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A Guide to Asian Ingredients

by: Lutongbahay.com
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Authentic seasonings are essential to Chinese cooking. Most supermarkets now stock many of these ingredients, as do the growing number of Asian markets throughout the metro area. Here's a list of some of the most readily available spices and sauces:

Chili peppers: Add a hot and spicy edge to Sichuan-style dishes.

Chili paste: Made with mashed chili peppers, vinegar and garlic, a fiery flavor that puts zing into Chinese dishes.

Five-spice powder: Ground anise, Sichuan pepper, fennel, cloves and cinnamon. The pungent blend is for flavoring meat and poultry.

Ginger root: A gnarled brown tuber with a lemon-zesty flavor; shaved and skin removed, it's great for stir-fry.

Hoisin sauce: A thick, reddish-brown concoction of soybeans, flour, sugar, salt, garlic and chili peppers that adds a sweetish taste to cooked dishes and also is a good marinade or dipping sauce for seafood and poultry.

Scallion: Mild, tender green onion with a small white bulb and tall green stalk, great for soups and stir-fry flavoring.

Bamboo shoots: Ivory-colored, mild-flavored sprouts from the bamboo plant used in stir-fries and soups; canned versions are most common.

Bok choy: Tall, thick-stalked cabbage for stir-fry, soups and pickled side dishes.

Chinese cabbage: Also called napa, the oval-shaped, densely packed, broad leaves are juicy and slightly sweet. Use in dumplings, fillings, soups and stir-fries.

Dried mushrooms: Shitake, black and wood ear are among varieties used. Soak in water before adding to soups and stir-fries.

Mung bean sprouts: Used in stir-fry and other dishes for their sweet taste and tender texture.

Oyster sauce: A dark-brown mix of oysters, brine and soy sauce, cooked until it's thick and concentrated. Use in stir-fries and as a dip.

Peanut oil: Distinctive flavored oil for stir-fries.

Pea pods: Flat green pods with tiny green peas inside. Provide a fresh, sweetish taste that's perfect for soups, salads and stir-fries. Cook only slightly to preserve their crisp texture.

Sesame oil: Nutty and pungent; add a teaspoon to finish a stir-fry dish.

Tapioca flour: Extracted from the root of the cassava plant; used as a thickening agent for stir-fries.


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July 24, 2017

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