Balsam pear - See Bitter melon
Bamboo shoots - These crisp shoots of tropical bamboo give a sweetness and crunch to many dishes, especially stir-fries, and are very popular in Chinese cuisine. Cone-shaped and light-colored, bamboo shoots are usually sold canned or dried in Chinese or oriental provision stores and supermarkets. Once opened, shoots can be stored for up to two weeks if they are transferred to a tightly sealed container, immersed in water, and kept in the refrigerator immediately. Otherwise, they will become tasteless and limp. Change the water daily. Canned bamboo shoots can be eaten as they are, or readily be used in Chinese cooking. Fresh shoots are sometimes available in Asian markets, however they must be parboiled or they will be toxic. To prepare raw bamboo shoots, cut them into sticks, cubes, or slices and cook them in lightly salted water for thirty minutes or until tender; then prepare them according to the recipe directions. Fresh bamboo shoots will last for several days in the refrigerator. Recipes : Bamboo Shoots with Mushrooms, Dry Cooked Bamboo Shoots and Braised Bamboo Shoots.
Bean curd - See tofu
Bean curd cheese - see Fermented bean curd
Beancurd sheets "Bai Ye" - Made from soy beans. Before using, use water and baking soda to make it soft.
Beancurd stick - Also called dried tofu stick or dried bean stick, this is made by skimming and dry the skin that forms on the top of heated soy milk. Soak to soften and added to dishes and soups, beancurd stick is delicious and gives a chewy texture.
Bean paste - see Soy bean sauce
Bean Sheet - Also known as Bean Thread Sheet or Mung Bean Sheet ( "Fen Pi" / "La Pi") are made from the starch of mung beans. There are two kinds of bean thread skins, fresh and dried. Dried bean thread sheets must be blanched in water until soft before using.
Bean sprouts - Called "Nga Choi" in Cantonese, is the young sprouts of the germinating mung bean. Bean sprouts are used extensively as a vegetable in Chinese cooking and can be easily obtained fresh from most western supermarkets. The crisp bean sprouts are used raw in salads too. When used in stir fried dishes, try not to cook them more than thirty seconds or it will lose its crunchiness. When buying, select crisp sprouts with the buds attached; avoid musty-smelling and discolored ones. Fresh sprouts will keep for about three days in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. To keep longer, transfer to a sealed jar, immerse in cold water, and refrigerate it. If water is changed every two or three days, they will keep for up to a week. Canned mung bean sprouts are available too; however, they do not have either the texture or taste of fresh. Recipe : Beansprouts with Ginger and Stir Fried Bean Sprouts.
Bean threads/vermicelli/noodles - See Cellophane Noodles
Bell Pepper - Also known as sweet pepper is a bell-shaped variety of mild peppers belonging to the Capsicum family. Their juicy flesh has a mild, sweet flavor and crisp texture. Young bell peppers are most often bright green in color and turned to red when mature. Bell pepper becomes sweeter when cooked.
Bird's Nest - The nests in making bird's nest soups are exclusively those of swiflets, the birds from the family of common swallow. These highly prized nests are built and clung to the ceiling of the caves as high as 70m by the birds mostly of seaweed that is mixed by their own saliva, making the process of harvesting an ordeal and expensive. Swiflets nests are mostly found on cliffs in areas along the Southern Chinese coast and South East Asia. Learn more...
- also known as the balsam pear or bitter gourd ("ku gua" in Chinese where "ku" is bitter and "gua" melon) is a long fruit
resembling a cucumber with bumpy skin. It is quite popular in Chinese cooking where the fruit is often braised, stir fried or steamed and is added to a dish consisting of pork, onions, ginger, and black bean sauce. The bitter melon is also a frequent ingredient in Chinese soups. The young fruit has green, shiny skin and silvery-green flesh with a delicate, slightly sour flavor. The skin becomes yellow or orange as it ripens, and its taste becomes bitter, which is when it is most often used.
Bitter melon comes in cans and is more likely to be found in emporia specializing in Chinese goods than in other stores and shops . However, in the month of April through September, it can be found fresh in most Asian markets. When purchasing, choose fruit firm to the touch with a nice green color. If you prefer the less bitter variety, look for dark green ones. Fresh bitter melon can be kept in the refrigerator for a week or two.
Black beans, fermented - Also known as Chinese black beans and salted black beans are soy beans, strongly flavored and preserved in salt and spices, is an important ingredient in Chinese cooking, especially Cantonese and Szechuan. They are soft with a salty and pungent flavor, used to season steamed, braised and stir fried Chinese. Salted black beans are sold in plastic bags or in cans in Asian groceries. Soak in fresh water for 30 minutes before use. Rinse them if you are watching your sodium intake but it will reduce some of the flavor. Chop or mash them for best results. You'll find lots of savory recipes in this site using salted black beans. They keep for years in the refrigerator. Note : Fermented black beans are different from black bean sauce. Recipe : Spareribs with Fermented Black Beans.
Black bean sauce – A popular Chinese marinade, this flavorful and pungent condiment is a blend of fermented black beans and spices such as garlic or chilies. Available in jars in most supermarkets, black bean sauce is great for steamed and stir fried Chinese dishes to give that rich and distinctive aroma. Ideal for meat, poultry and vegetables.
Black hair - See Hair seaweed
Black moss - See Hair seaweed
Black Pepper - The pepper as in "pepper and salt". The usual kind of pepper is black, but there's a white kind which tastes almost the same. Black pepper is used in hot and sour soups and is mixed with salt for dipping fried foods before eating.
Bok Choy - See Chinese cabbage
Broccoli - Usually deep green, broccoli can also be white or purple; is a relative of cabbage and cauliflower. Broccoli is made up of tiny bunches of tightly closed green buds growing from a thick edible stalk and can be found in supermarkets year-round.
Choose bunches with tightly closed firm buds, crisp leaves, deep green and evenly colored. If not being cooked right away, store unwashed broccoli in an airtight bag in the refrigerator. In this manner, it can last up to four days. Signs of spoiling include wilted leaves, open buds that are yellow or falling, and a hardened stem. To prepare, wash the broccoli under running water or soak it for 15 minutes in salted water or vinegar water to rid off any clinging insects. Peel any tough stalks before cooking.
Brown almond - appear in Chinese dishes such as "Chicken and almonds" and are prepared as follow: First, blanch round or Valencia type almonds. Drop them into boiling water. Leave or a minute, plunge into cold water and the skins can then be easily removed. To brown them, dry the almonds, pour 2-3 table spoons peanut oil into a suitably small pan. When fairly warm, add the blanched almonds and shake them over a fair heat so that they color evenly. Lift on to absorbent kitchen paper with a perforated spoon.
Brown bean paste/sauce - see Soy bean sauce
Bunching onion - see Scallion
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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