Kitchen Tips

10 Essential Chinese Ingredients You Must have in Your Kitchen

A kitchen is never complete without these ingredients. The Chinese have the most versatile ingredients that can make any dish delicious. So here’s what you need to make a perfect Chinese New Year dinner or a family meal.

Here are 10 Essential Chinese Ingredients you must have in your kitchen:

1. Oyster Sauce

oyster sauce-10 Essential Chinese Ingredients You Must have in Your Kitchen

Image Courtesy: kattebelletje used under the Creative Commons Licence

Oyster sauce is a thick, brown, bittersweet sauce made from boiled oysters and seasoning. It’s an ideal sauce for flavouring meat and vegetable as it does not smell like fish. Dishes that commonly use oyster sauce arekai-Ian, wonton noodles, cashew chicken, crab in oyster sauce, stir-fried noodles and broccoli with beef.

2. Chilli Sauce

chilli sauce-10 Essential Chinese Ingredients

Image Courtesy: Alpha used under the Creative Commons Licence

Chilli sauce is made from hot chilli peppers, chilli oil and a garlic-vinegar mix. It is a spicy condiment that can be used as a dip but it is mostly used for cooking Szechuan dishes. The sauce is one compulsory ingredient for any Chinese recipe as it’s the main source of spice.

3. Dried Chilli Flakes

10 Essential Chinese Ingredients You Must have in Your Kitchen

Image Courtesy: Mags_cat used under the Creative Commons Licence

Dried chilli flakes can be used to give a fiery taste to any dish. Also known as crushed red pepper or red pepper flakes, chilli flakes are commonly used in Asian curries. It is made by mashing whole, hot dried red peppers in combination with bell, ancho, and cayenne peppers. Normally used in soups, pickles, sausages, sauces, salads and stir-fries, they are also used to make fiery sauces that go great with dumplings.

4. Egg Noodles (fresh/dried)

10 Essential Chinese Ingredients You Must have

Image Courtesy: Alpha used under the Creative Commons Licence

Egg noodles is the staple food of China. It is made from wheat flour, salt, corn starch, oil and egg yolk. The dough is rolled out and cut into strips. The thickness or shape of the noodles varies. Some are thin, while others are fat and round like spaghetti. Egg noodles are available fresh and dried, and are normally used in soups, Chow Mein and Lo Mein dishes.

5. Five-Spice Powder

Must have Chinese Ingredients

Image Courtesy: Tim Sackton used under the Creative Commons Licence

The five essential spice mixtures which are mandatory in every Chinese cuisine are cinnamon, fennel, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns and cloves. Blend of these five spices give a sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and pungent taste. This powder is used when cooking fatty meats such as duck, pork, goose, beef and seafood. This is the primary ingredient which adds flavour to any dish.

6. Jasmine Rice

10 must have Essential Chinese Ingredients

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Jasmine Rice is also known as aromatic, fragrant or scented rice. These rice grains are generally long and have a nutty aroma. The trick is to use less water while cooking, so that the taste of the rice enhances the traditional spices of oriental cooking. Cooked jasmine rice is soft, white and fluffy.

7. Groundnut Oil or Peanut Oil

peanut oil - 10 Essential Chinese Ingredients You Must have in Kitchen

Image Courtesy: Anthony Pang used under the Creative Commons Licence

Peanut oil is commonly used in Chinese cooking because of its delicious aroma and taste. Due to its high smoke point, it is used for frying, grilling, seasoning, tempering and sautéing. The oil contains a good amount of fatty acids and Vitamin E. Groundnut oil is also usually cholesterol free.

8. Shoaxing Rice Wine

Must have Chinese Ingredients in your kitchen

Photo courtesy of Royalty-free Google images

This staple Chinese spirit is made from a mixture of yeast, millet and sticky rice. They should be aged for at least three to five years. Rice wine takes the rawness and odour out of fish and meat, giving it a bittersweet finish. Avoid cooking wines with added salts. Dried cherries are a good alternative.

9. Sesame Oil

Sesame oil - essential chinese ingredients

Image Courtesy: tracy benjamin used under the Creative Commons Licence

Sesame Oil is amber-coloured, aromatic edible oil derived from pressed and toasted sesame seeds. It is not used in cooking but as a flavour enhancer in Chinese food. A dash of sesame oil before a dish is served adds a lovely nutty flavour and aroma to the dish.

10. Soy Sauce (Light and Dark)

Soy sauce - chinese ingredients

Image Courtesy: kattebelletje used under the Creative Commons Licence

Chinese cooking is incomplete without soy sauce, which is made from fermented soybeans and wheat flour. There are two types of soy sauce.

Light soy sauce

This light-coloured sauce is thin and salty. It is often used as a substitute for salt in stir-fries, soups, stews and braises.

Dark soy sauce

This sauce should be aged longer than the light one. It’s usually mellow, less salty, darker in colour and thicker in texture. It’s used to give flavour and colour to Chinese dishes.

10 Essential Chinese Ingredients You Must have in Your Kitchen

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