Kosher Ingredients 1

Kosher Ingredients and Information

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.

We have divided the ingredients used in Asian cooking into the following categories: Asian flavourings, vegetables and vegetable products, dried products, and fresh noodles and wrappers, equipment preparation techniques and cooking techniques. All these ingredients are found in supermarkets, Asian groceries and health food stores. If you can’t find kosher brands, many of these ingredients can be made from recipes in our web pages.

We have also included information to whether the products need certification or not. This decision was based not only on our research but on excepted rabbinical decisions.

Asian Flavourings

Asian flavourings 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.(you can find it in the Chinese recipes page)

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)

Coriander
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)

Cornstarch
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 (200º 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.(the recipe is found on the Chinese page) (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.(the recipe is on the Chinese page) (Kosher without supervision but if there is one with supervision buy that one)

Ginger
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. (recipe found on the Chinese page)(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.(recipe found on the Chinese page)(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. (recipe found on the Chinese page)(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.(recipe found on the Chinese page)(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 site.(kosher without supervision)

Oil
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 )

Scallions
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)