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A pictorial guide to Chinese cooking ingredients

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thanks...are the above Mandarin, Cantonese??? Really nice to see you are still here!!!!!!

The pronounciations you posted sound like Cantonese but not pure. My guess is perhaps Cantonese with Toisanese accent? They are not Mandarin for sure. Regardless of the dialect, the Chinese characters are the same.

HOM like salt: 鹹

FOO from very slightly bitter to very bitter: 苦

TOM like rice or the "baked" flavor of bread: Not sure what taste you were referring to

LOT like in mustard or chili peppers: 辣

GUM cool, acrid-sweet like citrus peel: 甘

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The pronounciations you posted sound like Cantonese but not pure. My guess is perhaps Cantonese with Toisanese accent? They are not Mandarin for sure. Regardless of the dialect, the Chinese characters are the same.

HOM like salt: 鹹

FOO from very slightly bitter to very bitter: 苦

TOM like rice or the "baked" flavor of bread: Not sure what taste you were referring to

LOT like in mustard or chili peppers: 辣

GUM cool, acrid-sweet like citrus peel: 甘

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TOM like rice or the "baked" flavor of bread: Not sure what taste you were referring to

.....

thanks again, those spellings/pronounciations are from "Eight Immortal Flavors" by Johnny Kan.

is there another Chinese name for the "flavor" or "taste" of rice?

Then I think it is probably:

TOM like rice or the "baked" flavor of bread: 淡

(Meaning: bland. Bland as water. Sometimes Chinese say bland as rice, as rice itself has no inherent taste.)

This author most likely speaks the Toysanese dialect, as clued by the pronounciation of his family name.

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Then I think it is probably:

TOM like rice or the "baked" flavor of bread: 淡

(Meaning: bland. Bland as water. Sometimes Chinese say bland as rice, as rice itself has no inherent taste.)

This author most likely speaks the Toysanese dialect, as clued by the pronounciation of his family name.

again, much thanks

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Unofficial Toysanese pronunciation of above terms:

Green plum sauce ... teng moi deng

yu loo (plain old fish sauce)...ngui loo

hom (salty)...haum (falling tone)

fu (bitter)...can be fu or more commonly "nik"

Tom (rising tone) bland like plain white rice...hum (rising tone).

Heung means aromatic in any dialect, as in ng heung foon (5 spice powder)

teem (sweet)...hem (Toysan)

Seen or suen (sour) ...thluon (Toysan)

laht is laht means "hot" in a capsaicin or chili sense.

To outsiders Toysanese sounds like the clearing of a lot of throats in conversation but to the speakers it was the only true Chinese dialect that was understood by all overseas Chinese until about 50 years ago. Sun Yat Sen (almost a Toysanese) had to speak the dialect when he went to all the Chinese enclaves all over the world to gain support and to recruit money. You might say that modern China was born speaking Toysanese. :biggrin:

:wink:

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Unofficial Toysanese pronunciation of above terms:

.

.

.

To outsiders Toysanese sounds like the clearing of a lot of throats in conversation but to the speakers it was the only true Chinese dialect that was understood by all overseas Chinese until about 50 years ago. Sun Yat Sen (almost a Toysanese) had to speak the dialect when he went to all the Chinese enclaves all over the world to gain support and to recruit money. You might say that modern China was born speaking Toysanese. :biggrin:

:wink:

thanks, much appreciated.

BTW can you please explain to me what "tsap sui" means, I think it is a Toysanese dish.

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"Tsap sui" sounds like a poor transliteration of the term "chop suey". It literally translates as "mixed bits" and is the butt of many jokes as the representative of the slop that the Chinese used to (some still do) serve to their gwei loh clients. I am sure that wikipaedia has reams of notes on the provenance and meaning of the term. :laugh::rolleyes:

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"Tsap sui" sounds like a poor transliteration of the term "chop suey". It literally translates as "mixed bits" and is the butt of many jokes as the representative of the slop that the Chinese used to (some still do) serve to their gwei loh clients. I am sure that wikipaedia has reams of notes on the provenance and meaning of the term. :laugh::rolleyes:

I have read in multiple places that "tsap sui" (Toishanese), "tsa sui" (Mandarin), "shap sui" (Toishanese/Cantonese) all mean "bits and pieces".

In "The Chinese Kitchen - A Traditional Approach to Eating" by Yong Yap Cotterell (c. 1986) on page 9, she writes:

"Poorer people found solace in humbler eating houses, and the very poor made do with boiled left-overs from restaurants, zacui - anglicized as 'chop-suey'. Until quite recently this was the diet of beggars and rickshaw pullers."

In "The True History of Chop Suey" by Andrew Coe, for About.com

http://chinesefood.about.com/od/foodamerica/a/chop-suey-history.htm?nl=1:

"What is chop suey? In Chinese, the two characters for chop suey are pronounced "tsa sui" in Mandarin or in Cantonese "shap sui," meaning "mixed small bits" or "odds and ends." As a culinary term, shap sui refers to a kind of stew made of many different ingredients mixed together. Shap sui probably first came to the United States with the waves of Chinese immigrants drawn to the California gold fields. Most came from the South China coasts Pearl River Delta and particularly the town of Toishan. In the 1870s, the Chinese were pushed from the American West by racial violence, migrating to cities like Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. There Americans first noticed a dish called "chow-chop-suey.

