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Also called "spring onion", "green onion".
scallion is an immature onion with a white
base (not yet a bulb) and long green leaves.
Both parts of the
scallion are edible. Available
in Asian market.
Sea Cucumber -
sea cucumber is a gelatinous creature that is
indeed shaped like a cucumber. Like tofu, it is
flavorless, but has the ability to soak up the
flavors of the foods and seasonings it is cooked
with. In Chinese cooking it is used in soups,
stir-fries, and certain braised dishes.
Other names for the sea cucumber
include beche de me, sea rat and sea slug (the
latter is somewhat confusing since the real sea
slug is another animal entirely). The Chinese
name for the sea cucumber translates roughly
into "sea ginseng" - it's unclear whether this
is in recognition of the sea cucumber's reputed
aphrodisiacal qualities, or because it is
considered to be quite healthful. (It has been
used to treat everything from high blood
pressure in humans to joint pain in pot-bellied
pigs.) It may also have something to do with its
slippery feel, as the texture of food weights
more heavily in Chinese cuisine than is
generally the case in western cooking.
Freshly caught sea cucumber
requires an extensive amount of preparation
before making the transition from the ocean
floor to your dinner plate. The complicated
procedure takes place over several days and
involves slitting open the belly and removing
the guts, as well as washing and boiling the
animal several times. Fresh sea cucumber that
has already been cleaned and soaked is sometimes
available in Asian markets, usually in the cold
foods section or in containers of water. Many
Asian stores also carry dried sea cucumber,
which looks and feels almost exactly like a
piece of cement, albeit not as heavy. It also
must be soaked for several hours before
Sesame Oil -
amber colored, aromatic oil, made from pressed
and toasted sesame seeds, is a popular
ingredient in Chinese cooking. Not for use as a
cooking oil, however, as the flavor is too
intense and it burns quite easily. Instead,
sesame oil is normally added as a flavoring
agent in the final stages of cooking. Sesame oil
has been used since ancient times; the
Babylonians cultivated sesame seeds for their
oil, and the Persians used it as both a food and
medicine. It is still used in holistic
preparations for everything from treating
infections to stimulating brain activity. (It is
also believed to contain antioxidants).
One note: the nonroasted sesame oil
you sometimes find in supermarkets and health
food stores is not a good substitute for the
sesame oil used in Oriental cooking. Sesame oil
will keep for several months if stored in a
cool, dark, and dry place. Recommended
Brand: Kadoya sesame oil from Japan.
Sichuan - See
Sichuan Peppercorn - See
Simmer - To cook food gently in liquid
that bubbles steadily, just below boiling point,
so that the food cooks in even heat without
ginger and garlic
are a frequent addition to stir-fry dishes.
Their sweet flavor also goes well with seasoned
(often salted) meat or poultry. The French name
comes from the fact that the whole pea -
including the pod - is eaten. Other names
include edible-podded peas, and Chinese sugar
Snow Peas - Also known as
mangetout, which is French for "eat it all,"
snow peas cooked with a bit of
Snow peas are available in supermarkets - look
for crisp pods with small peas. This means that
they were picked when young and have not sat in
the store for too long. They can be stored in
the crisper section of the refrigerator for 2 -
3 days. Possible substitutes: Sugar snap
peas, another pea with an edible pod, can be
substituted, but they won't have the same
Snow Pea Shoots -
The tips of the vines and the top set of leaves
of the pea plant are an Oriental delicacy. They
can be served raw in salads, quickly cooked in
stir-fries, or blanched and used in soups.
Soy Bean Curd -
in China and tofu in Japan, bean curd is made
from soy beans, in a process that has much in
common with making cheese. Commonly called "meat
without bones" it is extremely high in protein.
Although quite bland in taste, it absorbs the
flavors of the food it is cooked with and is
used in a number of dishes, from soups and
sauces to stir-fries. (The firmer tofus are
recommended for stir-fries and grilling, while
the regular tofus work well in soups and silken
tofu is great for blended dishes like pudding).
For the connoisseur who wants to expand his or
her horizons, there is fermented bean curd
rice wine), bean curd skins (taken
from the film or skin that forms on top when the
bean curd is being prepared), and pressed
seasoned bean curd - simmered in water with a
number of spices.
Invented by the Chinese approximately 3,000
soy sauce is made from fermented soy
beans, wheat flour, water, and salt. The two
main types of
are light and dark. As
the name implies, light
is lighter in
color, and also more sweet than dark
In Chinese cooking, it is used more often than
dark soy - always use light soy in a recipe
unless dark is specifically called for. Aged for
a longer period of time, dark
thicker and blacker in color. It is also less
salty than light soy. It is used in certain
recipes to add color, and as a dipping sauce.
soy sauce at room temperature.
Buy soy sauce
Soya Sauce -
soy sauce. Please refer to
Spring Onion -
Also called "scallion", "green
A spring onion is an immature onion with a white
base (not yet a bulb) and long green leaves.
