Ingredients and Spices for the Wok
Chili powder: Used often in Cantonese cuisine. Consists of dried, ground red chili peppers. Can be replaced with chili flakes for wok dishes.
Chili pastes: Made from tomatoes, onions, chili, oil, tamarind, garlic, sugar, salt, spices and vinegar. Some also contain shrimp paste. Different varieties are available at Asian groceries.
5-spice powder: A special blend of spices used exclusively in Chinese cuisine. Made of cloves, star anise, Sichuan pepper, fennel and cinnamon. Use sparingly when cooking in a wok, because they can crowd out other, lighter flavours.
Miso: A paste made from fermented soybeans. An important main ingredient of Japanese soups, sauces and marinades. Comes in colours such as white, yellow, red and various shades of brown.
Rice flour: Available in fine, medium-fine and coarsely-ground varieties. Used as a binding agent for noodles, sweet dishes and pastry, or as a coating for roasted and deep-fried fare from the wok.
Sambal oelek: A spicy paste made from chopped fresh red chili peppers, together with sugar, salt and vinegar or tamarind. Used particularly in Indonesian cuisine.
Sesame oil: An aromatic Asian oil made from roasted sesame seeds. Can be used together with other oils for stir-frying or in a wok. However, it is usually drizzled over the food at the end of the cooking process, due to its especially strong taste.
Tofu: Tofu is made from yellow soybeans, which are previously soaked, ground, mixed with water and briefly boiled, until a solid mass is created.
Gow gee wrappers: Round dough pieces made of wheat flour and water. Used mostly for steamed wok dishes.
Wasabi: A paste made from the root of the wasabi plant. Is often referred to as "Japanese horseradish".
Lemon grass: A favorite in Thai kitchens. Available fresh or ground. Essential for wok dishes.