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GLOSSARY OF INGREDIENTS IN CHINESE RECIPES

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

C

Cabbage - See Chinese Cabbage. Look for a cabbage with fresh, crisp leaves that are tightly packed and unblemished; the head should be heavy for its size. It may be refrigerated for up to a week. To dislodge insects from cabbage, soak it in salt water or vinegar water for about 15 minutes. Wash cabbage under running water after removal of the thicker and more fibrous outer leaves if it's free from worms. One pound cabbage yields 4 cups shredded or 2 cups cooked.

Capsicum - Family of peppers such as cherry, banana, bell, Tabasco , jalapeño, habañero, etc., which fall into two categories: chilies peppers and sweet/bell peppers.

Cashew - Sweet, buttery, kidney-shaped nuts that grow from the bottom of the tropical cashew apple. The shells are toxic and always removed before the nuts are marketed. They are sold blanched, plain or toasted and are eaten out of hand; a popular ingredient in many Chinese dishes. As with most nuts, cashews have a high fat content and should be refrigerated. Store them in a tightly sealed container to prevent them from absorbing food odors. They are cooked less frequently than other nuts because they become soft relatively quickly; it is thus important that they not be added to hot food until just before it is served. Recipes : Cashew Chicken, Pork with Cashew and Stir-Fried Shrimps with Cashews

Castor sugar - The standard sugar in Britain , equivalent to superfine sugar. It is more finely granulated and dissolves almost instantly. Granulated sugar can be substituted for castor sugar cup for cup.

Celery - Both the ribs and stalks of this vegetable are edible and can beCelery used in many ways. The green Pascal variety is most often found in American markets. Look for thick, crisp stalks with vibrant, unwilted leaves. Wash celery thoroughly before using, and remove the coarse outer strings. Unused celery will keep in a tightly sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for several weeks. Recipes : Celery Salad, Stir Fried Eel with Celery and Celery with Dried Shrimps

Cellophane Noodles - are thin, translucent threads made from mung beans. This Chinese noodle have little if any taste, but provideCellophane Noodles texture and a base for soup and stir fry dishes, absorbing the flavor of the foods they are cooked with and can also be deep fried. When deep-fried fried, they are crispy and used as a garnish. Before using, soak them briefly in hot water. Other names for cellophane noodles include bean threads, bean vermicelli/noodles, mung bean noodles, Chinese vermicelli, glass/transparent/slippery noodles. See the role of noodles in Chinese cuisine...

Century Egg - See Hundred-year Egg

Cheesecloth - Cotton gauze used in the kitchen for straining liquids and wrapping foods to make them easier to remove from vessels after cooking; available in fine or coarse weaves. Sometimes known as butter muslin in Britain .

Chicken Egg - Both brown and white eggs have the same nutritionalChicken Egg value and it is a matter of personal taste which you choose to buy. These are the only eggs to be produced on a large commercial scale and are familiar standard by which other eggs are compared, the average weight being about 50g (2oz). For more about the roles of eggs in Chinese food, go here..

Chicken stock - Is an important ingredient in most of the Chinese savory dishes. Alternatives are canned chicken consommé. Another to which we are more likely to resort, these days, is those very useful chicken cubes which are pretty generally available. A cube or part of one will make an acceptable stock. Another source of chicken stock is the giblets which can be bought at little cost. How to make Chicken Broth.

Chow chow - A mustard-flavored mixed vegetable and pickle relish. The term was originally used to describe a condiment in Chinese cuisine made of orange peel and ginger in heavy syrup.

Chile bean paste/sauce - Sold in jars, this spicy paste is made from fermented soybeans, red chili peppers and garlic. Use this to add excitement to your favorite Chinese dish.

Chili Oil -Vegetable oil mixed with hot red chilies. The peppers are steeped in the oil to release their heat and flavor, while also giving the oil a reddish color. This spicy oil is very popular in Chinese cooking, but should be used sparingly; best kept refrigerated.

