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What Are the Different Types of Kosher Chinese Food?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2016
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The types of kosher Chinese food are extremely varied, as it is quite possible to produce a wide variety of Chinese dishes using kosher ingredients while in a kosher kitchen. Many typical Chinese recipes are easy to make in a home kitchen as well as in a commercial kosher Chinese food restaurant. These foods include appetizers, soups, and main dishes. Due to kosher restrictions on keeping some utensils and cooking and serving dishes separate from others, the primary issues confronted by those who desire kosher Chinese food is ensuring that it is correctly prepared under kosher conditions.

Many kosher Chinese restaurants exist in areas where there is a high Jewish population. The process for becoming a kosher restaurant can be fairly exhaustive, as a specially trained rabbi must typically inspect and certify the kitchen as well as its food supply. All ingredients used in the kitchen must be certified kosher as well. As Jewish dietary laws forbid the consumption of meat and dairy products together, most kosher restaurants specialize in serving one type of kosher cuisine, one that includes meat while the other type sells foods that includes or can be served with dairy products, including fish and vegetarian dishes.

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As a general rule, dairy products do not play a significant role in many Chinese cuisines, so eliminating dairy ingredients in kosher Chinese food may not be a significant concern. What can get complicated, however, is that some condiments and processed foods may have dairy components that must not be included in kosher dishes. A more significant restriction on kosher Chinese food is that pork and shellfish are not kosher foods, and as these ingredients are often staples in many Chinese cuisines, a kosher Chinese chef will have to adapt or eliminate some favorites in deference to kosher rules. Another concern is that not all parts of even a kosher animal are necessarily kosher to eat. For example, kosher beef dishes would need to be made with cuts of beef that are acceptable for consumption under kosher rules.

Each Chinese restaurant that offers kosher food has its own menu and may reflect the preferences and ethnicity of its chefs and owners. As such, patrons of these restaurants may find that some have a stronger Mandarin emphasis, while others may specialize in Szechuan cuisine. It is also not unusual for kosher Chinese restaurants to offer Asian foods that are not Chinese, such as sushi or sashimi. Some will even include some Chinese twists on traditional Jewish foods, such as pastrami eggrolls on their menus.

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bluedolphin
Post 3

@alisha-- Yea, it's not easy to stay kosher while traveling. It's easier to find kosher Chinese food in the US then to find kosher food in China. Beijing might be the exception, but in other places, most Chinese have not even heard of kosher. It's not something they're familiar with and ensuring that your meal is kosher is even harder.

I only spent two days in China during a tour and since I knew that finding kosher was not possible, I stuck to vegetarian restaurants that only cook vegetables and nothing else. Chinese are not familiar with kosher, but they are familiar with vegetarian and vegan cuisine. The food was actually really good. I had lots of steamed and stir-fried veggies and salads. And lots and lots of fruit!

literally45
Post 2

@alisha-- I had the same worries when I went to Beijing, but I surprisingly found quite a few markets and shops offering kosher foods.

Most of these were markets that sold ingredients, but there is also a restaurant in Beijing that offers kosher Chinese food. They're really friendly and you can even get several days worth of food at once and keep it in the fridge. Just ask around for "kosher restaurant" and I'm sure people can direct you. As far as I know there is only one kosher restaurant anyway.

If you will have access to a kitchen, you can also get kosher meat, vegetables and noodles and rice and make your own. Yes, you can have noodles and rice without problems. Just be careful getting dairy. I don't think that the cow milk in China is as carefully controlled as in the States and it might be mixed with other animals' milk.

discographer
Post 1

I will be traveling to China in a few months for my job. I will be there for close to a month. I have no idea how I'm going to manage in terms of food because I'm on a kosher diet. I don't have trouble finding kosher foods in the States. But I highly doubt that there are any kosher restaurants in China at all. I don't even know if there are any Jews living in China.

Can anyone who lives in China or who has been to China give me ideas on what I could possibly eat there without breaking my dietary restrictions? I can avoid many things which will be non-kosher like meat and dairy. But I don't want to be stuck with just vegetables and fruits for the entire month.

Can I have things like noodles and rice while I'm there? I think most noodles will be kosher right?

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