Chinese Ingredients

Jan 2010, amend a few dead links and some text changes, expand Sichaun bean sauce, add sweet bean sauce, Taiwanese bbq sauce and Jimmy's sate sauce.

12th Jun 2009,
Note: Other than this post there is another post on S E Asian ingredients. See this link

Amendment 17Feb2009,
as you may have noticed a lot of the pictures linked are not mine. Thank you to anyone whose picture/s I have linked to on this post. If you have any problem with it, let me know I will remove it/them.

Amendment 01 Feb 2009
, I was told many have read this post and find it useful. Thank you for reading. Have just realised some of the links were wrong and some no longer work. See amendments in red * to denote new/replaced link. I also added some new additional note in red.

Every now and again I get asked what is the basic list of chinese ingredients?

If you want Chinese ingredients don't get them from the local supermarkets, go to your nearest oriental supermarket or buy online like this online shop I linked most of the products, you will get more varieties and better quality products. I never buy Sharwood or Blue dragon, some of their sauces are so watered down and never have the authentic flavour.

I will now introduce you to a variety of typical Chinese ingredients. I will list other oriental or Malay ingredients in later posts.

Most Chinese cooking depends on the flavour added which is unique to Chinese only. Other than that there is a wide range of cupboard ingredients and vegetables.

1. Chinese Sauces

Light soy 生抽 - Golden Label Superior Light Soy Sauce or I like Lee Kum Kee premium light soy .Occasional I also have a bottle of LKK double deluxe soy (the Rolls Royce of soy sauce) for dipping sauce not for cooking.

Dark soy 老抽 – Pearl river superior dark, Amoy dark or LKK dark

Mushroom soy 草菇老抽 – LKK or Pearl River, similar to dark but nicer rounded flavour

Oyster sauce 蠔油 – Very popular for Cantones style cooking. I like LKK premium oyster (not cheap but nice), other than that I also use Amoy or LKK Panda sauce.

Vegetarian oyster sauce 素食蠔油 – LKK called vegetarian stir fry sauce, great for all sort of stir fries, main flavour from mushroom.

Chilli oil 辣椒油 - cantonese chilli oil sometime contains dried shrimps or shallots. Chilli oil will spice up any food you like. If you want to make your own, I have a recipe here*

Chilli bean sauce 辣豆瓣醬 (douban jiang) – the most well known authentic Sichuan Chilli bean sauce is from Pixian town 郫县 in Sichuan. Look for Pixian douban 郫县豆瓣酱, on the label. I have only found Pixian douban about a year ago in London, now it seems it is quite easily available. I have been using this since I found them. Most Chilli bean sauce are made with fermented broad bean and chilli. I also like this (made in Taiwan and made with soybean and chilli) and this* which is also a chilli bean sauce eventhough the name is Hot Soy Bean paste (blame it on the translation :)). I find LKK chilli bean sauce too salty and full of chilli seeds and skin. Douban jiang is great for all sorts of Mapo tofu and other Sichuan dishes.

Yellow bean sauce 磨豉醬 and 黃醬 - LKK or Amoy. I got this at home (it’s called hoi sin sauce but it’s not it’s yellow bean) very nice.

Sweet bean sauce or sweet flour sauce 甜麵醬. This is similar to ground yellow bean paste with but sweet and salty taste. Normally made with wheat flour. I normally use Mong Lee shang brand

Taiwanese bbq sauce 沙茶醬 (sa cha jiang), a mildly/hot spicy bbq sauce made to imitate S E Asian satay sauce, good for meat marinade for stir frying or grilling. A very popular sauce in Taiwan but can be quite expensive. Bull head is the most famous brand.

Jimmy's sate sauce
沙嗲醬 another Chinese satay sauce similar product to Taiwanese sa cha jiang but made in Hong Kong. Use for meat stir fry.

Fermented black beans 豆豉 or black bean sauce 豆豉醬 – Best buy the dried beans cost penny and one without dried ginger mixed with the beans, but if you want a sauce in a jar try LKK or Amoy. Sauce in a jar usually has garlic and is very salty.

Hoi Sin Sauce海鮮醬 – LKK is great for meat marinate, not really a stir fry sauce. It is quite salty. Can also use for duck pancake but sparingly.

Plum sauce 冰花梅醬 – LKK or Amoy . This is the duck recipe I used for plum sauce duck.

Duck pancake sauce 北京鴨醬 – LKK , much nicer than hoi sin.

XO sauce XO醬- there is no XO cognac in it, a Cantonese extra premium sauce with all sorts of dried seafood like shrimp and scallops, spices and chilli. Not cheap but very yummy, great for stir fry seafood. Best buy LKK.

Sesame oil 香麻油 – always buy 100% pure, Yeo’s is good

Ching kiang black vinegar
* 鎮江香醋 - great flavour for Sichuan cooking, Chinese S&S sauce, dipping sauce for dumplings, stir some into shark fin soup or sweet corn soup is also very nice.

Char Siu sauce 叉燒醬 – LKK is great. I love it for char siu, great for any pork and chicken marinate too.

LKK Chicken marinate 鹵水料汁 – master sauce for poaching chicken or other meat ready to go nothing to be added.

