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Asian Kosher Ingredient List

-- From http://www.kashrus.org

The various methods of Asian cooking allow for the easy substitution of ingredients, so keep this in mind when planning your menu. Buy the freshest ingredients and best quality products you can find, but remember that you can also improvise with whatever you might have on hand. For the occasional dish that requires a special ingredient not readily available, choose a substitute that will retain the character of the dish as much as possible. For example, the crunchy, slightly sweet white flesh of jicama, a tuber from Mexico that is becoming more popular here, is an excellent substitute for fresh or canned water chestnuts. Use kohlrabi in place of bamboo shoots and chicken for veal or turkey, or interchange beef and lamb.

Once you understand the cooking methods and the general character of the recipes, feel free to experiment. I have divided the ingredients used in Asian cooking into the following categories:

All these ingredients can be found in Online Asian stores, supermarkets, Asian groceries and health food stores. You can also try the ingredients from Recipe Archive.

Asian Flavorings

Asian flavorings are created from a variety of sauces and seasonings, which are listed below.

Chicken Broth
Kosher chickens make excellent broth. Many stir fry recipes in these pages require a few tablespoons of chicken broth. Since home-made chicken broth is superior to any of the canned kosher varieties, make your own and freeze it in ice cube trays. Keep the broth cubes in a plastic bag in the freezer and use them as needed.

Cinnamon Stick
The Asians use the cinnamon flavoured brown bark of the cassia tree. It is found in Asian groceries and is thinner than the cinnamon stick usually found in supermarkets, but either one may be used.(kosher without supervision only if it is in the pure stick or powder form)

This fresh herb from the parsley family is also called Chinese parsley or cilantro. It has a distinctive, almost medicinal flavour and is used in fillings and as a garnish for soups and fish dishes. Do not substitute ground coriander.(kosher without supervision only if it is in the fresh or pure form)

This fine, powdery starch made from corn is the most common thickening agent used in Chinese cooking. Cornstarch is added to a marinade to give the ingredients a smooth texture and allows the seasonings to adhere to the ingredients. When used for thickening, cornstarch is first dissolved in cold liquid and then added to hot food during the last stages of cooking. It must be cooked and stirred until the sauce thickens or forms a glaze. (kosher without supervision )

Dried Hot Chilli Peppers
Many varieties of dried hot chilli peppers can be found in Asian groceries and supermarkets, and their size and degree of spiciness differ. You may have to experiment with the kind and amount to find what suits your taste. They are used mainly in Sichuan dishes. I prefer the larger ones because they can be easily picked out of a prepared dish and not eaten.(kosher without supervision )

Dried Tangerine Peel
These sun dried peels are used to flavour master sauces. To dry your own, place tangerine peels on a flat baking pan in a slow oven (200 F.) until dry.(kosher without supervision only if it is only the peel without spices)

Duck Sauce
A sweet and pungent sauce made from assorted fruits, vinegar and sugar, duck sauce is served as a condiment with duck and meats. (kosher only with supervision )

Fermented Black Beans (Salted Black Beans)
These imported small black beans have been fermented and preserved in salt. I could not find any brand of fermented black beans with rabbinical approval, however I see no problem in them. They are an important spice in Chinese cooking and are a pure vegetable product sold packaged in Asian groceries. These beans are soft and chewy with a pungent aroma, and they add a delightful flavour to dishes cooked with minced garlic and fresh ginger and are especially good with stir fried beef or steamed fish. They can be stored indefinitely in the refrigerator in an airtight container.(Kosher without supervision but if there is one with supervision buy that one)

Five Spice Powder
This is a blend of ground star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds and Sichuan peppercorns. Like curry powder, the combination of spices can vary according to the manufacturer, however star anise is usually the flavour that stands out. Store in an airtight container. It is easy to make your own.(Kosher without supervision but if there is one with supervision buy that one)

Ginger is a plant that grows a chain of rhizomes, or underground stems. Used extensively in Asian cooking for its sharp, peppery, spicy flavour, fresh ginger "root" is especially good with fish. Choose an unblemished, firm piece with a smooth, shiny skin. The colour of the skin can vary from light tan to beige, while the colour of the interior varies from pale yellow to a yellowish green and its texture can be smooth and firm or woody. Usually, the lighter the skin colour, the younger the ginger piece; a woody texture indicates a very mature piece. Fresh ginger is peeled before using. The younger, less pungent ginger is best used in stir fried or steamed dishes while the harsher peppery mature ginger is good for braised dishes. It keeps best in the refrigerator vegetable compartment wrapped in a paper towel placed inside a plastic bag. Cut away any dried or mouldy parts to expose the fresh interior. Ground dried ginger cannot be substituted.(kosher without supervision only if it is in the fresh or pure form)

