ChineseFoodDIY Logo
Welcome to!
Home Page
Chinese Recipes
Cooking Tips
Photo Album
Chinese CookbooksShop OnlineHealth ArchiveAbout Us
Contact UsAffiliate Program
Left Side Image

Recommend to a Friend


  Web Forum
  Link to Us
Top Rated Recipes
Appetizers and Snacks
Beef Entrees
Breakfast and Brunch
Chicken Recipes
Clay Pot Recipes
Cooking Styles
Egg Recipes
Fried Rice
Fruits, Grains & Vegetables
Low Carb Recipes
Low Fat Recipes
Pork Entrees
Sauces / Condiments
Seasonal & Holiday Recipes
Seafood Entrees
Soups and Stews
Tofu / Bean Curd Entrees
Veal and lamb recipes
Vegetarian Recipes








Home > Cooking Tips > What do I Buy First? - Getting Ready to Cook Chinese Food

What do I Buy First? - Getting Ready to Cook Chinese Food

Getting Ready to Cook Chinese Food
What do I Buy First?


Chinese Recipe Links


"The way you cut your meat reflects the way you live."

So, you've decided to finally take the plunge and start cooking Chinese food.  Now all you need to do is make sure your pantry is stocked with the right equipment and ingredients. However, a quick look through any Chinese cookbook makes it clear that this could be an expensive - not to mention time consuming - proposition. Is it really necessary to embark on a frantic search through Chinatown for exotic sounding ingredients such as lily buds, shark's fin, and winter melon, not to mention splurging on fancy gadgets such as ginger graters and garlic crushers? 

For the most part, no. However, there are several basic ingredients that you will use over and over in Chinese cooking.  When it comes to cooking equipment, a wok has numerous advantages - besides requiring less oil and distributing more heat than a frying pan, its unique concave shape makes stir-frying easier. Not to mention that you get a stir-fry pan and deep-fryer rolled into one. 

By contrast, a cleaver is optional for the beginner. I once took classes from a Cantonese woman who used a conventional knife for all her slicing and dicing, bringing out the cleaver only when some heavy duty chopping was required. It's nice to have, but not essential.  

Here is a list of the basic ingredients and utensils you need to cook Chinese food*. You can find most of them at ChineseFoodDIY online store


Cooking Utensils

Celery- Regular celery works well in stir-fries. 

Chopsticks - Use in the kitchen for stir-frying and mixing ingredients.

Chinese Rice Wine - It adds flavor and is good for removing strong odors, such as fish.

Cutting Board - Wood or acrylic are best.

Chinese Dried Black Mushrooms - Found in bins in Asian markets. Cheaper brands work fine in soups and stir-fries.

Knife - for cutting and chopping

Cornstarch - Used in stews, marinades, and as a thickener. Can substitute for tapioca starch in recipes.

Wide blade Spatula - for stir-frying

Garlic - Along with ginger, it is often used to season cooking oil.

Wok - Carbon Steel is best.**

Ginger root - Always use fresh ginger unless the recipe states otherwise.


Green Onion (Also known as spring onions) - Often used as a garnish. If, like me, you don't care for the taste of raw green onions, combine them with the other ingredients in the wok just before serving.


MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) - Optional. If a recipe calls for MSG and you don't want to use it, try a bit of sugar as a substitute. If you're out of MSG, substitute Accent.


Oyster Sauce - The cheaper brands are fine for use in stir-fries; stick to the more expensive brands for dips.


Rice - Long grain for meals; short grain or "sticky" rice for desserts or snacks. For something different, try a scented rice, such as jasmine.


Sesame Oil - Used as a flavoring in stir-fries and soups.


Soy Sauce - both light and dark. The bottles are not always clearly labeled, but you can tell by holding it up to the light - dark soy sauce is thicker and darker.


Vegetable Oil for frying - It's healthier and has a higher smoking point than peanut oil. Also, peanut oil goes rancid sooner, which can be a problem if you don't cook Chinese food often.


