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Eggplant - While there are many varieties grown in Asian,
the term Chinese eggplant refers to the narrow,
purple variety that can be streaked with white
(it looks somewhat like a purple zucchini).
Interestingly, Asian recipes don't normally call
for eggplant to be salted and degorged, as is
the custom in western and European cooking.
is the dried fruit of the
which has numerous variants. The vegetable
called fennel, or
comes from the plant known as Florence fennel,
which develops bulbous stalks that are eaten
like celery. There also is a bitter fennel, the
seeds of which sometimes are used in liqueurs.
However, the spice
comes from sweet, or garden, fennel, and is
identified easily by its anise-like flavor and
Buy Fennel Seed
sauce is a thin, salty liquid that is used in
place of salt as a seasoning in many Asian
recipes. Although associated primarily with
Vietnamese and Thai cuisine, it is also used in
parts of southern China and occasionally in
Cantonese cooking. Made from salted fish, it is
rich in Vitamin B and protein.
Fish sauce is used both in cooking
and as a dipping sauce. Depending on where it
was made, you'll find it sold under a number of
names. Chinese brands are often labeled "fish
gravy" or "fish sauce," while it is called "nuoc
mam" in Vietnam and "nam pla" in Thailand.
However, they are all basically the same
product, although the Thai and Vietnamese brands
are considered superior. Fish sauce can be
stored indefinitely without refrigeration in a
Five Spice Powder - A
common ingredient in Chinese cooking, this
delicious mixture of five ground spices usually
consists of equal parts of cinnamon, cloves,
fennel seed, start anise and Szechwan
five-spice powder is
available in Asian markets and most
Buy Five Spice Powder
- See Bitter Melon
Fuzzy Melon - Not to be
confused with the drink, fuzzy melon or mo gwa
looks like a zucchini covered with fuzz.
However, while zucchini is a type of squash,
fuzzy melon is a gourd, related to winter
melon. Fuzzy melon is used in a number of
dishes such as soups and stir-fries. It can also
be filled and steamed. Peel off the skin or
scrub well to remove the "fuzz" before using.
pungent aroma of fresh garlic - Allium Sativum
to use its scientific name - probably comes
second only to
ginger in its importance to
Chinese cooking. Used in China since ancient
times, it is particularly important to northern
Chinese cooking, where harsh winters and a short
growing season mean residents rely on members of
the onion family (such as garlic and spring
onions) to season their food. However, you'll
also find garlic used in highly spiced Szechuan
dishes and in Cantonese cuisine. In addition,
ginger, it's regularly used to flavor
oil before frying.
Garlic has long claimed our
fascination. Ancient cultures valued its
medicinal qualities; the Egyptians fed the
slaves garlic to give them enough energy to
continue building the pyramids. Despite the
smell, garlic was reputed to be an aphrodisiac.
Interestingly, despite its widespread use in
China, ancient Buddhist doctrine forbids the
eating of garlic. Along with leeks, it is one
of the five strong-flavored foods that Buddhists
must avoid, or else "in their present life they
will find foul sores breaking out on their
bodies, and in the next life they will fall into
the hell of incessant suffering" (Source:
"Conversation between a Sage and an
Unenlightened Man," on the Soka Gakkai
When shopping for garlic, look for
firm bulbs without any dampness and no dark or
broken spots on the skin. Store in a cool, dry
place (not the refrigerator). When it comes
time to cook, use the side of a knife or cleaver
to smash the garlic - this will make it easier
Buy Gin online.
- Gin is a flavored white spirit made by
distilling grains such as barley, corn or rye.
It's flavored using Juniper berries, coriander,
angelica, herbs and spices and a variety of
other natural ingredients which are added to the
grain mash during distillation.
Production of Gin dates back further than the
17th century and like many modern day essentials
was originally used for medicinal purposes.
Gin is a staple ingredient in various modern day
cocktails and recipes, including the world
famous Martini and Gin and Tonic.