Hoisin Sauce
A thick, smooth, dark reddish brown bean sauce made with sugar, garlic and other spices, this has a spicy sweet taste that complements meat dishes and dumplings. Best known as the sauce served with Peking Duck, it is available in cans or jars, or you can make your own. It also makes a terrific barbecue sauce for chicken or beef.(kosher only with supervision )

Hot Bean Sauce
This sauce is a combination of hot chilli sauce and brown bean sauce. It is used in spicy Sichuan and Hunan dishes. (Kosher without supervision but if there is one with supervision buy that one)

Hot Chilli Oil
This is vegetable oil in which dried hot chilli peppers and other spices have been fried. When the oil becomes very spicy, the spices are removed and the oil transferred to an airtight jar. The hot oil is serves a condiment at the table or stirred into a dish during the final stages of cooking.(kosher only with supervision )

Hot Chilli Sauce
This fiery sauce is made from crushed dried hot chillies, sweet red peppers and soy sauce. If you like Sichuan or Hunan food, this sauce is essential. It is available in jars or you can make your own.(kosher only with supervision )

Hot Mustard Powder
Hot mustard powder is ground mustard seeds. It makes a very spicy condiment when combined with equal amounts of water and stirred until smooth. Serve it with egg rolls or dumplings or add it to salad dressing.(kosher without supervision )

Kosher Salt
A course grain salt used for koshering meat and cooking. I prefer to use kosher salt when cooking because less salt is needed to make a dish tasty. If you are using a fine grain salt, use less than the recipe indicates and, of course, whichever salt you use, do so to suit your own taste. (kosher without supervision )

Madras Curry Powder
This curry powder is kosher and readily available from Durkee and Sharwoods(English).Plain Madras Curry Powder can be bought without rabbinical supervision as it is mixture of pure spices. (kosher without supervision from India and Thailand. The ones made in America are not reliable for Kosher unless it has Rabbinical supervision.)

Master Sauce
This spicy concentrated sauce or marinade is known as Lu in Chinese. There are two types of master sauce: one is made with spices, rice wine, sugar and soy sauce and is called Brown Master Sauce ; the other is made with the same ingredients except for the soy sauce, for which salt is substituted, and is called White Master Sauce. Different kinds of meats or fowl can be cooked simply by immersing in either a Brown or White Master Sauce and simmering until done. Food prepared this way is always 2 cooked whole or in large chunks and is served cut up and at room temperature. This method of cooking is perfect for meals that must be cooked in advance, such as for Shabbat. Food cooked in a Brown Master Sauce is lighter in flavour than that which is red cooked (stewed in soy sauce). (kosher only with supervision )

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
A chemical food enhancer in the form of white granules that look like coarse salt. The Asians have used it for centuries to deepen and bring out the natural flavours of foods. Used in a very small amount, it can add a sparkle to the taste of a dish. However, if used in, large amounts, MSG can cause severe allergic reactions when ingested. If top quality, fresh ingredients are used, MSG is not necessary, so I do not include it in any of the recipes in this book.(kosher without supervision)

Corn, safflower, soy or peanut oil are all excellent for Asian cooking, since these oils do not have a strong flavour. Olive oil is too strong and is never used. Peanut oil is often used in Asian recipes, but I prefer the lighter flavour of corn oil and have used it to test the recipes in this book. In China, soybean oil is more widely used because it is most available. Used oil can be saved, but strain it through several layers of cheesecloth and store it in the refrigerator. Discard frying oils that have darkened in colour, that flow more slowly than they did originally, or that foam to the top of the pot when you put the food in. Store unused oils in a cool place.(kosher only with supervision )

Rice Wine
Because rice wine is a grain product, it can be used in the kosher kitchen. The best substitute is dry, kosher white wine.(kosher without supervision )

