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Cooking terms in Chinese idioms and phrases

Cooking terms in Chinese idioms and phrases, learn chinese

In China, food cooking is a complicated process and cooking methods are flexible and varied. In Chinese language, many words are derived from cooking process and methods, and are used to refer to various things.


生 (shēnɡ) 、熟 (shú) uncooked and cooked

There are two states of food, uncooked or cooked, with which many Chinese words are associated. For example, 熟悉 (shú xī, be familiar with), 熟人 (shóu rén, acquaintance), 熟门熟路 (shú mén shú lù, know well about), 成熟 (chénɡ shú, mature), 熟练 (shú liàn, skilled), 生人 (shēnɡ rén, stranger), 生分 (shēnɡ fen, estranged), 生米煮成熟饭 (shēnɡ mǐ zhǔ chénɡ shú fàn, what's done is done), 陌生 (mò shēnɡ, unfamiliar), 人生地不熟 (rén shēnɡ dì bù shú, totally unfamiliar with).


煎 (jiān) fry

"煎" is a cooking method, from which "煎熬" (jiān áo, suffer) has been derived. The verse "同室操戈,相煎何太急" (tónɡ shì cāo ɡē, xiānɡ jiān hé tài jí) means "why should people of the same family fight against each other so anxiously?" 


熬 (áo) decoct

"熬" costs time, so it means "endure" extendedly. For example, "熬夜" (áo yè) means "stay up", "总算熬过来了" (zǒnɡ suàn áo ɡuò lái le) means "to live through troubles or miseries finally", "熬年头" (áo nián tou) means "to be unproductive at work but to expect raises as rewards of years", and "这日子可怎么熬" (zhè rì zi kě zěn me áo) means "how to live through such hard days". 


炒 (chǎo) stir-fry

"炒" is also a common cooking method. It has several extended uses as well. For example, "炒作" (chǎo zuò) means "hype or sensationalize", "炒股票" (chǎo ɡǔ piào) means "speculate in stocks", and "炒鱿鱼" (chǎo yóu yú) means "get fired".


爆 (bào) quick-fry 

As a cooking method, "爆" is often used extendedly. For example, "爆冷门" (bào lěnɡ mén) means "a dark horse", "爆满" (bào mǎn) means "have a full house or be packed up", "火爆" (huǒ bào) means "hot-tempered or popular", "爆红" (bào hónɡ) means "become popular within a short time", and "爆棚" (bào pénɡ) means "overwhelming or sensational". 


煮 (zhǔ) boil

There are fewer words related to "煮". "煮饺子" (zhǔ jiǎo zi) means "a large crowd of people", for example, "夏天很多人游泳避暑,这个小泳池挤得像在煮饺子" (Too many people resort to swimming pool to escape summer heat, the small swimming pool is crowded with people). "生米煮成熟饭" means "what's done is done". 

煮也是一种烹饪方法,由 "煮"组成的词语会少一些。"煮饺子"比喻人很多。"生米煮成熟饭"比喻既成事实,无法改变。

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