Sweetened black vinegar 八珍甜醋- a Cantonese specialist ingredient made with black rice vinegar with herbs and sugar made specially for making trotter and ginger vinegar especially for new birth mothers. I love it great for winter warm you cockles to no end.

2. Other Chinese flavouring ingredients

Cooking Rice wine – Shao Hsing Hua Diao Wine 紹興花雕酒. Have a look at this photo. Do buy the one on the right if you can find it, it’s the real McCoy, the one on the left is made in Taiwan a poor replica. I found the good one from Wing Yip and you can guess I did stock pile.

Chinese sour plums 酸梅子– use for plum sauce or other cooking to give a sour taste.

Chinese dried tangerine/orange peel
陳皮 – essential ingredient for beef balls dim sum, also very good for braising beef like Ngau Lam Mein. There is also a flavoured peel for snack not suitable for cooking.

Chinese cinnamon 玉桂 – cassia bark good mainly for braising. If not available can use normal cinnamon.

Sichuan peppercorns
花椒 – most Sichuan cooking and good for braising meat. Essential ingredient for master sauce spices, Chinese S&P style cooking.

Five spice powder 五香粉 – essential Chinese spice for braising. Not really for stir fry spice though I have seen so many people using is for stir fry with vegetables including that Ching women on TV. Really good for Chinese doughnuts.

Star anise 八角 - chinese called this spice 'eight corners' great flavour for master sauce and braising any meat.

Liquorice root
甘草 – not commonly used but essential ingredient for master sauce.

Chinese mixed spice 鹵水料 – All ready to use master sauce spices.

Sichuan dried chilli
– great for kung po chicken and other Sichuan hot dishes.

Knorr chicken granules 雞粉 in a tin – commonly used in Chinese cooking replacing msg.

Chinese cardamon or cao guo 草果 - very similar to indian black cardamon, mainly use for braising meat, not a common spice I would use. Can you bought from here or other oriental stores

3. Chinese fresh vegetables and herbs

Choi sum 菜心 - long stem green vegetable. great for stir fry or just steamed and drizzle with good oyster sauce and some sesame oil or garlic oil.

White Bak choi
小白菜- dark green leaf with pure white stem

Green bak choi 上海小白菜 (shanghainess bak choi) - much sweeter than white pak choi

Chinese mustard 芥菜(kai choi) - some looks like a large pak choi some bigger ones looks like a iceburg, with a sharp peppery taste. Good for stir fry and soup. Very good for pickling.

Kai lan 芥蘭 - chinese kale or brocolli without flower or with flower

spinach 菠菜 - chinese spinach always sold as whole with the stalk.

Chinese cabbage or nappa cabbage
黃芽白- great for stir fry or soup. Korean indispensable vegetable for kimchi

Kangkong or water spinach 空心菜 chinese called it hollow vegetable or tung sum choi, great for stir fry with white fermented beancurd or shrimp paste

Bitter gourd (fu kuaw) 苦瓜 - Bitter melon not as bitter as Indian kerala, great sliced and stuffed with meat or prawn, also very braised with black bean and spare ribs.

Winter melon
冬瓜 - Bland tasting melon, mainly of soup savoury or sweet.

Angled gourd 絲瓜 - great for stir fry. Also popular with Indian and Thai

Chinese chives 韭菜 - eaten as a vegetable, great for making omelette or filling for all kinds of Chinese dumplings. Big flies mad for them if they are around shut the window and doors.

chives flowers 韭菜花 - sweet flower stem of Chinese chives, normally use as stir fry with pork

Chinese or oriental aubergine 茄子 - the shape is different from normal aubergine*. They are normally longish either with dark purple, light purple or green skin. Eaten and cook the same way as normal aubergine.

bamboo shoot with skin on
or one which has been cleaned* 竹筍 or 竹笋 - fresh, tin or plastic packed. Great for stir fry

water chestnut 馬蹄 - fresh* or tinned*. Fresh is 100 times nicer and taste slightly sweet than its tasteless counterpart in tin.

Bean sprouts 豆芽 - in most western stir fries which IMO should not be there. I like it stir fry on its own with Chinese salted fish. Good for noodle soup.

Soya bean sprouts 黃豆芽- bigger and tougher than bean sprouts, Cantonese usually chopped them and stir fry with pork.

pea shoots 豆苗- snow pea sprouted shoots great for stir fry on its own with garlic.

Fresh shitake mushroom

oyster mushroom 蠔菇 - quite bland and slippery once cooked, wilted down to nothing

Spring onion - added to most chinese dishes

ginger - good for all stir fries and braised dishes. For very young ginger it is very tender and not so fiery, suitable for making pickled ginger to go with century egg or for sushi.

garlic - need I say more

chinese celery 芹菜 - more leafy than english celery and is use to flavour soups and stir fries

4. Chinese dried vegetables or dried ingredients

Shitake mushrooms
冬菇 – normal or the more expensive flower mushrooms which the top brown cap is cracked and looks like a flower.

Wood ears or tree ear 木耳– dried black fungus, one side is black the other side is like suede either light brown or silvery grey in colour. Very crunchy and swells a lot once soaked, a little goes a long way. Good for Hot and Sour soup and Vietnamese fried spring rolls.