Chili Pepper - or the hot pepper, is a fleshy berry containingRed Chili Peppers numerous seeds in its inner cavity. Chile peppers are smaller and more pointed than sweet peppers and have a Bird Pepper very sharp, almost fiery, flavor. Jalapeño, Serrano, poblano, cherry pepper, cayenne pepper, guero, habañero and japone are all in this family. Chili peppers are much more popular as a condiment than as a vegetable.

Chili powder - is a combination of various spices and dried hot peppers. It may contain black pepper, cumin, oregano, paprika, cloves, and garlic.

Chinese black beans - see Black beans, fermented

Chinese black mushroom - see Chinese mushroom

Chinese broccoli - Like Chinese cabbage and pak choy, Chinese broccoli or Gai lan (Cantonese) is one of the most sought after vegetables in Chinese market and said to be the best. Look nothing much like regular broccoli, it has long stems and big bluish green leaves. The stems and stalks should be blanched before stir frying as they are quite tough. Tips : Ask this in Cantonese (Gai lan) when ordering in the restaurant or you might be served with regular broccoli. Also known as Chinese kale. Recipe : Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce

Chinese cabbage - As many as 33 varieties of Chinese cabbage have been identified in Asia, and the most common varieties in the West are celery cabbage or pe-tsai, pak-choi or "bok choy", and "choy sum".

  • Celery cabbage or "pe-tsai" is native to China , where it hasCelery Cabbage been consumed for thousands of years. Also known as Chinese celery cabbage or Napa Cabbage, it is eaten on a daily basis in northern China . Celery cabbage resembles a Romaine lettuce. The leaves are crisp and delicate with a faint cabbage taste. Use the crinkly inner leaves for salads and the outer leaves for stir-fry. Also called Chinese cabbage.
  • Pak-choi or bok choy also known as "Chinese white cabbage", Chinese chard, or Chinese mustard, it is a leafy vegetable similar to Swiss chard and celery. The leaves are dark green and its whitish ribs are crisp and thus frequently is used to give stir-fry dishes a crunchy texture. There are many varieties of pak-choi, some of which are short-ribbed while others have long ribs. A popular variety is baby pak choy or " siu pak choi ", a Baby Pak Choy smaller version of pak choi. Pak-choi is available year-round in most supermarkets. Select bunches with firm, white stalks topped with crisp, green leaves and refrigerate in an airtight container for no more than three to four days.

  • Another variety is called tsai shim," choy sum " , " bok choy Chinese Flowering Cabbage sum " or " Chinese flowering cabbage ". The light green leaves, pale green stems and clusters of tiny yellow flowers on the tips of the inner shoots are edible.

 

Chinese chives - Also known as garlic chives, the Chinese chiveChinese chives has been cultivated in China for over 2,000 years and is used extensively in Chinese cooking. Unlike regular chives, these have flat leaves and a distinct garlicky flavor.  Chinese chives can be substituted by garlic shoots OR chives (not as pungent as Chinese chives) OR flowering chives. See also chives and Yellowing Chinese chives.

Chinese Dates - See Red Dates
Chinese dried sausage

Chinese dried sausage - Made of pork, these sweet-salty tasting sausauge that look like pepperoni are obtainable in Chinese and other oriental supplies. Used in thin slices for cooking. No soaking is required. Called " lap cheong " in Cantonese. Recipe : Braised Chinese sausage with Wintermelon

Chinese Egg Noodles - The most popular type of Asian noodle, also known as egg flour noodles made from wheat flour, water and eggs, these vary considerably, but typically they are 1/8in. (3mm) wide and pale yellow in color. There are endless delicious soup and stir fry recipes Chinese egg noodles i.e. Shrimp 'Chow Mein' is one particularly tasty variation where 'Chow' is fried and 'Mein' or 'Mien' is noodles in Chinese. Unlike in China, dried egg noodles are used instead of the soft fresh type in the preparation of chow mein in the west. After being cooked in boiling water, they are fried to give them their characteristic crispness. Egg noodles can be found fresh in some Asian supermarkets, and are readily available dried. See the role of noodles in Chinese recipes...

