chinese spices question
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:
--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.
I myself just use the following (and so does my mom):
Rice wine vinegar
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!
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.