Cloud ears 雲耳 – similar to wood ear but much smaller. The skin on both sides are very smooth and same colour when soaked, i.e. dark mahogany brown. Good for steaming with chicken.

Lily buds 金針 – dried lily buds, golden in colour good for Monk’s vegetables stir fry or steamed chicken. Do remove the hard stalk, normally twist into a knot before cooking to avoid it from falling apart.

White fungus or snow ear* 雪耳/ - soft white fungus usually for soup savoury or sweet. This is when soaked like a natural sponge.

Fatt choi 髮菜 - a black hair like fungus popular ingredient for Chinese new year because it sounds like 'prosperous' in Chinese. Great stew with mushroom or in Monk's vegetable.

Ginkgo nuts 白果 – very nice creamy tasting nut (this is when peeled), not to be eaten raw. Must remove the centre green stalk because it is very bitter. Come with shell and without shell and also in tin.

Dried lotus seeds 白蓮子 not a widely used ingredients for essential for making sweet lotus seed paste. Also used of making soup and essential for eight treasure duck.

Jujube or red dates
紅棗 – typical Chinese dates mainly for soup or cooking with Monk’s vegetable or braising/steaming with chicken.

Other Chinese dates – honey (matcho) dates蜜棗 and black dates* 黑棗, mainly for soup.

dried soya beans - for soya milk, tofu etc...

mung beans 綠豆*- or green beans for bean sprouts or cook as a sweet soup

red or aduki beans 紅豆 - for sweet soup or red bean cakes or red bean lollies another great use is making red bean paste

5. Tofu products

Fresh tofu – soft and firm, I like freshly made myself recipe or bought from Chinese supermarket. Never use tetrapak before.

Fried tofu - brown outside and quite greasy. Good for braising.

Fried puffy tofu (dou fu pok) 豆泡– golden in colour, very puffy, chewy and will absorb a lot of the cooking sauces.

Dried tofu (beancurd) sticks 腐竹 (fu chook) – eggy yellow dried sticks for braising or making sweet soup. Great deep fried before braising to give it a nice nutty taste.

Dried tofu sheet 腐皮( fu pei) – wrap for making fried roll (fu pei kuean) or lay under the dim sum beef balls or wrap round meat and puffy fish maw (sin jook kuean)

Fermented white beancurd 腐乳 – buy buy one with sesame oil and chilli, eaten as condiment on it own with rice or congee. Can also use as stir fry with vegetables like water spinach (kangkong) or normal spinach.

Fermented red beancurd 南乳 – normally as a braising ingredient for meat. Also great for Chinese doughnuts.

6. Chinese pickled vegetables and other preserved food

Tianjin preserved vegetables 天津冬菜 dung choi – brown bits of salty garlicy tasty vegetable for congee, noodle soup, fish ball soup and steamed minced pork cake.

zha chai , Sichun preserved vegetable *榨菜, very salty and spicy with chilli powder, need soaking before slicing or shredding. Some also come shredded and ready to eat. Good for stir fry with pork.

Preserved mustard (hum choi 咸菜 or hum shen choi 咸酸菜, basically means salty vegetable of salty and sour vegetables. – greenish yellow cabbage like vegetables in plastic pack , jar or in small tins

Snow vegetable 雪菜 – shea chai - brownish or greenish shredded vegetable for stir fry with pork or for noodle soup.

pickled radish*菜脯(choi bo) - salted or slightly sweet. Great chopped for omelette, chai tow kuey Malaysian style stir fried radish cake.

Moi choi 梅菜 - brownish salted and slightly sweet pickled vegetable, great to stew with pork

Tai tow choi 大頭菜 - salt pickled kalrabi for stewing with meat.

Salted eggs 鹹蛋- I love salted egg yolks not so keen on the white, salted egg yolk is found in mooncakes and rice dumpling wrap in bamboo leaves or jung 棕

Century egg 皮蛋- preserved egg looks greyish black with an ammonia flavour. Great eaten with pickled ginger. Also good for with steamed omelette and rice congee.

Chinese sausage(lap cheong) - very nice dried pork sausage 臘腸 or liver sausage 潤腸

Chinese bacon (lap yuk) 臘肉 - dried belly pork, great steamed with rice or cook as stew with fresh belly pork

Preserved duck 臘鴨, two different types one preserved in salt and the other sweeter cure with soy sauce like lap cheong

dried shrimps 蝦米- various quality not too expensive and used in various cooking to give a nice flavour.

7. Noodles

Rice vermicelli* 米粉 – fine rice noodles, for stir fries, noodle soups and Singapore Rice Vermecelli.

Rice noodles 河粉(hoo fun), fresh or dried – Chinese or thai, Pad Thai, Chow Kuey Teow, etc…

Egg noodles 蛋面– fine or thick, dried or fresh, for noodle soup, chow mein or lo mein (noodle stir- in sauce)

Jian xi lai fun
瀨粉 – thick rice noodles, need soaking and long cooking like spaghetti but made with rice. Great for laksa and noodle soup.

