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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z

A

Agar-agar powder

Agar-agar powder is a processed gelatine-like product that is primarily obtained from seaweed. It is made into odourless, transparent strands or shaved into fine flakes or powdered. Agar-agar is fast-setting and gives a rather hard and crunchy texture.

Ah-lu-lu Powder

Tepung ah-lu-lu is the local translation of arrowroot powder.

Al dente cooking

To cook till “Al dente” is an Italian cooking term for ingredients to be cooked until tender but still firm to the bite. This is usually applied to the cooking of pasta.

Alkaline water

Alkaline water or lye water is made by lixiviation of vegetable ashes. It is usually added in a very small quantity to the making of kuih. Alkaline water improves the texture of the kuih by making it smooth and ‘bouncy’. Alkaline water is kan sui in Chinese.

Almond meal

Almond meal is ground dried sweet almonds. It is used as an alternative to flour to thicken savoury sauces. It can also be used to coat fish or meat to be fried. It is also used in many types of cakes, pastries, dessert and confectionery including marzipan. There is, however, no substitute for it.

Ammonia powder

Ammonia powder is chow fun in Cantonese. Ammonia is a pungent gas that has a strong alkaline reaction. It is often used to make yau char kwai crisp and light.

Aniseed

Aniseed is an aromatic condiment and is a seasoning that was used even in ancient times. It has an agreeable and strong liquorice-like taste and odour. The seeds are widely used in curries, stews and soups. Aniseed can be replaced with star anise and fennel. It can also be a substitute for caraway, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Arrowroot flour

Arrowroot flour is kot fun in Cantonese and ah lulu hoon in Hokkien.

Asam jawa

Asam jawa is tamarind.

Aspartame

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener. It has no aftertaste but cannot be used for cooking because it loses all of its sweetening power when heated.

Atta flour

Atta flour is fine wholemeal flour that is milled from wheat kernels. It is also known as chapati flour. Atta flour is low in gluten.

Avoset cream

Avoset is a brand, and Avoset cream is available both as a single and a double cream.

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B

Baking beans

Baking beans are just any beans. It can be soya beans, black-eyed beans or black beans. They are beans that are placed on pastry casing to be baked blind.

Barbados sugar

Barbados sugar is actually small crystals of refined white sugar treated with dark grade molasses. It is moist and dark brown in colour. It is used in baking and in confectionery and as toppings.

Basil

Basil is a versatile herb which has a distinctive scent reminiscent of anise, and a warm, sweet, aromatic, mildly pungent flavour. Local basil is known as selasih. Basil comes in several varieties, some with a strong scent, others with a milder, more lemony scent.

Bay leaves

Bay leaves (also known as laurel), from the sweet bay tree, a native of the Mediterranean region, are often used to flavour soups and casserole dishes. Just a single leaf added to a stew will make a whole lot of difference to the dish.

Belimbing buluh

Belimbing buluh is a small oblong acidic fruit used in some Malay and Chinese dishes.

Beurre manie

Beurre manie is a paste made from well-blended equal parts of softened butter and flour. It is used as a thickening for sauces and stews.

Bicarbonate of soda

Bicarbonate of soda is used as a leavening agent for cakes, biscuits and teabreads. It is a natural alkaline product which reacts with the acids in ingredients such as yoghurt, sour milk or spices.

Bisque

Bisque is a thick, rich seafood soup made with lobster, crabs or prawn meat and is often flavoured with liquor (brandy).

Black Pepper

Black Pepper or lada hitam is the spiciest pepper that comes from berries that are picked unripe. It has a sharp, pungent aroma and flavour.

Black pomfret

Black pomfret or hak cheong (bawal hitam) tastes beautiful in curries with a santan base while threadfin or ma yeow (kurau) can be steamed or fried. You can also use the fillet for porridge.

Black vinegar

Black vinegar is deep brown in colour and has a strong flavour. It is a flavouring agent, used occasionally as a condiment.

Bread improver

Bread improver adds texture and volume to the bread.

Bread softener

Bread softener keeps the bread soft and moist.

Brie

Brie is a soft ripened cow’s milk cheese that is made in the shape of a flat disc of varying diameter. The rind is thin and velvety white but it has a thick ivory yellow satiny interior. When fully ripe, it bulges and has a buttery to pungent flavour. The soft velvety skin is edible although some people find it too strong to enjoy.

Brown sugar

Brown sugar is granular refined sugar with some impurities left in or molasses added.

Brunoise

Brunoise is a French word which means “dicing vegetables”. Different methods of preparation require cubes of varying sizes. “Fine brunoise” means dicing into cubes of 0.2cm (i.e. very tiny pieces), “small brunoise” indicates cubes of 0.4cm while “medium brunoise” and “large brunoise” mean cubes of 0.6cm and 1.2cm respectively.

