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Feb 15, 2012 07:01 AM

How do you stock your Chinese kitchen?

What do you always have on hand to prepare Chinese food day-to-day? Here are mine:

Non-perishables: white rice, light and dark soy sauces, cooking wine, black and rice vinegars, dried shitake mushrooms, wood ear mushroom, sesame oil and paste, canned bamboo shoots, pork floss, dried tofu skin, dried rice vermicelli, star anise, five spice powder, cornstarch, MSG

Perishables: Firm tofu, at least two bunches of various greens, some kind of white fish, pork loin, ground pork, xiang chang sweet sausage, frozen tofu skin pork rolls, frozen pot stickers, red chiles, ginger, garlic, scallions, cilantro.

Equipment: carbon steel pan, soup pot, rice cooker, light cleaver, heavy cleaver.

Oh yeah, my family is originally from Taiwan. I would like to see your Chinese kitchen staples; to make things interesting, please also state your regional origins. Non-Chinese please also feel welcome to reply.

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  1. It looks like you got it well covered. I also stock fermented black beans or if you want to cheat ready made black bean sauce (like Lee Kum).

    BTW my familiy is originally from mainland China.

    1 Reply
    1. re: CCDiner

      Black bean sauce is a definite plus, as is mushroom soy sauce. I like Chinese black vinegar. After you use it when it is called for, no substitute works.
      Dried orange peel.
      I use a dumpling mold (never learned to fold them properly).
      I grow Chinese chives out back in the summer.
      Wire skimmer for getting food out of hot oil.
      1. Bear and Fish Family
      2. Martin Yan Chinatown
      3. Barbara Tropp (Modern Art gets used. China Moon does not)
      4. Occidental Tourist (tea brined chicken)
      5. Shun Lee
      6. Blue Ginger
      7. Steamy Kitchen
      8. Ching De Huang
      9. Blue Eye Dragon

      Wife is Taiwanese. i lived, worked and cooked there for a few years

    2. Not sure "stock" is the right word, but these are the things I find to be essential:

      Soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, oyster sauce, garlic, ginger, white pepper, MSG, sesame oil, corn (or peanut) oil, scallions.

      As far as equipment, I don't find it necessary to have, say, a wok. It would be nice, but not necessary. Just give me a good deep-enough fry pan and I can make do -- either for a stir-fry, or a quick soup, or even making rice. Same with cutlery.

      1. I'm a non-Chinese Asian, but I cook Chinese frequently and keep pretty much the same ingredients as you but also have hoisin, fermented black beans, oyster sauce, laoganma, tahini, Sichuan pepper corns, doubanjiang, Sriracha, chili oil and spiced tofu on hand. The condiments are especially handy in making a quick sauce for stir fries and putting together a delicious dinner in under 30 minutes if I've done my prep work properly.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JungMann

          Just remembered that I also keep master stock in the freezer for poaching chicken or pork.

        2. Teochew/Peranakan from Singapore originally: jasmine rice, light and dark soy sauces, black vinegar, dried shitake mushrooms, sesame oil, oyster sauce, fish sauce, black bean sauce, Sichuan chilli black bean sauce, chili sauce, chili paste, white pepper, cornstarch, sambal belacan, coconut milk, at least 5 types of dried egg, rice and wheat noodles and vermicelli, fried shallots.

          Perishables: silken tofu, fried tofu (at least 2 different varieties), tofu "puffs", greens, garlic, scallions, cilantro, red chiles, fish balls, fish paste, white fish, ground pork.

          Convenience food: packaged mixes and pastes for assam laksa, laksa lemak, mapo tofu, prawn mee, curry maifun. Instant noodles.

          Equipment: rice cooker

          1. A good go-to book is Chinese Kitchen by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo

            Two more things I always have on hand is waterchestnut powder and spicy chili paste with garlic

            5 Replies
            1. re: ctfoodguy

              What do you use water chestnut powder for?

              1. re: RealMenJulienne

                Dredging items to be deep fried especially chicken wings. It gives them a great crunchy coating

              2. re: ctfoodguy

                Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think water chestnut starch is typically from the "water caltrop" (which can be called water-chestnut, but is not the same thing we usually think of when people talk about water chestnuts in the context of Chinese cooking -- 菱角 vs 荸薺 / 馬蹄, though I think you can buy starch made from both).

                Despite the connection with 菱, I'm pretty sure líng fěn (菱粉) gets used to refer to a range of different types of starches in a generic way.

                Some thoughts in

                I am guessing that different starches are more common in one region or the other; the exact potency varies, and there are probably some subtle differences, but I don't know that you need to keep more than 2-3 kinds around. I usually have sweet potato starch (used a lot in Fujianese cooking, and a bit more uneven / coarse texture) and potato starch around.

                1. re: will47

                  Wow, thanks for the great link! There's even a Char Siu Bao cookoff thread there that was tailor-made for me. :)

                  Following on ctfoodguy's recommendation, during my trip to Fubonn on Monday, I bought a 1/4 kilo box of "Pure Water Chestnut Flour". It was in the same area as the bagged starches. The box says this is a "Speciality of Patang, Guangzhou". When I shake the box it sounds like there's something granular in it, rather than powdery, if that adds anything to the discussion. (I haven't broken the shrinkwrap on it yet.)

                  1. re: RelishPDX

                    waterchestnut flour IS granular Much moreso than , say, cornstarch. That's what adds to the crunchiness of the foods dredged in it