Satay Sauce 沙爹醬  Made from crushed peanut and flavoured with soy sauce, chilli, shallot, sugar, vinegar and garlic. Mostly used as a dip and not as a cooking sauce.

satay sauce

Scoring 劃 / jie  A technique used to cut across the surface of foods to help them cook faster and more evenly.

Sea Slug = Sea Cucumber = beche-de-mer 海參  It is regarded as a delicacy in most cultures in East and Southeast Asia. The well-cooked sea slugs have a slippery texture. Winter melon, dried scallop, Shiitake mushroom, Chinese cabbage, etc. are common ingredients that go with sea slug dishes.

sea slug

Sesame Oil 蔴油  Adding several drops of sesame oil to a dish that is ready to serve will enhance the flavours.

Sesame Paste 芝蔴醬  This is a paste made from ordinary white sesame seeds.

sesame paste

Sesame Seeds 芝蔴  The dried seeds of the sesame plant.


Soy Sauce 醬油  An essential ingredient in Chinese cooking . It is made from a mixture of soya beans, flour and water. Light soy sauce is saltier and lighter in colour, while dark soy sauce has been aged longer and has a darker colour. Dark soy sauce is thicker and more suitable for stews.

soy sauce

Shallots 紅蔥頭  These are mildly flavoured members of the onion family.


Sharks Fin 魚翅  An exotic delicacy of China. Extremely expensive and a symbol of extravagance.

Shiitake Mushroom = Black Winter Mushroom = Donko 冬菇  Though shiitake mushrooms are now cultivated, they have the earthiness and flavour of wild mushrooms. They're large and meaty, and they work well in stir-fries, soups, and side dishes, or as a meat substitute. Dried shiitakes are excellent, and often preferable to fresh due to their more intense flavour. Soak them in water for about thirty minutes to reconstitute them, then use the soaking water to enhance your sauce.


Shrimp Paste 蝦醬  This ingredient adds an exotic flavour and fragrance to dishes.

shrimp paste

Sichuan Preserved Vegetables 四川榨菜  This is the root of the mustard green, pickled in salt and hot chillies.

sichuan preserved_vegetables

Sichuan Pepper Corn 花椒  Has a mouth numbing quality and plays a major role in spicy bean curd. These aren't true peppercorns, but rather dried flower buds. You're most likely to encounter them as part of a mixture, like Chinese five-spice powder or Japanese shichimi togarashi. Toast Sichuan peppercorns briefly in a hot pan before using.

sichuan pepper_corn

Silk Squash 絲瓜 (see Chinese Okra)

Silver Ears = White Fungus 銀耳/雪耳  Dried wood fungus, used to provide texture.

white fungus

Shallow Frying 煎  Involves more oil than stir-frying but less than deep-frying. The food is fried on one side then flipped and fried on the other side.

Snow Pea = Chinese Pea Pod = Edible Podded Pea 荷蘭豆/豌豆  Tender green peapods containing flat, barely formed peas. You eat these whole. They are often stir-fried very briefly (no more than a minute), but they're also good raw. They're easy to prepare, just wash, and trim the ends.

snow pea

Snow Pea Shoots 豆苗  The young shoots of the snow pea, usually stir-fried.

snow pea_shoots

Soybean Sprouts 黃豆芽 / 大豆芽菜  These sturdy, crunchy sprouts are good in salads or stir-fries. They become bitter when the tails get too long, so eat them soon after they sprout.

soybean sprouts

Spinach 菠菜  Chinese spinach is most commonly stir fried. It should not be stir-fried from frozen, because of the water-content.


Spring Onion 蔥  These are onions that have small bulbs and long green stalks. They are usually eaten raw, but you can also grill or sauté them.

spring onion

Spring Roll Skins 春卷皮  Paper thin pastry wrappers which are filled with bean sprouts and other vegetables to make spring rolls.

spirng roll_skins

Star Anise 八角 / 大茴香 (see Anise)

Straw Mushrooms = paddy straw mushrooms 草菇  These are a common ingredient in Chinese stir-fries. They are hard to find fresh, but canned straw mushrooms work well and are sold in many supermarkets. Better, but harder to find, are dried straw mushrooms, which have a more intense flavour than canned.

straw mushrooms

Stir-Frying 炒  A technique whereby food can be cooked in minutes in very little oil so that it retains its natural flavours and textures.

Su Choy 紹菜  This is just like Chinese leaves (napa cabbage), only elongated.

siu choy

Sweet and Sour Sauce 甜酸醬

sweet and_sour_sauce

Sweet Bean Sauce = Sweet Bean Paste 甜麵醬  This brown sauce is made from sweetened fermented soybeans. Taiwanese cooks use it as a marinade or a condiment for meats.

sweet bean_sauce