How the UK learned to love Chinese Food
We are very fortunate in the UK to be blessed with so much choice when it comes to dining out. There is Indian/Bangladeshi cuisine in the form of curries, Italian restaurants where you can get a Pizza or pasta-based meal like Lasagne or you can try something Portuguese with the Peri Peri chicken of the Nando’s chain. However, one of the top cuisines we British enjoy is that of the Chinese restaurant or takeaway.
We are more than happy to take a step east and dine out in a restaurant as the chefs cook away and the aroma of the food cooking on the commercial sized 4 burner gas oven radiates across the restaurant floor. As a quick aside if you are looking for a commercial oven it is worth taking a look at https://www.247cateringsupplies.co.uk/catering-appliances/commercial-ovens-and-ranges/commercial-ranges/lincat-slr6-silverlink-600-4-burner-gas-range-oven.
Back to Chinese Cuisine.
How did this cultural cuisine come to our shores and become so popular?
Chinese food came to our shores thorough retired Chinese sailors who saw that there was a market for it. There was nothing in British restaurants quite like it and curry was yet to take off. The first official Chinese restaurant was opened in 1908. It was in the cosmopolitan area of Piccadilly Circus in London. The first restaurants to open up featured mainly Chop Suey dishes. These are mainly made with Chicken or Beef and beansprouts, Water chestnuts, mushrooms and cabbage. This was originally thought to be an American Chinese invention, but further research has shown that it comes from the Guangdong province in China, although a lot of Chinese immigrants to America came from Guangdong. Whatever its origin the fact that the restaurant stayed open late after pub closing time made it a big draw for hungry revellers looking for food.
Slowly by word of mouth the Chinese takeaway was seen as being the place to go after the pub (curry houses have a similar appeal). By the 1930’s an organised chain of restaurants was opened and wherever there was a port there were always retired Chinese sailors ready to start up a food business. It was in 1939 that Chinese food got a huge boost when it was included as a section in a BBC cook book. The recipe for Chinese cakes was also introduced to the Britons as a ration book friendly meal as it involved food they could grow themselves such potatoes.
We have adapted many of the aspects of Chinese cooking and turned the meals into a slightly more western style flavour, but the dishes still remain with their roots firmly in China.