If you were to ask someone in the US to name some Chinese food, they might respond with lo mein or orange chicken. In Peru, they might say with chaufa or wonton frito. Here in Japan, mabodofu or ramen would be likely picks. But if you ask someone in China, they’d laugh amiably and follow up with another question: “What kind of Chinese food are we talking about?” It’s a good question–whether the food you crave is sweet or spicy, sinful or medicinal, vegetarian or halal, you can find it in the Chinese kitchen.
However, that richness is largely inaccessible to the non-Chinese-speaking world. When I tried to learn Chinese home cooking, I was boggled by how difficult it was to find approachable English-language recipes online. What’s more, it was hard to know how to pair recipes together into the sort of family-style meal that is standard in Chinese households.
This project also comes at a unique time in history. Many of us are quarantined at home, which means more time to cook! On the other hand, the virus has also intensified stigma against Chinese culture and food, which has long suffered from an image problem in the rest of the world. Through this challenge, I hope to help combat these stereotypes by creating an approachable, informative, and fun introduction to Chinese home cooking.