The Chinese usually roast food in ovens over charcoal fire, while frequently brushing vegetable oil. In China, the roasting of many Chinese foods (a whole side of pig or whole lamb) is usually left to the large shopkeepers who specialize in it. However, Chinese roast dishes may be prepared in Western stoves according to directions indicated, with excellent results.
Roasting is a cooking method that uses dry heat, whether an open flame, oven, or other heat source. Roasting usually causes caramelization or Maillard browning of the surface of the food, which is considered a flavor enhancement. Roasting uses more indirect, diffused heat (as in an oven), and is suitable for slower cooking of meat in a larger, whole piece. Meats and most root and bulb vegetables can be roasted. Any piece of meat, especially red meat, that has been cooked in this fashion is called a roast. In addition, large uncooked cuts of meat are referred to as roasts. Roasting is a much slower method of cooking. A roast joint of meatcan take one, two, even three hours to cook – the resulting meat is tender. Also, meats and vegetables prepared in this way are described as “roasted”, e.g., roasted chicken or roasted squash.
Roasting is not family cooking in China, since few Chinese kitchens have facilities for roasting. Only restaurants go much into roasts and Cantonese restaurants excel especially in these. In roasting, raw ingredients are marinated in seasonings before being roasted in an oven or barbecued over direct heat from charcoal fire, with the roast turning slowly round and round. Marinades is added inside and out from time to time so that the skin remains smooth and shiny, instead of rough and flaky, and the meat remains juicy instead of powdery. The Peking duck is one of China’s most famous dishes cooked this way. Families can go to food shops to buy roast meat or poultry and eat it cold. But for the crisp juicy hot roast duck, one has to go to a restaurant.