Saturday, July 15, 2006

Make your own curry powder for fish & meat

Meat Curry Powder
400g ground coriander
150g ground aniseed
100g ground cummin
100g black or white pepper
150g chilli powder
80g ground turmeric

Ground separately:
2 cinnamon sticks, abt 5 cm long
10g cardamoms
8 cloves

Fish Curry Powder
400g ground coriander
150g ground aniseed
150g ground cummin
100g black or white pepper
150g chilli powder
70g ground turmeric

Ground separately:
10 cardamoms
6 star anise
6 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks, abt 5 cm long
40g fenugreek, left whole

Mix spices and store in airtight bottles. To make paste, add 2 tablespoons water or cooking liquid for every tablespoon of curry powder.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Chinese Cooking Ingredients

Cooking Oil
Polyunsaturated oils are preferred for Chinese
cooking. Chinese consider peanut oil as being the
most flavoursome, but corn, safflower, and
soya oils are used. Butter, margarine, and
olive oil are never used for Chinese wok cookery.


Bean Sauce
After soy sauce is brewed, the soybean pulp is
removed from the vats and made into several
types of condiments. The first is Bean Sauce,
{sometimes called Brown Bean Sauce or Soybean Condiment).

Use this rich condiment to replace soy sauce
where a thicker gravy is desired. Especially
good used as a marinade for roasted meats.

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.

Hot Bean Sauce
Add to any recipe that yearns for extra zip.
Made from Soy and Kidney Beans, fresh
Szechuan Chilies, Sesame Oil and seasonings,
this spicy condiment offers a delightfully
complex flavor. Our brand has the best balance
of flavors of any SM has tried.

Any unused portion of this or any of the
other sauces can be kept in a jar in the
refrigerator for several months.

Black Bean Garlic Sauce
Savory, ready to use sauce with aromatic black
beans and garlic. Use in stir frys and steamed
dishes. For a simple dish, stir fry some diced
chicken in 1 Tbs. sauce. Add some diced green
and red bell pepper to complete the dish.
You'll like this one for the flavor and convenience.

Black Bean Chili Sauce
Savory fermented soy beans and spicy chilies,
ready to season stir-fried Black Bean Shrimp or
other pungent recipes. Spread it on a fish fillet
and steam for a memorable treat.

Chili Paste With Garlic
A tangy hot bean sauce with an extra shot of
tasty garlic. A bit warmer than Hot Bean Sauce(above).

Hoisin Sauce
A rich brownish red Asian sauce made from
soybean paste, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and spices.
Constantly used in Egg Rolls, Cha Siu (barbecued
pork)and other dishes.

Oyster sauce
A staple condiment of Chinese cooking, this
rich brown sauce is made with oysters, soy sauce,
salt, and spices. The fishy taste abates in
the brewing process. Be aware that cheaper
brands may have MSG and other additives.

Spare Rib Sauce
Ready-to-use sauce makes delicious ribs.
A careful blend of tomatoes, sesame seeds,
rice wine and garlic and exotic seasonings.

Roots or Stems of Plants

Dried root with a distinctive odor and flavor.
Use Minced Garlic or Garlic Chips in stews, and
soups. Garlic Powder can be used in marinades,
or mixed with herbs and rubbed into poultry,
pork, or beef before cook.

Ginger has a slightly biting and hot note.
Its aroma is rich, sweet, warm, and woody.
It is widely used in Chinese cooking.

Straw Mushroom
A delight to your eye and a treat for your palate
with their subtle, gentle flavor. Makes a nice
addition to a relish tray.


Chinese Cooking Wine
Flavorful rice wine in the Chinese style is
often hard to find. We are happy to have some
for you. Use in stir frying or other types of cooking.

Dried Sichuan Chilies
Small, reddish-brown and sizzling. Use in stir
frys to flavor the oil for dishes like Kung Pao
Chicken. Grind or crush to add sizzle where needed.

