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Chinese Dried Ingredients

Apart from the fact that this is a traditional way to preserve food, drying intensifies the flavours and aromas of food. When reconstituted these ingredients add taste and texture, making food much more interesting and delicious. Here are some of the dried ingredients used in Oriental cooking.

Tiger Lily Buds
The dried buds of the Tiger Lily Flower add flavour and texture to hot pots and stews. The woody bit at the bottom of the bud is removed before cooking. Often knotted to keep them together as lily buds tend to break up if stewed for too long.

Shitaki Mushrooms
There are many varieties of Shitaki mushroom. Used sliced or whole they need to be cooked (preferably in their soaking liquid) until tender. They have quite an intense flavour and may overpower the flavours in a dish if not used in the right proportions.

Cloud Ear Fungus
Small, delicate tree mushrooms that need to be cleaned carefully before use. Do not add the soaking liquid to food as it may contain grit. Clean well and discard the woody stem.

Wood Ears
Larger and tougher than Cloud Ear Fungus, these tree mushrooms need to be cleaned well after soaking. Some pieces can be quite large so do cut into bite size pieces. Discard soaking liquid and woody stem. Wood ears are used for their crunchy texture and are a vital ingredient of Hot and Sour Soup.

Tangerine Peel
Often found strung up to dry in Chinese kitchens, tangerine peel is used to add a slightly bitter citrus flavour to food. It is often combined with star anise and Szechuan peppercorns to give the balance of bitter, sweet, hot and aromatic flavours that is a feature of Szechuan food.

Red Dates
The dried fruit of the jubube plant, these dates are also a traditional medicine. Used in soups and teas it is supposed to be soothing for sore throat conditions. Sometimes available in candied form where is it eaten as a snack.

Agar Agar
Available in powder and strip form (dried), agar is made from seaweed and does not have any calories. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans it is used as a setting agent for sweets. Flavourless it takes on the flavours it is mixed with and sets to a firm, pick-upable texture.

Chinese Sausage
Wind dried in pairs, Chinese sausages are usually made from pork and quite a bit of fat. Smokey, slightly sweet and aromatic it is used in stir fries, fried rice and hot pots. An easy way to cook Chinese sausage is to place it on top of steaming rice, allowing the oil from the sausage to melt into the rice, thus adding its unique flavour to the rice.

Scallops and Oysters
Dried and sometimes salted, they impart flavour to other ingredients they are cooked with. Scallops are sweet and add seasoning to congee and soups as do dried oysters. As both are a delicacy they are often added to celebration dishes at Chinese New Year and other auspicious occasions.

Dried Shrimp
Used in seasoning and stuffing, dried shrimp should be used sparingly. Soak in water to rehydrate and remove salt but do not use the soaking liquid. Used extensively in Southeast Asian food to add flavour and taste to sambals and curries.

Sharks Fins
Dried and cured fins from the shark, they need to be soaked in water to rehydrate. Eaten by the Chinese for hundreds of years sharks fins are believed to have many beneficial health properties. Mainly used in soups but can be braised whole for special occasions.

Birds Nests
Birds nests are gathered from cliffs and caves in South East Asia. Prized for its perceived health properties, they need to be soaked for many hours in cold water to soften them. Usually added to soups they are sometimes combined with rock sugar to make a sweet dessert or drink.

Jellyfish
Eaten more for texture than taste, edible jellyfish is dried and sold in sheets. It needs to be soaked in water, with frequent changes, before use. Serve finely shredded, as an hors d'oeuvres with rice vinegar, soy and sesame oil.

Lotus Leaves
Similar in size to water lily leaves, dried lotus leaves are used to encase food for steaming. Steaming glutinous rice in lotus leaves is a common way to prepare this dish as it imparts a distinct flavour to the rice whilst it cooks. The leaves are inedible and have to be discarded.

 

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Chinese Cuisine
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Chinese Cookbooks
~ About China and its History
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~ China's Culinary Highlights
~ Chinese Vegetables
~ Dim Sum
~ Chinese Medicine Cuisine
~ Regional Chinese Cuisine
~ Chinese Cooking Techniques
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Chinese Restaurant Guide
~ Chinese Entertaining
~ Food Pyramid
~ Glossary
Thai Cuisine
~ Thai Cookbooks
~ About Thai
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~ Regional Thai Cuisine
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Thai Restaurant Guide
~ Thai Entertaining
~ Food Pyramid
Thai Recipes
- Thai Salad Recipes
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- More Thai Rice Recipes
- Thai Noodles Recipes
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Japanese Cuisine
~ Japanese Cookbooks
~ About Japan
~ Japan's History
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~ Japanese Vegetables
~ Miso
~ Japanese Medicine Cuisine
~ Regional Japanese Cuisine
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Japanese Restaurant Guide
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~ Glossary
Iranian Foods
~ About Persia , ~ Persian Food
~ Persian New Year

- Persian or Iranian Soup Recipes
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Persian or Iranian Recipes
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About Persia
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Persian Food
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Persian Cooking 
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About Eastern Beauty

 

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