Chinese-ish: What counts as ‘authentic’ Chinese food?

Chinese-ish unpicks the experiences of young Chinese-Australians in today’s Australia. Source: Joanna Hu

For young Chinese-Australians today, food means something a little different from the traditional dishes of their parents. On this episode of Chinese-ish, Wing and Mark along with two uni students, YoYo Yang and Chelsea Chum, unpack our changing relationship with food.

Peking duck, dumplings, ribs and chicken feet. When we think of Chinese food, it's usually a few iconic dishes that come to mind.

But as much as young Chinese-Australians love these dishes, it's rare that we have the time and cultural know-how to make them exactly the way our parents did.

In this episode of Chinese-ish

  • How do young Chinese-Australians approach cooking today?
  • Are they still cooking their parents’ traditional recipes, especially amidst the demands of study or work?
  • What role do food and cooking play in contemporary Chinese-Australian culture?

For medical student and former Masterchef contestant YoYo Yang, making traditional dishes like Peking duck is both a labour of love and a melding of different cultures.

You know how they have the duck on the hooks at restaurants? No hooks at home, so I usually shove a vodka cruiser bottle up the duck so it could stand...and [then I can baste] the duck.

Duck ready for basting with glass bottle propping it up
YoYo Yang has a creative solution for basting Peking duck at home
Yoyo Yang

Indeed for many young Chinese-Australians our cooking styles are ever-evolving, particularly in the context of the wider Asian diaspora.

Psychology student and hobbyist baker Chelsea Chum says, "I find that traditional [Chinese] cooking, things that my mum makes, don't really deviate a lot from traditional ingredients, whereas for a lot of the diaspora we love trying out other Asian cuisines, the cuisines of our friends from other Asian countries, different ingredients, fusion."

The boundaries between Chinese, Asian and Western food are clearly blurring, and people like Chelsea and YoYo are among those both navigating and driving these changes.

Home made cookies
Chelsea Chum is a hobbyist baker
Chelsea Chum

Chinese-ish is a podcast about what it’s like being a young Chinese-Australian in today’s Australia. The series is hosted by Wing Kuang and Mark Yin.

Listen to this episode below or by tapping the image at the top of this article.

Chinese-ish: What counts as ‘authentic’ Chinese food?
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