If you want to cook Chinese food, you need a few staple ingredients to do it right. Chinese cooking spices are what give this popular cuisine its distinguishable flavors.
With Chinese food being such a popular choice among American foodies, more and more are choosing to prepare this international favorite in their homes. Whether it’s for dinner parties, family dinners, or date nights, Chinese cooking is always a crowd-pleaser.
Before I begin to list the Chinese cooking spices you need to bring flavor to your kitchen, there are some important Chinese cooking tips that should be considered so your meals come out perfect every time.
Take note of the following Chinese cooking tips:
Variety – One thing is certain, you’ll always find a lot of variety in Chinese cooking. The Chinese find balance and harmony to be of high importance in life, and the same goes for their food.
A mix of different meats and vegetables offers an interesting and visually stunning plate.
Fresh – The Chinese love fresh ingredients. It’s one of the major differences between authentic Chinese cuisine and your run-of-the-mill takeout.
Fresh vegetables and meats bring a bolder and more robust flavor to any dish, and fresh is a healthier choice.
Prepare – When cooking, it’s always mindful to prepare ingredients ahead of time. Especially if you’re cooking for a large group. This is no different when it comes to Chinese cooking.
Because you’ll likely be using a lot of vegetables and a variety of meats, you will have a lot to prepare. Wash, peel, and sort all of your vegetables and clean, trim, and tenderize your meats.
Now that you’ve got a few basic Chinese cooking tips to get started with, here are eight Chinese cooking spices you’ll need if you want to prepare this cuisine in your kitchen.
Chinese Cooking Spices
First on our list of Chinese cooking spices are Sichuan peppercorns. This is a common spice used in Chinese food recipes. Sichuan peppercorns have a unique flavor that is both spicy and numbing and they are often used in dishes from the Sichuan province in southwestern China.
Sichuan peppercorns can be used in dishes such as mapo tofu and kung pao chicken. They are also used in the famous Sichuan pepper beef.
Next on our list of Chinese cooking spices is star anise. Star anise is a common spice used in Chinese cooking that brings a strong, spicy-sweet flavor that is similar to licorice and it is often used in dishes such as braised pork belly and red-cooked beef.
Star anise is also an ingredient in the Chinese five-spice powder blend.
Cloves are a common spice used in Chinese cooking. They have a strong, pungent flavor that is similar to cinnamon and they are often used in dishes such as braised pork belly and red-cooked beef.
Cloves are also a key component in the Chinese five-spice powder blend.
Believe it or not, cinnamon is another common Chinese cooking spice. Cinnamon has a sweet and spicy flavor that is similar to cloves and it is often used in dishes such as braised pork belly and red-cooked beef.
Cinnamon is also a necessary ingredient in the Chinese five-spice powder blend.
This one may not come as a surprise but ginger is also a common spice used in Chinese cooking. This spice has a strong, spicy-sweet flavor that is similar to cinnamon and it is often used in dishes such as stir-fries and soups.
Ginger is also an ingredient in many marinades and sauces and it is often used to add flavor to steamed dishes. You may be most familiar with ginger ale or the ginger used on sushi platters.
Ginger is a great palette cleanser and also serves as a natural remedy for an upset stomach or sea sickness.
Are you even cooking if you’re not using garlic? Garlic is another common spice used in Chinese cooking. This spice has a strong, pungent flavor that is similar to onions and it is often used in dishes such as stir-fries and soups.
Garlic is also a major ingredient in many marinades and sauces and it is often used to add flavor to steamed dishes.
Do you like spicy dishes? Chili peppers are another common spice used in Chinese cooking.
These peppers have a strong, spicy flavor that is similar to cayenne pepper and they are often used in dishes from the Sichuan province in southwestern China. Chili peppers are used in dishes such as mapo tofu and kung pao chicken and they are also used to add heat to many other dishes.
Finally, our last notable Chinese cooking spice is five-spice powder. It is the star ingredient used in Chinese cooking and one that must not go unused.
This blend is made from a combination of spices such as star anise, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and fennel and it has a strong, spicy-sweet flavor. Five-spice powder is used in dishes such as braised pork belly and red-cooked beef and it is also used to add flavor to marinades and sauces.
Chinese cooking at home can be a lot of fun. Whether you’re with your partner, kids, friends, or family, coming together in the kitchen is a meaningful experience. Of course, cooking alone has its perks too.
Now that you have a fair list of Chinese cooking spices and a few tips to get you started, cooking this favorite cuisine on your own will be much easier. And you’ll be impressing your guests in no time at all.
Just remember that Chinese cuisine is full of rich flavors. The next time you want to try cooking a Chinese dish, be sure you have a few of these ingredients on hand and you’ll be on your way to never ordering takeout again.
Happy cooking! And follow us for more mom tips!