Common Terminology in Chinese Cooking Methods

There are so many specific techniques in Chinese cooking, apart from the more well known "stir-fry". Here are some common terms used in Chinese cooking process, which we have tried to put an English equivalent to. But whenever we can't, there's an explanation to the Chinese term. There are of course, more uncommon terms in the Chinese cooking world; if you do know of some other cooking methods you think should be on here, please do share with us, by sending us both the Chinese word and the English explanation.

(Note: Chinese pronunciation guide is based on PinYin standard.)

Chinese Cooking Term

Pronunciation in Pin Yin

English Equivalent




Pan-fry or shallow fry.






Deep fry.


Ban/Lao, when said in Cantonese

The technique of mixing sauces and oil into cooked noodle as seasoning, for example dry wonton noodle. Noodle is first boiled in boiling water, drained and placed onto a plate where cooked oil and soya sauce are added, then tossed and mixed well into the noodle. Can also mean tossing salad in its dressing, or adding sauce to rice.


A very basic technique especially in Cantonese cooking, where food (such as whole chicken or prawns) is simply cooked in boiling water or soup then drained and served. Works best with fresh meat, not frozen.




Bake, usually in foil or paper.


Normal baking or toasting process.


Braising technique which begins with high heat, then low to cook through, followed by high heat again to reduce the sauce.

In another context: Grill.


Double-boil. Where all the ingredients are placed with water (enough to cover all the ingredients or more) in a covered ceramic casserole, which is then placed over boiling water in another bigger pot to steam for several hours. Usually used for delicacies such as bird's nest soup, herbal chicken soup, etc.


Cooking food (particularly meat and eggs) in a stock made from various spices, ginger, sugar, dark soya sauce and light soya sauce, etc, on low heat for a few hours till the dark coloured stock is heavily absorbed into the meat or egg. The stock can usually be cooked and kept for a long time, and be used over and over again; because it's believed that the aroma and taste get better over time.


Generally used in preparing vegetables, where vegetables are lightly cooked in hot water or oil, drained then topped with sauce mix such as oyster sauce and fragrant oils. Usually treated as a snack or side dish.


To marinate with salt or other seasonings.


A quick frying method, using less oil than deep-frying, to get food in crispy texture and not over cooked. For example the 'browning' of meats and crispy onions.


Fondue, or "steamboat" in some Asian countries, where food is thinly sliced and cooked by dipping it into boiling soup, and to be eaten on the spot.


A stewing or braising process, in which case the ingredients are fried with oil, then transferred into another pot (usually a clay pot) to be cooked on low heat, with the lid on.


Stew. This technique is very close to the English stewing technique, but without using an oven.


Smoke, by placing food on a stand in the pot over the stove, with smoking ingredients such as spices or tealeaves underneath the stand.


Also referred to as "braise", but with starchy gravy.


Stir-fry with starchy gravy.

Tell us what you know

There is always room for new information. If you know what these ingredients are called in your language and would like to share it with the other food lovers, let us know. We love to hear from you!

You are also welcome to suggest new ingredients in multi languages, if they are not on here. Your contribution is most valued!