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The 10 Basic Ingredients for Chinese Cooking


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So here are the top 10 basic ingredients that you need. They’re all available from your local supermarket. It’s not an rigid list so if you don’t like, say, beansprouts swap this for a vegetable that you do like.

This list does not include salt and oil (because we all have that) here are the top 10 basic ingredients that you need.


Long Grain Rice

An obvious one but Chinese cannot go without rice, even boiled rice. You could fry boiled rice to make fried rice or alternatively if you make a saucy dish, like chicken and mushrooms, boiled rice works just as well alongside it.

Click the image above for our Rice recipes.


Plain Noodles

Some days you feel like rice and some days you feel like noodles. What’s good about keeping either one is that they last a long time and they don’t need to go in the fridge. Look at our Noodle Guide for which one you prefer.

Click the image above for our Noodle recipes.


Soy Sauce

Used for seasoning as well as to colour and brown your dishes. An essential ingredient, keep a bottle in stock at all times. Here’s the differences between light and dark soy sauce:

  • Light Soy Sauce - Light soy sauce is (confusingly) more salty. You would generally use light soy sauce for things like marinating meat.
  • Dark Soy Sauce - Dark Soy Sauce is much richer and sweeter. You would generally use dark soy sauce to colour your dish and making it browner.


Spring Onions

Spring onions are great for garnishing and giving that extra flavour. The whites of the spring onions can easily replace a proper onion if you are running out. Use it in the same way and fry it with some garlic. The greens of spring onions can be used for garnishing.


Garlic cloves

Garlic forms the basis of flavour for a lot of Chinese dishes. Having a bulb or two around wouldn’t hurt. Normally it is crushed and chopped finely and placed into hot oil to infuse the oil with garlic before frying other ingredients.


Frozen meat in freezer

Having chicken breast or beef strips in the freezer can be handy. Whip them out to defrost the day before you want to cook and you can have an instant Chinese meal. We like to buy a pack of, say chicken breasts, and cling film each breast individually and leave them in the freezer.



Another ingredient that lasts for ages, corn flour is really useful to thicken your sauce for your dishes as well as creating a batter for deep frying.



This can be replaced by some other veg that you prefer, but adding some beansprouts to your dish will give a crunchy texture. Whether you add it to a stir fry or noodles it adds a little more to the story of your dish.


Sesame oil

Sometimes we like to add a drop of sesame oil to a stir fry or noodle soup. It has a lovely flavour and we can’t get enough of it.



Although we may not use ginger as much as the other ingredients, it’s still a really useful thing to have on hand. Whether it’s adding a slice to some noodle soup, or adding it to a stir fry, it can create a lovely flavour to your meal.

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