Quick Recipes and Easy

Chinese Cooking Preparation

Sauces and spices are essential in any cooking. No dishes would taste excellent without them. These are some of the most well loved ingredients, sauces and spices that we use in Chinese cooking.

Chinese egg noodles. They can be used in soups and stir-fry dishes as well as being boiled then fried until they’re crisp. This is the most well loved type of noodle for Chinese cooking.

Shiitake mushrooms. They tough stalks which can be used for flavouring but should be thrown away before the dish is presented. They are often sold dried and should be reconstituted in hot water for 30 minutes. The soaking water can be added to soups for extra flavour.

Cinnamon sticks, usually called “kayu manis”. This is the inner bark of a tropical tree. The outer bark is also full of flavour.

Citrus peel (usually orange or tangerine) is often used as a flavouring. It can be bought dried or you can dry your own. Try not to leave too much of the pith attached and dry in a very low oven, in the airing cupboard or in the sun. Soak in water to reconstitute.

Cornflour or “Maizena” is used to give a creamy texture and to thicken sauces. It should be mixed with a small amount of liquid and stirred until smooth before adding to a dish.

Spring onions, salad onions or scallions are long and thin with a white root and green foliage often used as a garnish. They are extensively used in Chinese cooking both for flavour and texture.

Spring roll wrappers are made from rice flour and water. It can be bought frozen or vacu-packed in a variety of shapes and sizes. They need to be kept damp and handled carefully because they can be very brittle and break up.

Vinegar, distilled from fermented rice there are three types – while, black and red. White is very mild and is mostly used in sweet and sour dishes.

Waterchestnuts. It can be obtained fresh but are found more commonly in cans. They are white with a crunchy texture and are often used finely shredded in stir-fry dishes. It can be kept in water in refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

Wontun skins can be bought fresh or frozen and wrapped around the filling of your choice then simmered in soup or deep fried for a tasty snack or starter.

Bamboo Shoots, Indonesian people usually call it with “rebung”. They are sold canned and give a crunch to stir-fried dishes. Once opened, it can be kept in water in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 14 days. It will be better if you change the water everyday.

Beancurd, well known as “tofu”. It made from soya beans. It is sold in blocks. It is honestly tasteless on its own but absorbs other tastes and is well loved as a meat substitute for vegetarian people.

Beansprouts are the young sprouts of germinating mung beans. The are available fresh or in cans. The fresh ones are much tastier and crisper and will keep for up to three days refrigerated in a plastic bag. Beansprouts particularly stir-fries and in spring rolls.

Bean thread noodles, well known as “Sohun”, transparent threads made from mung beans. They absorb the flavour of other foods in stir-fries and soups. They can also be deep fried and used as a garnish.

Tou Fu Sauce (Dou Fu Ru)

Made from fermented beancurd. Can be kept for long time. It has two types, red & white.
Red is typically used to cook Braised Pork. White is typically used as a side dish, it tastes spicy.
Some like to serve with soy sauce and vinegar for meat dumplings, hot pot dishes, and others.

Hoisin sauce is made from soya beans, garlic and other spices and is frequently served with Crispy Duck or barbecued pork. It is sold in cans and jars and will keep in the refrigerator for up to six months once opened.

Oyster Sauce. It is a dark sauce made from oysters and soy sauce and is used as a seasoning. Usually used with green vegetables. Heavily salted. Use sparingly for sauted dishes. Well loved in Hong Kong, Cantoon, and some areas in south of China while not used at all in north and west of China except for hotels and some restaurants.

Black beans sauce, strongly flavoured and preserved in spices. Black bean sauce is available in jars and will keep indefinitely once opened. It is made from fermented black beans and spices and used as a marinade in Chinese cooking.

Shrimp Sauce:

Oil from salted baby shrimp dried and fermented. Use sparingly for saut?ed dishes. Used heavily for dishes from south of China.

Hot Pepper & Bean Sauce:

Hot sauce made from combination of hot spices and beans. Red or brown in color. Use sparingly in sauteed dishes or cold dishes. In north, people often mix this sauce to stir fried minced meat and serve with noodles

Chilli bean sauce is made from fermented soy beans, red chillis and garlic. You can add it to nearly any dish if you like a spicy flavour.