Bundt

A bundt tin is the same as a kugelhopf tin. It is fluted with a tube in the centre. This sort of mould gives your cake or dessert an elegant look.

Bunga lawang

Star anise is a sweet-smelling spice that’s shaped like a star. It is known as bunga lawang in Bahasa Malaysia and pat kok in Chinese. Star anise can be used when braising or stewing meat dishes and also to add flavour to curry dishes. Likewise, this sweet-smelling spice can add a lovely flavour to freshly brewed tea.

Burdock

Burdock is a long, tapering brown root called gobo in Japanese. The Cantonese name for it is ngau pong. Burdock root can be used in salads or cooked with meat and other vegetables in soups and stews.

Burnt and normal garlic

Garlic with a brownish, burnt skin is garlic that has been roasted with the skin on. This type of garlic gives an added burnt flavour and aroma to certain stir-fried dishes. When used in curries, however, this type of garlic, when pounded or blended with other spices, does not affect the taste or smell of the dish.

Buttermilk

Buttermilk is the low-fat liquid left after the cream has been removed when making butter. Commercialised buttermilk is made from skimmed milk and milk powder and is cultured in the same way as yoghurt.

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C

Calrose rice

Calrose rice is medium-grain rice. It?s also often called short-grain rice. When cooked or steamed, the grains plump up and cling together. It is best suited for recipes like sushi where it can be moulded.

Candlenuts

Candlenuts (buah keras in Bahasa Malaysia) are cream-coloured waxy nuts. They are often ground into a paste with other spices to thicken and flavour curry dishes.

Carambola

Carambola is also known as starfruit.

Caramelise

When sugar is exposed to heat, it will melt into a thick syrup. As the temperature rises, the syrup will change its colour from clear to light yellow then to a brown that gets darker and darker. This browning process is called caramelisation.

Cardamon

Cardamon or buah pelaga is also known as the ‘Queen of the Spices’? one of the world?s most exotic and highly priced spice. It is a precious ingredient in food preparations and can also be used in medicine, perfume and cosmetic.

Castor sugar

Castor sugar is a very fine and crystallised white sugar.

Catsup

Catsup is a versatile sauce. It consists of tomato paste, sugar, vinegar, spices and salt. It’s more commonly known as ketchup.

Cekur roots

Cekur roots are commonly known in English as odary roots. This ingredient which is often used in Malay and Nyonya dishes is also called cekur by the Chinese.

Chick pea flour

Chick pea flour is garbanzo bean flour or tepung kacang kuda.

Chickpeas

Chickpeas are also known as garbanzos or channa dhall or kacang kuda putih. They are an irregularly round legume. Chickpeas are also sold as flour (channa flour) in most Indian provision stores.

Chinese parsley

Chinese parsley or coriander is also known as cilantro. The Malay name for it is daun ketumbar. It is a pungent herb that is widely used in Thai, Indian and Oriental cooking and Asian salads.

Chocolate Caraque

A chocolate caraque is a long chocolate curl made by shaving a thin layer of almost-set chocolate with a large knife. These curls are used to decorate cakes and desserts.

Chocolate liqueur

Chocolate liqueur is a sweet brown-colour and cocoa-flavoured alcoholic drink. One example is creme de cacao, which you can buy from any well-stocked liquor store. It is often added to cakes to enhance the chocolatey flavour.

Cilantro

Chinese parsley or coriander is also known as cilantro. The Malay name for it is daun ketumbar. It is a pungent herb that is widely used in Thai, Indian and Oriental cooking and Asian salads.

Cili boh

Cili boh is chilli paste.

Cilipadi

Cilipadi is bird chilli.

Cinnamon sticks

Cinnamon Sticks or kulit kayu manis is a spice that can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. This delicately fragrant and slightly sweet spice can also be used to stimulate gastric and digestive juices.

Clitoria flower

The clitoria flower is another name for bunga telang (the blue flower of a creeper plant which is used as a natural blue dye in making local kuih).

Clove

Clove or bunga cengkih is characterised by its sweet and pungent aroma. Not only is it used as a food preservative, it is reputed to be able to remedy a toothache and cure acne by controlling the sebaceous glands.

Coarse sugar

Coarse white sugar is large crystals of refined sugar and it dissolves slowly.

Coconut Sugar

Coconut Sugar or gula melaka is a natural sweetener that does not contain any additive or artificial colouring and is usually used for desserts.

Common liqueurs

Liqueurs are extracts of fruits that have been blended with a spirit such as brandy to which honey or sugar syrup is then added.

Compressed yeast

Compressed yeast is fresh yeast which is sold in compressed blocks or cut into smaller portions for convenience. It should be moist, light cream in colour and firm.

Confectioner’s sugar

Confectioner’s sugar is icing sugar, powdered from granulated sugar with a small amount of cornflour added to it to prevent caking.

Cookies and biscuits – the difference

“Cookie” is the American term for “biscuit”. So basically, a cookie and a biscuit are the same thing.

