Traditionally, most Chinese family meals feature four dishes and a soup, which is drunk throughout the meal and between mouthfuls of the other dishes.
Flavors should be based on the yin and yang concept of contrasts. For example, a typical meal might include deep-fried chicken (which is succulent), steamed fish (light), sweet and sour pork (rich and soft) and some water chestnuts (crisp). Dishes are shared, and the ideal menu would feature one dish per person, normally of chicken, fish, pork and a vegetable, generally accompanied by rice or noodles.
Starters are not usually a part of the traditional Chinese meal. If you do want a starter, select something light such as the Hot and Sour Soup. It lends itself to considerable variations, although the basic seasoning remains much the same. It can be left as a light, spicy vegetable-based soup, or you can add some pieces of chicken, pork or seafood to make it heartier.
** Asian Recipes