Chinese Cooking - Ingredient Substitutions
It can be so frustrating. You're all set to impress friends and family with your wok cooking skills. Everything is going along smoothly, until you check the cupboard and discover that the five-spice powder you were positive was tucked behind the sage has disappeared.
What can you do? First, don't despair. Of all the international cuisines, Chinese cuisine is probably the most open to creative solutions born of need and circumstance. Many of the ingredients that we now see as integral to Chinese cuisine - such as fiery red chile peppers - weren't native to China, but introduced by other cultures. Why not try substituting another ingredient? The recipe's creator will never know, and you can still enjoy a tasty dish. The taste will not be quite as authentic, but that's okay.
Here are some food substitution suggestions for ingredients commonly used in Chinese cooking.
(An Asian gelatin substitute that doesn't require refrigeration)
|Bamboo Shoots||White cabbage|
|Bok choy||celery or Swiss chard|
|Chili Sauce||1 cup tomato sauce, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tbsp. vinegar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, dash of ground cloves and allspice**|
|Chinese five-spice powder||Equal amounts cinnamon, star anise, cloves, fennel, and Szechuan Peppercorn. If Szechuan peppercorns aren't available, use freshly ground black peppercorns|
|Cilantro or Coriander (Chinese parsley)||Parsley (for decoration only, not taste) Can add dash lemon juice|
|Coconut Milk||whole milk in equal amounts, if possible with coconut extract. For coconut cream, substitute half and half or whipping cream (with coconut extract if possible).|
(used in Thai Cooking)
|Fresh Ginger||Candied ginger|
|Garlic Cloves||1/8 tsp. garlic powder|
||Equal amounts ketchup and molasses
Also, sweet bean sauce
|Hot Red Chili||Crushed red pepper|
(Used in Thai Cooking)
|Zest of a lemon|
|Lotus Root flour||Cornstarch (Cornflour)|
|Mushrooms ( Straw, Clouds Ear)||Fresh mushrooms (the taste will be different)|
|Oyster Sauce||Soy sauce|
|Rice Wine Vinegar (also called Rice Vinegar)||Dry sherry, white wine vinegar, malt vinegar|
|Sesame Oil||1 Tbs. Sesame seeds fried in 1/2 cup vegetable oil|
|Soy Sauce||Japanese tamari or Worchester sauce.|
|Water Chestnut||Jicama (commonly found in the Southern United States)|
**From the Kansas State University site
Below are recipes for some popular Chinese sauces - making your own is one way to ensure you'll never be caught short-handed!
This Week's Recipes
Hoisin Dipping Sauce
Hot Pepper Oil
Peanut Dressing - Asian (made with peanut butter and coconut milk)
Peanut Sauce - with mint and cilantro
Sweet and Sour Sauce
Sweet and Sour Fish Sauce (Vietnamese)
Any comments, questions, or suggestions? Please send me an email.