Cooking Chocolate

Cooking chocolate can be melted and used to cover cakes or desserts. Normal chocolate is ready to be eaten fresh from the pack.

Cooking vinegar

Vinegar can be red, white or black. Red vinegar is commonly used for salads. White vinegar is for pickling vegetables and the black Chinese vinegar is to flavour dishes, especially suitable for sharksfin soup.

Coriander

Chinese parsley or coriander is also known as cilantro. The Malay name for it is daun ketumbar. It is a pungent herb that is widely used in Thai, Indian and Oriental cooking and Asian salads.

Coriander roots

Coriander root is basically the root of the Chinese coriander plant. It?s more commonly known as yin sai kan.

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is a form of glucose made from corn flour. It is less sweet than sugar and it helps prevent crystallisation in confectionery.

Cornmeal

Cornmeal is also known as maize flour. It is produced from corn and can have a texture that?s either fine or coarse. You can combine it with flour to make bread.

Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is a low-fat, unripened cow?s milk cheese that is high in calcium. It is moist and mild.

Cream

Cream is the fat that rises to the surface of milk during the first stage of the butter-making process. Cream is high in calories because it is relatively fatty. It has a short shelf-life but the varieties that are available from supermarkets are UHT whipped cream and have a long shelf-life. Some of the brand names are Anchor, President and Emborg whipping cream.

Cream for baked cheesecake

The type of cream used for baked cheesecake is fresh cream.

Cream of Tartar

Cream of tartar is an acid that helps to stabilise beaten egg whites and prevents them from collapsing.

Crisco

Crisco is a brand name for vegetable shortening, which is a solidified edible vegetable oil or fat. Shortening is used in cookies to make them rich. You can omit it if you prefer to use only butter for your cookies.

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D

Demerara sugar

Demerara sugar is large crystals of partially-refined sugar. It is golden brown and dissolves slowly.

Difference between English and American measurements

British and American measurements differ slightly. A British tablespoon is about 17ml to 18ml whereas an American tablespoon is 15ml.

Dill

Dill is a small herb with fine thread-like leaves similar to fennel, but much smaller. The clean and spicy scent of dill leaves is pleasing to most people. Finely-chopped dill leaves can be used in tartar sauce and other sauces for fish as well as in coleslaw.

Double boiling

A double boiler consists of two pots of different sizes which are designed to fit together with a single lid that tops both pans. The lower pan holds the hot simmering water, allowing a gentle all-round heat to cook the food in the top pan.

Double cream

Double cream can be whipped as it has a butterfat content of about 50%.

Dough softener

Dough softener/conditioner is used to soften bread and improve its texture. Bakeries add these chemicals to bread to extend their shelf life. For home baking, if you prepare bread with long fermentation time, the bread will stay soft longer than usual.

Dragees

Dragees are shiny and smooth coated hard sugar balls. They are often used as a decoration on cookies and cakes for special occasions. You can buy dragees from specialist cake shops or major supermarkets.

Dried Sage

Dried sage is a herb. It is available in leading supermarkets at the spices corner.

Dried scallops

Dried scallops are known as kan pooi or koong yi chi, as they are commonly called. They are hard amber disks of dried white scallops, are expensive and used sparingly to sweeten and enhance the flavour of soups or stews. You need to soak dried scallops in water for 20 to 30 minutes before cooking them. Dried scallops are available at Chinese sundry shops or specialised shops dealing in dried seafood.

Drinking chocolate

Drinking chocolate is actually cocoa powder. It can be found under brand names such as Cadbury, Van Houten or Tesco.

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E

Emplex

Emplex is a chemical that gives the extra crispness to cookies and biscuits. It is available at cake specialist shops.

Enoki mushrooms

Enoki mushrooms are slender and extremely delicate mushrooms with long thin stems and tiny white caps. They are often sold fresh and their Cantonese name is kum cham koo.

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F

Fine sugar

Fine white sugar is refined sugar in very small crystals which dissolves readily.

Flambe

Flambe is the French word for flamed and it generally refers to foods that are bathed in flaming spirits such as brandy or any high-proof liqueur. The flaming burns off some of the alcohol. When the flame dies down, the food is deliciously flavoured and is ready to be enjoyed.

Flounder

Flounder is a fish and its market name is sole. This is a flat disk-shaped fish. It is generally a delicious fish that is more suited to shallow poaching and steaming.

Fragrant lemon grass

Lemon grass or serai is an aromatic Asian plant. It is a tall grass with sharp-edged leaves and grows in clumps. The whitish and slightly bulbous base is used to impart a lemony flavour to curries. Fragrant lemon grass has a stronger scent than the usual lemon grass.

Framboise

Framboise is raspberry brandy.

French mustard

French mustard is a mustard which has mustard seeds, white wine, vinegar, salt, spices and turmeric. It has a mild taste.

