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A pictorial guide to Chinese cooking ingredients

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#121 dmreed

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 07:21 AM

I am definitely not an expert but I will attempt to answer to the best of my acquired knowledge and I am definitely open to corrections.

salt: I have not seen many Chinese recipes which use salt but I have some Asian salt called "Muói Bién" (not accurate accent marks) (Thien Nhien) "Natural Salt" packed for Yue King Fung Trading Co., Hong Kong. The name "Muói Bién" is kind of funny, in Spanish, "Muy Bien" means "very good"! Is this just a Chinese marketing joke or does the name have a Chinese meaning?

sugar: Chinese recipes usually use a sort of yellowish rock sugar.

pepper: I have seen recipes which use white pepper and recipes which use black pepper (maybe it depends on the region of China as to which may be preferred or which is readily available?); there are also the famous Szechuan/Sichuan pepper/peppercorns which are not really pepper and provide a "numbing" efffect rather than a "spicy hot" taste.

starch: many starches are/may be used in Chinese cooking; corn starch is probably most used in the West, tapioca, arrowroot, mung bean, potato, sweet potato, and others are used in Chinese and other Asian cooking.

Many Asian and Chinese cookbooks list ingredients often with Chinese and other language names. I would recommend "Asian ingredients : a guide to the foodstuffs of China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam" by Bruce Cost as a good reference book which might meet your need.
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#122 nakji

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 08:52 AM

salt: I have not seen many Chinese recipes which use salt but I have some Asian salt called "Muói Bién" (not accurate accent marks) (Thien Nhien) "Natural Salt" packed for Yue King Fung Trading Co., Hong Kong. The name "Muói Bién" is kind of funny, in Spanish, "Muy Bien" means "very good"! Is this just a Chinese marketing joke or does the name have a Chinese meaning?


That doesn't look like any pinyin I've seen. In fact, muoi (with a hat on the "o") is the Vietnamese word for salt - maybe you've got a Vietnamese pack of salt on your hands? Muoi bien is probably "prepared salt" or similar.

I live in Jiangsu province, near Shanghai. The (Chinese) salt I've bought at the supermarket is plain iodized(not sea or kosher) salt. Not sure if that's what's commonly used, but that's what's commonly available. Pepper comes in black and white at the supermarket, so again, I assume there's demand for both. All of the sugar I've seen in my area of mainland China has been made by the Tai Koo sugar company, from Hong Kong. It comes in white and brown, although I've no idea what people use for cooking. One thing that's worth thinking of is that China is as big geographically as the US, and there are all sorts of regional differences. Being honest, though, all of the staple products I buy in my local supermarkets look just like the ones I used to buy in Canada - I haven't noticed a big difference.

Fuschia Dunlop specifies potato starch in all of her recipes as well, rather than the cornstarch thickener I was brought up using, but I just leave that step out of recipes anyway.

#123 udscbt

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Posted 26 May 2010 - 01:10 AM

Hello.

Thanks for the reference to the Bruce Cost book which I have just ordered from Amazon in the UK even though it apparently uses only English names, eg. doesn't have the names in Chinese.

It would be nice if this forum established a list for non-Chinese speakers which they could use in their "Asian" food market. Bringing books or pictures are not very good options. This thread could be used or a separate one set up. Does anyone agree?

Is there such a comprehensive list on the web somewhere?

Have a good day.

#124 dmreed

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Posted 26 May 2010 - 03:49 AM

Fuschia Dunlop specifies potato starch in all of her recipes as well, rather than the cornstarch thickener I was brought up using, but I just leave that step out of recipes anyway.

I am curious...I have only tried a few different Chinese/Asian starches as stir-fry sauce thickeners and so far none of them can handle reheating (I know, I know, stir-fries should be eaten immediately but sometimes there are left overs which are too good to throw away!)...all the sauces turn to liquids when reheated. Does anyone know of a sauce thickener which allow the sauce to be reheated without turning to liquid? For example, most American gravies made with wheat flour maintain their consistency when reheated.

Edited by dmreed, 26 May 2010 - 03:49 AM.

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#125 dmreed

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Posted 26 May 2010 - 03:58 AM

Hello.

Thanks for the reference to the Bruce Cost book which I have just ordered from Amazon in the UK even though it apparently uses only English names, eg. doesn't have the names in Chinese.

I thought the Cost book did have the Chinese/Asian names and characters for most of the ingredients but I can't find my copy to check. I know I have some cookbooks which provide good ingredient lists with Chinese/Asian names/characters for use when shopping in Asian markets but I am not sure which books they are. I will attempt to provide create such a list as I come across these particular books again. I will probably put the list on my site along with the other Chinese/Asian food info pages. But I doubt it will be very soon :>(
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#126 hzrt8w

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 03:46 PM


油鹽菜心

Is that a proper term? Can't say I've ever heard of it ordered that way.


are those the characters for Yow Yim Choy Sum?

that is the way Yow Yim Choy Sum was described in one of my cookbooks but when I have asked for it at a restaurant, I have been asked which sauce, garlic or oyster sauce, I want the vegetable with...I have had to specify that I want it plain!