5-Spice Powder
An ancient spice mixture of Star Anise,
Sichuan Peppercorns, Fennel (anise seed),
Cloves and Cinnamon. Strong, hot, fragrant, and
slightly sweet, a little of this powder goes a
long way. Use it to season baked or stir
fried meats or red cooked (braised) dishes.

Hot Pepper Oil
Bits of fiery hot chilies in vegetable oil used
with abandon in many regions of China.
Serve at the table to add life to any dish. Very hot.

Rice Vinegar
Vinegar mainly consists mainly of acetic acis
and some vitamins B1 and B2. There are two kinds
of Chinese rice vinegars: white and black.
Unlike Western products, Chinese vinegars are
more nutritious and feature more interesting
flavors. Rice vinegars can be used
both in cooking and for dips at the table.

Star Anise
A subtle licorice flavor somewhat like fennel,
comes from these dried seeds that resemble
8-pointed flowers. Quite popular in red-cooking
dishes. Use to flavor your Master Sauce to make
Soy Sauce Chicken or Red Cooked Lamb.

Used in sweetish dishes. Adding some sugar can
save your dish when you have put too much salt.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Chinese Cooking Utensils

Chinese Cooking Utensils

Some of the things to cook with for Chinese are
the same as in the West. Others are quite
different. However, most Chinese dishes can be
prepared and cooked with the equipment found
in the normal home kitchen with perhaps,
a few smallish additions.

A good supply of pots and pans of various sizes
should be handy. In general, slow cooking dishes
should have thicker pots and faster cooking
things should have thinner ones.

In Chinese recipes, skillet means any shallow, thin
pan which oil can be heated quickly for various
forms of frying.Deep frying, of course calls for
something deep enough in which to float the
pieces to be deep fried.

For the handling of materials being cooked, you
can use the ordinary ladle, leaking ladles, and
perforated frying shovels.

Of course, you will want to add your home kitchen
with Chinese cooking utensils such as a wok
and bamboo steamers as you go along and get
more ambitious; which you'll find very useful and
indispensable once you put you hands on them.

This helps you to have a better understanding of
the utensils used in a typical Chinese kitchen and
help you decide if you want to invest in some.

Bamboo Steamers - Great for steaming food and
are designed to fit inside the wok. The texture of
the bamboo allows steam to circulate and
evaporate so that less moisture will form on
the inside of the lid. The bamboo steamer has
the additional asset of allowing more than one
layer of food to be steamed simultaneously -
just stack a second basket on top of the first.

Chinese would boil water in a wok then stack
bamboo steamers over the wok, up to 5 layers,
with the food needing less steaming on top,
and the most, at the bottom.

Bamboo steamers are attractive and can be used to
serve food as well. They sure will fascinate yours guests!

Tip: To clean a bamboo steamer, simply rinse it
with water. Do not use detergent or it will absorb
the flavor of the soap and spoil the taste of your
food the next time you use it.

The Chinese Spatula - This is a long-handled wide
shovel-like blade spatula specially designed for
stir-frying in the wok, known as 'wok sang' by the Chinese.

The edge of the spatula blade is rounded to fit the
shape of the wok, and the utensil itself is sturdier
overall than the usual Western version, to allow
stirring and tossing of large quantities of food as
well as removing food from the wok.

The Chinese Wire Strainer - This wide, flat wire-
mesh strainer with a long bamboo handle is very
useful for removing deep-fried foods from hot oil
or noodles from boiling water. It drains oil and
liquid more efficiently than those metal perforated
types. The long bamboo handle won't conduct heat
and helps keep you farther away from the cooking
heat. The most common size for home use is 6" diameter.

Sizzling Platter - Sizzling-platter dishes, also called
"iron-plate" dishes, have recently become popular
menu items in Chinese restaurants. These dishes
are named for the heavy iron platter that is used
for serving.

The platter is heated to a high temperature, placed
on its wooden tray, and delivered to the table.
When hot stir-fried food is spooned onto the
platter, the sizzle is very dramatic.

