INFLUENCE OF CHINA AND ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS in Asian Cuisine
The Essential Ingredients
Canola Oil – Is prone to smoking and burning if the heat is too high for too long. Canola oil is at its best when used over medium to low heat.
Chilli Oil - Orange-red in color, this spicy item is delicious drizzled over noodle dishes, soups or stir-fries.
Coconut Oil - This oil is richer than peanut oil, but it is especially delicious when used in making Thai curries.
Grape Seed Oil - Mild flavoured oil, this has the same healthful benefits as canola and olive oil.
Palm Oil - The palm tree is used for making both palm sugar and oil. The oil is used in cooking, in making cosmetics and other products.
Peanut Oil - Also known as ground nut oil, this oil has a deep flavour and can sometimes taste and feel a bit heavy.
Sesame Oil - Extracted from sesame seeds, it has a strong nutty flavour. It should be used sparingly because its pungent flavour will go a very long way.
Soy Sauces and Other Soybean Products
Chinese Light Soy Sauce - A basic seasoning in Chinese cooking – “light” refers to its fluidity. It is made from fermented soy beans, wheat, and yeast and sometimes labelled “thin” soy sauce.
Chinese Thick Soy Sauce - Also known as “dark” soy sauce, this is less salty, sweeter, and thicker than Chinese thin or light soy sauce, because of the inclusion of molasses.
Hoisin Sauce - A sweet thick bean sauce, with a near paste consistency, that is made primarily from fermented soy beans, vinegar, sugar and garlic.
Japanese Dark Soy Sauce - It is made up of equal amounts of soybean and wheat. Kikkoman, the most popular of all Japanese soy sauce.
Fermented Bean Curd - Small cubes of strongly scented pasty curd that tastes of wine must. The three main types are white, red and spicy flavoured with red chilli.
Miso - It is made from fermented soybeans and rice. There are dozens of types but the most common are white, red and black miso.
Seafood Sauces and Pastes
Anchovy Sauce - Chinese anchovy or shrimp sauces are light gray thick liquids or loose pastes and are fluid compared to the Southeast Asian Thai or Indonesian shrimp pastes.
Bagoong Sauce - The Filipinos make bagoong from tiny anchovies and shrimp. A loose, greyish, opaque thick liquid, it has chunks of the fish or shrimp in it.
Fish Sauce - This sauce is an indispensable seasoning in Southeast Asia. The best versions are made with special select anchovies.
Oyster Sauce - This thick brown sauce is made from dried oyster extract, sugar, water, salt and cornstarch.
Shrimp Paste - Thai and Indonesian f foods would not be complete without shrimp paste.
Wines and Other Liquids
Rice Alcohol - This distilled 100 percent alcohol made from fermented sticky rice is white and crystal clear.
Sake - Sake is white in color or crystal clear and has the same alcohol level as Chinese rice wine.
Mirin - This is sweetened sake. It is added to marinades, dipping sauces or dressings.
Coconut Water - Southeast Asians collect the coconut water or juice from fresh, young green coconuts for cooking.
Chinese Black Vinegar - Strongly flavoured vinegar made of fermented “glutinous rice”, salt and water which dark brown in color.
White Rice Vinegar - Clean-tasting white rice vinegar, it is crystal clear and perfect for pickling ginger or vegetables.
Coconut Vinegar - This is made from coconut palm sap, and occasionally, coconut water that has been exposed to air for some time and soured.Pastes, Sauces and Concentrates
Sesame Paste - Made from pureed sesame seeds, this oily tan paste is used for flavouring cold noodles.
Thai Curry Paste - Excellent commercial green (very spicy), red (spicy), or yellow (mildly spicy) curry pastes are made with chillies, lemongrass and galangal.
Wasabi Paste - It is made from Japanese horseradish.
Sweet Chile Sauce - This Thai spicy, sweet and slightly tangy sauce resembles a relish or chutney made of chillies and garlic.Dried Seeds, Powders and Others Items
Annatto Seeds - These mild-flavors, tiny red seeds are added to dishes primarily for coloring.
Sesame Seeds - These are white or black and have a mild nutty flavour.
Five-Spice Powder - This Chinese spice blend of fennel seeds, star anise, licorice root, cloves, Szechwan peppercorn and cinnamon is often added to marinades for meat.
Indian Curry Powder - This powder contains spices such as turmeric, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, star anise, cinnamon and cloves.
Star Anise - It looks like a star. It is used in sweet and savory dishes.
Dried Nuts, Flower Buds and Fungi
Gingko Nuts - These nuts are delicious roasted, boiled, steamed and added to savory or sweet dishes.
Pine Nuts - Pine nuts are widely used in both Italian and Korean cooking.
Black Mushrooms - Most commonly known as shitakes, these mushrooms have a more concentrated aroma when dried than when fresh.
Abalone - A fairly expensive item found in several sizes.
Fish - These fish items have a concentrated flavour which is a result of being sun-dried.
Oysters - Available in several sizes and prices, oysters are sun-dried.
Scallop - One of the most expensive dried seafood items and one of the most delicious.
Shrimp - Used to season a variety of dishes, dried shrimp add a chewy texture and distinct flavour.
Squid - These are used to season and add texture to a variety dishes. They are very pungent so use sparingly.
Fresh Herbs and Other Seasoning
Cilantro - Also known as coriander or Chinese parsley.
Curry Leaves -Small, dried and sweet leaves-it imparts a lemony and curry-like essence.
Garlic - Garlic appears in almost every savory dishes, especially meat dishes, in part because of its benefits.
Ginger - An important flavour ingredient in Asian cuisine. It is considered therapeutic for stomach aches and seafood poisoning.
Lemongrass - Also known as citronella. Its unique tangy flavour compliments a wide range of dishes, from soups to stir-fries to stews and even desserts.
Scallions - Also known as green onion and spring onion.
Shallot - Southeast Asians refer to shallot as red onion.