I agree with Chee Fai. The way this 油鹽菜心 (Yow Yim Choy Sum) is named is a bit odd in Cantonese.

What you want... mostly is referred to in Cantonese as:

清炒菜心
(Pronounced Tsing Chow Choy Sum).

"Tsing Chow" means "vegetable only" (without meat). It is fairly universally understood that the vegetable will be stir-fried with salt and garlic.
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#127 hzrt8w

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 03:49 PM

Or you can say (but less common):

蒜蓉菜心
(Pronounced Tsueen Yung Choy Sum).

This is more specific: minced garlic stir-fried with choy sum.

Edited by hzrt8w, 02 June 2010 - 03:50 PM.

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#128 dmreed

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 04:35 PM

Or you can say (but less common):

蒜蓉菜心
(Pronounced Tsueen Yung Choy Sum).

This is more specific: minced garlic stir-fried with choy sum.

but what I what is choy sum without garlic...just oil and salt!

what would be the name and the Chinese characters.

BTW I got my original name from a cookbook and it said that this was the best way to test the wok hay capabilities of the chef.
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#129 Anna N

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 01:08 PM

Reviving this old topic to ask if someone can identify this:

image.jpg

I am guessing it's a chile bean sauce of some kind but beyond that....
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#130 jameswilliam

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 01:29 PM

I have a jar of Laoganma black bean sauce that looks like that (specified in Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice)

The label design is slightly different but from what I can see the characters are the same and contents look similar...

http://www.amazon.co...e/dp/B0051D84GI

 

edit (actually that jar on amazon is slightly different - my one has the same characters in white across the top as yours)


Edited by jameswilliam, 09 October 2013 - 01:33 PM.


#131 Anna N

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 02:09 PM

I have a jar of Laoganma black bean sauce that looks like that (specified in Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice)
The label design is slightly different but from what I can see the characters are the same and contents look similar...
http://www.amazon.co...e/dp/B0051D84GI
 

edit (actually that jar on amazon is slightly different - my one has the same characters in white across the top as yours)


I have a suspicion that the many iterations of very similar labels are, in fact, different products. Hoping someone fluent in the language can chime in. Thanks for your input.
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#132 Beebs

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 02:31 PM

I have this brand in my fridge, but it might not be the same kind as yours.  Mine has crunchy bits in it - I think it has chili, shallot, garlic, Szechuan pepper.  I've had the black bean one, but don't like it as much.  My brother calls it "Old Dried-up Mother sauce".  I use it as a condiment, or add it into whatever needs a slightly spicy kick (like peanut sauce or dipping sauce for last night's dumpling dinner....). 

 

What are you planning to do with it?



#133 Hassouni

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 02:40 PM

Oh man, Laoganma stuff is like crack. I have the one Beebs mentioned, it's called "spicy chili crisp" in English. I use it with dumplings and as an all purpose spicy condiment alternative to plain chile oil or shichimi togarashi


Edited by Hassouni, 09 October 2013 - 02:40 PM.


#134 rotuts

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 03:29 PM

very glad this has been revised!



#135 liuzhou

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 04:38 PM

It is a Lao Gan Ma (老干妈) chile sauce.

 

The black writing at the bottom reads 风味鸡油辣椒 which means "Tasty Chicken Fat Chile Sauce"



#136 Anna N

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 05:10 PM

It is a Lao Gan Ma (老干妈) chile sauce.
 
The black writing at the bottom reads 风味鸡油辣椒 which means "Tasty Chicken Fat Chile Sauce"


Thank you so very much. Can you tell us where and how this might be used?

There are many different labels on this brand of sauces. Is there any key to help us westerners figure out what is what?
Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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#137 Dejah

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 07:29 PM

I use it as a dipping condiment with noodles in any form: soup, stir-fry, dumplings, anything savoury. Love the heat, crunch, and sometimes the peanuts in the sauce.

 

I am sure you can use it in stir-fries too, for that kick.


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#138 Shalmanese

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 09:02 PM

I like lao gan ma but I've found that it doesn't seem to play well with others. Anything you mix it in tastes unmistakably like lao gan ma and that has to be the effect you're after. It's never been a general purpose condiment to me the same way sriachia or soy sauce is for example.


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#139 liuzhou

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 10:32 PM

 

It is a Lao Gan Ma (老干妈) chile sauce.

The black writing at the bottom reads 风味鸡油辣椒 which means "Tasty Chicken Fat Chile Sauce"

 

First apologies. My translation is a bit off. Omit the work "sauce" at the end. I was in a bit of a rush to get to work.