Chinese five spice - see Five spice powder

Chinese flowering cabbage - see Chinese cabbage

Chinese kale - see Chinese broccoli

Chinese long bean

Chinese long bean - Also known as ward-long bean, long bean or asparagus bean. Usually half a yard long, the Chinese like to cut them into smaller pieces and add them to their stir-fried dishes.

Chinese Mushroom - Also called Shiitake mushroom, Chinese black mushroom and forest mushroom (not to be confused with European dried mush­rooms), these are the most widely used mushrooms in Chinese cooking and are grown chiefly in China and Japan. Their fleshy caps are dense, and their stems are Chinese Dried Mushroomtough yet can be used for flavoring before being discarded. Shiitakes can easily replace other mushrooms in recipes. They have a pleasant flavor and absorb the taste of other ingredients. Chinese mushrooms are often sold dried and will keep for up to a year. Rinse well, then soak in hot water for at least 30 minutes. The soaking water can be strained and used to add flavor to a stock. Cut off the stem before using. Learn more about other mushrooms used in Chinese cooking.

Chinese pickled cabbage - or mustard green is available in at least four different varieties, each having a special regional connection.

  • Pickled mustard greens come from the north and have a sour flavor. After opening, remove from the can and store in a clean container in the refrigerator. Rinse before using. This cabbage will only keep for 2 weeks after opening.
  • Red-in-snow, often called ‘snow cabbage’ or sometimes ‘pickled cabbage’ on the cans, is always salted. It is an Eastern specialty. Store after opening, in a clean container in the refrigerator, and always soak for 5 minutes in cold water before using to remove the salt.
  • Tianjin pickled vegetables comes from the north of China and has a slightly sweet flavor, sometimes with garlic added. It is often cooked with a duck soup.
  • Preserved mustard greens are a Hakka specialty with a smoky flavor and a very dark green color. All these varieties of preserved greens can be stir fried with pork or finely chopped and mixed with minced pork, which is then shaped into balls and steamed.

Chinese spinach - Also known as Amarand, is a pseudo-cereal grain. This grain exceeds all common grains as a source of protein and, as such, is expected to experience wider availability. The leaves have a slightly sweet flavor and are often used like spinach. Amaranth is also called Chinese Spinach and "een choy".

Chinese turnip - see Daikon

Chinese vermicelli - see Cellophane Noodles

Chinese white radish - See Daikon

Chives - Aromatic plants native to Asia, chives are related to the garlic, onion, and leek. Chives have slender, bright green, hollow stems with a very mild and delicate onion aroma. They serve to flavor and garnish everything from vegetables to soups, omelets, tofu, fish, seafood, meat Chives and poultry. Fresh chives should be added near the end of cooking in retain flavor; however, it is best not to cook them at all and to add them just before serving. When buying chives, choose fresh, evenly green leaves that show no signs of yellowing, softness, or drying out. Chives may be kept in the refrigerator for a few days. When chopping chives, it is very easy to bruise them, which will release their flavor prematurely and give them a wilted appearance. To cut them without bruising, try slicing them with the tip of a very sharp knife. You can also try cutting them using a pair of kitchen shears.

Choy sum - see Chinese cabbage

Cilantro - See Coriander

Cinnamon - is the inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree. The bark isCinnamon sticks harvested during the rainy season when it is more pliable. When dried, the bark curls naturally and is sold as cinnamon sticks or is ground into powder.

Cloves - The dried, aromatic flower buds of an evergreen tree characterized by their pungent, long-lasting taste, as well as by their resemblance to small nails have been used in China for more thanCloves 2,000 years. C loves are normally used whole, but the central "head" of the bud can also be ground into powder. They are used in sweet and savory dishes, spiced wines and liqueurs. Chinese courtiers sweetened their breath by sucking on cloves when addressing the emperor just like we use mints today. It is best to buy whole cloves, as ground cloves lose their flavor quickly and cannot be kept for as long. A good clove floats vertically in the water. It is stale if it sinks or floats horizontally. The famous Chinese five-spice has cloves in, besides anise-pepper, star anise, cassia, and fennel seed.