"However, rumors spread that chop suey wasn't really Chinese at all. Tales circulated that it was concocted by a San Francisco Chinese boardinghouse cook using scraps retrieved from the garbage. The "experts" who recounted these stories were usually Chinese diplomats or students for whom this Toishanese peasant food didn't seem "Chinese" at all.

"But if you go down to Chinatown (referring to USA), find a Toishanese chef, and convince him that you want Chinese-style shap sui, you will discover that it can be a toothsome stew."

In "The Step-By-Step Chinese Cookbook" by Georges Spunt, Thomas Crowell, Publishers, 1973:

"CHOP SUEY

"Sub Gum

"Every writer of Chinese cookbooks lays claim to a story about this particular dish. Most are agreed that Chop Suey, as we know it, is an American adaption of an old Cantonese standby called Sub Gum."

---------------------------

Although many Chinese have said that there is no, or rather was no, "chop suey" in China and that it cannot be found in Chinese restaurants in China. I am under the impression that today in major Chinese cities some restaurants do serve "chop sui" for international travelers especially the gwei loh who expect/desire the dish.

All the above references suggest to me that "chop suey", and especially its Anglisized name, is indeed a dish which originated in China. When reviewing various supposedly "authentic" Chinese "sub gum" recipes, the only difference from "chop suey" recipes is that "chop suey" usually/frequently includes bean sprouts.

BTW I am definitely aware that it is foolish to accept the claims of many authors/authorities as absolute truth regarding Chinese cuisine and ingredients, e.g., I have read several places claims that there is no "Chinese fish sauce" and that "fish sauce" is not used in Chinese cooking...by "fish sauce" they are referring to fermented fish sauce as used in Thai and Vietnamese cooking.

I have read a lot of Chinese and Asian cookbooks and my ever-growing collection can be found at http://dmreed.com/food-cooking-asian-cookbooks.html . I have scanned every one of the 700+ books and read many recipes especially "chop suey" and "sub gum" recipes in detail.

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how close is the sauce of Zha Jiang Mian to Mapo Dofu?

the reason I ask is because I prefer mapo dofu over soft noodles rather than over rice.

is mapo dofu ever served over noodles in China?


Edited by dmreed (log)

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how close is the sauce of Zha Jiang Mian to Mapo Dofu?

Totally different. It's like comparing Bolognese sauce to Curry.

is mapo dofu ever served over noodles in China?

Not that I've ever seen in my 15 years in China, but if you like it that way, go for it.

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is mapo dofu ever served over noodles in China?

Not that I've ever seen in my 15 years in China, but if you like it that way, go for it.

many thanks for your personal observations, they are greatly appreciated. And I do serve it over noodles at home and I have even ordered it that way at several restaurants.

I was just thinking that, to the north-east of Sichuan, mapo dofu might be served over noodles because of the prevalence of noodles versus rice...just a thought.

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thanks...at $.13 + shipping, "Terrific Pacific Cookbook" looks interesting so I just ordered it. fast approaching 800 Asian cookbooks in my collection!

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Terrific Pacific is one of my "go to" Asian cookbooks. Hope you like it!

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Yow Yim Choy Sum

I would like to have the Chinese characters for one of my favorite dishes, Yow Yim Choy Sum, which I now order to check the quality of the cooking especially the wok hay when I visit a Chinese restaurant for the first time.

so far, I have had to specifically order the dish as "plain" rather than with garlic or oyster sauce so I would appreciate any further Chinese characters which specify "plain", i.e., just salt and oil!

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油鹽菜心

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


Edited by CFT (log)

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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!

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Yep, those are the characters.

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Hello,

I am not sure that this post belongs here since it has no picture and, most importantly, deals with rather down-to-earth ingredients (salt, sugar, pepper and flour/starch) and not more exotic items. I would like to know what people use for these ingredients and whether there are regional differences.

For example, I use kosher or sea salt but what does one use in China or elsewhere? In general, I reduce the amount of salt that different recipes call for since I find that the other ingredients, soy sauce of course but even some sauces, already have a strong salt taste.

I use brown sugar. I find that white refined sugars are too chemical. I do use rock sugar when appropriate.

I have read that only white pepper is used in Chinese cuisine. Is this correct? In all regions? Is black pepper never used?

I have also read that tapioca starch is used to thicken sauces in China. Is this right? I use either corn or potato flour/starch. I have read (in Yan-Kit's book) that a quantity of potato flour equals 1.5 times corn flour.

Thanks for your help and have a good day.

BTW. Has an index of Chinese ingredients been posted? It would be quite useful, especially with the Chinese characters which would help in Asian grocery stores.

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油鹽菜心

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

I read in one of my cookbooks, that this is the way to order it if one wants to check out the wok expertise of the chef! I have yet to try it because none of the restaurants have had it...so I ordered Chinese Brocolli plain instead. Apparently I will have to buy some choy sum and cook it myself.

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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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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.

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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.

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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 (log)

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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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