Konnyaku noodles 芋絲– packed in water, very crunchy good for steam boat. Japanese also have their own konnyaku noodles. These noodles have the lowest calories and highest fibre and many people use as diet food.

Glass noodles or bean thread noodles
龍口粉絲– great for soup or Vietnamese/Thai style salad. I always buy Longkow brand. Better to get the multi mini pack, splitting and cutting dried noodles is a pain.

Green mung bean thick noodle or sheet
粉皮 – for Sichuan Bang Bang Chicken, can be in whole round sheet or sliced like rice noodles.

Fuchou noodles or normally called mee sua 麵線 very fine and salty wheat flour noodles, great for chicken and rice wine noodles.

Yee Mein 伊麵 – a yellowish puffy noodles deep fried and looks like as a dried noodle cake. Great for stir fried noodles with lots of gravy.

And not forgetting instant noodles in packets or cups – hundreds of different types and flavours

8. Flours

Rice flour 粘米粉 (oriental) – very finely milled rice flour (not to be confused with supermarket rice flour), great for steamed cake like lo bak goh (chinese radish cake), woo tou goh (taro cake), dumpling etc..

Glutinous flour 糯米粉 – for deep fried croquette jin doi, glutinous rice balls soup, Chinese New Year cake etc..

Wheat starch (tung mein fun)澄面粉 – essential ingredient for prawn dumpling (har gau). This is the brand I always get.

Tapioca starch 菱粉 or 薯粉– used as a thickener or as part of the pastry with any of the above flour.

Potato starch 生粉 or 薯粉– similar use as tapioca starch.

Pak Choi flour 白菜麵粉 or Hong Kong flour – bleached low gluten flour specially for buns and bao.

Cornflour/ cornstarch 粟粉 – essential ingredient for thickening all sorts of dishes

Bicarb 鬆肉粉 – use as meat tenderiser.

9. Tin products


straw mushrooms

bamboo shoots

baby corn

water chestnuts

cream style corn – though typically from US and Canada, it is part of Chinese typical sweet corn soup. This is the one I alway buy.

Sichuan preserved vegetable

Fried dace with blackbeans 豆豉鯪魚 - quite nice chewy fried salted fish with bean beans. serve warm with rice.

Tinned longan fruit 糖水龍眼

Tinned lychee fruit 糖水荔枝

If you are in veggie food, there are a range of flavoured gluten based veggie food in tins. Popular brand is Mong Lee Shang. e.g.veggie duck

10. Chilled or frozen products

Square Wonton pastry 雲吞皮 – chilled or frozen

Round dumpling pastry 餃子皮 – pastry you find in the Chinese supermarket, I don’t recommend this for pan frying like pot stickers or steaming, only good for boiling.

Spring roll pastry/ egg rolls 春捲皮 – various size all frozen.

Duck pancakes 鴨皮 - thin pancakes to serve with crispy duck, can make your own. Here is the recipe

Fresh egg noodles – great for wonton noodles soup

Fresh rice noodles – ho fun

Fish balls, squid balls etc – chilled or frozen, great for noodle soup, steam boat and stir fry

Fried fish stick – great for stir fry

Frozen prawns – peeled or unpeeled all different sizes

Frozen squids

Frozen scallops – big bag for under £20

Frozen dim sum

11. Chinese delicacies

shark fin 魚翅 - the gelatinous golden thread of shark fin. The fin is boiled and the golden thread removed. This is usually made into soup similar to sweet corn soup look and texture. Many people are not concious of the depletion of sharks many Chinese including myself no longer eat this.

Bird nest 燕窩 - collected from caves from certain species of swifts. The nest is soak and any fine feathers meticulously removed. Texture is gelationous when boiled/steamed for long time but a bit plasticy if not cooked for long.

Fish Maw 花膠 or 鱼鳔 - the gelatinous air sac of big fish, normally sold dried. This is either soaked then make a gelationous soup or deep fried from dried to a puffy golden stuff which is crunchy and will soak up any sauce, good for soup too.

Pork skin 豬皮 - dried and deep fried pork skin - poor man's fish maw

Tendons 蹄筋 - beef or pork sold dried like a hard rod, need careful soaking and boiling till gelatinously soft. Added to stew like ngau lam mein or on it own with good stock.

Abalone* 鮑魚 - fresh, dried or in tin. Very sweet flavour chewy muscles, need long cooking if dried.

dried oysters
乾蠔 - brown in colour and very rich in taste, great to stew with mushroom or add to congee.

Sea cucumber 海參 - another gelatinous delicacy, normally sold dried. Needs long soaking and will expand 2 -3 times its original size. Normally cooked during festive meals with abolone or flower mushrooms.

dried scallops
瑤柱 - light brown in colour, very yummy in various chinese cooking

flower shitake 花菇 - premium quality shitake with a crackled cap.

Jelly fish 海蜇 - dried and salted jelly fish, normally soaked and mixed with sesame oil and sesame seeds and eaten as cold salad, as dim sum or starter.


  1. What a great list! Am printing off and taking with me next visit to the chinese supermarket!

    Many thanks :)

  2. FANTASTIC Post, sunflower, a really great resource!

  3. I always use Sharwood and Blue Dragon sauces, mainly as there isn't much choice of Chinese ingredients where I live. This list is fantastic though and I will definitely be taking it with me to stock up when I go to a Chinese supermarket!