Fresh cream

Fresh cream is whipping cream.

Fusilier fish

Tau foo yee or fusilier, as it is known in English, is a common fish with soft flesh and fewer bones, making it ideal for use in fishballs.

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G

Galangal

Galangal is a pale yellow rhizome with pink skin and knobs. It is related to ginger but has a milder taste and is commonly used fresh in Thai and Malaysian cooking. Fresh galangal is readily available at wet markets and in some supermarkets. It is known as lengkuas in Bahasa Malaysia.

Gao Fun

Gao fun is commercialised cooked glutinous rice and it””s easily available at Chinese stores selling dried imported foodstuffs.

Garam masala

Garam masala is a special blend of spices, comprising roasted and ground cardamoms, cloves, coriander, cinnamon, fennel, cumin, black pepper and dried chillies. It is available in Indian shops selling dried spices.

Garoupa

Garoupa or sek pan (kerapu) can be deep-fried and used in a sweet and sour dish. Remove the fish meat from the bones and slice thinly for use in porridge, if you prefer. It is ideal for steaming too.

Gingili oil

Gingili oil is a sesame oil often used in Indian cooking. It is totally different from the Chinese sesame oil.

Glucose syrup

Glucose syrup is also known as liquid glucose. It is a clear, thick syrup made from wheat and corn. It is not as sweet as sugar and is used mainly in confectionery and beverages.

Glycerine

Glycerine is a sweet, colourless and odourless syrupy liquid. It is added to some types of confectionery to retain moisture and to royal icing to prevent excessive hardening.

Gobo

Burdock is a long, tapering brown root called gobo in Japanese. The Cantonese name for it is ngau pong. Burdock root can be used in salads or cooked with meat and other vegetables in soups and stews.

Granulated sugar

Granulated white sugar is refined sugar in small evenly-sized crystals.

Green Bean

Green Bean or kacang hijau can also be made into a sweet dessert soup. When cooked, they become soft and sweet-tasting. Also known as Mung beans, they are usually sprouted for bean sprouts, the crispy and delicious sprouts we all know as taugeh.

Green bean flour

Green bean flour is obtained from green peas that have been roasted and ground to powder form. Usually comes packed in clear, labelled plastic.

Green peppers

Sweet bell peppers are capsicums or pimientos and they come in three colours. The most familiar ones are the green peppers which change from green to red as they ripen. Another variety is the yellow capsicum. Sweet and slightly hot, the peppers can be eaten raw in salads, stir-fried or cooked in stews or sauces.

Grenadine

Grenadine is syrup which is traditionally made from pomegranate pulp. It is used to colour and flavour certain aperitifs and desserts. Grenadine sometimes contains alcohol.

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Half and half cream

Half and half cream is a mixture of milk and cream and this resembles milk.

Haricot beans

Also known as navy beans or black-eyed beans or commonly known as mei dau in Cantonese. They are small, oval dried white beans.

Heavy cream

Heavy cream or extra thick cream has a minimum fat content of 30% and is homogenised and heat-treated to thicken it.

High protein flour

High protein flour or plain strong flour is also known as bread flour. This flour has a high gluten content and is most suitable for bread-making.

High ratio flour

High ratio flour contains less than 8% protein. This flour has a high absorbency for liquid, sugar and fat. Cakes made using high ratio flour have good volume and tender crumb.

Hoen Kwe flour

Hoen Kwe flour is an Indonesian type of green bean flour that has been flavoured.

Hoen Kwe flour packaging

Hoen kwe flour which comes in blue packaging is uncoloured. The green packaging has green coloured Hoen Kwe flour, while the red packaging has pink coloured Hoen Kwe flour.

Hong Kong Flour

Hong Kong flour is an all-purpose flour that is highly bleached. Pau that is made with Hong Kong flour will turn out whiter than those made with normal flour. Hong Kong flour is most suitable for making steamed pau. It is available at specialist cake shops or in large supermarkets.

Hot bean paste

Tau pan cheong is hot bean paste. It is a mixture of fermented soya beans, chillies and other seasonings.

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I

Ikan tenggiri

Ikan tenggiri is Spanish mackerel.

Infusion

“Infuse” is to steep or soak any aromatic item, such as herbs, in boiling water to extract their flavour.

Instant jelly powder

Instant jelly is similar to agar-agar powder but it gives a smooth and softer texture.

Instant yeast

Instant yeast or easy blend yeast is the same as dried yeast. It is the easiest and most convenient to use. It comes in sachets of 10g to 11g each. It can be added directly into flour, together with sugar, salt and the rest of the ingredients.

Irish coffee

Irish coffee is a hot black coffee that is usually served in a tall glass with a good measure of Irish whisky added to it. A fairly good amount of whipped cream is poured on top of the coffee so that it floats.

