Ingredients and spices

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Chilli powder: Used extensively in Cantonese cooking. Consists of ground, dried red chilli peppers. You may substitute chilli flakes instead.


Chilli pastes: Made from tomatoes, onions, chilli, oil, tamarind, garlic, sugar, salt, spices and vinegar. Some varieties also contain prawn paste. Various kinds are available from Asian stores.


5-spice powder:
A special mix of spices which is only found in Chinese cooking. It consists of cloves, star anise, Sichuan pepper, fennel and cinnamon. Use sparingly, since it masks other, lighter flavours.


Miso: Paste made from fermented soy beans. A major basic ingredient in Japanese soups, sauces and marinades. Ranges in colour from white through yellow and light brown to brown and red.


Rice flour: Fine, medium and coarse-milled varieties are available. Used as a binding agent for noodles, sweet dishes and baked goods or as a coating for fried and deep-fried dishes.


Sambal Oelek:
A spicy paste made from chopped fresh red chilli peppers with sugar, salt and vinegar or tamarind. Widely used in Indonesian cooking.


Sesame oil:
Aromatic Asian oil made from toasted sesame seeds. Can be used with other oils in stir-fried dishes. However, it is usually drizzled over the dish once cooking is complete, since it has a very strong flavour.


Tofu: Tofu is made from yellow soy beans which have first been soaked, crushed, mixed with water and briefly boiled to produce a solid mixture.


Gow-gee skins: Round pieces of dough made from wheat flour and water. Normally used for steamed dishes.


Wasabi: Paste made from the root of the wasabi plant. Often called Japanese horseradish.


Lemon grass:
One of the favourite ingredients of Thai cuisine. Available fresh or powdered.