're clever, you'l know that. Chinese people use chopsticks to beat eggs. Also sometimes eat food 😉.
It would be a big lie if I told you that this was all there was to Chinese kitchens. China is diverse, which this definitely applies to its kitchens. The best way to have a clear picture of Chinese kitchens is to pack your bag and start your journey east!