A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Saffron
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It is the hand picked and dried stigmas of a flower. In Southeast Asia, it's only used by the Indians for its intense fragrance though it is also used by the Chinese as a medicine. It gives food a yellowish color but being the most expensive spice in the world it is only used sparingly.
Sago pearl
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Metroxylon sagu
Sago is a starch extracted from the trunk of various species of palms, but mainly from the sago palm just before it blooms and dies when starch storage is at its peak. Sago pearls are traditionally made from this starch but it is often made of tapioca starch nowadays. Briefly soak before use or the core will take hours to cook through.
Sausage (Chinese Sausages)
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Chinese sausages usually contain pork or liver, rice wine, sugar and various spices. Pork sausages are brighter red in color while those of liver are dark maroon. Contain a fair amount of fat depending on the manufacturer.
tianjinveg2.jpg - 8662 Bytes Salted cabbage, Dongcai
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Finely chopped salted cabbage usually come in an earthern pot and known in Chinese as Tianjin Dongcai (winter vegetable from Tianjin). It is often used to flavour soups, porridge and dry noodle dishes. May contain sand. Test out a piece to determine its saltiness before use. Rinse when necessary.
purple seaweed Seaweed, purple
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Porphyra purpurea
Better known as nori, the seaweed used for wrapper Japanese sushi, the Chinese use it mainly in soup and roasted as a garnish.
Sesame
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Sesamum indicum
Black sesame seeds are used mainly in desserts either whole or ground into a paste. White sesame seeds are used in desserts, snacks, salads and occasionally other dishes. Toast on hot pan and crush to intensify aroma.
Shallots
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Allium Cepa, aggregatum group
Those used in Southeast Asia are maroonish in color and small ideal for deep frying. Replacable by small onions, those with a stronger flavour are preferable. May be sprouted to use as spring onions.
Shrimps, dried
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Avoid overly red ones as they are dyed. Good dried shrimps has a present smell and does not contain shells.
Shrimp paste (Blacan)
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One of the special ingredients that give Southeast Asian cuisine its very special flavour. It is strong smelling, a little wet and saltish. Watch the amount of salt used in recipes that also require the use of blacan. Toast over fire on both sides to release its special aroma before use. Powdered ready to use type is also available. Keep well without refrigeration for months. The lighter pinkish type is not used for making sambal blacan.
silverfish.jpg - 9989 Bytes Silver fish (see also ikan bilis)
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The young of a several species of fish. It is somewhat salty and often used in omelette or deep fried as a side dish.
soursop
soursop
Soursop
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A thorny green fruit of American origin with creamy sweet and slightly sourish flesh. It is somewhat fibrous and contains many black seeds. Ripe fruit has a nice fragrant and just a little yellowish and a little soft to the touch. Usually sliced horizontally with skin intact, also makes a refreshing juice.
soya sauce Soya Sauce
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The are basically three types of soya sauce. The most common light soya sauce is saltish; dark soya sauce is fuller in taste and gives food a rich brown color often used in stew; sweet soya is very sweet, very thick and dark.
more about soya sauce
Chinse spinach Spinach, Chinese
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Some are green and some purple, a lovely vegetable.
Spring Onion
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One of the more popular garnishes often couple with coriander or giner. It may be sprouted from various species from the onion family. Some recipes require the use of only the white part, others only the green tip.
Star Anise
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Illicium verum
A pungent spice, it is usually used whole and remove before serving. Use sparingly as it could give an undesirable bitter flavour. Native to China, it's a major ingredient in five spice powder.
Note: This spice has some poisonous cousins (illicium simonsii, illicium anisatum, illicium religiosum, illicium japonicum, etc), make sure you buy it from reliable sources intended for cooking.
star fruit Star Fruit (see also blimbing asam)
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Averrhoa carambola
It has a fresh, somewhat sourish sweet flavour. The unripe fruit is very sourish and used to add sour taste to various dishes. Eaten as a fruit or in salads, it is effective against sore throat when made into juce and salt added. Usually cut lengthwise, it does not need to be peeled but the harder ridge and the core should be removed. Those greenish yellow ones have a fresh slight sourish sweet flavour and are much preferred. Those rippen orangy yellow ones are less sour but miss the tangy flavour desired of this fruit. Known as Carambola or Blimbing Manis in Indonesian.
brown sugar
red sugar
Sugar, brown and red
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Brown and red sugar are used in various ways, sometime to accompany snacks or to add colour to desserts and sweets.
sugar cane Sugar cane
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Sugar Cane is a grass native to Asia. The juice is a lovely drink and when boiled down, forms an unrefined sugar known in Indian as jaggery. It may be further processed into white sugar.
rock sugar Sugar, rock
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Crystallized blocks of sugar made from sugar cane used by the Chinese in sweet soups. Known in Chinese as bing tang, or ice sugar.
Sweet Potatoes
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Of tropica American origin, it is available in various colors and turn to yellow, orange or purple when cooked. Sometimes they're called yam in the US, but yam is used to refer to cocoyam in Singapore, or taro as it's sometimes called. Young, fat and heavy ones without shoots and roots are the better ones. It is used mainly in desserts and snacks and often added to rice and rice porridge. It was eaten as a staple or mixed with rice when rice was scarce in many parts of East Asia. Peel before use, peeled sweet potatoes might turn a little brownish. Cooked in about 10 minutes. Sliced sweet potatoes are often coated with a dough, deep fried and eaten as a snack. Mashed sweet potatoes are used for thickening in certain dishes such as mee rebus. Also popular in japan where it is used often in snacks.
Sweet Potatoes, leaves and flour
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The leaves of the sweet potatoes are used as a cheap but tasty vegetable. The flour is used for many snacks and desserts in Hokkien(South Eastern China, Fujian Province) cuisine. A much preferred thickening agent much like tapioca flour but has a much nicer flavour. It is not sweet.
Szechuan Pepper
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Not related to pepper but the dried berry of a plant of the citrus family. The spice consists of just the dried husk of the berry. It has a strong, sharp and minty flavour and a numbing effect which is the signature of szechuan dishes. Discard the black seed which is gritty when ground. Often used crushed and roasted. Szechuan pepper has many relatives, Zanthoxylum schinifolium? (photo left) is one which are sometimes used as a replacement and in regional cooking. Known in Chinese as Huajiao, in Japanese as Sansho and in Korean as Chopi.

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