There isn’t much these days that ties all Americans together, but I think we can all agree that having a Chinese takeout spot nearby is a very good thing. And in all likelihood, you do have a Chinese takeout spot at your beck and call, because there are more than 40,000 of them spread throughout the country, ready to bring us some wonton soup and General Tso's at a moment’s notice. But each of those countless restaurants is a well-oiled machine, and we bet there’s a lot going on behind the scenes that you don’t know about.
Travel to just about any American town and odds are you’ll come across a Chinese restaurant. Convenient, inexpensive, and full of flavor, Chinese food is one of the country’s great adopted cuisines. But have you ever taken a peek past the counter to see what’s going on in the kitchen? You’ll see a chef working with precision over a wide range of equipment; there’s usually (at the minimum) a wok filled with oil for frying, a main cooking wok, a pot of stock, a pot of water, and a steamer. Also nearby are noodles, rice, vegetables, meats, and sauces, the components of nearly every dish that the restaurant serves, and they’re all prepared over a huge fire that’s blasting out a massive amount of heat. The dishes themselves may not be authentic, but for the most part the cooking techniques are.
In most of the country, what’s considered to be “Chinese food” is actually more Chinese-American, making truly authentic Chinese dishes – prepared with the same ingredients, in the same technique, as in China – sometimes very difficult to come by. By all means, we suggest you seek out authentic Chinese fare if you can (nearly all major cities have at least a couple restaurants that serve it), but that doesn’t mean that your local takeout spot — cheap, tasty, dependable, and super-speedy — isn’t worthy of praise.