Chinese Cheese is a word no one in the West will have ever heard before. In fact the most commonly seen Chinese food in the USA and Western countries is probably not prepared with any cheese at all. Few people in China they eat cheese and so the only place this delicacy would normally be found is in the special dishes of the Chinese market, such as those made with seafood. Of course, most of the time it is prepared with either lamb or pork.
Most of the time the beef is marinated first in vinegar before being mixed with garlic, oil and herbs, before being mixed with corn starch and cooked in hot fat. This creates a kind of Culturecheese in the China market that goes by various names including Szechuanese Cheese and Cantonese Cheese. As well as this, some producers of Szechwan style cheese in the USA have developed their own unique range of cheeses to cater for the growing number of western consumers who are now dining alongside traditional Chinese diners. The most popular of these American-made cheeses is a Szechwan style called Shandong Cheese. It is made from pasteurized milk that has been rennetized and then dried. The rennet used is the leftover product of the rennet extraction process used to help get rid of excess fats within the milk.
Another very popular Chinese cheese is the Beijing Cheese. This cheese is produced from cow’s milk and fermented to aid in the ripening of curds. The curds are then mixed with a variety of ingredients, including glutinous rice powder that aids in the growth of mould while allowing the cheese to ripen. These cheeses are normally served alongside special beef or chicken dishes that are prepared using the rennet cheese.
Soya cheese is another Chinese food with a distinctive taste and texture. It is made from pasteurized soybeans, which are then rendered to aid in the production of the cheese. Soy cheese is a firm and chewy texture unlike its European or American counterpart. While some westerners would question the ethics of such a food, with it being produced from animal products, the Chinese consume it on its natural way. This means the animals do not die in the processing plant.
Shanghai cheese is a smaller in size than its American or European counterparts. It is produced from natural gourds and then processed further to make it a firm snack food. Unlike Western cheese which is pasteurized or crystallized, the rennet-rich culture within the raw Shanghai cheese nourishes the food and helps it develop a creamy texture. Many of these gourds have their own distinct flavors and aromas as well. They are best eaten as an accompaniment to dishes that call for bread or crackers. Chinese buyers enjoy selling them on the Shanghai food market and also ensure that they remain consistent with their quality.
Chinese cheese has an extended shelf life of up to five years, contrary to European or American varieties that go bad quickly. Some types of this cheese have gone so far as to be displayed in national museums. Of course, not all of China’s cheese is suitable for consumption and must first be rinsed off before being consumed. Rinsing the cheese will help remove any excess flavors or colors and preserve its freshness. In addition, the rennet within the cheese helps to keep the cheese moist and therefore ideal to eat while camping or fishing.
Although Chinese people consume less meat overall than the average person, they do consume a great amount of cheese. It is not uncommon to find Chinese people eating a small amount of cheese on a daily basis. One study, which looked at the effect that cheese had on cholesterol found that after a month of eating one serving of cheese per day, there was an insignificant significant decrease in the bad cholesterol and a significant increase in the good cholesterol. The results were even more startling when the cheese was served on a daily basis instead of three times a week as was the case with the vegetarian study. This reinforces the fact that it is important to watch what we eat and also to pay attention to our cholesterol levels.
Cheese is one of the few foods that are both healthy and cheap. When purchasing food from a Chinese restaurant, it is important to check labels carefully. Any cheese snacks should be thoroughly checked for ingredients. Many Chinese restaurants prepare their snacks using a pre-made package of Chinese cheese instead of making their own. Since this snack is easy to prepare and healthy, it should be a regular part of every Chinese meal.