  4. Great list for cooking beginner! thanks so much :) going to the chinese supermarket makes more sense to me now hahah

  5. WOW (impressed look). Your version looks so yummy.

    Here I bought a sauce pack for mapo tofu so as to skip all the seasonings! and i will try this friday after work.

  6. This is THE definitive list and I heartily agree with all your choices! :) My Mother-in-Law is Malaysian Chinese and taught me the basics many years ago, now I search blogs for new recipes to suprise her & my OH!(I'm eating an old favourite, Ma Po Tofu, as I type - yummy... It's the best warming comfort dish I have ever found)
    For other readers I'd say you really cannot beat the genuine ingredients to get the taste right, try online shopping for them if you don't have a Chinese shop nearby - European brands like Sharwoods are a poor second unfortunately :( I've noticed recently that Waitrose has a small but growing range including some LKK products, but it's so expensive for everyday food basics.
    Last but not least, thankyou Sunflower for sharing so many delicious recipes with us, I came to your blog from a link from Google and have been reading and planning my next trip to Wing Yip this weekend to buy some new, and some familiar ingredients to try your recipes(we make a day of it as we have to travel from Humberside to Manchester!) Meanwhile I shall be cooking your belly pork recipe this week - I can't wait! :)

  7. Hi Kate, You don't have to go as far as Manchester, there is a good Chinese supermarket in Leeds next to to the City bus station, there are also Chinese restaurants in the same area.

  8. Thankyou Sunflower - I will try the Leeds supermarket :) We do have small Chinese stores in towns near our village - in Scunthorpe(just off Mary Street) and Hull (Union Street), but they are a bit expensive, with no parking and stock can be limited. We've moved around the country a bit with work so I can also recommend Central Oriental supermarket in Luton (Union street).
    Meanwhile I've just prepared your belly pork recipe and it's now marinating for a couple of days in the fridge - we are really looking forward to eating it!

  9. There are a few good online oriental stores.

    Wai Yee Hong (Chinese, no fresh produce), P&P about £4.50
    Oriental Mart (Oriental general), P&P about £6
    Wing Yip online is not that user friendly
    Raan Thai (good for Thai food with fresh /frozen produce), min £30 spending with £6 P&P
    Thai food online similar to Raan Thai
    Japancentre (Japanese food)
    Mount Fuji (not as many products as Japancentre, but good for teas and only place to get macha or green tea powder online)

  10. Thanks a lot for your very informative list since I am quite interested in cooking Chinese recipes and need to find "unusual" ingredients here in Paris. I am often confused nonetheless about the ideograms which differ from one source to another concerning what I think is the same product. More importantly, store employees are sometimes confused also!
    Let me make a short list concerning sauces and other flavourings wherein the source of the ideogram is given in parentheses (? for sunflower = request for suggestion):
    a.brown bean sauce: 棕色豆醬 (recipe) or 原磨豉 (egullet)
    b.yellow bean sauce: 黄豆酱 (recipe) or 黃醬(sunflower) chili paste: 辣椒酱 (recipe) or ? (sunflower)
    d.plum sauce: 酸梅醬 (egullet) or 冰花梅醬 (sunflower)  
    e.rice vinegar, black: 黑醋 (recipe) or 香醋 (sunflower)
    f.rice vinegar, white : 白醋(recipe) or ? (sunflower)
    g.sesame paste: 芝麻酱(recipe) or ? (sunflower)
    2.other flavourings
    a.alcohol Fenjiu or Fen Chieu: 汾酒 (recipe) or ? (sunflower)
    b.chinese cinnamon or bark of cassier: 桂皮 recipe) or 玉桂 (sunflower)
    c.rice wine from Shaoxing: 紹興酒 (egullet) or 紹興花雕酒 (sunflower)

    I wonder if you can help me, and perhaps some other non-Chinese, in reducing some of these uncertainties. Thanks a lot for your help.
    BTW. I just discovered your blog and it is great!

  11. There is lots of favourite recipes and LEE KUM KEE Chinese Sauce here,
    it may helps you

  12. Hi udscbt

    This list is long but does not contain every Chinese ingredients there are, if you like I will include some of the ones you have suggested or I have left out. Some of the ingredients may have a different name than the one I listed.

    a. brown bean sauce: 棕色豆醬 never heard of this term in Chinese. Are you sure this is Chinese?

    原磨豉 is ground yellow beans sauce, this ideograms is Cantonese.

    b.黄豆酱 or 黃醬 or 原磨豉 all are yellow bean sauce. 黄豆酱 literally means yellow bean sauce, 黃醬 means yellow sauce common term used in Northern China (not Cantonese), 原磨豉 means ground beans (Cantonese)

    Recipes on my blog

    All recipes on my blog using sweet yellow bean sauce can be sub with yellow bean sauce.

