I love Chinese food and eat at my favorite restaurant, New Young China, every chance I get. I found this list of ingredients commonly found in Chinese food. I thought it was interesting to learn what exactly the stuff was that made Chinese food taste so wonderful.
bamboo shoots: Tender, fleshy yellow sprouts from bamboo canes
bean sprouts: Sprouts from the mung bean. Bean sprouts are not to be confused with alfalfa sprouts, which are smaller and finer
brown candy: A hard form of dark sugar available in packages or sometimes sold in bulk at specialty markets
Chinese black vinegar: A dark vinegar with a deeper, smokier flavor than light rice vinegar
Chinese (celery) cabbage: A pale green vegetable with broad, tightly packed leaves, often used in soups and stir fries. Other leafy green vegetables, such as fresh spinach or chard, can be substituted for Chinese cabbage.
cornstarch: A fine, white starch made from corn and used to thicken sauces. When using cornstarch, put the required amount of dry cornstarch in a cup and add just enough cold water to form a smooth, think paste. Then add this mixture to the other ingredients. This method keeps the cornstarch from forming lumps when cooked.
duck or plum sauce: A thick sauce often used as a dip. Made from plums, chilies, sugar, and spices.
garlic: A bulb-forming herb with a strong, distinctive flavor. Each bulb can be broken up into several small sections called cloves. Before you chop a clove of garlic, remove the brittle, papery covering that surrounds it.
gelatin: A clear, powdered protein used as a thickening agent.
ginger roon: A knobby, light brown root used to flavor food. To use fresh ginger root, slice off the amount called for, peel off the skin with the side of a spoon, and grate the flesh. Freeze the rest of the root for future use. Do not substitute dried ground ginger for fresh ginger, as the taste is very different.
glutinous rice flour: A powder made from sweet or glutinous rice. Also called sticky rice flour or sweet rice flour, this is different from regular rice flour and the two cannot be substituted for each other.
hoisin sauce: A dark, sweet, thick sauce made from soybeans, sugar, and spices. It can be used in cooking or as a dip.
oyster sauce: A sauce made from oysters, sugar, and soy sauce, used in cooking and as a dip.
rice: There are three main varieties of rice. Long-grain rice, the kind used in most Chinese recipes, if fluffy and absorbs more water than other types of rice. Short-grain rice has shorter, thicker grains that tend to stick together when cooked. Sweet or glutinous rice is used in Chinese pastries and special festival dishes.
scallion: A variety of green onion.
sesame oil: A strongly flavored oil made from sesame seed.
soy sauce: A salty-tasting sauce made from soybeans.
sugar(snow) peas: Tender, green pea pods. Usually a flat type pod.
wonton skins: Small, thin squares of soft dough made from flour, water, and eggs. Dumpling wrappers are similar to wonton skins, but they are always round.