Interested in learning to cook Chinese food? You’ll find many recipes, and the dishes are very easy; you just need the right ingredients.
Certain spices, seasonings and condiments are indispensable in Chinese cookery – especially five spices, star anise, ginger, Szechuan pepper (black), lemon balm, coriander, tangerine peel, oyster sauce, sesame oil and on some rare occasions, milk. Many of these are available in the larger supermarkets, or can be found in Asian specialty stores and websites. Here is a simple overview of the Chinese pantry.
1. Hoisin is made of fermented bean and cooked without adding any water, hence it’s thick consistency. This is good for barbecue – meat or fowl.
2. XO is the superior sauce, in the level of superiority of the brandy carrying its label. It has a complex mix of ingredient, having ben made from dry scallops, shrimps, Chinese ham, big and small salted fish and oil (they use mainly Canola). Serve with stir-fried seafood.
3. Kungpao is sweetish and moderately spicy, made of chili paste, black and white vinegar, white sugar, salt and water. Ideal for light meat dishes.
4. Szechuan Chili paste is an important ingredient for dishes like Tofu. Garlic, herbs, shallots, plum sauce (for texture), sugar and dry chili are blended to make this.
5. Green Ginger paste, as the name suggests, has ginger as its major element, mixed with onion leeks, Chinese parsley, celery, and corn oil. All these make it green in color. Goes perfectly with shellfish and steamed chicken.
6. Barbecue sauce is the most familiar reddish sauce, which has A-1 and HP sauces, catsup, oxtail and soup stock.
7. Honey-pepper sauces ha the strong flavor of honey, crushed black pepper with soy sauce used for color. This is a good one for roasted duck or porkchops.
8. Oyster sauce is made from select oyster extracts, rendering a robust flavor. This makes a good marinating and stir-frying agent for practically anything, from meat to vegetables. It is one of the most common and versatile ingredients and (like these essential seasonings) should be part of every person’s pantry.
9. Sesame oil is another staple of Chinese cooking. It is a balance of pure sesame and soybean oil. This gives extra flavor to dips with a few drops to soups.
10. Chili Garlic sauce is medium hot, perfect for shrimps and can also be a dipping sauce for spring rolls and fried foods.
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