    Sweet yellow beans sauce 甜麵醬 is made with fermented wheat flour (maybe some yellow beans and sugar.

    c.辣椒酱 This is chilli sauce not chilli paste. I did miss this out on the list will add this later. I don't normally add chilli sauce to cooking, preferred fresh chopped chilli or chilli bean paste 豆瓣醬

    There are also chilli oil 辣椒油

    d.plum sauce: 酸梅醬 and 冰花梅醬 are the same.

    e. 黑醋 literally means black vinegar normally made with rice. 香醋 means fragrant vinegar. There are various Chinese black rice vinegars, Chinkiang is a type of black vinegar normally called 鎮江香醋 directly translated as 'Chinkiang fragrant vinegar'

    f.白醋 literally means white vinegar can be made with rice or just acetic acid made with chemical. If it is stated 米醋 or 白米醋 then it must be rice vinegar or white rice vinegar. I normally use white rice vinegar for pickling vegetables

    g.sesame paste: 芝麻酱, this is correct. Very similar to tahini unless it is made with black sesame then the sauce is dark brown like peanut butter.

    Recipe on the blog.

    2.other flavourings
    a.alcohol Fenjiu or Fen Chieu: 汾 酒, never use before. I don't think this is a cooking wine is a light and fragrant drinking wine.

    b.chinese cinnamon or bark of cassia: 桂皮 or 玉桂 both the same.


    c.紹興酒 literally means Shaoshing wine which is a brownish rice wine, mostly used for cooking unless it is of a good qualty or reserved quality. Shaoshing wine is best made in Shaoshing region in China. There are also Shaoshing wine made in Taiwan which I don't like at all.

    紹興花雕酒 is 'hua tiao' wine also commonly referred to as Shaoshing wine because it is made in Shaoshing too. This should be better qulaity vookinh wine than any cheap Shaoshing wine or the one made in Taiwan.

    Confused?? Let me know.

  13. Hi Gonzalez

    Thank you for your suggestion. I don't use any of the LKK ready sauces.

  14. Thanks for your rapid response which has cleared up quite a few matters. Please excuse my relatively slow reply since I am traveling and am not at home.
    I have 2 or 3 comments which follow, as well as some new questions concerning different types of ingredients.

    1a. brown bean sauce : sorry, my mistake
    1g. Tahini not as flavorful in my opinion.

    2a. In Jacqueline Newman's book on Fujian cooking, she gives a recipe for mock wine lees using maotai jiu which I replaced by fen jiu. What should I have done?

    3. I have used the following ingredients in my recipes. Do you use them? Is my Chinese confusing as usual?
    a.chinese white radish (白萝卜); b.coriander leaves or chinese parsley (生姜);
    c.ginger, young (生姜);
    d.many kinds of scallions or green onions (葱);
    e.snow peas (雪豆);
    f.taro root (芋头);
    g.lotus leaves, dried (荷 叶);
    h.glutinous rice (糯米) and red rice (红米);
    i.sesame seeds, white (白芝麻) and black(黑芝麻);
    j.wolfberries (枸 杞 子);
    k.scallops, dried (干 瑶 柱);
    l.rock sugar (冰 糖)

    4. I know that I am confused about the following :
    a.bamboo shoots: you give 竹芛 but I sometimes see 笋?
    b.water chestnuts: you give 馬蹄 but I sometimes see 荸荠? Canned are not so good but can one use jicama (豆薯) as a replacement? Do you use the powdered form of water chestnuts (荸荠粉)?
    c.cabbage (so many varieties!): you give 上海小白菜 but I sometimes see 白菜 as Beijing white variety and 青菜 as Shanghai green variety?
    d.mushrooms, dried (so many varieties!) : you give 木耳, 雲耳, 雪耳 and 冬菇 but I sometimes see 黑木耳, 云耳, 白木耳 and 香菇?
    e.mustard leaves, pickled: you give 咸菜 or 咸酸菜 but I sometimes see 雪菜? Does one call red-in-snow 雪 里 红 ?
    f.shrimps, dried: you give 蝦米but I sometimes see 虾干 ?

    I hope that my list is not too long but I am trying out many recipes to treat myself and perhaps some quests.
    Thanks once again for your guidance in these tricky waters!

  15. Are you the same udscbt in eGullet? Forgive me if I ask can you read Chinese characters at all? If not, I am amazed how you can communicate/quote in Chinese characters. If you don’t read Chinese and blindly copy characters from the internet or from books from people who also does not read Chinese but quoted in Chinese characters can lead to mistakes or in a recipe can lead to using the wrong ingredients. This is not a criticism, I am happy to help you if I can.

    There are also traditional or simplified characters to consider. I normally write in the tradition form.

    1g. Chinese sesame paste is still not common in most western oriental supermarkets. Tahini is an option. Best sesame paste is one you can make at home.

    2a. In Jacqueline Newman's book on Fujian cooking, she gives a recipe for mock wine lees using maotai jiu which I replaced by fen jiu. What should I have done?
    Don’t know this book. Don’t know what ‘mock wine lees’ means. Sorry can’t help you. Maotai is a drinking wine usually very high in alcohol over 50%. Not tried fen jiu myself, no comment.

