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Volume II
February 28, 2005

Chinese Ingredient Substitutions

I have found myself-- on more than one occasion-- stumped on an ingredient list of a Chinese dish. But there is no reason to despair. Of all the international cuisines, Chinese is probably the most open to creative solutions. Here are some food substitution suggestions for ingredients commonly used in Chinese cooking.



(An Asian gelatin substitute that doesn't require refrigeration)


Bamboo Shoots

White cabbage

Bok choy

celery or Swiss chard

Chili Sauce

1 cup tomato sauce, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tbsp. vinegar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, dash of ground cloves and allspice**

Chinese five-spice powder

Equal amounts cinnamon, star anise, cloves, fennel, and Szechuan Peppercorn. If Szechuan peppercorns aren't available, use freshly ground black peppercorns

Cilantro or Coriander (Chinese parsley)

Parsley (for decoration only, not taste) Can add dash lemon juice

Coconut Milk

whole milk in equal amounts, if possible with coconut extract. For coconut cream, substitute half and half or whipping cream (with coconut extract if possible).

(used in Thai Cooking)

Fresh ginger

Fresh Ginger

Candied ginger

Garlic Cloves

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

Hoisin Sauce

Equal amounts ketchup and molasses
Also, sweet bean sauce

Hot Red Chili

Crushed red pepper

Lemon Grass
(Used in Thai Cooking)

Zest of a lemon

Lotus Root flour

Cornstarch (Cornflour)

Mushrooms ( Straw, Clouds Ear)

Fresh mushrooms (the taste will be different)

Oyster Sauce

Soy sauce

Rice Wine Vinegar (also called Rice Vinegar)

Dry sherry, white wine vinegar, malt vinegar

Sesame Oil

1 Tbs. Sesame seeds fried in 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Soy Sauce

Japanese tamari or Worchester sauce.

Water Chestnut

Jicama (commonly found in the Southern United States)

**From the Kansas State University site


* DVO welcomes your kitchen hints and cooking or nutrition questions! Email us and we'll post your hints and Q/A's in upcoming newsletters! *

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