Unravelling The Chinese Ingredients

Living in the orient for almost 4 years have made me eager to learn their style of cooking. Though the majority of dishes have meat or eggs in one form or the other I am trying out the veganized / vegetarian version of Chinese dishes.

The ingredients used in the dishes are of two types. One set are native to China and impart the special flavor while the other set of ingredients are commonly used throughout the world.

My future posts will aim to demystify the ingredients that play an essential part in the Chinese dishes. I have made a list of things that are native to the orient and that are used to give a yummy touch to the dishes which are commonly used like ginger, garlic, cloves, etc. I will be writing about each of them as a single post followed by a Chinese recipe that has been modified to my vegetarian taste.

The following is the list.

Ingredients / Spices/ Condiments / Sauces etc

1. Forbidden rice
2. Yiner
3. Goji berries
4. Dried red dates
5. Lotus seeds
6. Asian Sesame oil
7. Soy sauce
8. 5 spice powder
9. Cinnamon
10. Chilli oil
11. Chilli paste
12. Chilli flakes
13. Sesame paste
14. Chinese vinegar
15. Rice vine vinegar
16. MSG
17. Fennel
18. Cloves
19. Szechuan peppercorns
20. Ginkgo nut / Bai Guo/ Peh Kuey
21. Hoisin sauce
22. Rice wine
23. Chinese Dried Black Mushrooms
24. Woodears
25. Moong /Green bean
26. Adzuki

Chinese vegetables

1. Bean sprouts
2. Bamboo shoots
3. Lotus roots
4. Chinese broccoli
5. Bok choy
6. Chinese cabbage
7. Ginger and garlic
8. Garlic stems
9. Flowering chives
10. Red dates
11. Spring Onions (Green Onions, Scallions)
12. Angles or Angled Luffa/silk squash
13. Chinese eggplants
14. Chinese celery
15. Chinese White Radish or Lo Bak
16. Water chestnut

Food stuffs

1. Rice flour noodles
2. Dried bean threads (noodle)- Moong noodles
3. Noodles – other varieties like forbidden rice noodles,buckwheat noodles etc
4. Tofu and their varieties - soft tofu, firm tofu, tofu puffs, tofu skins , dry tofu sticks etc
5. Green tea ,red tea and other flavored tea

This is just a tentative list.I will be updating this as and when I find something new and interesting.

Knowing all the ingredients and how to use is the key to bring out their characteristic flavor and it plays an essential part of Chinese cooking.Using the right cookware is also important. So I might just do a peek view of their cookwares too.

I have found that there are 4 major methods of cooking Chinese cooking ie.The Beijing or the Mandarin method, Hunan, Szechwan and Cantonese methods and they are quite interesting as well.There is also the Shanghai style of cooking.What is the difference or similarity amongst these methods?Do they inter mingle?We are just about to unravel all these in the coming posts...

That's not all, do let me know if you find that I have left out something or would like to add some Chinese ingredient.

Happy browsing...