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Glossary > Glossary C - D
C - D
Chinese Cooking Glossary
to Glossary Index]
Chinese Black Mushrooms - See
Mushrooms, Chinese Black
See Napa Cabbage.
Chinese Celery - According to The
Oxford Companion to Food, the Chinese have
been using celery since the 5th century AD.
Chinese celery is quite different from regular
celery, which is European in origin. (Chinese
celery originated in a form of wild celery found
in Asia). As the photographs illustrates, the
stalks are much thinner (they are also hollow),
and the color can range from white to dark
green. Along with a different appearance,
Chinese celery has a much stronger flavor. It is
seldom, if ever, eaten raw, but is a popular
addition to soups and stir-fries. Just chop up
the entire plant and toss it in with other
vegetables. Chinese celery can be stored along
with regular celery in the vegetable crisper
section of the refrigerator, where it will keep
for several days. Rinse before using.
Chinese Sausage or Lop Cheong - Smaller
(up to six inches in length) and thinner than
western sausages, Chinese sausages are usually
made from pork or liver. The taste varies
somewhat depending on the ingredients used, but
they generally have a sweet-salty flavor.
Chinese sausages can be purchased in Asian
markets, either fresh or prepackaged.
Chinese White Radish or Lo
Bak - Also known simply as White
Radish, and in Japan as Daikon, this popular
Asian vegetable has no resemblance to the round
red radishes we are used to. Instead, Chinese
radish, or Raphanus sativus to use its
scientific name, resembles a large white carrot.
In Japanese cooking, Daikon is a popular
ingredient in relishes and salads, while Chinese
cooks use it more for soups and stir-fries.
Daikon makes a interesting alternative to
potatoes or turnips in soups and stews, as it
can withstand long periods of cooking without
disintegrating. Nutritionally, it is rich in
vitamin C and calcium.
Chinese radish is usually peeled
and sliced prior to cooking, although some
recipes call for it to be grated. Store in the
vegetable crisper section of your refrigerator.
Wash before using.
Choi Sum or Choy Sum - A
relative of bok choy, choi sum is recognizable
by its small yellow flowers and medium green
leaves. Also known as Chinese flowering cabbage,
it has a sweet, mustardy flavor. Nutritionally,
it is rich in calcium. While the stems of choi
sum are generally preferred, you can eat the
leaves as well. Stored in the vegetable crisper
section of the refrigerator, choi sum should
last at least a few days. It makes a nice
alternative to broccoli.
Frost White Brandy - Frost White brandy
is a crystal clear, softer and more refined
brandy from Christian Brothers, available in a
Buy Christian Brothers
Frost White Brandy.
as Chinese parsley and Mexican parsley, cilantro
is the leaves of the coriander plant. Featured
prominently in Asian and Latin cuisines, chinese
cooks use cilantro in soups, stir-fries, and
frequently as a garnish. Although a member of
the parsley family, cilantro has a much stronger
flavor, which its detractors have described as
"soapy." (Like bitter melon, it is definitely an
acquired taste). When choosing cilantro, look
for leaves that have a bright green color with
no yellow spots, and no evidence of wilting. You
can store cilantro is in a plastic bag in the
vegetable crisper section of the refrigerator
where it will last a few days. However, if you
want the cilantro to last longer, try placing it
in a cup of water with the stems down, cover
with a plastic bag and refrigerate. If you
change the water every two days, the cilantro
should last for up to two weeks.
Cinnamon - The dried inner bark of
tropical Asian trees in the genus Cinnamomum.
Cloud Ears -
ear is actually a type of fungus. Also known
as black fungus, tree ears, and jelly mushroom,
it has been featured in Chinese cooking since
the sixth century A.D. Like tofu, cloud ear has
no flavor of its own, but soaks in the flavors
that it is cooked with. The delicate, crinkly
fungus is also valued for its crunchy texture.
Cloud ear is often added to hot and sour soup,
and stir-fry dishes. Cloud ears are sold mainly
in dried form, in plastic bags. If stored in an
airtight container, they should keep for up to a
year. Before using, soak the fungus in warm
water for at least fifteen minutes. It will puff
up to several times its normal size. Then, rinse
the fungus and trim the stem where it was
attached to the wood of the tree (cloud ears
grow on trees such as the mango and kapok). Once
the cloud ears have been cut up into an
appropriate shape and size, add them to a dish
near the end of stir-frying, so that they do not
lose their crunchy texture.
Cornflour - See
powdery "flour," nearly all starch, that is
obtained from the endosperm of corn. Mixed with
water to form a paste, it is often added to
stir-fries as a thickening agent - near the
final stages, as overcooked cornstarch loses its
power as a thickener. If necessary,
can be used as a substitute for tapioca starch.
Creme de Cacao -
A dark brown or clear chocolate-flavored liqueur
made from the cacao seed.
Buy Creme de Cacao.
See Chinese White
Dark Rum - Aged
rum, sometimes colored with caramel.
Deep-frying, in which the food is completely
covered in hot oil and cooked, is an important
Chinese cooking technique along with stir-frying
and steaming. The objective is to brown the
outside of the food, but not so fast that the
inside is not thoroughly cooked. A wok is
normally used for deep-frying Chinese food,
although if you prefer you can use a deep-fat
fryer instead. Kung Pao Chicken, a popular
restaurant specialty made with diced chicken,
peanuts, and red chili peppers, is a deep-fried
Dong Gwa - See Winter Melon
Dried Bean Curd Sticks -
Made from soy beans and water, bean curd sticks
resemble long yellowish colored icicles. They
feel like thin plastic and break apart quite
easily. Stored in a cool, dry place, they will
keep for months. Most books call for dried bean
curd sticks to be soaked overnight in cold water
before use, but breaking them up and boiling
them for 20 minutes or soaking in warm water for
1 - 2 hours works also.
Dried Lily Buds -
Also known as golden needles and tiger lilies,
dried lily buds are the unopened flowers of day
lilies. The lily, Hemerocallis to use its
scientific name, has been used in China as both
a food and medicine for over 2,000 years. Dried
lily buds are yellow-gold in color, with a musky
or earthy taste. Two dishes featuring lily buds
are Muxi Pork, a stir-fried dish, and Hot and
When purchasing lily buds, look for
ones that are pale in color, and not brittle.
At home, store them in a jar in a cool and dry
place. Before using, you may need to cut off
about a quarter inch at the bottom to get rid of
the woody stem. Like many other "woodsy" Chinese
vegetables, lily buds must be soaked in warm
water (in this case for about thirty minutes)
before use. They can then be left whole or cut
in half crosswise as called for in the recipe.
Or, for better flavor, try tying them in a knot.
Dried Tangerine Peel - Dried tangerine
peel has been a popular ingredient in Chinese
cooking for hundreds of years - chicken with
orange peel is a popular Szechuan dish. You can
use dried tangerine peel in braised dishes,
stews, and soups. Unfortunately, it is rather
expensive, but you can also make your own - just
leave the tangerine peel to dry naturally, and
then store it in an airtight container for
several months. One note: there is some
disagreement over whether or not you should
remove the white pith. While it has a bitter
taste it does contain healthy bio-flavonoids.
Tangerine peel purchased from an Asian grocer
should also be stored in an airtight container.
Before using, soak the tangerine
peel in warm water to soften it. You can leave
the peel whole, tear it into smaller pieces, or
cut up as desired. It is thought to be good for
improving digestion and treating infections. The
peel of unripe, green tangerines is also used by
herbalists to treat stomach and liver problems.
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