A Guide To Asian Ingredients
Copyright 1994 The Detroit Free Press
Distributed by Knight-Ridder/Tribune Information Services
By Patty LaNoue Stearns
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.
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
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
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