Chinese Food – Essential Ingredients For Proper Chinese Cooking

30November 2021

Chinese food is one of the most popular types of cuisine in the world. There are some essential ingredients for proper Chinese cooking that restaurants use to authentically cook your Chinese meals. 

It has evolved over the years, and now there are many different dishes that people enjoy. 

Welcome to our next article in the Chinese Food Focus: First Bite Series

Where in Wembley Can I eat Great Chinese Food?

Immediately below is a list of essential ingredients your restaurant will have for proper Chinese Cooking.

01. Rice wine (or dry sherry)

For cooking, the best rice wines are the Shaoxing variety from China. They come in three varieties: red, light, and a medium or dark version. 

The two lighter versions tend to be slightly dryer and not as intense as the darker ones. You mustn’t use sake, sherry, or any other kind of wine. 

These will alter the flavour and taste of your dish and render it completely useless.


02. Oyster Sauce

As you probably know, this is a mixture mainly consisting of oysters cooked in soy sauce with some water. What makes it so unique is the fact that the sauce gets thickened with starch. 

It is a vital ingredient as it enhances the flavour of your dish by adding a subtle oyster flavour and an excellent glossy shine.

Many chefs will keep this sauce in stock as they can use it for multiple dishes, including fried vegetables, stir-fries, and meat/seafood sauces.

03. Light Soy Sauce

Soy sauce enhances and spreads flavours and can get used with practically any vegetable or meat dish. It also adds colour to your food, which makes it delicious to look at too.

Authentic light soy sauces are lighter in colour than dark soy sauce but do not contain as much molasses as dark. Light soy sauce is a crucial ingredient as it gives the recipe a much-needed saltiness.

04. Dark Soy Sauce

This version of light soy sauce with more molasses added; tends to be thicker and not as salty as the lighter version. This type of soy sauce also adds colour to your dishes and enhances their appearance too.

Dark sauces tend to be used in the preparation of beef dishes and also in sauces.

05. Chicken Stock/Broth

Chicken stock/broth is a crucial ingredient when preparing Chinese food as it enhances the taste and flavour when you’re preparing your dish.

There are recipes where chicken broth cannot get substituted for water or other liquids in cooking because it possesses too much salt already in its own right.

It works excellent as a marinade and can be used to steam meat before cooking or frying.

06. Corn Starch

Corn starch is a form of flour, which consists mainly of corn starch and water. It thickens sauces and dishes and also adds texture to the food.

Indian cultures use something similar called “corn flour”. Chefs use it to thicken sweet and sour sauce dishes.

07. Tapioca Starch 

Tapioca Starch is a similar ingredient to corn-starch, although it thickens food more quickly than its counterpart. The only significant difference touted among the Chinese community is that tapioca starch gets made from corn.

08. Mushroom Soy Sauce

Mushroom Soy Sauce is a unique sauce used to enhance the flavour of seafood and many other dishes. It contains mushrooms, yeast extract, sugar, salt, and water.

Many recipes call for this sauce because of its excellent flavour-enhancing qualities.

09. Chinese Rice Vinegar 

Rice Vinegar is a rather unusual ingredient that can make dishes or enhance the flavour within them. It gets made from rice, wine, water, and white sugar.

This sauce has a sour-sweet taste and can be used to marinate meat or vegetables before being cooked.

Chinese Rice vinegar on table in bottle
Chinese Rice vinegar on the table in a bottle

10. Sesame Oil 

Sesame Oil is a tasty sauce used to add flavour and texture to dishes. It comprises mainly of sesame seeds, which get roasted before being blended with water, vinegar, and salt.

Most Chinese food recipes call for this sauce to be used as a condiment to improve the flavour of a dish. 

Where in Wembley Can I Eat Great Chinese Food?

Conclusion- Essential Ingredients For Proper Chinese Cooking

Chinese food is one of the most complicated cuisines globally because it contains so many different ingredients. The ingredients listed above are what cooks and chefs would use mainly, but there are still about 30 or more that can be used depending on what you’re cooking and for whom. 

In terms of preparation, Chinese chefs will use these ingredients as a basic set for most recipes as they are the ones most often used.

Previous article from our Chinese Food Focus: First Bite Series: Chinese Food – Mistakes to Avoid In Chinese Restaurants

If you have any particular favourites missing from the list above be sure to add them in the comments below.

Don McDonald

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