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J

Japanese cucumber

Zucchini is a slender baby marrow that is harvested before it is fully ripe. It is also known as “courgette” and is dark green, grey-green or bright yellow with speckles or stripes. Zucchini is available from supermarkets, wet markets or vegetable stalls at the night market. Local vegetable sellers call it yap poon chaeng kua, or Japanese cucumber.

Job’s Tears

“Job’s tears” is millet.

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K

Kelapa Laut

Palm fruit (kelapa laut) is sea coconut.

Kirsch

Kirsch is a white brandy liqueur distilled from cherries. It is widely used as a flavouring in pastries and desserts.

Koma-koma

“Koma-koma” is the Malay name for saffron threads. These are bright orange-red with a bitter taste but the aroma of honey. They are the dried, delicate stigmas of the crocus.

Kumara

“Kumara” is sweet potato with orange flesh.

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L

Laurel leaves

Laurus nobilis or bay leaves are dark green, spicy leaves. The flavour of these leaves becomes more pungent when they are dried. They are used to flavour marinades, soups, sauces, stuffing and stews for a variety of meat and vegetable dishes. They are also used in white sauces and infused in milk for making custard and other desserts.

Lemon grass

Lemon grass or serai is an aromatic Asian plant. It is a tall grass with sharp-edged leaves and grows in clumps. The whitish and slightly bulbous base is used to impart a lemony flavour to curries.

Lemon Rind

Zest of lemon or lemon rind is actually the fine outer layer on the skin of the lemon.

Light cream

Light cream or single cream has a minimum of 18% fat. It is mainly used in coffees and for dishes such as sauces and quiches. It cannot be whipped.

Linzi koo

Linzi koo are seasonal imported mushrooms from China. They have an intense flavour and good texture, and are sold in clumps. You have to detach them from their base before using in stir-fries or soups.

Lotus Nut

Biji Teratai

Low protein flour

Low protein flour has less protein and gluten.

Lump sugar

White lump sugar is refined granulated sugar that has been pressed into small cubes and is also known as cube sugar.

Lye water

Lye water, which is more commonly known as alkaline water, is used in tiny amounts in kuih. It helps improve the texture, making the kuih smooth and bouncy.

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M

Mace

Mace is the lacy growth or aril that surrounds the nutmeg seed.

Mackerel

Mackerel or kembung is a common fish that is used for asam laksa. It can also be grilled.

Malt vinegar

Malt vinegar, which may be white or brown, is obtained from malted barley or other grains. It is widely used for pickling fruits.

Maltose

Maltose is a dark sugar solution that is made from the fermented grains of barley, wheat or millet in a process known as malting. Maltose is commonly used in Chinese cooking.

Marjoram

Marjoram is a herb. It is a compact, upright plant with soft grey-green leaves. The leaves, whether fresh or dried, can be used for seasoning a number of savoury foods. Marjoram, sage and thyme can be combined to make a traditional mixed herb.

Marzipan

Marzipan or almond paste are both firm confectionary paste that?s made from ground almonds, sugar and eggs.

Mascarpone cheese

Mascarpone cheese is a fresh unripened and smooth triple cream cheese that has a rich sweet taste. It is also slightly acidic.

Medium protein flour

Medium protein flour, also known as all-purpose flour or plain flour, is milled from a combination of soft and hard wheat. It has 10% protein content.

Medium-grain rice

Calrose rice is medium-grain rice. It?s also often called short-grain rice. When cooked or steamed, the grains plump up and cling together. It is best suited for recipes like sushi where it can be moulded.

Microwaves

Microwaves are a form of energy similar to television and radio waves. Instead of transforming electrical waves into pictures and sound, they are transformed into heat to cook food.

Millet

“Job’s tears” is millet.

Mirepoix and Juniper berry

Mirepoix is a mixture of finely diced onion, carrots, celery and sometimes bacon or raw ham cooked in butter. It is usually used to boost the flavour of soups, sauces, stews and braises.

Juniper berry is a dark, purplish-black round berry with a distinct aromatic and tart flavour. The crushed berries are added to marinades and stuffing for some dishes and strong-flavoured pâtés and terrines.

Molasses

Molasses is thick, brown syrup that is obtained from sugar during the refining process. There are two main types ? the light, mild-flavoured molasses that is usually used as a table syrup or as a topping for pancakes and waffles; and a stronger-flavoured dark molasses that is used in baked goods such as rich fruitcakes and gingerbread.

Moreton Bay bugs

The Moreton Bay bug is also known as a Balmain bug. This is a broad and flat-bodied crustacean that is found in Southern Australian waters. They are commonly known as sand lobsters or bay lobsters. The cooked meat of Moreton Bay bugs can be served tossed in a salad. The raw meat can be stir-fried.

Mui choy

Mui choy is ?preserved mustard cabbage? in English. It is normally sold in sealed plastic bags in supermarkets or sundry shops.

Muscovado sugar

Muscovado sugar is granular brown sugar that has undergone little processing.

