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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
S

Salt - A white granular compound (sodium chloride) used to season foods. One important thing in Chinese recipes is that salt in not freely exchangeable with soy sauce. When it is the white kind of cooking, of course salt should be used and the least bit of soy sauce will make it tastes wrong, though after the white cooking is done, soy sauce is used as the dipping.

Salted Jellyfish - See Jellyfish.

Salty or salted black beans - see Black beans, fermented

Scallion - Also known as green onion or bunching onion in the USA, spring onion in the UK and strangely enough, shallot in Australia, this aromatic plant has been Scallions cultivated in China for over 2,000 years. A scallion is an immature onion with long green stems and a small under developed white bulb at the root end, both of which are edible. Because of its crisp, sharp fresh taste and its bright green and white color, it is used extensively in Chinese cooking. The scallion has a slightly hot flavor that is milder than the common onion but stronger than chives. See also leeks.

Scallops - is an edible marine mollusk. Since scallops are extremelyDried Scallop perishable, they are often shelled and washed as soon as they are caught, then immediately covered with ice or frozen or dried. When buying shelled fresh scallops, ensure that the flesh is white, firm, and odorless. Dried scallops are widely used by the Chinese as a soup maker. When buying, avoid darkened or moldy ones. The best kind is amber in color. To soften, wash under cold water, remove the tough parts and steam for 1 to 1 ½ hour. The water used to soften them serves as a stock. Recipes - Scallop with Asparagus, Deep-fry Scallops and Stir Fry Scallops with Leeks

Sea bass -This term commonly describes a number of saltwater fish on the market, many of which are not actually members of the bass family. Black sea bass is a true bass. It can vary from brown to dark gray, and has firm, moderately fatty flesh with a delicate flavor that is suitable for frying, steaming, broiling or roasting whole (the skin is also edible). White sea bass, which may be labeled in markets simply as "sea bass" is actually a member of the drum family.

Sea Cucumber - Known as " bêcher-de-mer " in French or the not soDried Sea Cucumber appetizing name " sea rat " or " sea slug ", the sea cucumber prized for its gelatinous texture has been a delicacy in Chinese cuisine since ancient times, often served in Chinese banquets, among other revered dishes such as the shark's fin soup. It's not a vegetable, but a marine animal that is soft and cylindrical, resembles a cucumber and hence the name. Learn more about Sea Cucumber...

Serrano - fiery hot, but flavorful, green chili, available fresh or canned. Serrano chilies are about 1 1/2 inches long and are slightly pointed.

Sesame Oil - Oriental sesame oil made from roasted sesame seeds has a dark orange hue and a pronounced, nutty, aromatic flavor. It is the most important flavoring oil in Chinese cuisine. Salads and stuffing need the magic touch of sesame oil to taste infinitely better. Use it sparingly as a flavoring, but never use it for long cooking, since it burns easily. Use it in the final stages of cooking instead. Recipes often call for a few drops of sesame oil to be drizzled on a dish just before serving. The best brand is Kadoya sesame oil from Japan . Non-roasted sesame oil is not a good substitute for the sesame oil used in Chinese cooking. Store in a cool place or in the refrigerator .

Sesame Paste -Roasted sesame seeds are ground into a paste. Peanut butter can be used as a substitute. Unroasted sesame paste (tahini) is runnier and not a good substitute as the taste is different .  You can find sesame paste commonly sold in jars in supermarkets and Chinese groceries. Once opened, sesame paste should be placed in the refrigerator, where it will last for several months.  

