There are wide variety of ingredients in Chinese cooking. The ingredients that we normally see can be divided into two major kinds: vegetable and animal. Vegetable ingredients can be further divided into vegetables, beans, fresh fruits, dried fruits, seasonings, vegetable fat, etc. Animal ingredients can be further divided into meat, internal organs (not everyone likes them), poltry, aquatic product, egg product.
There are also a selection of special ingredients that we don't often use in our daily cooking. They are either rare and expensive that we only see them in high class hotels or restuarants, or we use them for special occasions, or from time to time when we want something different for a change. Some of these inexpensive special ingredients are getting more popular nowadays due to their nutritional values and unique tastes. In this chapter I'll introduce the two finest and most expensive ingredients in Chinese cooking.
Shark Fins Shark fins are one of the finest delicacies in Chinese food. They are dried in one of two forms - whole or shredded and formed into a square. The best are from Africa. Method for preparation: Wash shark fins and boil for 30 minutes Soak in cold water for 2 hours and remove rough skin. Simmer for another 3 hours and soak 4 hours in cold water. Remove soft bones, be careful not to break shark fin pieces.
Change water and simmer for 3 hours. Soak again in cold water until soft Boil with fresh ginger for 1 ~ 2 times to remove smell from shark fins. Place in deep casserole, add chicken soup stock and steam for 1 hour.
Do not use iron pot as shark fins will turn dark in color. Bird's Nest Bird's nest, one of the most delicate ingredients in Chinese cooking, is produced in Annam, Thailand and Singapore regions. The Annam bird's nest is considered to be the best in both quality and color.
Method for preparation: Soak bird's nest for 3 ~ 4 hours in cold water, remove pinfeathers and foreign particles with a pincette, rinse well and soften in hot water. Place softened bird's nest in soup stock seasoned with salt and cooking wine, steam for about 30 minutes and serve. Note: You may freely republish this recipe as long as author bio and active hyperlinks are kept intact. Thank you! .
By: Jacklyn Chen