Clay-Pot - Clay-pot dishes are the Chinese version
of the American casserole. The main difference
is that they are cooked on top of the stove rather
than in the oven. The design of the clay-pot
assures good retention of heat, so that even if
dinner is delayed, the food stays piping hot.

Clay-pots add an indefinable richness of flavor to
soups and hot pots.

Steaming Stand Or Rack - useful in steaming food.

Long Wooden Chopsticks - The Chinese sometimes
use chopsticks for putting food into and taking
things out of a wok especially during deep
frying, but you may use your fingers, forks or
ladles, if you have not learned to use chopsticks.

Chopping Block - The Chinese prefer a wooden
chopping block over the plastic ones because it
does not slip as easily and a big heavy wooden
block big enough to hold what you're chopping
is easier to find. However, you can always lay a
damp kitchen towel under a plastic board
to prevent slipping. Never soak a wooden
chopping block.

Instead, scrub with soap and hot water after us
and keep dry when not in use. Occasionally, you
can use vinegar and lemon juice to clean, sanitize
and deodorize a chopping board.

Other Chinese Cooking Utensils

Wok - The most basic traditional Chinese cooking utensil.

Cleaver - Lg. knife for chopping.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Make Your Own Spice Mixes

Make Your Own Spice Mixes:

1 tsp. Ground cinnamon
1 tsp. Ground cloves
1 tsp. Fennel seed
1 tsp. Star anise
1 tsp. Szechwan peppercorns

1 tsp. Oregano
1 tsp. Marjoram
1 tsp. Thyme
1 tsp. Basil
1 tsp. Rosemary
1 tsp. Sage

7/8 cup Granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. Ground cinnamon

1 tsp. Dates
1 tsp. Prunes
1 tsp. Dried apricots
1 tsp. Lemon juice

3 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp. oregano
1 tsp. red or cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Chinese Five Spice

Chinese Five Spice

2 tablespoons aniseed
2 tablespoons fennel seed
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons whole cloves
2 tablespoons whole peppercorns

In a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle,
combine all ingredients (in batches if
necessary); grind until mixture becomes a fine
powder. Store in an airtight container for
up to 6 months.

Yield: about 1/2 cup.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

kitchen tips

* To slice meat into thin strips, as for Chinese dishes - partially freeze and it will slice easily.

* A roast with the bone in will cook faster than a boneless roast - the bone carries the heat to the inside of the roast quicker.

* For a juicer hamburger add cold water to the beef before grilling (1/2 cup to 1 pound of meat).

* Use a gentle touch when shaping ground beef patties. Overhandling will result in a firm, compact texture after cooking. Don't press or flatten with spatula during cooking.

* Never heat pesto sauce - the basil will turn black and taste bitter.

* It's important to let a roast -- beef, pork, lamb or poultry - sit a little while before carving. That allows the juices to retreat back into the meat. If you carve a roast too soon, much of its goodness will spill out onto the carving board.

* Steak Sauce With A Kick: Deglaze your frying pan (after searing your New York steaks) with brandy. Add two tablespoons of butter, a little white wine and a splash of Grand Marnier. Serve over steaks - you'll never use steak sauce again.

* Marinate red meats in wine to tenderize.

* Marinate chicken in buttermilk to tenderize.

* Use margarine instead of butter to panfry or saute. Butter burns quickly.

* When browning ground meat, brown several pounds and drain. Divide evenly in freezer containers and freeze. Unthaw in microwave for quick fixing next time.

* Instead of adding raw garlic to sauces, saute the garlic first for a milder flavor.

* Thaw frozen meat and poultry in the refrigerator and not on the kitchen counter where bacteria can grow.

* Microwave garlic cloves for 15 seconds and the skins slip right off.

* When slicing a hard boiled egg, try wetting the knife just before cutting. If that doesn't do the trick, try applying a bit of cooking spray to the edge.

* Rescue stale or soggy chips and crackers: Preheat the oven to 300F. Spread the chips or crackers in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool, then seal in a plastic bag or container.

* Tenderize pot roast or stewing meat by using two cups of hot tea as a cooking lquid.