Myrtle

Myrtle is a very fragrant herb that tastes like juniper berry and rosemary. It is used to flavour stews, roasts and bouillabaisse, and certain liqueurs.

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Ngau pong

Burdock is a long, tapering brown root called gobo in Japanese. The Cantonese name for it is ngau pong. Burdock root can be used in salads or cooked with meat and other vegetables in soups and stews.

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Optima flour

Optima flour is a special blend of flour with sugar added to it.

Ovalette

Ovalette is a cake emulsifier and is used in sponge cakes. It is usually used to make cakes spongier and cuts down the time needed to beat or whisk cake batter.

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Pan-frying

Pan-frying is similar to sautéing. The main difference is that, in pan-frying, more oil is used than for sautéing. Pan-fried vegetables have a crisp exterior which gives a pleasing contrast to their moist, flavourful interior.

Pandan Kelapa

Pandan kelapa is coconut and pandan flavoured essence.

Papillote

Papillote is a French cooking technique. A papillote is a case that is made either of foil or greaseproof paper in which meat or fish is cooked. It is usually meant for individual servings. This method of cooking saves a lot of cleaning up and at the same time you get the nutrients, flavours and aroma sealed in the case. It makes cooking a breeze because you can prepare the packets ahead and refrigerate them until cooking time.

Paprika

Paprika is a bright red powder made from certain varieties of pepper. It is available in major supermarkets.

Parchment baking sheets

Parchment baking sheets are nonstick baking sheets which are made of siliconised baking paper. They do not require greasing at all. These sheets are useful for cookie and cake baking. If you cannot get these parchment paper you can use tracing paper.

Pastry margarine

Pastry margarine is a margarine that?s been specially blended to produce a tough plastic-like margarine with a high melting point. There is no other substitute for pastry margarine.

Pat kok

Star anise is a sweet-smelling spice that?s shaped like a star. It is known as bunga lawang in Bahasa Malaysia and pat kok in Chinese. Star anise can be used when braising or stewing meat dishes and also to add flavour to curry dishes. Likewise, this sweet-smelling spice can add a lovely flavour to freshly brewed tea.

Pate Brisee

Pate brisee, as it is called in French, is a rich, flaky dough or shortcrust pastry. It is a simple and most versatile pastry, used for savoury dishes such as flans, tarts and quiches.

Pate Sucree

If sugar is added to Pate Brisee, it becomes Pate Sucree or sweet pastry, used for making sweet pies and tarts.

Pati Santan

Pati santan is thick coconut milk.

Patin fish

Patin, or silver catfish, is a freshwater fish. The most popular variety that is a favourite in Chinese restaurants is the patin buah. It is a pretty oily fish and has a fine texture. The patin has no scales on its body. In restaurants, patin can be steamed with soy sauce or prepared lemak or assam curry style. Because it loves to graze on muddy bottoms, the patin has that muddy flavour.

Phyllo pastry

Phyllo pastry is used to prepare strudel or baklava. This is a very lean dough that is made only of flour and water with a very small amount of oil. The dough is stretched and rolled until it is extremely thin. And instead of being rolled into the dough, butter is melted, then brushed onto the dough sheets before they are baked. This is done so that the end result resembles puff pastry.

Poppy seeds

Poppy seeds are small blue-black seeds that are obtained from the opium poppy flower although they do not have a narcotic effect. These seeds have a subtle hazelnut-like or nutty flavour. Poppy seeds are used to flavour breads, cakes, cookies and pastries.

Prepared Mustard

Prepared mustard is actually mustard paste made from a combination of mustard seeds, vinegar, salt, citric acid and water. Prepared mustard such as Dijon?s is available from major supermarkets in town.

Prosciutto

Prosciutto is Parma ham. It is the upper part of the hind leg of a pig that is cured in various ways and then smoked and hung to dry. After smoking, it is partially or fully cooked. It is one of the main ingredients used for making superior soup.

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Quick 75

Quick 75 is an imported brand of stabiliser. It is whitish in colour and is used in baking sponge cakes because it enables the eggs to rise rapidly and stiffly. As it is acidic, it helps the beaten eggs to remain stable so as not to lose the airy and voluminous texture which is vital for a light sponge cake.

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Ragi

Ragi is a Chinese yeast cake. There are two distinctive varieties, i.e. the sweet variety that comes in a form of a flat, white disc and the spicy variety that is round like a marble. Another name for it in Chinese is chow pneang. Ragi is available in Chinese sundry or medical shops.

Rainbow sugar crystals

Rainbow sugar crystals have edible vegetable dyes added to white sugar crystals to make them look attractive. They?re often used to decorate cakes and confectionaries.

Raisins

Raisins are a type of dried grape and are produced mainly in California and the Middle East.

