Chinese Cooking Terminology

Posted on: June 16, 2023

It’s amazing how little overlap there is between Chinese cooking and Western cooking, both in terms of the ingredients, processes and desired results. There are some words that are similiar, but others are totally vague. For example, the English term “stir fry” is used to describe numerous processes in Chinese cooking (even in various regions, such as Sichuan cooking) which are absolutely different. Also the colloquial terms for things are very different for example seseame oil is often called ” 香油” (fragrant oil). I need to put together a big glossary.


Another thing I’ve noticed a lot recently, is that in western food, we talk I think too much about individual components. As a new parent I’m taught to constantly worry about salt. Whereas in Chinese cooking the general concern is balancing the whole plate. Actually reduced salt soy sauce is pretty hard to obtain, but we only use a tiny splash when cooking, and the baby only eats a small amount of the food, so I don’t know. I’m playing it safe, but I prefer the “Chinese approach”. I need to do a glossary/book one day