* When making roux for a recipe, make extra and keep in the refrigerator for future use.

* When using dried beans and peas, keep in mind that 1 cup dry beans or peas makes 2 1/2 cups cooked.

* When using rice, keep in mind that 1 cup of uncooked long-grain white rice makes 3 cups cooked.

* When using granulated sugar, keep in mind that one pound sugar is the equivalent to 2 cups.

* One way to preserve the flavor of fresh herbs is to make herb butter. Let the butter soften, then add finely chopped herbs in any combination, about 2 to 4 tablespoons per stick of butter. The butter freezes well, and you can serve it spread on French bread or with seafood or chicken.

* Chefs pound meat not to tenderize the meat, but to help even the meat so it cooks evenly.

* To remove egg shells from a batter, use the remaining shell to attract the piece.

* If a recipe calls for 1 cup sour cream, you may substitute 1 cup cottage cheese blended until smooth with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/3 cup buttermilk.

* When using fresh herbs such as dill, chives, parsley, etc., hold them together in small bunches and snip with kitchen scissors. It is a lot faster this way, and you'll find the herbs will be light and fluffy, not bruised and wet as they often get when chopped.

* Brown gravy in a hurry with a bit of instant coffee straight from the jar... no bitter taste, either.

* To hasten the cooking of foods in a double boiler, add salt to the water in the outer boiler.

* Stuff a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of a sugar cone to prevent ice cream drips.

* To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.

* Add a little lemon and lime to tuna to add zest and flavor to tuna sandwiches. Use cucumbers soaked in vinegar and pepper in sandwich instead of tomatoes. Use mustard instead of mayo to cut the fat and add a tang.

* Thaw fish in milk for fresher flavor

* Put meat used for stir frying in freezer for 45 min. to 1 hr. to make slicing easier.

* You can correct greasy gravy by adding a little baking soda to it.

* If you need only 1/2 an onion, save the root half. It will last longer.

* Keep popcorn fresh and encourage more kernels to pop by storing in the freezer.

* Lemons stored in a sealed jar of water will produce twice the juice.

* Instead of the water your recipe calls for, try juices, bouillon, or water you've cooked vegetables in. Instead of milk, try buttermilk, yogurt or sour cream. It can add a whole new flavor and improve nutrition.

* Add a small amount of lemon juice to the artichoke cooking water to retain the color of the artichoke.

* A low-calorie solution for high-fat frying of corn tortillas is to place them in the oven, directly on the rack. Bake at 350 F, to desired crispness. The tortillas will automatically fold over into taco shell form with just a little postioning help.

* Egg whites should always be at room temperature before whipping. Be certain there is no yolk in the whites and that the bowl and beaters are perfectly clean. Cream, on the other hand, should be well-chilled. For the largest volume, chill the bowl and beaters before whipping.

* When using spaghetti, keep in mind that 8 ounces of uncooked pasta makes 4 cups cooked.

* Before opening a package of bacon, roll it. This helps separate the slices for easy removal of individual slices.

* Ground spices really should be replaced every 6 months or so! Unless you know you will use them up fairly quickly, buy a bottle in partnership with a friend and split the contents. You'll each benefit from fresh spices.

* Sunlight doesn't ripen tomatoes, warmth does. Store tomatoes with stems pointed down and they will stay fresher, longer.

* Place green fruits in a perforated plastic bag. The holes will allow air to circulate while retaining the ethylene gas that fruits produce during ripening.

* Marshmallows won't dry out when frozen.

* Poke a hole in the middle of the hamburger patties while shaping them. The burgers will cook faster and the holes will disappear when done.

* For fluffier, whiter rice, add one teaspoon of lemon juice per quart of water. To add extra flavor and nutrition to rice, cook it in liquid reserved from cooking vegetables.

* Cheese won't harden if you butter the exposed edges before storing.

* Sausage patties rolled in flour before frying won't crack open during cooking.

* Two drops of yellow food coloring added to boiling noodles will make them look homemade.

