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Commonly used Chinese Spices

Star Anise

Star anise: Also known as fennel, Chinese anise, is one of the “Three Musketeers of Spices” commonly used at home. The smell is strong but not sharp, extremely versatile, and essential in stewed meat, fish stew, brine, etc. It does not hurt if the amount is a little larger. When buying, choose dry and brownish-red color, with a non-moldy scent and sufficient aroma. Furthermore, make sure it is 8 horns whole, or if it is mixed with something similar to star anise, which is not just 8 horns. These things are not only worthless but also easy to poison, so be careful.


Pepper: It is one of the “three Musketeers of Spices” that can always be found in your kitchen. It is the soul of Sichuan cuisine. The numbness and fresh taste can remove fishy and greasy excellently. For an authentic taste of Sichuan cuisine, you should buy peppers with a purple-red color, no seeds, and a completely cracked shell. Black colored, not cracked, and wrapped with lots of seeds do not have real taste, and the weight is rather heavy.

 Cinnamon (also known as Cassia)

 cinnamon (also known as Cassia):  Family standing ” Three swordsmen of spices”, good helper in stews and marinades, and also a member of the five-spice powder family. It tastes sweet and slightly spicy, but is powerful at eliminating fishy smells. You should look for roots in thin rolls when you buy, even if the price is slightly higher, they have a more mellow and rich taste, whereas the bark-like roots cost less, but the taste is rather bland.

Aromatic leaves (also known as cinnamon leaves)

Aromatic leaves (also known as cinnamon leaves): the aroma is similar to cinnamon, but not as strong as cinnamon. So a slightly greater amount can be used, but it is more common in Western food. Look for a dry, yellow-green color and a strong smell ones.

Grass nuts

Grass nuts: Grass nuts have a sharp smell to remove fishy flavor, they must be put in small quantities when cooking beef and lamb, otherwise, the taste will overpower the main ingredient. To release the flavor more fully, you can pat it lightly before use with a knife so that it breaks and the flavor is released.. When buying, please be ensured that the ones you purchase have a full shape, dark brown color, and no white frost on the surface

Angelica dahurica

Angelica dahurica: This root spice is available in pieces and is used to enhance the flavor of dishes. You should use it sparingly for pork dishes, beef, and lamb dishes, as well as chicken dishes

Shanai (also referred to as sand ginger)

Shanai (also referred to as sand ginger) It is cut into thick slices for drying, and shaped like a dahurica, but is not white as it. It is frequently used in Cantonese cuisine, such as roast duck, barbecued pork, brine, etc. In addition, it is one of the ingredients in many curries, and is characterized by a sharp taste that should be added sparingly when cooking.

Nutmeg (also known as nutmeg)

nutmeg (also known as nutmeg): One of the more expensive spices; it has a very strong taste. In stewed beef and lamb, half a grain is enough to achieve a more flavorful outcome.


Cumin: the smell is calm, and the amount can be slightly larger. Among the selections are marinated meat, pasta, biscuits, and bread.


Clove: When marinating meat, such as when doing roast chicken, one of the essential ingredients is the clove. The flavor is extremely strong, so don’t add too much.


Liquorice: In general, liquorice are known to be effective at stopping coughs, enhancing sweetness and bringing a soft aroma, and aiding in stopping coughs. They are generally small round flakes and light yellow in color.

Cardamom (also known as white cardamom)

Cardamom (also known as white cardamom): Generally used for marinating meat, it is also used in sour plum soup in old Beijing. Make sure it has a light yellow color and is not coated with lime powder.

Grass cardamom (also known as grass cardamom)

Grass cardamom (also known as grass cardamom): It is a fruit spice that generally is not used alone. but can be used in conjunction with brine, and in boiling mutton in small amounts


Chenpi: This product is made from dried orange peel, which has a strong flavor. Guangdong Xinhui has a reputation for its aged peel, which has a difference by the length of the year. It is used to prepare drinks and to cook meat with the older ones, which have a stronger flavor and are more expensive


Comfrey: Red oil can be made more purple and bright with the use of comfrey, a natural plant pigment. However, the right amount is necessary.


Ginger: A type of fresh dried ginger, produced in Guangdong, Guangxi, and other places, has a spicy taste, which is well suited for marinades. It should be used sparingly because of it’s strong taste.

Sand kernels

Sand kernels: Typically used as part of brine preparation, but sometimes used alone, as in Shandong’s famous nine turn sausage dish sprinkled with sand kernel powder.

Red currant rice

Red currant rice: Fermented glutinous rice, purple-red in color, is also a natural pigment, used primarily for stewing to color the ingredients, be careful not to add too much spice, otherwise the dish will appear too dark.

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April 2024

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