Since the first Chinese immigrants landed on our shores to work the gold mines in the 1850s, Aussies have devoured Chinese food with wonton abandon.
In fact, Chinese ranks as the most popular cuisine among Australians of all generations - who would’ve thought that the Boomers have something in common with Gen X?!
So, what’s with our enduring love affair with Chinese food? Whether it’s the delicate balance of sweet and sour, the indulgent flavours, or the alluring aromas, one thing’s for sure, Aussies have always been - and will always be - all in on our Chinese food.
Read more about the history of Chinese food in Australia.
The top 5
Chinese dishes Ordered on Menulog
Fried Rice / Special Fried Rice
Enjoyed as an accompaniment or as a meal in itself, Fried Rice is the most ordered Chinese dish on Menulog. Traditional recipes combine green onions, bean sprouts, peas, carrots, scrambled egg, ham and soy sauce to season. Special Fried Rice varies depending on the chef, but usually includes various choices of meats such as prawn, beef, and chicken.
Did you know...
Cooled Jasmine rice produces the best results for the fluffiest Fried Rice dish.
Named after, you guessed it, spring, these scrumptious savoury rolls were first created in China as a way to enjoy the fresh produce brought in by the new season. We imagine it was probably a very welcome change after surviving on preserved food through the dreary winter months...
Did you know...
Chinese Spring Rolls were the inspiration behind the iconic Dim Sim and Chiko Roll.
Tenderised chicken pieces, sliced in thin strips and stir fried in peanut sauce. Other ingredients include coriander, cumin, turmeric, chilli, soy sauce, rice vinegar, lemongrass and coconut milk.
Did you know...
In Chinese cuisine, there’s no such thing as Satay Chicken, however the dish has evolved to suit Australian palates to mean any dish with a peanut sauce. Originating in Indonesia, satay is skewered and grilled meat, usually served with a peanut sauce.
Honey Chicken is prepared by coating bite-sized pieces of chicken breast in seasoned flour, dipping these in buttermilk and then deep frying until golden brown. The chicken pieces are then wok-tossed in a honey sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Did you know...
The sticky sauce is made by combining honey, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, sesame oil and red pepper flakes.
Sweet & Sour Pork
Bright orange and prepared with capsicum and pineapple, Sweet and Sour Pork combines chunks of battered pork and tangy sweet and sour sauce.
Did you know...
Sweet and Sour sauce is super easy to make by combining pineapple juice, vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup, and soy sauce and, can be used for dipping or stir frying.
Chinese vs Authentic
Are these dishes authentic Chinese food?
Lemon Chicken has been a staple in Australian Chinese restaurants for decades, but the deep fried chicken covered in a zesty lemon sauce does not hail from China.
Beef & Black Bean
Black Bean or Douchi fermented and salted black soybean are used to make black bean sauce dishes. It’s a popular flavouring in Chinese cuisine.
Dim Sims were invented in Australia in 1945 by Wing Lee. He adapted the delicate pork mince dim sum dumplings - siu mai - to suit the Australian palate. Dim Sims can be either steamed or deep fried.
Despite its name, the beef stir fry was created in Taiwanese restaurants in the 1950s.
Chicken soup, also known as Egg Drop soup or Egg Flower soup has a few variations. Ingredients can include corn, crab meat, tofu and green onions.
Mapo Tofu or Mapo Doufu originates from Sichuan province. Ingredients include tofu set in a spicy sauce, fermented black beans, minced pork or beef.
Fortune cookies originated in Japan during the 1800s, with the original version being larger, darker, and containing slightly different ingredients. The modern day version first popped up in California during the early 20th century.
Peking Duck has been served for centuries, even prepared for the Emperor of China during the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th Century. It’s usually served with steamed pancakes, spring onions, cucumber sticks and a sweet bean sauce and crispy duck skin.
Styles of Chinese food
There are no fewer than eight regional cooking styles that make up Chinese cuisine as we know it. To layer on another level of complexity, cooking techniques and ingredients from nearby countries including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand have also influenced traditional Chinese cooking styles and dishes.
Now, fire up those taste buds because we’re about to take you on a quick culinary adventure. Because, the more you know…!
Click to find out more about the great 8 Chinese cuisines.
Roll over a region on the map to learn more about it.
Cantonese, Zhejiang & Jiangsu
Taste: favours fresh seafood, sweet flavours and colourful presentation.
Examples: Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings), Barbecue Pork Buns
Fujian & Anhui
Taste: incorporates ingredients from the mountains and the sea.
Examples: Spring Rolls
Taste: crispy and tender dishes, with an emphasis on seafood.
Examples: King Prawns
Sichuan & Hunan
Taste: renowned for their bold flavours and spiciness.
Examples: Mapo Tofu and Kung Pao Chicken
Did you know...
Yum Cha means ‘drink tea’ and dim sum means to 'touch the heart'.
Dishes of Hong Kong
Surprisingly, many of the Chinese dishes Aussies love most actually originated in Canton area, including Hong Kong, Guangdong, Guangxi and Macau. Sweet and Sour Pork, Wontons, Steamed Prawn Dumplings (Har Gow) are all from Cantonese cuisine. Similarly, meals native to Hong Kong are also heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine, specifically Cantonese. If you’ve ever been to Yum Cha, then you’ve most definitely indulged in a delightful Hong Kong feast!
Check out the top tips for eating Yum Cha here.