* When separating eggs, break them into a funnel. The whites will go through leaving the yolk intact in the funnel.

* Fresh fish freeze well in a milk carton filled with water.

* Make your own celery flakes. Just cut and wash the leaves from the celery stalks; place them in the oven on low heat or in the hot sun until thoroughly dry. Crumble and store in an air-tight container.

* When picking a melon, smell it for freshness and ripeness. Check to see that the fruit is heavy in weight and that the spot on the end where it has been plucked from the vine is soft.

* When tossing a salad with a basic vinaigrette, always make the vinaigrette at least 1/2 hour ahead of time and let the mixture sit to allow the flavors to marry. Pour the vinaigrette down the side of the bowl, not directly on the greens, for a more evenly dressed salad.

* For the perfect boiled egg, cover eggs with cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a full boil. Remove the pan from the heat and cover. Let the eggs sit for 8-9 minutes. Drain the water and place the eggs in ice water to cool to stop the cooking process.

* A jar lid or a couple of marbles in the bottom half of a double-boiler will rattle when the water gets low and warn you to add more before the pan scorches or burns.

* When mincing garlic, sprinkle on a little salt so the pieces won't stick to your knife or cutting board.

* When braising meat, cook it at a low temperature for a long time to keep the meat tender and have it retain all the juices.

* When cooking any kind of strawberry dessert, add a splash of aged Balsamic vinegar to the recipe to enhance the flavor of the strawberries.

* For fresh flavor in orange juice add the juice of one lemon.

* The best way to store fresh celery is to wrap it in aluminum foil and put it in the refrigerator--it will keep for weeks.

* Store freshly cut basil on your kitchen counter in a glass with the water level covering only the stems. Change the water occasionally. It will keep for weeks this way, even develop roots! Basil hates to be cold, so NEVER put it in the refrigerator. Also, regular cutting encourages new growth and healthier plants.

* A dampened paper towel or terry cloth brushed downward on a cob of corn will remove every strand of corn silk.

* Fresh eggs' shells are rough and chalky; old eggs are smooth and shiny.

* No "curly" bacon for breakfast when you dip it into cold water before frying.

* Noodles, spaghetti and other starches won't boil over if you rub the inside of the pot with vegetable oil.

* To keep cauliflower white while cooking - add a little milk to the water.

* Let raw potatoes stand in cold water for at least half an hour before frying to improve the crispness of french-fried potatoes.

* Buy mushrooms before they "open." When stems and caps are attached snugly, mushrooms are truly fresh.

* Lettuce keeps better if you store in refrigerator without washing first so that the leaves are dry. Wash the day you are going to use.

* If lettuce starts turning a little brown (but not slimy) it may not be suitable for salads, but it is for sauteing. Sauteed salad greens like lettuce, radicchio, and endive make an unusual but tasty side dish. Saute lettuces just as you would spinach. Cook them quickly in a little olive oil, minced garlic, and salt. They taste great, and you cant tell that the greens were once a little brown.

* Microwave a lemon for 15 seconds and double the juice you get before squeezing.

* When using all-purpose flour, keep in mind that one pound flour is the equivalent to 4 cups.

* Cookies will spread if your dough is too pliable by allowing butter to get too soft. If your cookies are spreading too much, try refrigerating the dough for a couple of hours before baking.

* Cookie dough can be frozen up to three months in an airtight container or refrigerated three to four days.

* Check cookies at minimum baking time.

* Let cookies cool completely before storing. Store different types of cookies in separate containers so they'll keep their original flavor and texture.

* A Perfect Pastry Crust? In your favorite recipe, substitute a 4:1 ratio of lard:butter.

* To make your own corn meal mix: combine 1 cup corn meal, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 4 teaspoons baking powder. You can store it in a tightly covered container for up to 6 months.

* When working with dough, don't flour your hands; coat them with olive oil to prevent sticking.

* Butter pie pastry scraps: sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and bake like cookies.