Soy sauce. This is the most commonly used ingredient in Chinese cookery and is brewed from fermented soya beans and salt. It is very dark coloured and very strongly flavoured. There are Light and Dark varieties. The light one should be used with delicately flavoured foods such as fish.

Hot Pepper Oil:

Made from sesame oil and red pepper. Serve with meat dumplings, buns, etc.

JiangXi Vinegar

A special vinegar from JiangXi province. Light amber in color with a distinctive fragrance. Use for meat dumplings and cold dishes.

Star Fennel:

Shaped like eight cornered star, brown in color. Use for cooking with chicken, meat and fish.

Anise Pepper:

Dried brown round spice. Added sparingly in chicken and meat can remove the unpleasant smell (fishy smell). Can also be used for making pickles or even some deserts.

Pepper Salt:

Mixture of anise pepper powder with salt. Serve with fried chicken, meat, and fish.

Chicken stock, is frequently used in Chinese soups and can be made from a chicken carcass or giblets simmered for at least two hours with a leek, a carrot and an onion, all quartered plus salt, pepper and bay leaves.

Chilli, there are several type of chili. Fresh, dried or powder.

The smaller red chilli, generally the hotter it is. Reduce the heat by removing the seeds. Wash your hands extremely after you touch chilli seeds, when you rub your eye can be extremely painful. You better use latex gloves while you cut it. Chillis can be dried in the oven or left in the sun. Once dried they will crumble easily and are often used to flavour oil. Chilli powder is readily available in markets.

Garlic is a pungent bulb readily available. Fresh garlic is best for flavour (make sure it doesn’t have any green sprouts or it will be very bitter).

Ginger. Sometimes whole slices are added to a dish as flavouring and later removed but more commonly, it is peeled and chopped or shredded very finely. Do not use ginger powder, because the taste is very different.

Rice wine. Can be replaced with very dry sherry.

Sesame oil. Made from roasted sesame seeds. It has a delightful flavour and use only for enhancing flavor of cooked and cold dishes, noodles, hot pot sauce, soups, etc.

Chinese Cooking Equipment

There are quite a few traditional equipment that have been used in cooking for thousands of years in China. Some of them are still seen in most of families, some can only be seen in rural areas, or may be disappearing in the modern world. But to cook authentic Chinese food that always tastes like the original’s, some of the equipments simply can’t be replaced by modern equipment that available on Western market.

Chinese Wok

Deep pan with round bottom used in several ways. Comes in iron, stainless and stainless with layer of copper on the bottom. Iron heats most evenly, but should be seasoned before using or food will stick.
A Wok is very essential for Chinese cooking as its depth makes it simpler to go food around quickly without spilling it all over the stove.

A deep stout fryer. It is safer and simpler to use than a wok for deep-frying, but it require more oil. Electric ones usually come with filters in their lids, so smell less than the traditional pan with a basket in it.

Knife, heavy and wide. All purpose – for paring, cutting, slicing, chopping and carving.

Iron Palette, comes in square or round front. Rounded ones are simpler to use with Chinese wok. Use for frying, sauting and basting.

Iron Spoon, use back side for mixing food with minimum breakage.

Steamer, Used for steaming buns, chicken, meat, fish. Place over Chinese wok filled with boiling water. Buy one size smaller than wok. There are new styles of steamers on the market made of different materials. But Chinese believe that the traditional steamer works the best.

Slotted Spoon, used for deep frying and boiling to get rid of excess oil or water.

Wire Sieve, with handle. Used for boiling noodles, dumplings, etc.

Steamers for Pastries, small in size – about 15cm (6″) in diameter. Used in same method as large steamer. Serve hot pastries in steamers. Typical foods served are small meat buns (small steamer meat buns, or Xiao Long Bao Zi), steamed meat dumplings (Shao Mai), etc.

Cookies Moulding, made from wood with various carved designs. No longer well loved in the modern society. Some may still use the moulds for major holidays, or just Chinese New Year.

Bamboo Brush, used to wash hot wok. Only people in some rural areas still use this brush. More people use regular washing cloth found on market.

Rolling Pin, used for preparing noodles, dumpling skins, Chinese pancakes, and more.

Henri Gunawan is webmaster of cookingclue.com cookingclue.com Find out unique cooking tips & recipes at cookingclue.com cookingclue.com It’s all about cooking.

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