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Home > Cooking Tips > Glossary > Glossary M - R

Glossary M - R

Chinese Cooking Glossary

Chinese Cooking Glossary



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Mangetout - The French word for snow peas, which means "eat it all."  See also snow peas.

Mangosteen - Along with durian, mangosteen is one of the two most popular Asian fruits.   However, unlike Durian, which is a yang or hot food, mangosteen is thought to have cooling, yin properties. The fruit of an evergreen tree native to Malaysia and Indonesia, the mangosteen is often available in Asian markets when in season. The ripe mangosteen is roughly the same size as a mandarin orange, with a reddish-purple rind.  An interesting fact about this fruit is that there is always a type of scar at one end.   This is a remnant of the flower, and the number of remnant flower parts contained in the scar will tell you precisely how many segments of fruit are inside. Besides containing more fruit, those with the most segments will have fewer seeds. The fruit itself is sweet, with a texture that has been likened to a ripe plum. The flavor is sweet with a hint of acidity.

When purchasing mangosteen fruit, look for ones that are dark purple or reddish purple but not blue-black in color. At home, store mangos at room temperature and eat within a few days.  Also, it's important to remember that unlike mangos, the mangosteen can't be frozen. Mangosteens are commonly eaten raw as a dessert.

Maraschino Liqueur - A cherry liqueur made from Maraska cherries grown in Dalmatia. They are sour cherries, tasting a bit like bitter almonds. 30 per cent alcohol by volume.

araschino Cherry - Dalmatian bitter wild cherry tree bearing fruit whose juice is made into maraschino liqueur.

Mochiko  -  Japanese for glutinous rice flour.  You'll frequently find references to mochi, mochi flour, or mochiko flour in Hawaiian recipes.

Monosodium Glutamate - Please refer to MSG.

MSG - MSG stands for Monosodium Glutamate. It is a white crystalline compound used to enhance flavor.
** Please note that MSG may not be suitable for everyone. Please visit FDA for more information. Whenever we mention MSG in our ingredients, it is always optional.

Mushrooms, Chinese Black  -  These are the dried mushrooms you'll often find sold in bins in Asian markets.  The name is a bit of a misnomer, since Chinese black mushrooms can be light brown, dark brown, and even grey. They are frequently speckled.  Chinese black mushrooms (also known as shiitake mushrooms) range in price from moderate to quite expensive. The more costly are often called "flower mushrooms" as they have a thick cap and a nice curl.  However, the cheaper brands are perfectly acceptable for use in soups and stir-fries.

While fresh black mushrooms may be available, dried black mushrooms are preferred for use in Asian recipes, as the drying process gives them a stronger flavor. At home, store the dried mushrooms in a container at room temperature. They will last indefinitely.  Before use, soak them in warm water for between twenty and thirty minutes, and remove the stems. You might also want to strain them through a sieve to remove any sand or dirt.  The Chinese believe black mushrooms may be helpful for persons with high blood pressure.   

Mushroom Soy Sauce - Soy sauce that has been infused with the flavor of straw mushrooms.



Napa Cabbage - Brassica Pekinensis. While several types of Chinese cabbage exist, the variety we most commonly associate with Chinese cabbage is Napa Cabbage, the large-headed cabbage with the firmly packed, pale green leaves that you'll usually find next to bok choy in western supermarkets. It is also known as Peking Cabbage and celery cabbage. More healthful than western cabbages, Napa Cabbage is rich in Vitamin C and other nutrients.  Look for firm green leaves that are not wilted or eaten by bugs. Store in a plastic bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator. Like tofu, Napa Cabbage absorbs the flavors of the foods around it. It is eaten raw in salads, and often added to stir-fries and soups in the last stages of cooking. Cooking Tip - Lining a bamboo steamer with Napa Cabbage helps prevent food from sticking to the bottom.



Oil Poaching - A "trade secret" used by many restaurants to give the meat a more tender texture, oil poaching (also called velveting) seals in the juices of the meat. After marinating, heat between 2 - 4 cups of oil in the wok to a temperature of about 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and immerse the marinated meat in the hot oil for several seconds. Remove the meat from the wok, drain, and cook further as called for in the recipe. 

Olive Oil - Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a full, fruity flavour and the lowest acidity. Virgin Olive Oil is slightly higher in acidity and lighter in flavour. Pure Olive Oil is a processed blend of olive oils and has the highest acidity and lightest taste.

Oyster Sauce - A rich sauce made from boiled oysters and seasonings, oyster sauce does not have a fishy taste at all (boiling the oysters takes care of that). This rich sauce with a savoury flavor is used in meat and vegetable dishes, and is an important ingredient in Cantonese cooking.  Oyster sauce brands have a wide price range; steer clear of the cheaper brands if possible, as they usually contain MSG.

Although the Buddhist vegetarian diet does permit the eating of oysters, vegetarian brands, often using mushrooms as a substitute, are available. Oyster sauce is normally sold in bottles; refrigerate after opening.  If purchased in a can, transfer to a closed jar and refrigerate.









Rice Vinegar - Chinese rice vinegars are milder and less acidic than regular vinegar (as are Japanese vinegars).  There are three basic types - black, red and white -as well as sweetened black vinegars.  The black variety is somewhat similar to balsamic vinegar, while red vinegar has both a sweet and tart taste.  White vinegar is the closest in acidity and flavor to regular vinegar.  There are no hard and fast rules, but black vinegar is generally recommended for braised dishes and as a dipping sauce, red vinegar for soups, noodle and seafood dishes, and white for sweet and sour dishes and for pickling.  In recipes, rice vinegar is sometimes also called "rice wine vinegar." Buy rice vinegars

Rice Wine - Known colloquially as "yellow wine," rice wine is a rich-flavored liquid with a relatively low alcohol content that is made from fermented glutinous rice or millet. Aged for ten years or more, rice wine is used both in drinking and cooking.  Since ancient times, the best and most famous rice wines have come from Shaoxing in the Zheijang province. (If you can't find rice wine listed in the ingredients section of a Chinese cookbook, try checking under "S"). Rice wine can be found at Asian markets - steer clear of the ones marked "cooking rice liquor" or "wine for cooking" as these do not have the sweet taste of authentic rice wine. If you do need a substitute, pale dry sherry is acceptable, and preferable to either sake (the Japanese rice wine) or any other cooking wines. At home, store the rice wine at room temperature, preferably out of the light. Buy rice wine


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