Greetings from bitterly cold and blustery Chicago. Currently the city is buried under two feet of snow, and battling some of the coldest temperatures in years. Though it seems like everyone is putting a post about where to eat Chinese food tonight in honor of the Chinese New Year, I decided to take the time and talk about what it has been like to cook Chinese dishes at home. I fell hard for this mighty cuisine in 2010, cooking it nearly every week, and craving it when I couldn't. Yet I still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. So while I feel like this roundup isn't as perfect as it could be, I still think this is an interesting look at discovering a new cuisine.
As I explained during a post on recreating mapo doufu, falling for Chinese cuisine is actually kind of surprising considering it used to be one of my least favorite cuisines. But once I started venturing down to Chicago’s Chinatown, I noticed a cuisine full of flavors and textures I’d never really experienced before. I became addicted. I shunned Italian pasta for nearly five months, as I delved into the birthplace of noodles. I discovered the power of the Sichuan peppercorn, the umami punch of fermented black beans, and the myriad of uses for tofu. Here are my 10 favorite Chinese dishes I’ve made at home this year.