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Cupboard Staples All Chinese Food Lovers Need

a bowl of chinese food with noodles
*This is a collaborative post.

Getting a Chinese takeaway or eating out at a restaurant is always fun. But if you love Chinese food, you don’t have to get someone else to cook it for you. In fact, you can make it even tastier and more authentic if you make it at home. Chinese food even offers you the choice of multiple styles of cooking and dishes from different regions, so you can really experiment and find things that you enjoy making and eating. If you want to try out some Chinese cuisine in the kitchen, there are some cupboard staples that you should make sure you have.


Every cuisine has a range of herbs and spices that are used often. Salt and pepper are usually important and, in the case of Chinese cooking, you should make sure you have white pepper and Sichuan peppercorns. Other useful spices include chilli flakes and ground chilli, dried chillies, star anise, and cinnamon. Chinese five-spice can be useful too, as it contains popular Chinese spices such as Sichuan pepper, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, and fennel seeds (the exact ingredients can vary slightly). Of course, you can buy all of these spices and use them separately to your tastes too.

a selection of spices in bowls


There are several different sauces that are handy to have for Chinese cooking and several top brands that offer them all. You can get oyster sauce, XO sauce, chilli sauce, and soy sauce from Lee Kum Kee and other popular brands. Make sure that you have both light soy sauce and dark soy sauce in your cupboard. Light soy sauce has a lighter taste and is excellent for marinades and seasoning, while dark soy sauce adds a deep colour to your dishes. As well as sauces, you might find some bean pastes useful, including black bean paste and chilli bean paste.

Oils, Wines, and Vinegars

Some liquid ingredients other than sauces are also helpful to have in your kitchen. Rice vinegar is a common ingredient found in many Chinese dishes. Shaoxing rice wine is also an excellent ingredient to have on hand. It can be drunk as a beverage, but it’s more commonly known as a cooking ingredient. Sesame oil is another must and can be used for everything from making a Chow Mein to whipping up a salad dressing. Vegetable oil is always handy to have available too, both for Chinese cooking and for everything else.

Dry Cupboard Ingredients

As for your dry ingredients, you should have long grain rice and either egg or vermicelli noodles in your cupboards. Jasmine rice can be a nice alternative to long grain rice too. Some tins or cans can be handy, such as water chestnuts, and dried mushrooms are also a good cupboard staple. Cornflour is a useful ingredient for thickening sauces and marinades, helping to thicken without adding any flavour.

Getting started with Chinese cooking is easy. Of course, you also need the right cooking utensils, so make sure you get a good wok. There are many excellent recipe books, but you can also find recipes and advice online.

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