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a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation

02.26.2001

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the chinese pantry an illustrated guide to the basic ingredients in Chinese cooking  | 1 2 3 4
continued from page 1

the basic pantry, cont.
6. fresh ginger |
A tan-colored, knobbly root. Use thin slices in stir-fries, or peel the outer skin and mince the flesh. When buying ginger, look for firm shiny specimens.
7. fresh garlic | Is there any cuisine in the world that doesnít use garlic? If you donít already have your kitchen continually stocked with heads of garlic, you should. Look for firm, tightly-packed heads of garlic that are blemish-free.
8. scallions | Also sometimes called green onion or spring onion, this mild onion herb is used in stir-fries, soups, and as a garnish.
9. cornstarch | A white flour used to marinate meats Ė when mixed with water to form a paste, itís a thickening agent for sauces and soups.
other handy basics ...
chicken stock |
When Chinese recipes call for stock, itís generally chicken stock. Homemade is best, of course, but canned works fine in most instances.
rice wine (Shaoshing) | The Chinese drink Shaoshing (Shaoxing) wine as well as use it for cooking, but personally I find it somewhat nasty for the former purpose, at least. You can easily substitute sake, a dry sherry, or if necessary, whatever dry wine you happen to have lying around the house.

grains + noodles
10. short-grain rice |
Chinese rice is moderately sticky compared to the long-grained rice thatís more common in Western cuisines. If youíre going to be cooking Chinese food regularly, buy a big 20 lb. bag of rice, available at an Asian market. I like Kokuho Rose brand best.
11. dried noodles | Long flat dried noodles, in widths varying from fettucine-fat to vermicelli-thin, can be used for both stir-fried noodle dishes and noodles in broth.
12. rice vermicelli | Made from rice flour, these dried thin white noodles are soaked until soft, then used for soups or stir-fries. They can also be deep-fried and used as a base for a dish, in which case they arenít soaked first.
13. green bean threads | Also sometimes called vermicelli, or cellophane noodles, these dried thin translucent noodles are made from mung bean flour. Like rice vermicelli, they should be soaked in water to soften them.
14. fresh rice noodles | These fat, soft rice noodles have a very yummy chewy texture when cooked Ė theyíre the noodles used for chow fun. You can find them in the refrigerated section of most Asian grocery stores.

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