Chinese Restaurant Cooking Techniques

Hi Chefs,

Do you know the cooking techniques that Chinese Restaurants use?

Chicken stir-fry: my home-made recipe never comes close to the their superior flavor and texture. Their chicken is cut up into thin slivers that curl up in searing heat which gives it a natural, appetizing appearance, whereas mine is cut into thick cube shapes that turn out dry and rubbery, looking unnatural and unappetizing. Apparently the slivers are more tender and juicy because they cook quicker and provide more surface area for flavor but how do they cut it so thin, with a machine? It almost looks like they don’t even cut the chicken like it’s torn into pieces instead. Know what I mean?

To cook I use an electric skillet, which I know is bad because it’s too slow and not hot enough. I assume they use a wok, a high flame and lots of oil, which is really the only proper way to stir-fry. Correct?

Fried rice: another thing I can’t get right. How does a CR cook the rice to make it so crispy and dark brown? Again, a wok, a high flame and lots of oil? In an electric skillet mine is never dark brown and crispy, rather soggy and light brown. Any suggestions?


Chinese cooks are very adept with a clever. That’s what they use to cut chicken, in fact everything.

Stir frying does require a very hot wok or skillet, but not lots of oil.

You can make your fried rice dark by using dark soy sauce, mushroom soy or even oyster sauce. The crispiness you like comes from high heat.

If you use a carbon steel wok, you will get better, but not quite like Chinese restaurant. Get it smoking hot before you add the oil, and then work quickly adding oil and other ingredients.

A tip I use is to make thin egg “crepes” before I start to stir fry. Then add near the end of cooking. Most recipes tell you to push the rice to a side in the wok and drop the egg in the center and work it into the rice. I never could keep my rice from getting gummy, so I started doing my eggs ahead of time.

Good luck. I am sure Kitchen Witch has some other tips for you.

Very good advice lvdkeyes!

I’ll just put my two-cents in:

To know how to season food properly is just as important as to know the right way to stir fry, steam or stew. Proper seasoning makes good cooking into first-class cooking and dull dishes into exciting ones. Seasonings are important in Chinese cooking because they create the special flavors that characterize different regional styles. Soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and chicken broth are the most important seasonings in Chinese food. Seasoning are used to enhance the natural flavor of the food and can be added before, during or after the cooking process. In Chinese cooking, where the dishes are eaten with rice, you would want to have the seasoning to a heavier taste. On the contrary, reduce the seasoning for a main dish eaten alone.

Savory dipping sauces are also a feature in a Chinese food. The three principal ones are chili, mustard and plum. Small spoonfuls of the chosen sauces are placed on one’s plate. A morsel of the fish, shellfish, meat or poultry is taken up with the chopsticks, then it is dipped in sauce and eaten.

As far as flavorful rice goes - any available HOT wok on the burner - regardless of what was in it last - that is what is used for their rice dishes. So you can get ANY wonderful flavors from that alone.

As far as using your electric skillet - does it go to 450* F or more??? You may be successful using that but there is nothing like a wok. And they do make wok-shaped frying pans as well. The more “seasoned” your wok is - the more flavor it will give as well.

Take a look at our forum here - Cooking Tips and use the search and type in WOK. I have an article there for that as well.

And now on to cutting your chicken - PATIENCE - and a really good knife (even a filet knife) will work for you. Dark soy sauce is a favorite for chicken.

I won’t tell if you want to slice your chicken thin and marinate for a bit to infuse more flavor! LOL

There is another trick you can use to help you get those thin slices of chicken or even any meat. Put your meat in the freezer for about 15 minutes before you start to slice it. This will not freeze the meat solid which would make slicing difficult, but it will firm up the meat just enough to keep it from squishing away from your very sharp knife as you slice through it. The Chinese caterer that I moonlighted with used this method all the time.

I think Chinese restaurants use a different type of rice (not long grain). Alton Brown did a whole episode of “Goods Eats” on Food Network about rice and devoted a segment to why rice from a Chinese Restaurant always dries out as a leftover.

This is one type of cuisine I like to leave to the professionals. Sometimes you can’t beat the price :slight_smile:

Many have success using leftover rice and then frying it.