Chinese cooking is one of the most popular in the world, and trendy once again. But to do it right you need the right, authentic ingredients. Here's your must-have list for real Chinese food.
Supermarkets are usually well stocked with the basic ingredients for Chinese cooking. For anything unusual, shop at a Chinese supermarket - it's well worth the visit to discover an intriguing range of products you didn't know about and add to authentic Chinese cooking.
Black rice vinegar
Made from fermented rice and, like all Chinese rice vinegars, milder than Western vinegars. Used mostly as a table condiment.
A mild cabbage with a pale stem and dark leaves. The smaller variation is known as Shanghai or baby bok choy.
Chilli bean sauce
Made from broad beans fermented with chillies and salt
Made with chilli flakes and seeds
This spice mix of star anise, cassia, Sichuan pepper, fennel seeds and cloves is used extensively in Chinese cooking
Made from salted yellow soya beans, sugar, vinegar, sesame oil and spice, with red rice for colouring. Used as a condiment for Chinese meat, poultry and seafood dishes.
Light soy sauce
A superior soy sauce that's thinner and saltier than its dark counterpart, and is used with fish, poultry and vegetables.
Dark soy sauce
Rich in flavour and colour. Used mostly with meats.
Not related to the peppercorn family, this mildly hot spice comes from the berries of the prickly ash tree. Dry-roast and crush before using.
Made from ground, roasted white sesame seeds.
Shaoxing rice wine
Made from rice, millet, yeast and local water, and aged for at least three years.
Yellow rock sugar
Rough lumps of sugar, not as sweet as regular granulated sugar. Used to sweeten Chinese teas and meat glaze.
RECIPES TO TRY
Chinese style steak and onions
Smoked chicken and Chinese noodle salad
Chinese noodles in vegetable broth with crispy tofu