“Chickity China the Chinese Chickens”…
I have a confession to make…I don’t eat at a lot of Chinese restaurants in China. Though I am generally an “eat as the locals eat” kinda gal, and make a lot of Asian inspired meals…the food produced in restaurants in China is a little too heavy and oil laden for every day consumption for my taste.
Aside from that, in the nearly three years I’ve lived in China, one year in Dalian in northern China, and the past two years about 45 minutes from Shanghai, there have been regular reports of food safety horror stories here..ie. Rat meat passed off as beef, mass amounts of contaminated pork, etc. (Have I turned you off yet? Haha) which encourage one to A) Cook at home with imported ingredients B) Eat at restaurants that utilise imported ingredients.
That being said, with the exception of perhaps an annual mild bout of food sickness, i’ve had few issues with eating in China, local food or otherwise and China has, without a doubt, a multitude of tasty treats to try. Here are a few tips on eating and cooking local food in China.
1. If you’re eating out…eat where the locals eat. Traveling and living in China can be frustrating at times as there is a limited number of people who speak English. So, conversing with the locals and acquiring their recommendations can be somewhat difficult, particularly if you are in a smaller town. So, if you are wandering around a Chinese town in search of a restaurant, look for a busy one. Chances are, if you see several locals in a restaurant, you can assume that the food is A) Tasty B) Reasonably safe to eat
Cooking At Home:
In China, a lot of food shopping is done at “wet” markets…which are small roadside stalls selling a plethora of veggies, fruits and sometimes meat and fish. I regularly cook with local vegetables, fruit (and meat) while following a few general rules.
1. Wash, cook and/or peel your veggies: Unless you are buying them at an import store or reputable grocery store (ie.Tesco) it is generally a good idea to avoid fruits with thin peels such as peaches, nectarines or strawberries. Sterilize your veggies and fruits by A) Soaking them in the sink filled with water mixed with a cup of vinegar B) Soaking them in a sink filled with water and a cap full of bleach.
2. Don’t buy “fresh” meat: If you see unrefrigerated meat at a wet market…don’t buy it. I’m not saying it won’t be good…i’m just saying I personally would not take the chance. I cook with a mix of local and imported meat…but I avoid any meat at all cost if it is resting at room temperature.
Example of what NOT to eat in China
I hope my food tips for eating in China help make your foodie traveling or expat experience more enjoyable:). If you have any useful food safety tips please share! 🙂