The streets of San Francisco isn't exactly short on Chinese food stores and restaurants. You'd probably know them by their distinctive signs with Mandarin or Cantonese characters, not to mention the mouthwatering smell of cooking noodles and fresh spices wafting from inside these establishments—but how well do you really know your Chinese food? Here are some of the most important ingredients of Chinese food and Dim Sum in San Francisco restaurants like Chili House SF.
Whether stir-fried on their own or added into noodles and soups, bean sprouts are a staple in Chinese cuisine. These are often divided into two types: soybean sprouts and mung bean sprouts. The latter are much smaller in size than the former, which has a distinctive yellow head the size of a small bean. Mung beans are more commonly used, though.
The Chinese love to put vegetables into their dishes, and among these, the bok choy or Chinese cabbage is perhaps the most prominent. They are often served in steaming hot soups, or separately, either steamed or stir-fried. Bok choy also makes an excellent pairing with tofu—a suitable choice for those looking for a scrumptious yet absolutely vegan dish.
Here's a zinger: chili peppers aren't just for Mexican food, as this article from The Woks of Life blog states:
[C]hili peppers come in a vast number of varieties–too many for us to keep up with. In general, the smaller the chili, the hotter they are. A lot of Chinese dishes call for either long hot green peppers or small red chilis, both of which can be found in any grocery store.
Stir fried vegetables, fish, chicken, and even the more exotic dishes like frogs and pork intestines can be flavored or spiced right up with a nice serving of hot chilies.
Chinese cuisine calls for a wide variety of sauces that will keep your taste buds tingling and your hands grabbing for more the entire meal. Soy sauce and fish sauce are among the most popular, along with runners-up like hoisin, oyster, sesame, rice wine, and (again) chili sauces also gracing the plates of authentic Chinese restaurants.
Before you go to your nearest Chinese restaurant or call up places like Chili House SF for Chinese food catering services, it pays to know just what types of ingredients you can expect in your food. Understanding what makes up authentic Chinese cuisine could help you better appreciate the culture and stories behind the flavors that you have grown to love.
(Source: Chinese Ingredients Glossary, The Woks of Life)