Basic ingredients – condiment, dry goods, Chinese herbs


I use dark sauce sauce for a rich dark color and moderate saltiness:

  • use it for fried rice and you will get a ‘fried’ color without overcooking the rice
  • use it for stir fry and your dish will look radiant; even better if you add a little corn flour and water mixture at the end of the cooking – it gives it extra shine.
  • use it for soup and it will give it a deeper flavor and color.

I use the Peal River Bridge brand mushroom dark soy sauce because I love its intense flavor. It contains sulfur dioxide as preservative and wheat.

I also use Lee Kum Kee premium dark soy sauce when the above is not available. It works beautifully  however it contains flavor enhancer (621,631,627), preservatives (202 potassium sorbate) and wheat.


Kikkoman soy sauce

I reckon you can put it in almost anything Asian and savory, instead of salt.

For day to day meals, I use naturally fermented soy sauce (Kikkoman).  Kikkoman has a mild flavor and not too salty. Kikkoman needs to be kept in the fridge as it contains no chemical preservatives. It uses alcohol as preservative.



Indonesia soy sauce – dark sweet, thick. I don’t like it – the addition of palm sugar did not do it for me.



Oyster sauce

Oyster sauce is my best friend – it goes with nearly everything. It is sweet, salty, moist, with an intense flavor that will form the base of a gorgeous sauce.


Sesame oil
Sesame oil

Sesame oil is a must have if you want to please your guest – it goes with nearly everything. It has a strong and beautiful nutty flavor.


I do not like Chinese dark vinegar –  it is too woody for my taste.  I don’t dip my dumplings in vinegar. When a dish calls for a dark vinegar, I use balsamic instead.

I use either rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar for pickles and as the base for fish sauce mix.


Viet Huong Fish sauce

I like to use fish sauce with garlic, chili and sugar.  I use it for stir fry, dipping sauce, and salad dressing. My favorite brand is the Squid brand and it comes in a large size.


Hoi Sin sauce

Very commonly uses in Chinese cooking as a lazy sauce .  This thick and rick sauce can be too sweet and over powering, which can be complimented by some fresh salad.  I use it for the Chicken San Choy Bao.


Gochujang is an Korean chili soy bean paste. Keep one of these Korean Gochujang in your fridge to spice up your meal – salad, noodles, meat stir fry, meat BBQ, or even on boiled eggs.


Korean Pepper Powder

Most Korean pepper powder is quite hot, but you can choose a mild one.  I use it to make a spicy Korean radish and Kim Chi.  I like to keep the marinated radish or kim chi in the freezer in a sealed bag.  It spices up my noodle soups, stir fries, salad whenever I feel like to.


Chinese mushrooms for garlic chive pancake
Chinese mushrooms

Dry mushrooms can be use for soups, dumpling fillings, stew, tir fry and hot pots.  The picture above illustrate a pack of inexpensive dry mushrooms which I use for a chicken broth.


Wood Ear
Wood Ear

Word Ear is a wonderful fungus that is very versatile. It is crunchy and has a mild taste, hence it adds texture and not in conflict with other flavors.  It can be used in dumpling fillings, soups (for example, Hot and Sour Soup), stir fries and hot pots.  Before use, soak in warm water for 15 minutes to soften.


Dry Tofu Sticks
Dry Tofu Sticks

Dry tofu sticks can be use in stir fries, stew / hot pots. Before use, it needs to be soften by soaking in very warm water for about 15 minutes. It is quite bland and it goes well with oyster sauce and sesame oil.


Lily buds is a perfect companion for Chinese mushroom in a stew. Before use, soak in warm water for 15 minutes before use and squeeze out the excess water.  Try steam chicken pieces with lily bud and oyster sauce – you will enjoy the tender meat & the wonderful tasty sauce! Lily buds can also be used in stir fry.


Shallot (Scallion)

Commonly used as flavor enhancer & garnish, green shallot is often referred to as simply  ‘shallot’ or ‘scallion’.  It can be easier regrow by simply planting 2 inches of the ends (with roots) into soil, and water regularly.

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