Both parts of the scallion are edible. Available
in Asian market.
Sui Choy - See Napa Cabbage.
A province in China. Szechuan food is famous for
its spicy flavor. See also Szechwan, Sichuan.
Szechuan Peppercorn - Also called Szechwan peppercorn, Sichuan Peppercorn,
Szechwan Peppercorn, Anise Pepper, Brown
Peppercorn, Chinese Aromatic Pepper, Chinese
Pepper, Flower Pepper, Sancho, Japanese Pepper,
Japan Pepper, Wild Pepper, and Fagara Pepper.
Reddish-brown peppercorns, native to
Szechuan. Much stronger and more fragrant
than normal peppercorns. These aren't
true peppercorns, but rather dried flower
buds. You're most likely to encounter them as
part of a mixture, like the Chinese five-spice
powder or the Japanese shichimi togarashi. Toast
Szechwan peppercorns briefly in a hot pan before
Lemon pepper OR black peppercorns OR equal parts
black peppercorns and aniseed
Tabasco Sauce - A very
hot red sauce made from peppers.
cornstarch. Store tapioca in a cool dark place.
from the starch of the cassava root, tapioca
comes in several forms, including granules and
flour, as well as the pellets that are called
Pearl Tapioca. Tapioca starch is often used to
make dumpling dough, or as a thickening agent.
If necessary, it can be used as a substitute for
Tequila Rose - A sweet,
strawberry-flavored Mexican cream liqueur made
from a blend of strawberry cream liqueur and
Buy Tequila Rose.
Sec - A very refined, white Curacao.
- Sour liquid consisting mainly of
acetic acid and water, produced by the action of
bacteria on dilute solutions of ethyl alcohol
derived from previous yeast fermentation.
Vinegar is used as a salad dressing, a
preservative, a household remedy to allay
irritations, a mild disinfectant, and, in
cooking, as a fiber softener.
A clear alcoholic spirit originating in
Russia, made from grain.
Water Chestnuts -
The knobby vegetable with the papery brown skin
is a staple in Chinese cooking. However, the
water chestnut is not a nut at all, but an
aquatic vegetable that grows in marshes. This is
why the ones that you purchase in the store may
have a bit of muddy coating. The name "water
chestnut" comes from the fact that it resembles
a chestnut in shape and coloring. Indigenous to
Southeast Asia, the water chestnut is valued
both for its sweetness and its ability to
maintain a crisp texture when cooked. It is
believed to sweeten the breath.
At the store, look for firm water chestnuts
devoid of any soft spots. Unpeeled, water
chestnuts will keep for up to two weeks in a
plastic bag in the refrigerator. Prior to
cooking, you'll need to cut off the top and peel
the skin. If peeled ahead of time, store them in
cold water in the refrigerator, with the water
changed daily. Fresh water chestnuts are worth
hunting for, as they have a sweeter flavor and
are quite crisp. However, canned water chestnuts
work fine as a substitute. Drain and rinse the
canned water chestnuts before using. You may
also want to rinse them briefly in boiling water
to get rid of any canned or "tinny" taste. They
can be eaten raw or added to stir-fries. As with
fresh, store the unused water chestnuts in the
refrigerator in cold water. Change the water
daily, and they should last for up to a week.
White Curacao -
A type of Curacao, usually colorless (see
Winter Melon or Dong Gua - Winter melon,
or Benincasa Hispida to use its
scientific name, resembles a large watermelon
with its dark green skin. The flesh inside is
white, looking much like it has been lightly
covered with snow, and the seeds are white as
well. Grown during the summer, it lasts a long
time and thus can be eaten during the winter.
Winter melon has a very mild sweet taste. It is
used in soups and stir-fries, where it absorbs
the flavors of the ingredients it is cooked
with. A famous Chinese dish is winter melon
soup, where slices of the melon are simmered in
a broth with Chinese dried mushrooms, ham, and
seasonings. At banquets the soup is cooked
inside a whole carved out melon, which then
serves as both steamer and serving bowl. Winter
melon is also used in sweets, such as Wife Cake
and the Indian treat Petha.
You may be able to buy a whole
winter melon, but normally you would purchase
cut pieces. Placed in a plastic bag in the
crisper section of the refrigerator, the melon
slices will last for a couple of days.
important piece of Chinese cooking equipment, a
wok can be used for stir-frying, deep-frying,
steaming, and roasting. While a frying pan can
be used in place of a wok for stir-frying (cast
iron is particularly good), a wok has numerous
advantages in shape, design, and material. While
there are several types of wok on the market,
from stainless steel to aluminum, carbon steel
Wood Ears -
confused with cloud ears, wood ears are actually
a distant relative of the cloud ear fungus.
Larger and somewhat tougher, they lack the
delicate taste of cloud ears. Storage and
preparation of wood ears is virtually identical
to cloud ears, except that they can be soaked in
cold instead of warm water. They are used in
soups and stir-fries.
Sauce - A spicy sauce made from say
sauce, vinegar and different spices.
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