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Finding Obscure Chinese Ingredients

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Q. Can you please translate the following into English?

  • deng shen root
  • huang qi root
  • gancao
  • rougi vcao guo
  • dingxiang

I wish to make a recipe for Boiled Beef in Spicy Sauce but cannot locate the above ingredients.

A. Surprisingly, the book where you found that recipe, The Food & Cooking of China (Canada, UK) doesn’t include these herbs and spices in its glossary — so they must be pretty obscure. The recipe comes from the chapter on herbal specialties. Here goes, but we’re not sure this will be much help:

  • deng shen root is codonopsis root (also spelled dang shen)
  • huang qi root is astragalus root
  • gancao is licorice root
  • rougi is cassia or cinnamon
  • cao guo is the fruit of amomun or amonum
  • dingxiang is cloves

Given the challenge of finding some of these herbs on the Internet in reasonable quantity or price (or finding them at all), we’re skeptical that a good Chinese market is going to stock all of these, but it may be worth a try. Apparently all of these herbs are available at and probably other sites on the web that carry Chinese herbs.

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