* If your cake recipe calls for nuts, heat them first in the oven, then dust with flour before adding to the batter to keep them from settling to the bottom of the pan.

* When going on a picnic, keep sandwiches from becoming soggy by packing lettuce and condiments in separate containers. Add them to sandwiches just before serving.

* Maple-flavored syrup, commonly found on the shelves in the store and in restaurants, is actually corn syrup flavored with a bit of pure maple syrup to keep the cost down.

* Use paper bags rather than plastic to store lettuce and celery in the crisper. They will stay fresh longer.

* Bread will stay fresh longer if a celery rib is stored with it in the package.

* Save butter wrappers in the freezer to use for greasing pans when baking.

* To keep salt from clogging in the shaker, add 1/2 teaspoon of uncooked rice.

* Drain deep fried foods on brown paper grocery bags as opposed to paper towels to retain crispness.

* To make lighter and fluffier mashed potatoes, add a pinch or two of baking powder to the potatoes before whipping.

* Pancakes are lighter and fluffier when you substitute club soda for milk in the batter.

* Do not use metal bowls when mixing salads. Use wooden, glass or china.

* A simple way to sharpen kitchen shears: cut a piece of steel wool.

* Don't just keep dental floss in your medicine cabinet. Keep some in the kitchen. It's a great tool. Unflavored dental floss is often better than a& knife to cleanly cut all kinds of soft foods, soft cheese, rolled dough, layered cake and cheesecake.

* Whenever possible, warm your dinner plates slightly in the oven before serving so the meal stays a little bit hotter.

* Ultimate Disposable Pastry Bag:
Take a heavy-duty zipper-seal plastic bag and snip off one corner, making a slightly curved cut. Using a standard two-piece plastic coupler (available wherever cake decorating supplies are sold), insert the larger piece into the hole. Choose a tip and secure it with the coupler's ring. Fill the bag and zip the top closed. Decorate away, then remove the coupler/tip assembly and toss the bag. No messy cleanup!

* Cure for headaches: Take a lime, cut it in half and rub it on your forehead. The throbbing will go away.

* Don't throw out all that leftover wine: Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces.

* If you have a problem opening jars: Try using latex dishwashing gloves. They give a on-slip grip that makes opening jars easy.

* If guests are coming and you're behind making dinner, throw some onions on to saute and your kitchen will smell wonderful and homey.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Chinese Cooking Methods

The art of Chinese cooking is not, contrary to
popular belief, complicated and difficult.

Most Chinese dishes do not require a complex
processing and equipment in the kitchen as does
one of China's most famous dishes, Peking duck.

Simplicity is the key to Chinese cuisine as
evidently shown in their various cooking methods.
When you have the ingredients, seasonings and
marinades ready, you can use one of the following
methods to cook in Chinese.

Roasting - Roasting is not family cooking in China,
since few Chinese kitchens have facilities for
roasting. Only restaurants go much into roasts and
Cantonese restaurants excel especially in these.
In roasting, raw ingredients are marinated in
seasonings before being roasted in an oven or
barbecued over direct heat from charcoal fire,
with the roast turning slowly round and round.

Marinades is added inside and out from time to
time so that the skin remains smooth and shiny,
instead of rough and flaky, and the meat remains
juicy instead of powdery. The Peking duck is one
of China's most famous dishes cooked this way.
Families can go to food shops to buy roast meat
or poultry and eat it cold. But for the crisp juicy
hot roast duck, one has to go to a restaurant.

Boiling - Strictly speaking, this means cooking food
in boiling water (A liquid is boiling when the
surface is continually agitated by large bubbles).
Violent boiling should be avoided. It wastes fuel;
it does not cook the food any faster, it tends to
make the food break up and so spoils the
appearance; the liquid is evaporated too quickly
with the consequent danger of the food burning.

There are one or two exceptions to this rule;
for example, when one wants to drive off water
quickly from syrup or a sauce to make it thicker,
then violent boiling with the lid off hastens
the process.