Alcohol (ABV): 40.0% (80 proof)
roots of the
ginger plant, or Zingiber
officinale to use its scientific name, are an
indispensable ingredient in both Chinese and
Indian cuisine. Thought to have originated in
South-east Asia, the plant's name, "zingiber"
means horn-shaped, after the irregular shapes on
the rhizomes or roots. Valued for its clean,
ginger is used in soups,
stir-fries, and marinades. It is especially
good with seafood, as it can cover up strong
ginger, look for a firm, smooth
body and a nice tan color, without any darkening
or wrinkled skin. At home, wrap the
ginger in a
paper towel and store it in a plastic bag in the
vegetable crisper section of the refrigerator.
If a portion becomes discolored, simply slice
that part off. It should keep for several weeks.
A more long-term storage method is to peel,
slice, and then store the
ginger in a sealed
glass jar filled with rice wine or dry sherry in
the refrigerator. It will last for up to a year.
Green Onion - Also called "spring onion",
green onion is an immature onion with a white
base (not yet a bulb) and long green leaves.
Both parts of the
scallion are edible. Available
in Asian market.
Grenadine - A
non-alcoholic red syrup often used for colouring
in cocktails. Also adds a bit of sugar in harsh
Groundnut Oil - Peanut oil.
(Groundnut is another word for peanut).
Hoisin Sauce -
thick sauce valued for its unique combination of
sweet and spicy flavors, hoisin sauce is made
from soybean paste and flavored with garlic,
sugar, chilies, and other spices and
ingredients. It is used in cooking, as a
dipping sauce, and is a key ingredient in many
Chinese barbecue sauce recipes. In addition, it
is also used to glaze roasted meat. Hoisin sauce
is available in both jars and cans. If
purchased in a can, transfer to a closed
container and refrigerate. If purchased in a
jar, refrigerate after opening.
Buy hoisin sauce
Hot Mustard -
popular condiment served with Chinese
appetizers; you'll also often find it added to
sauces in Japanese dishes. It is made by mixing
dry mustard powder with water, causing a
chemical reaction that produces a sharp, hot
taste. Some recipes call for the addition of
vegetable oil, which reduces the
effect somewhat. Sesame oil and rice vinegar may
also be added.
Irish Cream - A
cream and chocolate based Irish whiskey liqueur.
Buy Irish Cream.
Jamaica Rum - A dark rum made from
1800 - A brand of tequila made from
100% blue agave and aged in French oak casks.
Buy Jose Cuervo 1800 online.
a type of cut, where the ingredient to be
julienned is cut into very thin, "matchstick"
strips usually 2 - 3 inches long, and about 1/8
inch thick. Recipes may call for the ingredient
to be julienned or into matchsticks.
Kecap Manis -
Kecap manis is a sweetish, thick
soy sauce made
with palm sugar and seasoned with star anise and
garlic. A popular tool of Indonesian cooks, it
can be used as a dip, and some people like to
substitute it for dark
soy sauce in recipes.
Kirschwasser - A cherry flavored liqueur
made from the distillation of cherries. Alcohol
(ABV): 45.0% (90 proof).
Buy Kirschwasser online.
Light Rum -
A dry light-bodied rum, usually with no or
almost no color. A blend of the lightest rums is
filtered through charcoal before and after aging
in oak casks to make light rum. Light rum is,
with its light flavor, probably the most mixable
of all rums.
Lo Bak -
See Chinese White
Lo Mein - In this dish,
boiled and drained noodles are added to the
other ingredients and stir-fried briefly during
the final stages of cooking. This gives the
noodles more flavor than is the case with chow
mein, where the meat and vegetables are served
over noodles that have been cooked separately.
Italian pastas such as fettucine work well in lo
Lychee - Also called Litchi, Lichee,
Lichi, Leechee and Laichee. This popular
Chinese fruit is about the size of a walnut,
with a bumpy red shell encasing white
translucent pulp that's similar in texture to a
grape. The flavor is sweet, exotic, and very
juicy. Don't eat the shell or the seed. Fresh
litchis are available from May to July. If you
can't find them, canned litchis are a good
substitute. Don't confuse fresh litchis with
lychee nuts, which are sun-dried litchis
that have a much different texture.
Lychee Nuts -
Also called litchi nut, lichee nut, lichi nut
and leechee nut. These are sun-dried
litchis. The outer shells are brown and the meat
inside looks like a large raisin. Look for them
in Asian markets.
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