Chinese ingredients include scallion, ginger, peppers, leeks, garlic scapes, coriander, shallots, Thai basil, and chili peppers to enhance flavor and aroma.
Chinese cooking is all about savory, fragrant, & aromatic dishes. Most Chinese cuisine includes scallions, chives, onions, & peppers. Without them, the dishes would be dry & bland.
These ingredients are vital for the various Chinese dishes people crave. However, the ingredients are not typically common. There are plenty of varieties to each of the major ingredients. You may become overwhelmed with these varieties. These Chinese ingredients are unique in their own ways. Each of them has uses in many distinctive dishes. You can’t substitute them with a similar ingredient.
If you do, you won’t get the desired taste, odor, or color from the dishes.
The below-mentioned ingredients are some of the most common aromatics used in Chinese food.
1. Scallions Or Green Onions
Scallions are the most famous onions in native China. People also call them green onions outside China. However, these onions are indigenous to Chinese, Asian, Mexican, & Cajun dishes.
People usually buy scallions in large quantities. These onions also grow well in the backyards of our houses. Scallions are incredible allium plants that play a significant role in savory dishes. They have two parts, namely green & white.
Both parts are edible. The green part gives a mild flavor & offers beautiful color when used as a garnish when used in the dishes. The white portion of scallions spread a sweet smell & flavor of onion when used in the dishes. Chefs use these two portions separately in the cuisines.
Some of the most famous dishes that use scallions are scallion pancakes, scallion ginger shrimps, etc.
In Asian countries, onions are called western onions because they mostly use scallions & large green onions. These onions are entirely different from scallions. A lot of people confuse onions with chives. But there are some major differences when you compare chives vs. green onions.
The chive stems are longer and more tender than onions. Their flavor is also milder.
They are round & mostly found in brown & red colors. As these regular onions (western onions) are not native to China, they only use them in western Chinese dishes like shrimp fried rice.
These plants are native to the USA & other western countries. However, the Chinese people often call it “syun,” which usually means green garlic. Leeks are a kind of vegetable that resembles green garlic & big onions.
Unlike scallions, the green part of leeks is slightly inedible. But the white part is edible & adds flavor to the dishes. The dark green part of the leeks becomes tender & sweet when people cook it in a hot wok using oil.
Leeks are the primary component of pepper steak, traditional Buddha’s Delight, & twice-cooked pork dishes.
4. Garlic Scapes
The Chinese people call the garlic scapes garlic flower buds or garlic hearts. Only the buds & stems are edible from these garlic scapes. The taste of garlic scapes is somewhat similar to the garlic. They are more prevalent in China than in the USA.
They are very tender & soft. However, these are a bit more expensive than regular garlic. People buy them in bulk in the summer season. These garlic scapes work amazingly with chunks of pork & julienne peppers.
Peel the skin if you want to use it in stir-fry dishes. This way, the taste will be intact & fine.
5. Ginger Or Ginger Root
Ginger or ginger roots are popular ingredients in Chinese & Indian dishes. Ginger brings out the subtle taste of seafood dishes.
Chinese people mostly use ginger in the steamed fish cuisines. However, you need to peel the skin of ginger before using it. You can slice it into pieces & store it in the refrigerator for future uses.
Famous dishes that use ginger are ginger scallion shrimp, ginger scallion crab, & ginger scallion lobster—the ginger flavor pairs well with shellfishes & sea fishes. Ginger has medicinal qualities too.
Shallots are one type of onions but more tender & potent. They give a milder flavor than regular onions. They are more expensive than scallions or green onions. Shallots are an indispensable component of the salad.
You can use shallots or onions, depending upon the availability & personal preferences. Fried rice tastes a lot better with shallots.
7. Chinese Chives
Chinese chives or garlic chives are the same. They deliver strong odor & have flat leaves. You can eat them raw or cook them. You can sprinkle raw chives over the top of anything or eat it with dips & sauces. However, Chinese chives are popular as vegetables rather than herbs.
Some familiar dishes of Chinese chives are pork chive dumplings, chive frittata, Taiwanese Cang Ying Tou, or stir fry dish, etc. The Chinese chive flowers are used in various juices & drinks too.
8. Cilantro Or Coriander
Mainly people use cilantro to decorate or garnish dishes like steamed fish dries or soups. Coriander is also a favorite ingredient of Mexican cuisines.
Whole steamed fish & noodle soups mainly use coriander for excellent fragrance.
9. Chinese Toon
Chinese toons are only available during spring & for a few weeks only. They spread a sweet floral flavor & have a purple tint. Cold dishes suit Chinese toast the most.
Salad & cold tofu appetizers smell & taste great if there is a Chinese toon present. Egg dishes & stir-fried egg dishes also use Chinese toons.
10. Thai Basil
Thai basils are a fragrant herb that is hard to track down. The most popular one that the Chinese use is a variety of Thai basil. This aromatic herb increases the taste of Thai basil shrimp fried dishes, Thai basil pesto pasta, & eggplant dishes enormously.
11. Long Green Hot Peppers
Green hot peppers are the most common, inexpensive, & available peppers for Chinese dishes. Sometimes, they taste delicious & mild, and sometimes they can unleash a sudden sweat storm due to being spicy.
Tigerskin pepper, Sichuan three pepper chicken & beef, and pepper stir-fry are some of the most famous dishes that use long green hot peppers.
The holy trinity of Chinese ingredients, namely scallions, ginger, & onion, increase the subtle taste note of many famous Chinese dishes. Many dishes will become sad & lifeless without these ingredients.