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chinese spices question

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pshah2020 Mar 11, 2008 11:48 AM

Hello, I am not necessarily new to cooking, but after moving in with my meat-eating boyfriend (i am vegetarian), I have become more motivated to cook different foods, etc. He LOVES chinese, and well, I am willing to try new recipes and new things, but wanted to first get some ideas on what are the most essential chinese spices I should buy. I did a little bit of brief research and found:

--Chinese 5-spice
--white pepper
--sizhuan peppercorns
--cassia bark
--paprika
--sesame seeds
--hot red pepper flakes
--what about coriander or fennel or cloves? I see that sometimes too.

Am I missing any and/or are any of these not really used that much (if so, I won't waste my money!)? I just want the most often used.

Thanks.

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  1. Miss Needle Mar 11, 2008 11:56 AM

    I think you've got a good list. I don't think coriander, fennel or cloves are integral to Chinese cuisine. Some recipes have them but not a lot.

    I think what's more important are items such as Chinese rice wine, ground bean sauce, salted black beans, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, etc. than the spices. My in-laws are Chinese from the Canton area (and have owned a few Chinese restaurants in the past). I think the only thing they have on your list is white pepper and sesame seeds.

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    1. The Chowhound Team Mar 11, 2008 12:01 PM

      We're locking this thread, as there are two of them and the other has more responses. Please respond here:

      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49806...

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        eefoodgeek Mar 11, 2008 12:01 PM

        I myself just use the following (and so does my mom):
        Fresh ginger
        Scallions
        Fresh garlic
        Soy sauce
        Rice wine vinegar
        Sesame oil

        I don't use any of the ones you've listed above. I do have star anise and rock sugar which come out occasionally for braised pork dishes, but maybe you could try out some spices first rather than buy whole bottles/jars. Whole Foods out here in California offers spices where you can purchase as little (one teaspoon) or as much (by the lb) as you like, which is good for experimenting!

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