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Notes from the cooks on the ingredients

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks

Notes from the cooks on the ingredients

Anchovy fillets

If you find the flavor of anchovies too pungent, you can soak them in milk for 10 minutes before using.


We use jars of baby globe artichoke hearts marinated in oil.


Long leaves and a peppery flavor. It is very perishable. Store tightly wrapped in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.


A small avocado weighs about 1/3 lb; a medium avocado weighs about 1/2 lb; a large avocado weighs about 3/4 lb. Oxygen in the air turns avocado brown; pressing plastic wrap directly on the surface of an avocado dip will prevent it from turning.


A small beet weighs about 1/4 lb. To cook raw beets, bake unpeeled in a preheated 300°F oven until tender, 1 hour.


To make fresh breadcrumbs, cut bread into slices, cut off crusts and cut into pieces. Place in a blender or food processor; pulse until finely ground. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

To make dried breadcrumbs, cut day-old bread into slices, cut off the crusts. Bake in a preheated 300°F oven until dry and crisp, 10 minutes. Place in a blender or food processor; pulse until finely ground. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Buckwheat flour

Gray-brown in color with a distinct bitter flavor; available at healthfood stores and in large supermarkets.


For this guide, butter means unsalted or lightly salted butter.


The pickled bud of the caper plant. We use regular and baby ones ; always drain well before using.


Best used freshly ground as its fragrance diminishes with time. Open, discard the seed pods and crush the black or brown seeds.


Salted fish roe (eggs) available in various qualities and at hugely varying prices. A little goes a long way.


Fresh creamy goat cheese is a fresh, white, rindless, lightly sour cheese, available in rolls, rounds, or pyramids. As an alternative, combine 3 parts cream cheese with 1 part whole milk yogurt until smooth.


A very delicately flavored herb; use flat-leaf (Italian) parsley as an alternative.


There are over 200 different varieties of fresh chilies, varying in color, size, shape, and heat. As a general rule, the smaller the chili the hotter it is. Capsaicin, the substance in chilies responsible for their heat, can cause a very painful burning sensation if it comes into contact with the eyes, mouth, or other sensitive skin. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after handling chilies, or wear rubber gloves. To reduce the level of heat, remove the seeds before using.

Chili sauce

We use two different types: Chinese hot chili sauce, made from chilies, salt, and vinegar; and Thai sweet chili sauce, flavored with ginger and garlic as well as sugar, salt, vinegar, and chilies. Both available in large supermarkets or in Asian stores.

Chinese pancakes

Available chilled and frozen in Asian stores and large supermarkets.


Pork sausage flavored and colored with paprika, frequently used in Spanish and Mexican cooking. It can be mild or highly spiced. It is mostly available cured and can be eaten without cooking.

Creme fraiche

Thick cream with a slightly sour flavor and a velvety texture. It keeps longer than ordinary cream and can be boiled without curdling. For cooking, substitute heavy cream. For garnishing, substitute equal parts of whipped heavy cream combined with whole milk yogurt or use sour cream.

Coconut milk

We used canned coconut milk, available at Asian stores and large supermarkets. Shake well before opening.


Available fresh on the cob or as frozen or canned kernels. To cut kernels from the cob, stand the corn upright and carefully cut downward with a sharp knife.

Corn meal

We use yellow, medium-ground cornmeal; use Italian polenta as an alternative.


Crisp pickles made from tiny gherkin cucumbers; also called cocktail gherkins.


When buying cooked crab in the shell, choose one that feels heavy for its size. Whether bought fresh, canned, or frozen, cooked crabmeat should be picked over with your fingers to remove any membrane or pieces of shell.

Dumpling wrappers

Small rounds of fresh noodle dough available fresh and frozen in Chinese stores or gourmet supermarkets. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week if well wrapped.


A medium eggplant weighs about 2/3 lb.


We use large in our recipes; 1 beaten egg is 3 tbsp beaten egg, 1 egg yolk is 1 tbsp egg yolk, and 1 egg white is 2 tbsp egg white. Quail eggs are available at Asian markets and in the gourmet section of large supermarkets. They are difficult to peel, so plunge them into cold water as soon as they are cooked and peel them at once under cold running water. Refrigerate them in water.


Best in season, in the late summer and early autumn months.

Fish sauce

Thin, salty brown sauce made from fermented fish used extensively in Southeast Asian cooking. Available in large supermarkets and Asian stores. We use Thai fish sauce called nam pla; use light soy sauce as an alternative.

Five-spice powder

A Chinese blend of ground cloves, cinnamon, fennel, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns, available prepackaged in Asian markets and many supermarkets.


in all of the recipes should be washed and, unless otherwise stated, also peeled.


Unless we indicate otherwise, all garlic cloves are medium-sized.


Do not substitute ground ginger for fresh ginger; the flavors are quite different. Store fresh ginger wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Cut off the skin with a sharp knife before measuring.


To skin hazelnuts, spread in a single layer in a large baking pan and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes. Wrap the warm nuts in a coarse-textured dish towel and rub briskly to loosen the skin as much as possible.


in all of the recipes are always fresh, unless otherwise specified.

Hoisin sauce

Slightly sweet, thick, dark brown sauce made from soy beans, garlic, and spices. Keeps indefinitely in a covered jar.

