Asian Glossary

Bean Sprouts

A common ingredient in most Asian cuisine, sprouts are healthy, add an accent color and a crunch when added near the end the recipe preparation.

Bean Noodle Threads

Also known as cellophane or “glass” noodles, these thin noodles are made from mung bean flour. They will expand or “puff” when cooked in very hot oil, offering a crunchy texture and dramatic visual accent.

Black Bean Oil

Small, black soybeans fermented and highly salted. Can also be added to recipes whole or used as the basis to a sauce.

Blanch

The process of dipping food into boiling water. Be sure to dip vegetables into cold water immediately after blanching to stop the cooking process and maintain color and texture.

Chinese Mushrooms

Chinese mushrooms are often used in soups and stir fry dishes. Texture can range from crunch to “jelly” depending on cooking techniques.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk refers to the liquid extracted from the grated flesh of the coconut, (not the liquid inside a coconut). Coconut milk adds a sweet taste and creamy consistency to sauces and is frequently an important part of Southeast Asian cuisine.

Coriander

Coriander is also known as cilantro. This herb can be used during cooking to influence flavor or the leaves can be used flavor soups, salads, fish, etc. to add a burst of flavor.

Cornstarch

Used as a thickener in Asian and other cuisines.

Crispy Eggplant

Crispy eggplant is made with firm, not fully ripened eggplant. Cook immediately after cutting to avoid discoloration.

Deep Fry

Cooking method for many classic Asian recipes in which food is immersed in a large pan of hot cooking oil.

Fish Sauce

Adds a salty flavor to many Asian dishes. It is made with a concentrate of fish oils and is unusually high in important nutrients.

Fry

The process of cooking food in a pan over heat. Frying gives ingredients a crunchy texture while maintaining and sealing in flavors and moistness.

Galangal

A root, similar to ginger. Galangal is aromatic and frequently included in Asian soups and sauces.

Green Chiles

A common style of pepper that brings spicy heat to many Asian dishes. Use carefully and handle with care. Never touch your eyes after touching green chilies. Green chilies are less spicy with the seeds removed.

Green Curry Paste

A variation of basic curry that is made from green chilies and can be extremely spicy.

Hokkien Noodles

A popular wheat-based noodle from Southeastern China. Hokkien Noodles are popular in stir-fry recipes, salads and soups.

Jasmine Rice

Fragrant, elegant and light bodied, Jasmine rice is commonly grown in Thailand and is a very popular rice in Asian recipes.

Kaffir Lime Leaves

One of the most recognizable flavors of Thai cuisine. Kaffir Lime Leaves have an aromatic quality and can be sprinkled on soups, salads and curries.

Kale

A highly nutritious vegetable with edible leaves and stems. Kale is used in Thai cooking frequently.

Lemon Grass

The lower part of the stem of this green gives a lemon scent that is common in Thai recipes.

Long Eggplant

Long Eggplant is also called Japanese Eggplant. It makes an excellent meat substitute but is low in calories and fat, yet has a “meaty” texture.

Mortar

A bowl shaped container used in preparation of salads and dips.

Noodles

Arguably to have been invented in China, noodles have been used for thousands of years as a staple of Asian cuisine. This flexible carbohydrate can be found in an almost unlimited variety of shapes, colors and ingredients.

Oil

In Asian recipes, oil is used to facilitate cooking, rather than as a flavor enhancer or nutrient.

Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce is primarily associated with Chinese cooking. It is a brown sauce that adds a salty flavor and thick consistency to meat or vegetable dishes.

Red Chiles

Used to add heat to Asian dishes. Removing the seeds helps to remove the “heat” from red chilies.

Reduce

A cooking technique that intensifies flavors by literally reducing the liquid in a recipe by heat evaporation.

Rice Noodles

Made with rice flour and water, rice noodles are associated with Southeast Asia. Rice noodles provide a gluten-free alternative to wheat-based noodles.

Satay

Small pieces of meat, commonly chicken, cooked on skewers after marinating with a spicy sauce. Satay is usually served with a peanut-based dipping sauce.

Sesame Oil

Asian sesame oil gains its unique flavor from hulled seeds that are toasted before pressing. Sesame oil is usually added to the very end of cooking process as a flavor or presentation enhancer.

Skim

Remove extra fat or cooking particles from a recipe that calls for boiling ingredients.

Small Eggplant

Small eggplant is frequently called for in Thai recipes. It has a big flavor and adds crunchiness and body to recipes.

Soak

Soaking immerses ingredients in liquid prior to cooking to soften texture.

Soba Noodles

Slender noodles made from buckwheat flour. Some buckwheat noodles also have wheat flour as a component. Not considered gluten-free.

Soy Sauce

The most common seasoning in Asian cuisine, especially Japanese and Chinese cooking. It is made with fermented soybeans and salt, making it the equivalent of adding salt in Western cuisine.

Spring Onions

Small onions, with green skin on the outside, white on the inside. Spring onions add crunch, flavor and texture to fried noodle or rice dishes.

Sriracha

Sriracha is a hot sauce made from chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt. Add to other sauces for spicy heat or use as a dipping sauce.

Stir-Fry

Foods added to a wok or deep pan, cooked quickly and stirred frequently. Stir-fry makes a hearty, healthy, fast and easy meal for families on the run.

Straw Mushrooms

A light and chewy ingredient that adds texture and subtleness to stir-fry and other recipes.

Sweet Basil Leaves

The Asian variety of sweet basil does not have as strong a flavor as the basil associated with Italian cuisine. Sweet basil leaves have a sweet, slightly lemon flavor.

Tofu

Highly nutritious, soy-based ingredient that makes an excellent substitute for meats. A versatile ingredient, Tofu reflects the flavors of the dish without adding flavor of its own. Tofu remains a new and modern ingredient to the West, but is actually centuries old in the East. Tofu keeps well with refrigeration but be sure to check the “sell by” date on a container.

Water Chestnut

Water Chestnuts are actually a type of grass that forms underwater. They have a slightly sweet crunch that adds texture to a dish.

Wok

Cone shaped cooking pan that allows fast cooking of meats, seafood and vegetables in stir-fry dishes. Use the sides of the Wok to push cooked vegetables, seafood or meats away from direct heat to maintain crunchiness and texture.