Rock Sugar
Rock sugar is crystallised raw sugar. Its flavour is more mellow and not as sweet as refined sugar. It is used in braised dishes and in the master sauce. It is available in Asian groceries.dry, kosher white wine.(kosher without supervision )

A scallion is a young onion with long green stems and a small white bulb at the root end. Because of its crisp, sharp fresh taste and its bright green and white colour, it is used extensively in Chinese cooking. The recipes in this book use both the green stem and white bulb unless specified.(kosher without supervision only if it is in the fresh or pure form)

Sesame Oil
Oriental sesame oil made from roasted sesame seeds has a dark orange hue and a strong, nutty, slightly smoky flavour. Use it sparingly as a flavouring, but never use it for cooking, since it burns easily. Store in a cool place or in the refrigerator.(kosher only with supervision )

Sesame Paste
Roasted sesame seeds are ground into a paste. Peanut butter can be used as a substitute. Do not use tahini, which is made from unroasted sesame seeds, because the taste is different.(kosher only with supervision)

Sichuan Peppercorns
These dried, reddish, aromatic berries are slightly peppery and give a numbing sensation to the tongue. They have a strong, distinct aroma when roasted and are used whole or crushed into a powder .(kosher without supervision only if it is in the fresh or pure form)

Soy Sauce
Brewed from fermented soybeans, wheat, salt, sugar and yeast, soy sauce is the most important flavouring in Chinese cuisine. It is salty and tangy in flavour and is dark brown almost black in colour. There are two main kinds of imported soy sauces available light (thin) or dark (black). Both kinds are used for cooking; however, the light soy sauce is saltier than the black and is preferred for dipping. Imported soy sauces are better than approved domestic brands because the flavour is deeper, richer and more consistent. Some of the kosher brands are not even made from soybeans. La Choy and Kikkoman the best brands.(kosher without supervision only if it is pure soya sauce without any added flavouring)

Star Anise
Its name is derived from the eight seed pods that come together m the shape of a star. Its liquorice flavour is not unlike aniseed, and it is used to flavour braised dishes and the master sauce. Remove the star anise from the dish before serving, since it is not to be eaten. Store in an air tight jar.(kosher without supervision only if it is in the fresh or pure form)

White Pepper
Asians prefer ground white pepper because of its penetrating, potent flavour.(kosher without supervision only if it is in the fresh or pure form)

Vegetables and Vegetable Products

Green leafy Vegetables such as bok choy and Chinese mustard greens used in cooking are from the cabbage family. Stir fried or cooked in soups for a short time so that they retain their bright colour, crispness and vitamins. Chinese cabbages are a good source of calcium.

Bamboo Shoots
Bamboo shoots are cream coloured and shaped like small pine cones. There are several kinds of bamboo shoots. I recommend the winter variety for its firm texture and flavour. They are cut into large pieces and canned in water. (kosher without supervision but it has to be canned without any preservatives or fresh)

Bean Curd
It is a pure Vegetable Product made from ground dried soya beans and water, to which a coagulant, gypsum powder is added to curdle the mixture. Bean curd, which the Chinese have eaten for centuries is a high quality, complete vegetable protein. It is totally free of cholesterol. It is available in supermarkets and Asian groceries. It texture can be soft and custard-like, medium firm, very firm or even grainy, depending on how is processed and how much water is retained. Many supermarket have them with rabbinical approval. Bean curd tends to spoil quickly, especially if it is not refrigerated; when it does, a strong sour odour and taste are apparent. To store loose bean curd, place it in a container, cover with cold water, top with an airtight lid and refrigerate. If you are keeping the bean curd more than a day or two, change the water daily. (kosher without supervision but it has to be bought in a commercially sealed packet and not the fresh store ones.)

Bean Sprouts
Bean sprouts are the tender shoots of the mung bean. They are long, pearly white sprouts with tiny yellow bean heads. When fresh they are crunchy and have a sweet taste. Prepare them promptly within a day or two because they lose flavour quickly. (kosher without supervision when bought fresh)

Bok Choy
Bok choy has a bright green leaf and a chalky white stalk with small yellow flowers. Some have short, thick stalks while others have long, narrow stalks, but they all have more or less the same shape. They are available throughout the year in Asian groceries and supermarkets. (kosher without supervision but it has to be bought fresh and checked for bugs.)