In Chinese cooking, there is very little big-fire
boiling, as a complete process. Chinese would not
consider eating boiled potatoes. After a thing is
boiled, the natural question is - Now what of it?
Quick plain boiling is often only a preparatory
process for other ways of cooking - where the
term parboil comes into place.

There are some exceptions, such as plain boiled
celery cabbage with salt and a little lard, or boiled
yam, to eat with sugar. But celery cabbage and
yam are such cook-proof things that they are good
in any method prepared. It's not necessary to use
continued big fire after water has started to boil,
because water cannot be hotter than 100° C or 212°F.

Turn the fire to medium if you want but to make
sure that it is at least hot in all parts, especially
in a large tall boiling or steaming pot, the fire
must be big enough for you to see the steam
come out.

Shallow frying - shallow frying uses a small amount
of oil in a frying pan or wok at a temperature
lower than stir-frying. Ingredients are usually cut
into slices or flat pieces, and are used as they are,
slightly coated with batter or rubbed with
seasonings. Fish is ideal for this cooking method.

The presentation side of the food should be fried
first as this side will have the better appearance
because the oil is clean, then turned so that both
sides are cooked and browned.

Sauces, if called for, are then added. Food cooked
this way is tender inside with some crispness outside.

This method is quite similar to sautéing in the West.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Stocking Your Shelves For Chinese Cooking

Stocking Your Shelves For Chinese Cooking

Here is a list of the "Basic Ingredients And Utensils"
you need to cook Chinese food.

Basic Ingredients

1. Celery - Regular celery works well in stir-fries.

2. Chinese Rice Wine - It adds flavor and is good
for removing strong odors, such as fish.

3.Chinese Dried Black Mushrooms - Found in bins in
Asian markets. cheaper brands work fine in soups
and stir-fries.

4. Cornstarch - Used in stews, marinades, and as a
thickener. Can substitute for tapioca starch in recipes.

5. Garlic - Along with ginger, it is often used to season cooking oil.

6. Gingerroot - Always use fresh ginger unless the
recipe states otherwise.

7. Green Onion (Also known as spring onions) -
Often used as a garnish. If you don't care
for the taste of raw green onions, combine them
with the other ingredients in the wok just before serving.

8. MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) - Optional.
If a recipe calls for MSG and you don't want to use
it, try a bit of sugar as a substitute. If you're out
of MSG, substitute Accent.

9. Oyster Sauce - The cheaper brands are fine for
use in stir-fries; stick to the more expensive
brands for dips.

10.Rice - Long grain for meals; short grain
or "sticky" rice for desserts or snacks.
For something different, try a scented rice,
such as jasmine.

11. Sesame Oil - Used as a flavoring in stir-fries
and soups.

12. Soy Sauce - both light and dark. The bottles are
not always clearly labeled, but you can tell by
holding it up to the light - dark soy sauce is
thicker and darker.

13. Vegetable Oil for frying - It's healthier and has
a higher smoking point than peanut oil. Also,
peanut oil goes rancid sooner, which can be a
problem if you don't cook Chinese food often.

14. Other Items You May Want To Have On Hand:

Black Bean Sauce
Chile Paste, Chile Sauce
Fish Sauce (Southeast Asian)
Hoisin Sauce
Oyster Sauce
Plum Sauce
Sweet And Sour Sauce
Hot Chili Oil
Rice Vinegar
Rice Wine
Dry Sherry (a common substitute for rice wine)
Sesame Oil (also called sesame seed oil)
Soy Sauce, Light
Soy Sauce, Dark


1. Chopsticks - Use in the kitchen for stir-frying
and mixing ingredients.

2. Cutting Board - Wood or acrylic are best.

3. Knife - for cutting and chopping

4. Wide blade Spatula - for stir-frying

5. Wok - Carbon Steel is best.**

*(Assuming you already have other basic cooking tools and supplies)

**For electric ranges, it is better to have a flat-
bottomed wok, as a round-bottomed wok may
reflect back and damage the heating element.

You'll want to add items as you go along - such
as a cleaver and a bamboo steamer - but this will
get you started. There are many dishes you can
prepare with these basic supplies.

