Chinese culture is unique and has become an important part in the global society. Although some of main ingredients, such as meat and vegetables are similarly used in other cuisines, there are obviously some unique elements. If you want to make tasty Chinese dishes regularly at home, here are a few things that you should have in your kitchen.
- Soy sauce: Soy sauce is essential if you want to make a savory Chinese food dish. Soy sauce has been used since thousands of years ago in China. Today, it still becomes a staple in Asia, not only in China. Soy sauce is produced through the fermentation of soy bean. When the fermentation process is completed, the dark liquid is separated from the solids. There are two types of soy sauce. Light soy sauce is thinner and salty, so it can replace salt in your dishes as well. Dark soy sauce is thicker and sweet with caramel flavoring. It can also used to produce brown or darker color to your dishes. If you want to reduce salt intake, choose the sodium reduced soy sauce.
- Oyster sauce: Oyster sauce is an essential ingredient in many Chinese dishes. Other than oyster, the sauce also contains soy sauce and salt. It is a thick, rich and dark sauce, which is savory and syrupy. You can use oyster sauce in various dishes, including stir fried vegetables and fish stews. Oyster sauce is quite salty, so you should control your salt usage to avoid over-seasoning your dish. It is also slightly sweet, which may add to the richness to your meal. You should use oyster sauce if you want to your dishes to have rich and meaty flavour. Oyster sauce gives umami taste to your meals. However, many brands may contain MSG to improve the savory taste.
- Ginger: Ginger is a common ingredient in many Asian cuisines, including Chinese. For thousands of years, ginger has been cultivated and used across Asia. Ginger gives your dishes pungent and fragrant flavour. It adds a bit of spicy sensation, although very mild compared to chilli pepper. When cooking, you should use fresh ginger, instead of the dried one. Powdered ginger also loses much of the taste and it may in fact, taste quite different from the fresh one. A good ginger should have yellowy meat with little or no greenish tint. It should also be juicy and plump. To avoid the growth of mold, you should put fresh ginger under sunlight. As an example, ginger will enhance the taste of sour and sweet sauces, which is a popular part in many Asian dishes.
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch isn’t really a flavoring ingredient, but it is used quite often in various Asian cuisines. Cornstarch is a common thickening agent for making sauces. By making a sauce thicker, it will coat better on meat and vegetables, making the meal tastier. Cornstarch can also be used in meatballs and dumplings, so they will have chewy texture. If your dumpling already has meaty flavour, cornstarch will complete the experience by making it chewy.