Most of these are my definitions from my culinary journey I hope they help you. Have an open mind and give them a try.
- Lung Yen (Dragon Eyes) – This fruit which is the same type as the lychee nut with the exception of a smooth shell and coated with a brown to reddish-colored powder. They are a little smaller then a lychee nut but the two tastes are quite different. Good for use in sweeter soups as well as solo as a fruit.
- Hsaing Chun (Dried Black Mushrooms) – The most popular mushroom in China because of its resilience. This mushroom will pop back to original shape after a 30 minutes in a fresh water bath. Great with hmmm everything.
- Chin Chen (Tiger Lily Buds) – Found usually dried in a local Chinese market they come from a specific special type of lily. When boiled in water for 10 min they are quite complementary to vegetable dishes. You will see this item in cahoots with the tree ear mushroom in Chinese cuisine more often then not.
- Lu Tou (Mung Beans) – This critical item in Chinese cuisine makes possible the following items: bean sprouts, cellophane noodles, and mung bean sheets.
- Hsien Ts ai (Amaranth) – Seedlings of this plant may be eaten but to get the full potential of this item you will have to wait until late spring or early summer, at this time of year the leaves will turn a dark green and will be sold in bunches.
- Miso: Miso is a paste made from soybeans and grain, usually rice, but sometimes barley or wheat, and occasionally it’s made with a mixture of several grains. In all miso, cooked soybeans are mixed with salt and ko ji. Ko ji itself is made fermenting grain (or beans ) with aspergillus oryzae, to produce a fluffy mold-covered grain. The final mixture is left to ferment in wooden vats for two or three years. Here are a couple of different types of miso: Hatcho Miso, Medium Miso, Genmai Miso, Red Miso ( Sendi Miso ), Saikyo Miso, Mugi Miso, Soybean Miso and Awasemiso
- Tofu: Tofu is the milk of the soybean which a coagulant is added resulting in a custard like curd that is virtually tasteless.” There are two major types of tofu, Cotton Tofu (momendofu), and Silken Tofu (kinugoshi)
- Yuzu: Yuzu is a Japanese citrus, with no western equivalent. It has unique and compelling aroma which is concentrated in the rind. The flesh is never used, and the juice only occasionally.”
- Lotus Root (Renkon): Lotus Root is the rhizome of the water plant Nelumbo Nucifera, which is a type of water lily. The rhizome grows in muddy ponds underwater, and is distinguished by the hole that are visible when the root is sliced across.
- Shiso (Perilla): Beefsteak plant, The aromatic leaf looks like stinging nettle, but taste like basil. It comes in green and purple varieties.
- Banh Trang (Rice Paper): Rice Paper is made from rice flour, water, salt and sometimes in combination with tapioca starch. They are sun-dried on bamboo trays which gives them their distinct pattern. They come in round, square, and triangle shapes.
- Tuong Ot Toi (Ground Chili Paste): This is a coarsely ground red chili paste made with garlic and vinegar. This is a staple condiment and is used to garnish rice and noodle dishes.
- La Chanh (Lime Leaves): These leaves come from Makrut tree and they are used like bay leaves to flavor soups, curries and stocks.
- Me (Tamarind Pulp): This seedless pulp sold in blocks is made from the flesh of Tamarind Pods. This paste should be softened in warm water then strained before use in stir-fry dishes and soups. Me will add a tartness to your dishes so do not over use.
- Tuong Hot (Bean Sauce): This sharp tasting sauce is made from whole or crushed fermented soy beans. It may be used to enhance stir-fry dishes or soups or used in dipping sauces.