Don't leave China without knowing some Chinese cooking basics! Impress your friends and family back home, or just post about your culinary achievements on your WeChat moments. Here are the essential cooking tools and ingredients you'll need to get started.
Use this versatile wok for a wide range of different Chinese cooking techniques, including stir-frying, braising, steaming, pan-frying, deep-frying, boiling, stewing, making soups, etc.
This is a well-known cooking wine used by Chinese families in meat and seafood dishes, and is traditionally drunk before a meal to replace rice. You can also use dry sherry to substitute this cooking wine as it has a similar taste. Needless to say, alcohol makes everything tastes even better!
Also referred to as Chinese black vinegar, this sauce is widely used in cold salads, dumpling dipping sauce, and sweet and sour sauce. You can’t replace this vinegar with anything else!
Oyster sauce adds a slightly sweet, salty and rich umami flavor to your favorite Chinese dishes. Add a bit in your fried noodles or stir-fry dishes to enhance the flavor, or dip plain steamed veggies in it for a delicious snack.
This is another thick, fragrant sauce widely used as a meat glaze or dipping sauce. Not many Chinese dishes use this sauce; it’s most widely used in Cantonese cuisine as a flavorful marinade for Chinese barbecued pork (char siu).
This fragrant, nutty oil is usually added to stir fry dishes at the end of cooking for rich flavor that will leave you hungry for more. Try adding it to salad dressings for a western fusion!
Most of you are probably familiar with this brand of chili oil as it's found at many restaurants and was even found on runways at the latest New York Fashion Week. It’s fragrant and hot, and adds just the right amount of spice to any dish.
A spicy and salty paste made from fermented broad beans and spices, this rich condiment will add an earthy umami flavor to your favorite dishes. If you love mapo tofu, dan dan noodles and other Sichuan delicacies, you need some of this in your kitchen.
Spices & Extra Add-Ons
This is a famous spice mixture of star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns and fennel seeds. It's commonly used with fatty pork, poultry, beef and seafood as a spice rub. If you love Cantonese roast duck and beef stew, you will recognize the smell of this spice.
Remember the time when your tongue went numb after you ate some spicy Sichuan food? If you enjoyed the sensation, you have this spice to thank. Sichuan peppercorns produce a numbing hot flavor called ma la that makes it a very unique flavor you won't find anywhere back home.
This is a very special Chinese processed tofu used widely in braised meat to provide a hidden flavor. You can also simply serve it with porridge or noodle soup as a side, or as a dipping sauce for hotpot. The flavor is salty with mild notes of sweetness. It is sometimes called Chinese cheese due to its texture.
Ever wonder how Chinese stir fry sauces are always so perfectly thick and tasty? Corn starch is the key ingredient! It’s also used to seal in meat juices while they are being marinated, protecting the natural flavor and keeping the protein crispy yet juicy.
Rich in earthy flavors and textures, these mushrooms are often used to add depth and umami flavors in Chinese cooking. You may find them in hot and sour soup, dumpling fillings and with meat and veggies. They will need to be soaked and the stems will need to be removed before you can cook them. Best of all, they're available year round!