Red bean

Red Bean or kacang merah is good in rice dishes or salads but we usually eat them as a dessert ? sweet red bean porridge. Also known as Japanese Adzuki beans, they are slightly sweet and have a soft texture.

Red peppers

Sweet bell peppers are capsicums or pimientos and they come in three colours. The most familiar ones are the green peppers which change from green to red as they ripen. Another variety is the yellow capsicum. Sweet and slightly hot, the peppers can be eaten raw in salads, stir-fried or cooked in stews or sauces.

Reduced Cream

Reduced cream is long-life or sterilised half-cream.

Refined sugar

Refined sugar is raw sugar which has been purified, bleached and recrystallised to form granulated, castor, coarse, lump or icing sugar.

Rice vinegar

Rice vinegar is made from fermented rice. It is used in sweet and sour dishes, salad dressing, pickles and as a table condiment.

Ricotta cheese

Ricotta cheese is a fresh dairy product that is made from sheep?s milk whey or cow?s milk whey. It has a thick grainy texture. It is creamy and mainly used for cooking sauces for pasta, in savoury stuffing and in desserts such as cheesecakes.

Rose water

Rose water is a liquid obtained from the diluted essence of rose petals. It is a popular flavouring that is used to flavour Indian and Middle Eastern dishes such as Turkish delight. Rose water is also used in drinks, puddings, jellies and fruitcakes as well as some savoury dishes.

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Saag

“Saag” is an Indian name for spinach.

Saffron

Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice. Saffron is the handpicked and dried stigmas of a variety of the crocus plant.

Salami

Salami is a generic name given to a number of lightly seasoned cured sausages of different sizes to eat without any preparation other than slicing. Salami is usually composed of finely minced lean pork or a mixture of meat, pieces of fat and with various seasonings.

Sauteeing

To “sauté” is to quickly cook food, like chopped onions and garlic, in a small amount of hot oil. As you sauté, you toss around the food briskly and frequently. Stir-frying is another version of sautéing.

Searing

Searing food means browning meat quickly on very high or moderately high heat to seal in the juices. This ensures that the meat is tender and soft. Normally, the inside of the meat is still rare or half-cooked. As such, it needs to be cooked over a low heat for a longer period of time.

Semolina flour

Semolina is made up of granules made mainly from coarsely ground durum wheat flour.

Shad

Shad or terubuk has a special flavour and is ideal for grilling.

Shortening

Shortening is any edible fat. The most common brand names are Spry and Crisco.

Silver catfish

Patin, or silver catfish, is a freshwater fish. The most popular variety that is a favourite in Chinese restaurants is the patin buah. It is a pretty oily fish and has a fine texture. The patin has no scales on its body. In restaurants, patin can be steamed with soy sauce or prepared lemak or assam curry style. Because it loves to graze on muddy bottoms, the patin has that muddy flavour.

Single cream

Single cream is a pouring cream that is not suitable for whipping.

Softasilk flour

Softasilk flour is a refined and highly bleached all-purpose flour available at most supermarkets. It is usually packed in a labelled box so you shouldn?t have trouble finding it.

Sour cream

Sour cream is cream with a lactic acid culture and is also called thick yoghurt. It cannot be whipped.

Spanish mackerel

Spanish mackerel or kow yi (tenggiri) can be cooked in curries or fried whole. Otherwise, you can fillet the fish and use it for otak-otak. The meat can be used to make fish paste for fish balls or as a filling for various vegetables such as those for yong tau fu.

Spatchcock

“Spatchcock” is a chicken that is no more than six weeks old.

Spry

Spry is a solid vegetable fat. Also called shortening, it is sold in supermarkets and specialist cake shops.

Star anise

Star anise is a sweet-smelling spice that?s shaped like a star. It is known as bunga lawang in Bahasa Malaysia and pat kok in Chinese. Star anise can be used when braising or stewing meat dishes and also to add flavour to curry dishes. Likewise, this sweet-smelling spice can add a lovely flavour to freshly brewed tea.

Suet

Suet is the hard fat surrounding the kidney of oxen or sheep. It is usually cleaned and sold fresh for grating or it is already shredded and packed. Suet can be used for steamed puddings.

Sugee

Sugee is the same as semolina. It is the hard part of the wheat which is sifted out.

Sultanas

Sultanas are another type of dried grape that are larger and sweeter than raisins.

Superfine flour

Superfine flour is a highly bleached, all-purpose flour used to make pau. It helps to turn out a whiter bun that is also softer and has a fine texture.

Sweating

To “sweat” is to cook food gently in a little fat or oil over a low fire or heat. You cook the food covered until it softens and releases moisture.

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Tai hoi lam

Tai hoi lam is an olive-like dried fruit. When soaked in water it starts to expand and the Malay name for it is buah kembang semangkuk. The Hokkiens call it pong tai hai. Taste-wise, it is like the snow fungus. When it expands, it really spreads.