 

The company themselves translate it as "Flavoured chicken chillli" and list the ingredients as chicken, chilli, vegetable oil, gourmet powder (MSG), salt、sugar、sesame oil 、prickly ash (Sichuan Peppercorns). The italics are my additions.

 

 

There are many different labels on this brand of sauces. Is there any key to help us westerners figure out what is what?

 

 

Yes, They have a website in English here.

 

Can you tell us where and how this might be used?

 

 

As has been said, as a dipping sauce or to perk up s stir fry. It's used fairly indiscriminately. I never use any of the Lao Gan Ma products. They are slapped onto nearly everything, much like tomato ketchup in the west. I would be happy never to see or smell or taste them again! Sorry.

 

 



#140 Hassouni

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 11:00 PM

I will concur with others than the LGM stuff has a VERY distinctive taste - I don't really use it much in cooking - only as a condiment where it's taste will complement the food rather than clash with it.



#141 jsager01

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 11:01 PM

i would translate 风味鸡油辣a  as chicken-flavor chilli oil (or chicken -flavored chill oil)  Yes, they manufacture many (too many if you ask me) of differently flavored chilli oils.   The one that i use is just labelled as 油辣椒 (chilli oil).  I had previously also used 辣脆油辣椒 fragrant spicy(hot) crispy chilli oil.

 

i have not used the chicken-flavor chilli oil, and i doubt if there is any real chicken in it - much like if there is fish in a recipe for  flsh-flavored aubergines. Isnt there a label on the bottle that lists all the ingredients in English? In EU we have additional labels stuck to the bottle that lists all the ingredients in about 5 or 6 languages. 

 

and lao gan ma means old god mother. 


It's dangerous to eat, it's more dangerous to live.


#142 liuzhou

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 12:10 AM

I just checked a jar (in China) this noon. The Chinese ingredients list includes Chicken (鸡肉).



#143 Anna N

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 04:27 AM

 
It is a Lao Gan Ma (老干妈) chile sauce.
The black writing at the bottom reads 风味鸡油辣椒 which means "Tasty Chicken Fat Chile Sauce"

 

First apologies. My translation is a bit off. Omit the work "sauce" at the end. I was in a bit of a rush to get to work.
 
The company themselves translate it as "Flavoured chicken chillli" and list the ingredients as chicken, chilli, vegetable oil, gourmet powder (MSG), salt、sugar、sesame oil 、prickly ash (Sichuan Peppercorns). The italics are my additions.
 

 
There are many different labels on this brand of sauces. Is there any key to help us westerners figure out what is what?

 
Yes, They have a website in English here.
 

Can you tell us where and how this might be used?

 
As has been said, as a dipping sauce or to perk up s stir fry. It's used fairly indiscriminately. I never use any of the Lao Gan Ma products. They are slapped onto nearly everything, much like tomato ketchup in the west. I would be happy never to see or smell or taste them again! Sorry.

Thank you so very much. Anna
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#144 huiray

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 04:40 AM

BTW, Anna_N (and jameswilliam), the characters in white at the top of the bottle label 中标 (or, if in Traditional Chinese: 中國) basically says "China famous (or renowned) trademark".

 



#145 hzrt8w

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 12:06 AM

 Lao Gan Ma (老干妈) is the brand name.  They do have different products, all using "old god mom"'s picture in the label.

 

Personally I think their chili staff is a bit overly MSG-ish.  Taste good but I don't use too much in one setting.  Typically as a condiment/add-on when eating soup noodles and such.  You can certainly use it for cooking if you like.

 

This jar - the label said "chicken oil" chili.  Supposedly they used chicken fat.  I think they do, but not entirely 100% chicken fat.  Probably some.  I don't think they would add chicken meat in it though.


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#146 liuzhou

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 02:16 AM

 

I don't think they would add chicken meat in it though.

 

Seems unlikely but it is there in the ingredients list in the domestic version .

 

Is it listed on export versions in places with stricter rules/ controls?



#147 Anna N

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 06:16 AM

 
I don't think they would add chicken meat in it though.

 
Seems unlikely but it is there in the ingredients list in the domestic version .
 
Is it listed on export versions in places with stricter rules/ controls?

Usually there is an ingredient list in English on these sauces but it's lacking on this jar.
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#148 liuzhou

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 06:52 AM

Is there an ingredient list in Chinese? Or any other language?



#149 Anna N

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 07:10 AM

Is there an ingredient list in Chinese? Or any other language?

image.jpg

Would this be it?
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#150 liuzhou

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 08:06 AM

Yes. The rightmost two columns (top two in your picture) contain the ingredients. Same as the domestic version.

 

It includes 鸡肉 (带骨) which means chicken meat (on the bone).

 

post-6903-0-33070900-1382019016.jpg

 

Looks like the translation sticker fell off. I would have thought it was a legal necessity.


Edited by liuzhou, 17 October 2013 - 08:20 AM.






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