    3. I do use all the ingredients you listed here.

    a.白萝卜= mooli = daikon (大根) = Chinese radish

    b. Coriander leaves = cilantro = 芫荽 = 香菜, not entirely agree with some people referred coriander as Chinese parsley. That is just my opinion.

    c. 生姜 does not mean young ginger, it means fresh (raw) ginger. Young ginger is 子姜, it is commonly used for sushi pickled ginger. Young ginger skin is very thin, looks light yellow with pinkish patches near the stem. This young ginger is much milder than std ginger and not as fibrous, suitable for the paper thin slices to make pickle and shredded for stir fries to be eaten rather than flavouring.

    d. 葱 = scallion = green onion = spring onion. Northern Chinese type of spring onion looks more like young leeks than the fine long sprigs. Spring onion is very common in Chinese cooking.

    e. snow peas and mange tout have similar names in Chinese = common name in Chinese is 豌豆 = 雪豆

    f.taro root = 芋头 (芋頭 in traditional Chinese characters)

    g.lotus leaves, dried = 荷 叶 (叶 is in simplified form, traditional is 葉), some recipes on my blog like beggar’s chicken and glutinous rice wrap (lo mai gai)

    h.glutinous rice = commonly known as 糯米 by many Chinese, but in Northern China this is called 江米

    red rice = 红米

    i.sesame seeds, white = 白芝麻 and black = 黑芝麻

    j.wolfberries = Lycium berries = goji berries = 枸 杞 子 or just 杞 子

    k.scallops, dried = 干 瑶 柱 or just 瑶 柱, great to add umami flavour to any soup, rice soup or other dishes. Expensive or luxurious ingredient. Premium quality can cost £££

    l.rock sugar = 冰 糖, some light in colour, common one I used or seen in England is the light yellow type. Rough rock sugar is naturally crystallised sugar, broken into pieces, there are also machine shaped type look like tiny square candies.

  16. 4. I know that I am confused about the following :

    a.bamboo shoots: my apology got the character slightly wrong on the blog post (had corrected it).
    Bamboo shoot is 竹笋 not 竹芛
    竹 means bamboo. 笋 means shoot or tender shoot.
    笋 on its own is the short form for bamboo shoot.

    Beware 春笋 or 茹笋 or 蘆笋 can mean asparagus,
    and 金笋 can mean carrot, common name 胡蘿蔔

    To make things even more confusing, bamboo shoot is also called 竹筍.

    b. water chestnuts:
    馬蹄 or 荸荠 are the same thing. Fresh water chestnut is much nicer and sweeter.

    Canned are not so good but can one use jicama (豆薯) as a replacement?
    Jicama is not so crunchy as water chestnuts. You can sub this with some recipes but not every recipe calling for water chestnuts.

    Do you use the powdered form of water chestnuts (荸荠粉)?
    Water chestnut powder is a starch powder, use as a thickener or for Jelly (jello) type of sweet cakes.

    c.Chinese cabbage, another common name is nappa cabbage, in UK we called this Chinese leaf. Yes there are many varieties, long ones, short one, huge one, yellow type, creamy white type etc…

    上海小白菜 is a pak choi not a Chinese cabbage

    Northern Chinese called nappa cabbage as 大白菜 or 白菜
    Southern Chinese called this 黃芽白 or 紹菜

    The common round western cabbage in Chinese is called 捲心菜 = 包心菜 = 包菜 = 椰菜

    青菜 only means green vegetable not any variety.

    d.mushrooms, dried (so many varieties!) :
    木耳, 雲耳, 雪耳 are fungus not the typical mushrooms.
    黑木耳 same as 木耳
    白木耳 same as 雪耳
    香菇 also known as 北菇 or 冬菇, and 花菇 is the crackled top shitake mushrooms usually more expensive.

    e.mustard leaves, pickled: you give 咸菜 or 咸酸菜 but I sometimes see 雪菜?

    雪菜 is not the same as 咸菜 or 咸酸菜.
    雪菜 is the same as 雪 里 红, common pickle in northern China. Made with a type of mustard green, after pickling can remain bright green or brownish green.

    f.shrimps, dried: you give 蝦米but I sometimes see 虾干 ?
    Some people may say 蝦米 is the same as 虾干(蝦干 in traditional Chinese character).
    I disagree, 蝦米 is made from tiny shrimps, 蝦干 is usually made with large shrimps.

  17. Hello again!
    Thanks a lot for all your great help in clearing up these confusing issues. I have one minor remaining question:
    4d.mushrooms: I use 云耳 for "cloud ears" with grey-brown color, little taste but much texture. Is that correct?

    By the way, I used the following site, among others, for help on mushrooms:
    and the following site, among others, for help on cabbages:

    Yes, I also use the pseudo udscbt on eGullet. And yes, I don't read Chinese but have notions of pinyin.
    I have been trying to understand the differences among the different regional cuisines and that is why I started the eGullet thread on "Distinguishing the 8 cuisines".:

    I have made many recipes trying to understand these differences (not yet any of yours but I certainly will!). The names of the recipes are often written in Chinese, coming from cookbooks written by Chinese but they rarely give the Chinese names for the ingredients, sometimes making it difficult to find the ingredient. This is why I have asked you so many questions about the names of ingredients.