Coconut milk - A liquid made by combining grated fresh coconut meat and an equal amount of hot water. The mixture is simmered until foamy and then strained, extracting as much of the liquid as possible from the coconut meat. Canned coconut milk can be found in Asian specialty food stores and most supermarkets. Recipe : Curry Chicken with Coconut Juice

Coriander - This aromatic herb from the parsley family is also called Chinese parsley or cilantro, is often used in Chinese dishes. It is tenderer and and has richer flavor than American parsley. It has a distinctive, almost medicinal flavor and is used in fillings and as a garnish for soups and fish dishes. Some people, including Chinese, have to learn to like it but it's worth learning. Therefore, use it with discretion. A gracious host would ask if everybody like "coriander" before putting it in. When buying, choose fresh coriander that is firm, crisp, and green. Avoid yellow or wilted leaves. Briefly wash fresh coriander at the last minute, to preserve its flavor.

Corn flour - is finely ground cornmeal obtained from kernels from which the germ has been removed in order to improve the storage life of the flour. Corn flour is used for breading and in combination with other flours in baked goods. Be aware that in British recipes the term "corn flour" means cornstarch, and the two cannot be substituted for each other.

Corn Oil - An odorless, almost tasteless oil derived from the endosperm of corn kernels; very good for deep-frying due to its high smoke point.

Cornstarch - fine white powder obtained by extracting the starch from the endosperm of the corn kernel. This fine white powder is added to a marinade, to give the ingredients a smooth texture and allows the seasonings to adhere to the ingredients. When used for thickening, cornstarch is first dissolved in cold liquid and then added to hot food during the last stages of cooking. It must be cooked and stirred until the sauce thickens. Cornstarch appears in most of the savory Chinese dishes. It is given in rather meager amounts because a thick sauce could spoil the dish. But if anyone prefers a thicker sauce, it is very easy to achieve. Simply increase the quantity of cornstarch given in the recipes.

What is known as corn flour in the United States cannot be substituted for cornstarch.

Corn syrup - A thick, sweet syrup available in light or dark varieties. Corn syrup can be used as a less sweet replacement for table sugar.

Crab - A marine crustacean that is highly prized throughout the world; its flavor and texture are considered by some to be the equal of lobster. Crabs should always be purchased alive. When buying whole crabs, whether alive or cooked, choose those that are heavy for their size and have a sweet fresh smell with no hint of ammonia. Crab meat may also be purchased canned. Chinese crab recipes...

Cucumber A gourd and melon family, cucumbers are long andCucumber cylindrical in shape, and range in length from 3 inches to 2 feet. China is one of the largest producers of cucumbers in the world. Select cucumbers that are firm and evenly shaped. Medium-size cucumbers are preferable to overly large specimens, which tend to be bitter and bland tasting and contain numerous hard seeds. They are best when used immediately but will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week if wrapped tightly in plastic.

Cumin - An aromatic seed, either whole or powdered, used to flavor sausages, chutneys and a variety of Indian, Asian and Latin American dishes. This spice is used occasionally in northern Chinese cooking.

Curry Powder - A powder made by grinding and blending various herbs and spices, including cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, fenugreek, red peppers, nutmeg and mace.

Learn About Chinese Cooking Ingredients Video

Learn How to Prepare Broccoli for your Favorite Dishes Video

Learn How to Prepare an Onion for Chinese Cooking Video

Learn How to Prepare Bok Choy for Chinese Food Video

Some Basic Ingredients for Chinese Food Video

How to Remove Fibers from Peapods for Chinese Food Ingredients Video

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Last Modified: 11/28/11.