3 Must-Try Chinese Dishes in Seattle
Seattle’s Chinatown Historic District is a bustling residential neighborhood, a popular tourist destination, and, of course, a hub for Chinese food and food culture. In fact, it was once the heart of the most extensive Asian community in Washington state, attracting immigrants far and wide to Seattle.
The first Chinese settlers arrived in Seattle during the 1860s. The Chinese community provided the city with a labor force for a sophisticated system of railroads, fishing operations, and lumber mills. During the 1900s, Chinese businessmen contracted laborers and opened up shops in a small location just south of Pioneer Square, where Seattle’s first Chinatown formed.
From fresh, hand-shaped dumplings to comfort food like stir-fried tomato and egg, here are some of the must-try Chinese dishes while exploring Seattle’s Chinatown Historic District.
Stir-Fried Tomato & Egg
Known as the unofficial “national dish” of China, stir-fried tomato and egg sits at the top of every Chinese comfort food list. It consists of silky-smooth eggs stir-fried in a mix of fresh tomatoes, sugar, and soy sauce, and is light and simple but also balanced with deep umami.
The idea of cooking scrambled eggs with tomatoes came about during the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), when Western-style restaurants began using tomatoes in their dishes. This influenced the Chinese to experiment with adding ripe tomatoes to many of their own recipes. Soon after, stir-fried eggs and tomatoes became a prominent flavor in Shanghai, being sold in restaurants all over the city in the 1920s and 1930s. The dish instantly became a national favorite.
One of the best things about this meal is how easy it is to prepare. Plus, most of the ingredients are likely already in your kitchen! Start by reducing fresh tomatoes in a hot pan until they release enough liquid to mix with the soft eggs. Add the eggs and cook until slightly set. Add your desired aromatics and seasonings, then transfer to a bed of white rice. It’s perfect for any budget and anyone needing a quick meal after a stressful day of work in Seattle.
Interested in trying an authentic, homemade version? If you’re in Seattle, you’re in luck! Shef Andrew grew up in a Chinese household and learned to cook Chinese dishes at home with his parents. Stir fried tomato and egg is one of his most popular dishes.
One of the most iconic dishes in Chinese food and food culture is the humble dumpling. It’s believed that dumplings were created by the famous Chinese medical practitioner Zhang Zhongjing of the Eastern Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD). During a difficult winter, Zhongjing wrapped mutton, chilis, and herbs in dough to preserve the ingredients through the harsh climate. These parcels were steamed and served to keep people warm. It’s said that the herbs in the filling helped improve blood circulation and kept many people alive during the harsh climate. Since then, dumplings have been a symbol of prosperity and good fortune.
Filling, folding, and pleating dumpling dough requires an immense amount of practice, and many chefs trained for years in specialized classes and programs until they were considered ready to take on this elegant art form. It’s passed down from generation to generation, with Chinese parents teaching their children how to perfect the dumpling shape. Fast forward to today, and dumplings have taken the world by storm — and Seattle is no exception.
The classic Chinese dish of mapo tofu consists of silky soft tofu folded into an aromatic sauce of chili oil, black bean paste, and minced meat — a reminder that heat and spice are core elements of Chinese cooking and flavor.
Mapo tofu’s origins can be traced back to the Qing Dynasty of 1862 to a small restaurant called Chen Xingsheng located near Wanfu Bridge in North Chengdu. The name “mapo” came from Mrs. Chen, who ran the restaurant alongside her husband and had a unique way of cooking the tofu, known for its amazing aromatic flavor, smell, and presentation. The couple’s humble restaurant eventually became one of the most famous eateries in all of Chengdu, with mapo tofu emerging as a nationally recognized dish.
Today, many Seattle restaurants serve the classic Sichuan dish, as do experienced cooks in the community. Shef Andrew’s homemade mapo tofu is delivered fresh to your doorstep and can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home. Order it today!