Lemon curd

Best homemade. Follow the method for making passion curd, but use 2/3 cup lemon juice and 1 tsp grated lemon zest instead of the passion fruit and lemon-juice mixture.

Lemon grass

Long, grasslike herb with a strong citrus flavor and aroma. Use only the tender inner stalk since the outer leaves are tough. Use a mixture of grated lime and lemon peel as an alternative.


To slice or dice a fresh mango, find where the flat side of the large seed is by rolling the mango on a work surface; it will settle on a flat side. Cut the peeled mango lengthwise on both sides of the seed so the knife just misses it. Put each mango piece cut side down and cut it lengthwise into slices, dice if required.

Masa harina

Finely ground cornmeal treated with lime used to make corn tortillas; available mail order and in specialty stores.


Japanese rice wine, sweeter than sake and used only for cooking. Use medium dry sherry as an alternative.


To clean mushrooms, be sure never to wash directly in water but, instead, wipe them with damp paper towels. Portobello mushrooms have an open, flat cap with exposed brown gills and a strong, savory flavor. Shiitake mushrooms are an Asian variety with a powerful meaty flavor. There are many varieties of wild mushrooms; our favorites are chanterelles, porcini (also called cepes), and morels. Field or shiitake mushrooms can be used as an alternative.


We prefer French Dijon mustard; It is available ground completely smooth or as grainy mustard which is made from crushed mustard seeds. Dried mustard is one of the strongest and hottest of mustards.


Sold in paper thin sheets. It is an edible seaweed that is a popular flavoring and garnish in Japanese cooking.


When called for in the guide, an onion is a yellow onion. A medium red onion weighs about 1/4 lb. A Spanish onion is a large, mild yellow onion. When we ask for a scallion, we mean both the green and white parts, unless otherwise specified. A shallot has a more subtle flavor than a yellow onion.


Ask your fish dealer to shuck the oysters for you; cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Smoked oysters are available in cans.


Flavorful Italian streaky bacon. Store wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Use regular bacon as an alternative.


We use flat-leaf (also called Italian) parsley in all recipes.

Passion fruit

Choose wrinkled passion fruit as they are riper and therefore more sweet and juicy.


Made from ground corn, but is slightly courser in texture and more golden in color than medium cornmeal. Use course cornmeal as an alternative.


Only in season during the winter months. Choose fruits with a bright yellow skin streaked with bright pink. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.


Italian raw ham that has been seasoned, salt-cured, and air-dried.

Rice papers

Dried brittle translucent sheets made from rice flour. Available in Asian markets, they keep indefinitely.


The world’s most expensive spice. Choose saffron threads rather than saffron powder.


Always use sea salt, whether coarse or fine.


Japan’s famous rice wine is widely used as a flavoring in Japanese sauces and marinades. Use dry sherry as an alternative.


Bay scallops are about 1/2-inch across. Sea scallops are larger but vary in size. For hors d’oeuvres, choose sea scallops about 2 inches across.


We use Asian brands of sesame oil that are extracted from toasted sesame seeds. A lighter oil with a less intense flavor is also available in healthfood stores. Sesame seeds are widely used as flavoring in Chinese and Japanese cooking.



To devein shrimp, cut off the heads and peel away the shells and legs. With a sharp knife, cut along the top of each shrimp and pull out the black vein. Wash and dry well.

Soba noodles

Very fine Japanese buckwheat noodles .

Soy sauce

Major seasoning in Asian cooking, available in a number of varieties ranging in color and flavor. We use light soy sauce when we want to preserve the color of the food but dark soy sauce imparts a richer flavor. Japanese soy sauce called shoyu is sweeter, lighter, and less salty; use light soy sauce as an alternative.


Any white sugar (whether superfine or granulated) that you have on hand.

Sugar cane

Available fresh, frozen, and canned, at Asian and Caribbean markets. When buying canned, read the label to be sure the can contains sugarcane sticks and not chopped sugarcane


Paste made from grinding roasted sesame seeds and sold in jars in large supermarkets and Middle Eastern markets. Shake well before using.


For fresh tomatoes we mean either round or plum and always red and ripe. Let unripe tomatoes ripen on a window sill for a few days. Canned tomatoes are peeled, chopped plum tomatoes. Tomato sauce is tomatoes that are strained completely smooth. Tomato paste refers to concentrated, cooked tomatoes, available in cans or tubes. Sundried tomatoes are marinated in jars in oil; drain before using.


Washed and, unless otherwise stated, peeled in all recipes.


Red-wine vinegar and white-wine vinegar have different flavors and levels of acidity and should not be used interchangeably. Balsamic vinegar is dark in color with a sweet, pungent flavor. Use red-wine vinegar sweetened with a pinch of sugar as an alternative. Rice vinegar with its subtly sweet, mellow flavor is used extensively in Japanese cooking. White-wine vinegar sweetened with a pinch of sugar can be used as an alternative but not for flavoring sushi rice. In this case no substitution can be made.


Pungent green horseradish used in Japanese cuisine. It is available in a dried powder form in cans and as a paste in tubes.

Whole milk yogurt

Made from cow’s or sheep’s milk and is especially rich, creamy, and flavorful. Use a mixture of 1 part plain nonfat yogurt and 1 part sour cream as an alternative.

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