A Few Tips

If possible, go to an Asian marketplace for Asian
vegetables. They will be less expensive, and the
produce may be fresher.

When preparing a dish, put all your cut vegetables
on a large platter. (A flat baking tray is ideal.)
When stir-frying, the individual vegetables are
added separately,ensuring that none are
overcooked or undercooked. However, if you
put the vegetables on separate plates until
needed, you'll wind up with a lot of extra
dishes to wash.

Don't put any condiments on the table. In many
restaurants in Asia, the chef will become quite
upset if he sees a customer drowning the food in
soy or Worcestershire sauce. Chances are, if you
leave the condiments in the cupboard your family
won't even miss them.

Chinese Sauces And Seasonings - Storage Instructions

Must Be Refrigerated after Opening

Black Bean Sauce
Chile Paste, Chile Sauce
Fish Sauce (Southeast Asian)
Hoisin Sauce
Oyster Sauce
Plum Sauce
Sweet And Sour Sauce

Can Be Stored in the Cupboard

Hot Chili Oil
Rice Vinegar
Rice Wine
Dry Sherry (a common substitute for rice wine)
Sesame Oil (also called sesame seed oil)
Soy Sauce, Light
Soy Sauce, Dark

Storing Chinese Sauces And Seasonings:

Always keep the container tightly sealed (this is
especially important for sauce that needs to be
refrigerated). Store non-refrigerated sauce
away from direct heat and light

There is nothing wrong with storing a sauce like
soy sauce in the refrigerator instead of the
cupboard. In fact, the sauce may keep its flavor
longer. It's just that refrigeration is not required.

What about canned sauce?
If you shop at Asian markets, you may find
certain types of sauce, such as sweet and sour
sauce, sold in cans as well as bottles.

For canned sauce, place in a sealed container
after opening and refrigerate.

What is the shelf life of different types of Chinese sauce?
It varies, depending on the type of sauce and even
the specific brand. Properly stored, all sauces
should have a shelf life of at least three months.

What are the main signs that a sauce is starting to
go bad?
In general, a change in flavor and/or color is the
first indication that a sauce is beginning to lose its

For more specific tips, I turned to the experts.
Sandra Gin of Asian Family Products offers the
following advice on refrigerated sauce: "I suggest
that once the sauce lid is opened, you should
always refrigerate the sauce instead of leaving
the sauce out on the kitchen counter top where
warm conditions can easily form bacteria.
If the sauce is refrigerated, the oyster sauce or
hoisin sauce can be kept for up to 3-6 months.

Obviously, the sooner you can consume the sauce,
the better it is and the less likely bacteria will build
inside the sauce.

Some signs you can look for sauces going bad
include the formation of bacteria (white or
green fuzzy ball), water separated from the
thickening agents binding the sauce, and a
bad sauce odor."

When it comes to soy sauce, I received the
following advice from the Consumer
Department at Kikkoman. While the comments
refer specifically to Kikkoman soy sauce, in
general they should be applicable to other soy
sauce brands:

"For the freshest tasting sauce, we recommend
using Kikkoman Soy Sauce within three to six
months after opening. The sauce is still safe to use
beyond this time but the quality may not be at its best.

Once opened, the freshness and flavor of the
sauce will slowly deteriorate. Therefore, we also
recommend refrigerating the soy sauce after
opening. Refrigeration helps the flavor and quality
characteristics remain at their peak for a longer
period. In addition, our soy sauce will not spoil if
it is not refrigerated but its quality will decline faster.

A fresh bottle of Kikkoman Soy Sauce should have a
piquant flavor and reddish-brown color. When
opened and exposed to air, naturally brewed
soy sauce will darken and become stronger in
flavor and aroma over time.

This is the result of oxidation. Although this is not
harmful in any way, it will cause the quality to
decline. With an older bottle, the sauce may
appear darker in color and have a strong,
heavier taste. We believe the flavor of our soy
sauce is at its peak when the bottle is first opened."