Abalone 鮑魚 / 九孔  Abalone is a popular ingredient in Chinese cooking, particularly in Cantonese dishes.  Abalone is a mollusc of the genus Haliotis which means sea ear - a reference to the flat shell.  It is available fresh, dried, or canned. In its dried form it must be soaked for several days before using.

abalone 

Agar-agar 瓊脂 / 大菜   A product of seaweed, agar-agar is sold dried in paper-thin strands or sheets which are completely colourless and tasteless.  A very small quantity will set a large volume of liquid.  It is used to make sauces and desserts.  Gelatin may be substituted - 1 ½ tbsps gelatin powder is equivalent to 8g agar-agar.

Anise 八角  The seed pod from the anise bush is a hard, star-shaped spice with the flavour of liquorice.   Use ground star anise in baking or with duckling, or use the whole spice in a slow-cooking casserole. 

anise

Apple Pear = Chinese Pear = Sand Pear 沙梨  Chinese pears are crunchy, juicy, and very fragrant.  Growers produce over twenty different varieties in an assortment of sizes and colours.   Chinese pears are often served raw but they can also be cooked, though they never become as soft as cooked pears.

asianpear

Arrowhead = Ci Gu 茨菰  The name arrowroot is more commonly associated with a thickener that is made from the plant.  A fresh arrowroot tuber looks like a small onion, only without the layers.  It should be peeled, and then it can be boiled or stir-fried. 

chinesearrowhead

Aubergine = Egg Plant 茄子  A purple-skinned vegetable, comparable to the familiar American eggplant. Chinese eggplants have thinner skins, a more delicate flavour, and fewer of the seeds that tend to make eggplants taste bitter.

eggplant-chinese