Sesame seeds - sesame is believed to have been one of the first condiments as well as one of the first plants to be used for its edible oil.Sesame seeds The tiny oval seeds are covered with a thin edible hull and have a nutty flavor, are used by the Chinese to flavor cakes, cookies, and popular desserts such as sesame seed balls and fried custard. Both black and white sesame seeds are used in Chinese cooking. Like sesame oil, white sesame seeds have a nutty flavor, while black sesame seeds taste more bitter. However, whether a recipe calls for white or black seeds often has more to do with the appearance of a dish rather than flavor. They can be found in stores other than those selling Chinese supplies, for instance, in places where Greek and Turkish foodstuff are sold. Sesame seeds can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature. They can last up to 3 months if stored in the refrigerator. Rancid smelling sesame seeds are bad. Recipes - Sesame Seed Biscuits

Shao Hsing wine - see Rice wine

Shad - A member of the herring family, shad are extremely bony;Shad even marketed fillets often have many bones that must be removed by the consumer. Shad are available whole (with or without roe) and in fillets. The roe of this fish is considered a true delicacy.

Shallots - A bulbous herb, it is more aromatic and subtle in flavor thanShallots the onion and less pungent than garlic. Unlike both of these herbs, shallots do not cause "bad breath". The size of a garlic bulb, the shallot has two or three cloves. It is often confused with leeks or scallions in recipes. Shallots are usually available year-round and can be identified by their small onion-like appearance and thin. Some parts in the Asia call it "small onion". Shallots can be kept for about 1 month when stored in a dark, cool, dry place with good air circulation. They will keep for only about 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Also known as potato onion and multiplier onion.

Shark's finShark's fin - This expensive delicacy has been revered in China for centuries. Mainly used in such exquisite dishes as shark's fin soup, shark's fin is prized for its slippery and glutinous texture that results in a thickened soup without the use of cornstarch, similarly to bird's nest, another Chinese top delicacies. Regarded as a tonic food and an aphrodisiac, the Chinese believe shark's fin strengthens the internal organs and retard aging. Read more on how to prepare and cook shark's fin here...

Sherry - A fortified wine originating from an area of southwestern Spain . There are several types of sherries, ranging in color, flavor and sweetness.

Shiitake mushroom - see Chinese mushroom

Shrimps - is considered America's favorite shellfish.Shrimps Select raw shrimp that have no hint of ammonia smell. When storing fresh, raw shrimp, rinse under cold running water and drain. Place in a tightly sealed container and refrigerate for up to two days. When the recipe says ' remove sand ', it also means 'devein' where you slit the back of the shrimp (or take off the whole shell if the recipe calls for shelling), and take off the dark thread (intestinal vein) or line along the back, which would give an unpleasant gritty chew if left there. Learn more about Chinese seafood and recipes here. One pound of shrimp in shell equals about 1/2 pound peeled and cooked shrimp.


Slippery Noodles - see Cellophane Noodles

Snow Fungus - also known as white tree ear fungus, silverSnow Fungi fungus and silver ear is quite similar to wood ear but it is white in color and almost transparent. Good-quality snow fungus has a pale and yellowish-white color. It is often used in soups and desserts and believed to improve the complexion. See wood ear fungus. Recipe - Snow Fungi Sweet Soup

Snow peas - Also known as sweet peas, sugar peas and Chinese peas, itSnow Peas is a soft and flat pod, and entirely edible. Snow peas is ideal for stir frying.

Snow pickle - Also known as red-in-snow and salted cabbage, this is salted mustard greens that tastes somewhat sour.

Soya bean - Cultivated for over 3,000 years in China, it was one of the first foods to be domesticated by humans. To the Chinese, soybeans represented one of the five essential grains of life, along with rice, barley, wheat, and millet. They are more nourishing and tastier than mung bean sprouts, and can be used in the same way, either slightly cooked or raw. The most nutritious and easily digested of all beans, the soybean is better known for its products than for the bean itself: tofu (soybean curd), soybean oil, soy flour, soy milk and soy sauce. Dried soybeans, beans for sprouting and a huge variety of soybean products are available in supermarkets and health food stores.

Soy bean sauce - After soy sauce is brewed, the soybean pulp isSoy bean sauce removed from the vats and made into several types of condiments. The first is called Brown Bean Sauce/Paste, Yellow Bean Sauce/Paste or Soybean Condiment. Use this rich salty condiment to replace soy sauce where thicker gravy is desired. Especially good used as a marinade for roasted meats. Comes in jars or cans.