Tang Mein Flour

Tang mein flour or wheat starch is the flour that is left after the protein has been removed from wheat flour and to make gluten. It is different from hoen kwe flour.

Tang mein fun

Wheat starch or tang mein fun in Cantonese is available from specialist cake shops.

Tapioca flour

Tapioca flour is also known as tapioca starch.

Tartaric acid

Tartaric acid is also known as cream of tartar and is a raising agent. It is used to stabilise egg whites that are beaten into meringues and it is available from cake specialist shops.

Tau Foo Yee

Tau foo yee or fusilier, as it is known in English, is a common fish with soft flesh and fewer bones, making it ideal for use in fishballs.

Tau pan cheong

Tau pan cheong is hot bean paste. It is a mixture of fermented soya beans, chillies and other seasonings.

Tempeh

Tempeh is a lightly fermented creamy-brown cake made from soya beans that have been compressed into a flat, oblong cake. It has a soft yet crunchy texture and a slightly acrid taste.

Tepung Hong Kwe

Tepung Hong Kwe is the brand name for green pea flour.

Thyme

Thyme is a herb of the mint family Lamiaceae and it is the dried leaves and flowering tops that are used to flavour food. The shrub is native to southern Europe, the Mediterranean and central Asia. Essential oil extracted from thyme has antiseptic and anesthetic properties. Thyme has a special scent that goes well with many dishes. It gives an excellent taste to fish when used as a marinade. It is also one of the ingredients used in many herbal mixes, and adds a delicious fragrance to stews and meat dishes.

Tim cheong

Tim cheong is sweet sauce.

Treacle

Treacle is a sticky fluid remaining after sugar cane is processed. It has a slightly bitter taste and has less “sweetening power” than sugar. It is available in specialist cake shops.

Tulsi seeds

Tulsi seeds are the tiny black seeds of a plant that belongs to the basil family. These seeds look like poppy seeds when they are dry, but when soaked in water they develop a jelly-like coating. They add an intriguing texture to cold, sweet drinks and are supposed to have a very cooling effect on the body.

Turmeric

Turmeric Powder or serbuk kunyit is a major ingredient in curry powder, which is used extensively in Indian dishes. It also has medicinal properties and can be used to treat stomach and liver ailments.

Tung meen fun

Tung meen fun is wheat starch. It is flour that is left after the protein is removed or taken out. It is a non-gluten flour. Sundry shop owners know this flour by the name tung meen fun.

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UHT Milk

UHT milk is ultra heat treated milk that is processed in that manner to have a longer shelf life.

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Vanilla-flavoured sugar

Vanilla sugar is vanilla-flavoured sugar. This is usually made by placing a vanilla pod in a jar of castor sugar. This is done so that the vanilla flavour is absorbed by the sugar.

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Water bath (Baine Marie style)

The water bath, also known as “Baine Marie style”, refers to a baking procedure whereby the cake/roast is baked over a pan of water.

Wheat starch

Wheat starch or tang mein fun in Cantonese is available from specialist cake shops.

Whipping cream

Whipping cream contains a minimum 35% fat. It can be whipped up to double its volume but it cannot hold well for a long period when piped onto cakes for decorations.

White Pepper

White Pepper or lada putih is said to have a milder and more delicate piney and woody flavour compared to black pepper.

White pomfret

White pomfret or pak cheong (bawal putih) is ideal for steaming. Alternatively, you can cut the meat into slices to be cooked in a porridge. The fish can also be fried or cooked in a spicy, sour or asam curry.

Wholemeal flour

Wholemeal flour is made from the complete wheat kernel, with nothing removed. This flour makes for a fuller flavoured and more nutritional but denser loaf of bread than that made from plain white flour.

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Yap poon cheng kua

Zucchini is a slender baby marrow that is harvested before it is fully ripe. It is also known as “courgette” and is dark green, grey-green or bright yellow with speckles or stripes. Zucchini is available from supermarkets, wet markets or vegetable stalls at the night market. Local vegetable sellers call it yap poon chaeng kua, or Japanese cucumber.

Yin sai

Coriander leaves or cilantro is called yin sai in Chinese and Chinese celery is kan choy. Chopped coriander leaves are often used in Asian cooking and the root is an important seasoning for Thai recipes. Chopped stems and leaves of the Chinese celery make a pleasant garnish for soups or stir-fried dishes.

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Zucchini

Zucchini is a slender baby marrow that is harvested before it is fully ripe. It is also known as “courgette” and is dark green, grey-green or bright yellow with speckles or stripes. Zucchini is available from supermarkets, wet markets or vegetable stalls at the night market. Local vegetable sellers call it yap poon chaeng kua, or Japanese cucumber.

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1 thought on “Food dictionary”

  1. Annie Liu - January 21, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Where can I access previous culinary queries from readers and replies from Ms Amy Beh as well as past years’ recipes from Ms Amy Beh?

    Reply

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