Chinese Cabbage (Napa Cabbage or Celery Cabbage)
This pale green cabbage is available all year. There are two kinds: one long and narrow, and the other shorter and rounder. The Chinese prefer the shorter, rounder cabbage because it is sweeter and more tender, but the long, narrow one is more common in supermarkets. (kosher without supervision but it has to be bought fresh and checked for bugs.)

Chinese Mustard Greens
Sold only in Asian groceries, these greens have thick smooth stems with crisp swirling leaves and a strong, pungent, slightly bitter mustard flavour. They are delicious in soups or stir fried with meat.(kosher without supervision but it has to be bought fresh and checked for bugs.)

Daikon (Chinese Radish)
A large, long, tapered, sweet and juicy radish that can be eaten raw or cooked and is available in most markets.(kosher without supervision but it has to be bought fresh and checked for bugs.)

Fresh Hot Chilli Peppers
I used fresh Anaheim hot green peppers . They are long and narrow, about the size of a small parsnip, and slightly twisted; they can be mild or very hot. If it is not indicated, you can ask the grocer about their spiciness or you might taste one yourself.(kosher without supervision but it has to be bought fresh .)

Oriental Eggplant (Banana Eggplant)
Long and narrow, these eggplants are sweeter and have fewer seeds than the common thicker variety.(kosher without supervision but it has to be bought fresh )

Seasoned Pressed Bean Curd
Fresh bean curd is pressed to remove much of the water, then simmered in soy sauce and spices. (recipe found on the Chinese page)(kosher only with supervision or home-made.)

Snow Peas
Unlike peas that are shelled, these peas have thin, edible pods. They are delicious blanched or stir fried. Although thought to be Chinese in origin, there is some evidence that snow peas were first cultivated in Europe. The Cantonese name for them is ho man dow, or "Holland bean."(kosher without supervision .)

Taro Root
A starchy tuber, taro is often deep fried or cooked with duck because it absorbs the fat and flavour without becoming greasy. Shredded, it can be deep fried into the shape of a basket. It is dark brown, nappy, and barrel shaped with a faint chestnut-like flavour. Peel before using.(kosher without supervision .)

Water Chestnuts
Water chestnuts, available mostly in Asian markets, are not part of the chestnut family. They look like muddy little tulip bulbs, with black skin and crisp white sweet flesh, and taste almost like a crisp apple. They must be peeled before using. The canned are flavourless by comparison, so it is worth the expense and effort to use the fresh whenever possible. If you can't find the fresh, use the canned or substitute jicama, a tuber that also has a crisp white flesh and can be found in Asian and Latin markets and some supermarkets. Fresh water chestnuts bruise and spoil easily, so choose the very hard ones with no soft spots. Free of any blemishes, fresh water chestnuts will keep for weeks in the refrigerator vegetable compartment. Peeled, they can be frozen raw for a month or so.(kosher without supervision but is has to be canned without any preservatives.)

Winter Melon
A member of the squash family, this large melon has a hard outer light green skin that is coated with a chalky white powder. It is usually cooked in soup. The flesh becomes transparent and soft when cooked and has a subtle taste that is enriched with the flavour of chicken broth. It is found in Asian markets and sold by the pound in wedges. Store loosely wrapped in the refrigerator to prevent spoiling.(kosher without supervision .)

Dried Products

Most Chinese packaged dried products, such as plants or noodles, have been sun dried.

Agar agar
This gelatinous substance is derived from seaweed. It is a pure plant product and comes as a powder, in long rectangular blocks, or in thin sticks. Some of the powdered brands have rabbinical approval. The thin strips are soaked in cold water to soften and are used in salads. Agar agar dissolves in hot or boiling water and is used to make gelatin. Stored in a dry place, it will keep for months.(kosher without supervision .)

Black Mushrooms
Dried black mushrooms come in varying price depending on the quality. They have a distinctive, slightly earthy flavour and a chewy texture. The more expensive ones are thicker and have a richer, more intense flavour. You can store dried mushrooms indefinitely in a clean, dry, covered jar. Soak them in warm water until soft (about 30 minutes) before using. The thicker mushrooms require longer soaking than do the thin ones, so soak them the night before and refrigerate.(kosher without supervision .)

Cellophane Noodles (Bean Threads)
These dried thin noodles are made from mung bean flour. They become transparent when braised, hence the name cellophane. They become very crisp when deep fried.(kosher without supervision but is has to be made of plain ingredients like water salt, bisulphate's, rice or wheat .)