 *(I'm assuming you already have other basic cooking tools and supplies)
**For electric ranges, it is better to have a flat-bottomed wok, as a round-bottomed wok may reflect back and damage the heating element.  

And that's everything.  Of course, you'll want to add items as you go along - such as a cleaver and a bamboo steamer - but this will get you started. There are many dishes you can prepare with these basic supplies.    

A Few Tips 

  • If possible, go to an Asian marketplace for Asian vegetables. They will be less expensive, and the produce may be fresher. 
  • When preparing a dish, put all your cut vegetables on a large platter. (A flat baking tray is ideal.) When stir-frying, the individual vegetables are added separately, ensuring that none are overcooked or undercooked. However, if you put the vegetables on separate plates until needed, you'll wind up with a lot of extra dishes to wash. 
  • Don't put any condiments on the table. In many restaurants in Asia, the chef will become quite upset if he sees a customer drowning the food in soy or Worcestershire sauce. Chances are, if you leave the condiments in the cupboard your family won't even miss them.    

More links on What to Buy First:

Wok or Frying Pan?

Before You Buy a Wok

Before You Buy a Chinese Cleaver


Get ready to cook Chinese food? Click here to see 500+ Real and Healthy Chinese Food Recipes in 5 minutes! Plus 200+ cooking tips and 170+ colorful pictures.

"500+ Healthy Chinese Recipes in 5 minutes"

Chinese Cookbook: Real And Healthy Chinese Cooking

ChineseFoodDIY's cookbook "Real & Healthy Chinese Cooking" - 500+ low carb and low fat recipes with 170+ colorful pictures. Based on a master chef's 40 years of cooking practice and 4 years of writing and research, it has helped over 12,800 people worldwide improve their health. All the secret copy cat recipes in ONE cookbook.

Click here to read the whole story that reveals how ANYONE can cook delicious Chinese food and improve their health... in less than 20 minutes.

Related Links: Chinese Cooking Tips

What do I Buy First? - Getting Ready to Cook Chinese Food
Useful Tools in Chinese Cooking
Wok or Frying Pan?
Before You Buy a Wok
Before You Buy a Chinese Cleaver
What to do before cooking?
Cooking Techniques in Chinese Cuisine
Stir-Fry Tips in Chinese Cuisine
Deep-Frying Questions and Answers in Chinese Cuisine
The Five Elements Theory of Chinese Cooking
Yin and Yang in Chinese Cooking
Different Styles in Chinese Cuisine
Quick and Easy Chinese Cooking During Busy Weekdays

Chinese Cooking For The Novice

Twenty Tips for Cooking Chinese Food





Home | Cookbook | Recipes | Cooking Tips | Online Store | Album | Health Archive | Forum
Affiliate Program | Link to Us | About Us | Contact Us | Search | Sitemap

Copyright © | Legal | Privacy Policy



Get 100's FREE Chinese Recipes & Cooking Tips In Your Email Weekly NOW! 

Your First Name:

Your Email Address:

Privacy Policy

Woks Wok
  Clay Pot
Sauces Sauces
  Barbecue Sauce
  Bean Sauce
  Chili Sauce
  Fish Sauce
  Hoisin Sauce
  Noodle Sauce
  Oyster Sauce
  Simmering Sauce
  Soy Sauce
  Stir Fry Sauce
Condiments Condiments
Vinegar/Cooking Wine Vinegar & Cooking Wine
Seasonings Seasonings
Cooking Oils Cooking Oils
Tea, Beverages & Coffee Tea, Drinks & Coffee
  Bag Tea
  Leaf Tea
  Specialty Beverage
Beans, Grains & Rice Beans, Grains & Rice
Fruits & Vegetables Fruits & Vegetables
Meat Meat
Seafood Seafood
Pasta & Noodles Cornstarch & Noodles
Soups, Stocks & Broths Soups, Stocks & Broths
Sweets, Cookies & Confections Cookies & Confections
Breads & Cereals Breads & Cereals
Crackers & Snacks Crackers & Snacks
Edible Wrappings Edible Wrapping

Right Side Image