A seasoning can bring a world of flavor to your cooking.
Cilantro: Also called fresh coriander or Chinese parsley. It is a flat-leafed parsley with a pungent, almost musky odor that imparts a distinctive flavor to Oriental dishes. Parsley can be substituted for color, but it will not give the same flavor.
Five-Spice Powder: A seasoning with a pronounced aroma that combines ground star anise, cinnamon, fennel, cloves, and Szechwan pepper.
Garlic: The strongly scented, pungent bulb of a plant related to the onion. Each bulb is composed of small segments called cloves. Besides fresh garlic, you'll find garlic bottled and dried.
Gingerroot: A knobby root with brown skin and cream-colored flesh. Fresh gingerroot is aromatic with a sharp, spicy flavor. Peel off the skin and then slice or shred the flesh. Ground ginger is the dried version.
Star Anise: A dried, star-shaped spice with a licorice-like flavor and aroma. It often comes broken into pieces, but a perfect star anise is an eight-pointed star.
Whole Szechwan Pepper: Tiny, reddish-brown berries. If eaten alone, they have a slight numbing effect on the tongue. They lend aromatic flavor to dishes. If desired, substitute whole black peppercorns.
Dried products can add a pungent tinge or a fiery flavor.
Dried Tangerine Peel: Sometimes called mandarin orange peel. Dark brown and brittle, tangerine peel is sun-dried to produce a pungent-flavored seasoning. If desired, dry your own tangerine or orange peel.
Dried Mushrooms: Also known as dried black mushrooms or winter mushrooms. These edible fungi add a distinctive flavor and a chewy texture to dishes. Different varieties of dried mushrooms vary in appearance, size, and flavor. Soak them in warm water, then rinse and remove the tough stems before using.
Dried Cloud and Wood Ears: Edible fungi with a brown, wrinkly appearance. Wood ears (also called tree ears) are larger and coarser in texture than cloud ears. Cloud ears are more delicate in flavor. Both are valued for their crispness and rich color. Soak them in warm water, then rinse and remove the tough stems before using. Use cloud and wood ears interchangeably in recipes.
Dried Lily Buds: Also known as tiger-lily buds or golden needles. The brownish-gold buds add texture and a mild, delicate flavor to Oriental dishes. Soak them in water before using.
Dried Red Chili Peppers: Glossy-skinned, red pods with a hot, fiery flavor. To reduce the hotness, remove the seeds before using. When handling chili peppers, wear gloves to protect your skin from the pepper oils.