Soy sauce - A highly flavored brown liquid brewed from fermented soya beans and salt, soy sauce is the most important flavorer in Chinese cuisine . It is salty and tangy in flavor and is dark brown almost black in color. With soy sauce, you can cook an untiring series of Chinese dishes with nothing but those foods you can get at a market. Chinese dishes are called red-cooked or white-cooked according as soy sauce is or is not used. But even in the white-cooked dishes, especially the slow cooking ones, the morsels, or rather the chopsticks of food are often dipped in soy sauce before eating. However, Chinese does not pour soy sauce on rice. There are two main kinds of imported soy sauces available light (thin) or dark (black). Both kinds are used for cooking;Soy sauce however, the light soy sauce is saltier than the black and is preferred for dipping. Kikkoman are the best brands. The best soy sauces are the ones imported from China (Pearl River Bridge is especially good) or Hong Kong . Always try to buy Chinese soy sauce when cooking Chinese food, Japanese for Japanese. They are quite different. Acceptable substitutes for soy sauce in the order of preference are as follows : Kikkoman (Japanese), 'Vesop' sauce (Italian), 'Maggi' (german) and 'Kub' (French). Soy sauce will keep for up to a year at room temperature.

Spinach - A plant with dark green spear-shaped leaves. Spinach, with its slightly bitter flavor, is high in nutritional content and can be eaten raw or cooked.

Spring onion - see Scallion

Spring roll wrapper - see Rice paper

Star anise - Also known as Chinese anise, it is a popular seasoning in Chinese cooking especially in red-cooking dishes, this spice resembles anStar Anise eight-pointed star and is usually broken into "sections" or " pieces" before being used in cooking. It has a subtle licorice flavor and is used as an ingredient in Chinese five-spice. Remove the star anise from the dish before serving, since it is not to be eaten. Only available as a rule from Chinese or oriental provision stores, but try larger spice manufacturers too.

Starch - the most important binder in Chinese cooking is starch. The starch commonly used for cooking in China is from water caltrops, pea flour or from the draining when the flour is washed for getting gluten. Corn flour is the recommended substitute. Pre-soaking sauces with starch protect the surface of the pieces and keep the juice in on frying. Wheat flour is a heavier binder. Fish is often rubbed with flour so that its skin will hold together better on frying

Straw Mushroom - This Asian mushroom gets its name from beingStraw Mushroom cultivated on straw that has been used on a paddy. These grayish brown fungi are long with a conical cap over a bulbous stem, and have a mild flavor that makes a nice addition to Chinese dishes. They can sometimes be found fresh in specialty produce markets but are more readily available canned. Also known as paddy-straw mushrooms and grass mushrooms. See mushroom.

Sugar - Used in sweetish dishes. Adding some sugar can save your dish when you have put too much salt. In authentic Chinese cooking, in the order importance, granulated sugar, brown sugar, crystallized sugar are the sweeteners used.

Sweet Bean Sauce - Use this intriguing sauce along with or in place of Hoisin sauce for a similar but more subtle flavor. Mix it with Hot Bean Sauce in Szechuan dishes to cool things off a bit. Sweet Bean Sauce is also typically used in Peking style foods.

Sweet pepper - see Bell pepper

Szechuan/Sichuan pepper/peppercorns - is a very ingratiating spice which tastes only faintly hot but brings out the taste of many foods well. Even peanuts boiled with salt and Szechuan pepper become a revelation to those who have not had them this way. It is inexpensive and can be found at most asian grocery stores and markets. DO NOT substitute Szechuan peppercorns with red chili peppers. "hua jiao" in Chinese.

Szechuan pickleSzechuan pickle cabbage - is a club-stalked vegetable with a peppery flavor of its own, enhanced by the preserving spices. Once open and removed from the can it will keep for 2 months in the refrigerator. It is often used in slices or shreds to add hot and salty flavor to a Chinese dish or soup. Rinse before use.

 

 

Learn About Chinese Cooking Ingredients Video

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Last Modified: 11/28/11.