    I have also tried to understand how combinations of dishes (i.e. menus) are constructed in the different regions since that would also distinguish the regional cuisines. But I have had little luck in getting this information
    in the litterature or on the different forums. Maybe there are no regional differences in menu construction!
    Do you have any views on this?

  18. 木耳 woodears, 雲耳 cloudears, 雪耳 snowears, all are quite tasteless. They will absorb any flavours you added to the dish. We Chinese love them mainly for the texture. Woodears are larger,thicker and more crunchier than cloudears, both are interchageable in most recipes. Snowears are mainly for soup, ok for stir fries too. Prolong cooking of all three can soften them and can make them a bit slimy.

    Chinese cooking is divided into 8 regional cuisines. I know a little about it. Will think of it a bit harder and look up in my reference books and probably write a post about this subject, give me a bit of time.

    Here are the 8 regional cuisines: I will translate and define these a bit more detail in due course.


  19. I checked Wing Yip's website and I couldn't find the good 紹興花雕酒, I live too far from London. Do you know where we can find a decent 紹興花雕酒online?
    Thanks a million.

  20. Wing Yip do sell the Shaoshing 紹興花雕酒 I like in the store last time I checked, but they don't list this online. You can give them a ring and ask if they will send some to you.

    Where are you? There are several Wing Yip stores throughout the country.

  21. Hello,

    It’s me again. I hope that I am not too bothersome.

    I am about to try your recipes for Pandan chicken and Yu Sang (missed the New Year!), and therefore I need to find pandanus leaves and sushi-style sweet pickled ginger. As usual I have a problem with the Chinese characters which I want to show to the shop-keeper. Is it ok to use for the pandanus leaves ( 露 兜 树 or 斑 兰 ) and for the sushi style sweet pickled ginger ( 腌 姜) ?

    Thanks for your help and have a good day

  22. Pandan leaf in Chinese is 斑兰叶 or 香兰叶 both written in simplified Chinese. In Thai it is Bai Toey. You can get this from Chinese or Thai grocery stores.

    Sweet pickled ginger is 腌姜, you should be able get this anywhere selling Japanese products.

  23. Hello again,

    I have some questions concerning "standard" items, in particular salt, sugar, starch and pepper.

    Salts differ a great deal in taste and "saltiness". There is "ordinary" salt, sea salt, so-called kosher salt, etc. What salt do you use? For my taste, recipes often require too much salt, especially considering that other ingredients, for example soy sauce, are already quite salty. What is your opinion?

    Likewise, there are many sugars. I use brown sugar in general, finding white sugar "too chemical". Exceptionally, I use maltose sugar or rock sugar. What sugar do you use?

    Concerning starches (or flours) which are often the bane of restaurants which tend to use much too much, there are various kinds: corn starch, potato starch, sweet potato starch, etc. What kind do you use? I have read that you should use 50% more corn starch than potato starch for the same use. Do you agree?

    Finally, I have read that black pepper is not used in Chinese cooking? Is this correct? Does one only use white pepper?

    Thanks again for your help on these basic items and have a good day.

  24. I have lots of different salts. For cooking I normally use unrefined sea salt either Sel de Guerande or Korean unrefined sea salt I bought in London. For pickling vegetables and kimchi I always used Korean unrefined sea salt. I also use Fleur de Sel, smoked salt and Himalayan pink salt for some English or European recipes. For dry roasting cashews I buy the cheapest free flowing table salt.

    When I cook Chinese food I depend on soy sauce a lot and don’t add salt if I can help it. For Thai and Vietnamese cooking it’s fish sauce mainly.

    Same as salt I have all types of sugar, syrup, honey etc…. I bake a lot using different sugars. For Chinese cooking depending on the recipes, I normally use plain sugar. Rock sugar is used in some recipes only like making Chinese sweet dessert soups and braising meat because it clarifies the sauce/liquid and helps to tenderise the meat faster (I was told). Maltose is used only occasionally for certain recipes only like scalding a duck before roasting.

    For thickening sauces with Chinese cooking I normally use cornstarch, much cheaper than potato starch. Both are interchangeable for thickening sauces IMO. Potato starch is better for coating for deep frying, crispier.

    Pepper is not the #1 seasoning in mainland China but it is still common, both white and black pepper. In other part of S E Asia, pepper is very common for Asian cooking incl. Chinese. Most people in S E Asia prefer to use white pepper and usually sold ground. Pepper grinder on the dinning table is not common with S E Asians.

  25. Thanks for the recipe!!! Love it. Fresh or frozen local abalone is cheaper but will never give the same taste, flavor and texture as canned abalone. I love the flavor and taste of canned abalone and one day I want to eat abalone like 'abalone kings' do: braised in sauce and served whole, like a steak, washed down with a good white wine. Cut with a knife and fork of course. Meantime, it's still cheaper to slice abalone thinly and share with the family. I love this dish. It's such a special treat

  26. Hello,

    Your readers might be interested in the French names of Chinese ingredients on the web site associated with my book at with its detailed descriptions and images of the recipes and ingredients, and with its recipe of the month! The Chinese names are given for the recipes and their ingredients so that you can easily order the dish in a restaurant or find the ingredients in a specialty food market.

    Try it out!

    Best regards, Georges


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