Choose your 3 favourite Yum Cha dishes
Prawns (or shrimp) feature heavily in Chinese food, and are creatively prepared in many enticing dishes.
Discover more about Chinese seafood dishes here.
Aussies swoon over these scrumptiously savoury bags of goodness. Dumplings are as delectably delicious as they are addictive (and we don’t use that word lightly). One of these perfect parcels is never enough, but then again, neither is five, or six, or seven...
The question is, what kind of dumpling foodie are you -- steamed, boiled, or fried?
Steamed dumplings are tender, silky, dough casings hiding a burst of flavour.
Shao Mai of Siu Mai - This is the classic dumpling found in Australia. Its filling is usually pork and is recognisable by its puffy texture.
Xiao Long Bao or soup dumplings - These dumplings are filled flour wrappers gathered into several folds. The fillings vary but include meat, vegetables and seafood. Take caution when biting, as the dumplings contain a ‘soup’ or broth that is very hot.
Har Gow - These dumplings are translucent with a slightly chewy texture. They are filled with prawn and are meant to be eaten in one bite.
Boiled dumplings have more diverse flavour combinations, including both savoury and sweet.
Shui Jiao - These dumplings are also called Jiaozi in some areas. Yet this boiled version has a thicker wrapper and is not pleated. Shui Jiao is often served in soup.
Wonton - The classic wonton has white skin and is boiled. In Sichuan, wontons are typically served with chilli but in Shanghai wontons are popular with soup.
Egg Wonton - The most popular wontons are filled with minced pork and prawn. Wontons are commonly served in egg noodle soup.
Jiaozi - Known as ‘potstickers’, Jiaozi are traditionally filled with pork and cabbage or leek. They’re eaten during Chinese New Year.
Jiu Cai Bau - These rounded dumplings are filled with chives and are fried to give them a crispy, blistered crust.
Sheng Jian Bao - These dumplings are steamed and then fried, and are a popular breakfast dish. This cooking style creates a crisp bottom and a chewy top.
Fat, thin, pulled, or knife-cut, no matter what your preference, a piping hot bowl of noodles is always a slurpin’ good choice. Drenched in a steaming bowl of soup, or stir-fried in sweet and sour sauce, noodles are a familiar staple of Chinese food.
As diverse as they are delicious, noodles complement oodles of dishes across the wide gamut of Chinese cuisine.
But, while you think you may know your noodles, there are many different types. Which of these most popular noodles are your favourite?
Did you know...
Wheat noodles are more common in northern China. Rice noodles are more common in southern China.
Thin, most famous in China. Used in ramen. Stretchy.
Knife Cut Noodles
Dao Xiao Mian
Specialty of the Shanxi province. Thick, bouncy and chewy.
Very thin, made from starch and water. Sold dried and reconstituted in water.
Very thin, made from rice and water. Commonly used in soups.
Thick and made from wheat flour and water. Common in northern China.
Varying thickness. Made from eggs, oil, water, flour and salt. Commonly used in stir-fries.
For centuries, the humble rice grain has been central to Chinese culture - bridging agriculture, economics and of course food! Rice is almost always (always) featured in every Chinese meal.
While boiled white rice is the perfect match to rich flavourful Chinese dishes, it seems Aussies are obsessed with Fried Rice, in all its multicoloured, multi-textured glory! Fried Rice is the number one Chinese dish ordered on Menulog.
And, there are so many varieties to choose from. Do you prefer egg or prawn? Vegetarian or pork? The combinations are endless!
Did you know...
About 1,097,877 servings of Fried Rice are sold on Menulog in one year.
That’s the same weight as 3,843 adult Pandas!
How to Chopstick
Have you ever wondered why chopsticks were invented?
Legend has it that the great Chinese philosopher Confucius believed having sharp objects at the dinner table was not a good idea! Sharp knives could evoke violence and kill the harmonious mood, so to speak, that should reign at meal times.
Learn more about how to use chopsticks here.
Have you mastered eating with chopsticks or still struggle with sticks? Here’s a How To Slide Show to help you fill your stomach quicker! Chop Chop!
Hold your dominant hand loosely. Place the first chopstick in the valley between your pointer finger and thumb. Balance it on your ring finger.
Place the second chopstick in the valley between your pointer finger and thumb along with the first chopstick, but rest this one on your middle finger instead of your ring finger.
Use your thumb, pointer and middle fingers to grasp the second chopstick a bit more tightly.
The first chopstick (on the bottom) remains stationary. Using your index and middle fingers to move the top chopstick up and down, open up your chopsticks and close them over the food.
Remember to keep your hand loose but still maintain good control over the chopstick.
Once you’ve got a good grip, pick up the food!
"The honorable and upright man keeps well away from both the slaughterhouse and the kitchen. And he allows no knives on his table."
With a range of fresh vegetables in Chinese cuisine, it's easy to opt for lighter dishes, which tend to be lower in calories. Check out some of our veggie-packed favourites.
Click on which dish you think has the lowest calories.
Guide to greens
Loading up on crispy Asian vegetables can be a fabulous way to enjoy a Chinese feast! Here’s a handy guide to the most popular greens.
Click on the name of a green to see its picture.
- Bok Choy
- Choy Sum (Chinese flowering cabbage)
- Wombok (Chinese cabbage)
- Dow miu (Snow pea shoots)
- Eng Cai (Water spinach)
- Gai Lan (Chinese broccoli)