The Chinese palate sets itself apart from most other cuisines with its unique combinations of flavors and cooking techniques. With options ranging from sweet to savory and mixtures of both, the Chinese eating style offers something for everyone.
Dipping sauces are synonymous with the idea of Chinese buffets. Pairing Chinese food with a wide variety of dips helps create the best results. Furthermore, and luckily for you, most of these dips are relatively easy to make or buy. Some of the most popular include:
- Chili: Whether you are experienced in the kitchen or not, you may consider using a homemade chili sauce, as it is relatively simple to prepare. Be sure to add spice with some chili sauce if you want to put together a buffet to remember.
- Soy: A staple in Chinese cuisine, soy sauce works exceptionally well with fish.
- Sweet and Sour: This one is everyone’s favorite! Nothing is better than combining an egg roll with the fruitiness of sweet and sour sauce.
- Hoisin: Similar to soy sauce but a little thicker and sweeter, hoisin sauce is usually used in chicken or duck-based dishes.
- Peanut: This one is perfect for satays and noodles. If you use peanut sauce, ensure any dishes using peanuts are appropriately marked to keep allergy sufferers safe. (Learn more about allergy immunotherapy.)
Though each dip brings a different flavor profile, they are primarily versatile, making them perfect when catering to large amounts of people.
Dim Sum Delights
Dim sum refers to a range of small dishes taken from Cantonese cuisine. Though dim sum is commonly associated with brunch, it makes a great buffet and picking food. These bite-sized delicacies are the perfect example of what makes Chinese cuisine so alluring. From steamed dumplings to spring rolls and potstickers, these treats can be filled with whatever fillings you choose and can be served with whichever sauce you like.
Fundamentally Chinese stir fry are an excellent addition to any spread. These dishes are easily adaptable and can create a surprising amount of combinations of sauces and ingredients. Classic stir fries are often high in protein featuring either chicken, beef, or shrimp. For vegan and vegetarian options, swap out any meat for ingredients like tofu, broccoli, or seitan, a substitute for beef made from wheat.
Chinese desserts are some of the most exciting and ambitious out there. They also contain less sugar than their Western alternatives to make them even more attractive. Desserts in Chinese cuisine typically substitute artificial sweeteners with the natural sugars in citrus fruits including mango pudding and toffee apple fritters.
Of course, any array of Chinese food cannot be complete without fortune cookies. These are actually easy to make as well. All you’ll need is a bag of sugar, an food mixer/food processo, starch, and vanilla flavoring.
Some other examples of Chinese desserts include:
- Sesame balls: A sticky rice flour dough filled with either lotus paste or red bean paste, which is fried to produce a crispy batter and a soft center.
- Almond cookies: These are crumbly biscuits made of mung bean and are a favorite in Macau.
- Red bean buns: Commonly eaten for breakfast or as a snack, though they also make a good dessert, red bean buns combine a sweet bean filling with a soft outer layer of dough.
- Egg tarts: These are a type of custard tart best served warm. Egg tarts are the perfect sweet and buttery treat.
These sweet treats will leave your guests with a lasting impression and satisfy their cravings in a delightful finale.
Using Chinese cuisine in your buffet opens up a world of possibilities. The flavor profiles and combinations of food are endless, meaning you can quickly collate ingredients to produce an endlessly impressive culinary experience. Whether you decide to host a casual gathering or a formal event, it doesn’t matter; the above Chinese buffet ideas will help you create an explosion of flavors that combines tradition with innovation.
If Chinese cuisine isn’t really your thing, we also have 50 recipes for a Cinco de Mayo celebration or any other Mexican-style buffet.