The Most Difficult Chinese Dishes to Make

Some Chinese dishes are simple and easy, but others take a little more effort and time. If you're up for a challenge, take a look at the following traditional Chinese recipes that are worth the extra trouble.

  • 01 of 07

    Chinese Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow)

    Har Gow (Chinese Steamed Shrimp Dumplings)

    Charles Haynes/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    Whether listed on the menu or featured on the dim sum cart at your local Chinese restaurant, har gow (xia jiao), or steamed shrimp dumplings, are often the most popular items ordered. Translucent wrappers hold a shrimp and vegetable mixture seasoned with rice wine and sesame oil, making for a delicate and light-tasting dim sum. The most challenging part of har gow is handling the dough, which is very sticky and can break apart easily—a good tip is coating your work area and equipment with vegetable oil.

  • 02 of 07

    Chinese Homemade Noodle Salad

    Chinese noodle salad recipe
    Liv Wan

    This classic homemade noodle salad is a very popular dish in Taiwan. It’s especially popular during the summer time as summers in Taiwan are always really hot and humid so this noodle salad is made cold with a delicious sauce and refreshing ingredients to help people regain their appetite during this kind of hot weather. Making your own noodles can be difficult and time-consuming, but worth it.

  • 03 of 07

    Beggar's Chicken (Qi Gai Ji)

    Beggar's Chicken
    Flickr CC 2.0

    According to legend, this delicious dish was created by a starving beggar who stole a chicken and then wrapped it in mud to hide it. Later, he cooked the mud-covered chicken over an open fire. More elaborate versions of this recipe call for stuffing the chicken and covering it with lotus leaves, then encasing it in a dough wrapping and baking it. In a simpler recipe for Beggar’s Chicken, the stuffed chicken is wrapped in aluminum foil before roasting.

  • 04 of 07

    Winter Melon Soup (Dong Gua Tang)

    winter melon soup
    thongchaipeun / Getty Images

    This star of this showy banquet dish is the winter melon—a sweet-tasting melon with white flesh and seeds. The soup is a flavorful mixture of chopped winter melon, chicken stock, meats such as duck, and seasonings. For a fancier dish, it can be served inside the shell of the winter melon. 

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Baked Chinese New Year Cake (Nian Gao)

    Glutinous rice flour cake
    Getty Images/MelindaChan

    Nian Gao is a traditional Chinese New Year cake that is somewhat unique. It is steamed instead of baked and does not contain butter, eggs, or other ingredients normally found in a cake batter.

  • 06 of 07

    Sesame Seed Balls (Ma T’uan)

    Sweet pastry balls coated in sesame seeds - some of the vegetarian foods on offer during the annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival. Phuket, Ko Phuket, Thailand
    Andrew Watson / Getty Images

    Who hasn’t tried these delicious deep-fried balls of glutinous rice dough that are filled with sweet red bean paste and coated with sesame seeds? The tricky part of making sesame balls comes when it's time to deep-fry them. The balls of dough need to be pressed down and rolled continually in order for them to expand properly, and this can take a bit of practice. However, even if homemade sesame seed balls aren’t the perfectly formed treats you’ll find in Chinese bakeries, they’re still fun to make.

  • 07 of 07

    Fortune Cookie

    The hands of a middle aged women opening a fortune cookie.
    Aaron Black / Getty Images

    Who would have guessed that a simple cookie could pose so many problems? You’ll find loads of complaints about fortune cookies that broke when they were folded on recipe Web sites. The trick to fortune cookies is making sure the batter is even. It's also important to remove the cookies from the oven at just the right moment.