7 Must-Have Ingredients For Chinese Cooking
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Chinese cuisine is a diverse culinary spectrum as the different regions of the country have slight differences in their food. However, if you look at their cuisine overall, you will see that it is an amalgamation of a variety of flavours, textures, and techniques. In different regions, from Sichuan to Cantonese, the flavour profile shifts from spicy to bold flavours. Even today, Chinese cuisine focuses a lot on the traditional way of cooking to retain the actual flavour and essence.

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Chinese cooking also relies heavily on the use of various sauces and condiments to build complexity in flavours. Even though the staple dish of Chinese cuisine is rice, like Indian cuisine, the side dishes differ a lot. Currently, most of the Chinese dishes that are found in India are majorly influenced by the Indian flavour profile. Hence, when you are planning to make some authentic Chinese food, you must purchase the main ingredients for cooking Chinese food.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is a must-have ingredient in Chinese cooking if you want to keep that authentic flavour to the dish. The sauce is popular because of its rich umami taste that adds depth and savoury notes along with sweet, salty and acidity. Soy sauce is basically an amalgamation of various flavours in one bottle. Primarily, there are two types of soy sauce: light, which is used for flavour; seasoning and dipping sauce; and dark soy sauce, which is thick and is used for colour and adding more robust flavour to the dish. 

Sichuan Peppercorns

Sichuan peppercorns are a must-have ingredient for authentic Chinese cooking, and they are known for their unique numbing sensation and citrusy flavour. Integral to Sichuan cuisine, they create a distinctive taste, combining numbing and spicy elements. This spice enhances the depth and complexity of dishes like Kung Pao Chicken, Mapo Tofu, and hot pot. Utilised whole, ground, or as an infused oil, Sichuan peppercorns add a tantalising zing.


Scallions are a type of onion that is widely used in Asian cooking, but they are now commonly available in other Western countries, too. These add a very refreshing and delicate flavour to the dishes. These are often used in stir-fries, soups, marinades, dumplings and several other Asian dishes to add freshness. You can even use them as garnish to add some fresh flavours.


Garlic and ginger are essential in Chinese cooking, imparting a distinct aroma and depth of flavour. Their pungent, spicy notes create a foundation for many dishes, enhancing the taste profile with a robust, savoury essence. Garlic brings a rich, slightly sweet undertone, while ginger adds a zesty, peppery kick. They are commonly used in stir-fries, sauces, soups, and marinades, either finely chopped, minced, or sliced.


Cornstarch is a must-have ingredient for Chinese cooking due to its versatility and essential role in texture and consistency. It thickens sauces, creating that glossy, velvety finish characteristic of many Chinese dishes without altering the flavour. Cornstarch is also used in marinades to tenderise meat, giving it a soft, succulent texture. In stir-fries, it forms a light, crispy coating on proteins when used as a dusting agent. Its neutral taste ensures that it enhances, rather than overpowers, the natural flavours of the dish.

Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce is a must-have ingredient for Chinese cooking, renowned for its rich, savoury, umami flavour. This dark, thick sauce adds depth and complexity to dishes, blending sweet and salty notes seamlessly. Essential for stir-fries, marinades, and braises, oyster sauce enhances the taste of meats, vegetables, and noodles. Its unique flavour profile balances and intensifies other ingredients, making it a versatile condiment. 

Shaoxing Rice Wine

Shaoxing is a very traditional ingredient in Chinese cuisine. The chances of getting this ingredient at any supermarket are very low, and only some authentic Asian stores or global stores keep these ingredients. This is an amber-coloured wine that imparts a rich, sweet and complex taste with a slight hint of nutty flavours. Often added to marinades and sauce, the flavour of the ingredient gets dissolved in the dishes to elevate the flavour of stir-fries, soups, and other dishes.