Glutinous Rice (Sweet Rice)
This round, short grain rice becomes sticky and somewhat gummy when cooked. It is used mostly for stuffing or fried rice. You can find it in Asian markets.(kosher without supervision .)

Chinese prefer long grain rice cooked plain either boiled or steamed and it is served with every meal. It is the staple of the southern Chinese diet, while in the north, because of the cold climate and shorter growing season, wheat is used more than rice. Fried Rice is made with leftover rice.(kosher without supervision .)

Rice Noodles
Thin, dried rice noodles are made from rice flour and can be found in Asian groceries. These noodles come in two thickness: one is the size of cellophane noodles and the other even thinner. You need only to soak them in water before stir frying with other foods. The noodles are sold in one pound packages separated into four bundles.(kosher without supervision but is has to be made of plain ingredients like water salt, bisulphate's, rice or wheat .)

Tiger Lily Buds
(Golden Needles) These dried, pale golden lily buds are delicate in flavour, used mostly for texture, and are often combined with tree ears. They must be soaked in boiling water before being added to a dish. They are good in steamed or stir fried dishes and in soups.(kosher without supervision .)

Tree Ears
They are also called black fungus, wood ears or cloud ears, depending on their size. When soaked in warm water, they triple in bulk. Tree ears should be washed thoroughly after soaking and any foreign matter removed. Like tiger lily buds, they are used mostly for texture.(kosher without supervision.)

Fresh Noodles and Wrappers

Egg Noodles Fresh or dried noodles are made from wheat flour, eggs and water. If fresh, they are kept in the refrigerated section of Chinese grocery stores or the produce section of supermarkets. They can be refrigerated for two days or frozen up to three weeks.(kosher without supervision but is has to be made of plain ingredients like water salt, bisulphate's, rice or wheat .)

Egg Roll Wrappers
These are large square sheets of fresh egg noodle dough, found in the refrigerated section of Chinese grocery stores. They can be refrigerated for two days or frozen for three weeks.(recipe found on the Chinese page) (kosher without supervision but is has to be made of plain ingredients like water salt, bisulphate's, rice or wheat .)

Rice Noodle Sheets
Fresh or dried rice noodles are made from ground rice and water spread on a flat surface and steamed into sheets. Rice noodle sheets are found in Chinese grocery stores; they must be kept refrigerated. (recipe found on the Chinese page)(kosher without supervision but is has to be made of plain ingredients like water salt, bisulphate's, rice or wheat .)

Spring Roll Wrappers
Fresh spring roll wrappers are thin wheat crepes found in the refrigerated section of Chinese grocery stores. They are much thinner than egg roll wrappers and can be refrigerated (for two days) or frozen (for three weeks).(recipe found on the Chinese page)(kosher without supervision but is has to be made of plain ingredients like water salt, bisulphate's, rice or wheat .)

Wonton Wrappers
These are small squares of fresh egg noodle dough found in the refrigerated section of Chinese grocery stores or in supermarkets. They must be refrigerated or frozen. (recipe found on the Chinese page)(kosher without supervision but is has to be made of plain ingredients like water salt, bisulphate's, rice or wheat .)


All of the recipes in this pages can be prepared without any of the Asian utensils described below. For instance, a chef's knife can be used instead of a cleaver, or you can stir fry in a skillet rather than a wok, but using a Chinese cleaver for cutting and a wok for cooking ensures preparation will be faster and cooking easier with better results. Once you become adept at using these utensils you will find you can't cook without them!

Chopping Board
The chopping board is an important tool because Chinese cooking requires so much cutting. I recommend a large wooden one 16 x 10 x 11/2 inches. Also, the thickness of the wood as well as the material itself cushions the cutting, making you less tired. I keep mine clean by scrubbing it with detergent after each use.

Chinese Cleaver
Since most ingredients are cut into bite size pieces, more time is spent cutting than cooking. It's important to cut the ingredients of each dish into approximately the same size and shape so they will absorb seasonings and cook evenly. Obtaining a good cleaver, and learning how to use it properly, makes chopping much easier. Good quality cleavers are made of stainless steel or a combination of carbon and stainless steel. I prefer the combination because it holds an edge well and always looks sleek and clean. They cost a bit more but are well worth it. The most useful size is a cleaver

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