Kitchen Guide

Bay Leaves

General Description

Bay Leaves come from the sweet bay or laurel tree, known botanically as Laurus nobilis. The elliptical leaves of both trees are green, glossy, and grow up to 3 inches long.

Taste and Aroma Description

Bay Leaves are pungent and have a sharp, bitter taste.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started

The Bay Leaf is useful in hearty, home-style cooking.
When you are making bean, split pea and vegetable soups, meat stews, spaghetti sauce, and chili, a Bay leaf can be added for a more pungent flavor.
Alternate whole Bay Leaves with meat, seafood, or vegetables on skewers before cooking.
Be sure to remove Bay Leaves before eating a dish that has finished cooking. The whole leaves are used to impart flavor only and are bitter and hard to chew.


bran = polishings Notes: This is the made from the outer husk of the grain, and it's a rich source of fiber. There are two types of fiber: insoluble fiber, which passes right through us undigested, and soluble fiber, which is digested by friendly bacteria in our intestines. Insoluble fiber is found in wheat bran and corn bran, and it's good for flushing out the intestines. Soluble fiber, found in oat bran, makes you feel full, so it's good for dieters. Substitutes: legumes (These are also high in fiber.)

Bhutanese red rice

This red short-grain rice is a staple in rural areas of Bhutan, a small kingdom nestled high in the Himalayas. It has a strong, nutty flavor and is best served with other assertive ingredients. It cooks much faster than brown rice. Substitutes: Wehani rice OR brown rice

Brown Rice

Many rice varieties come as either brown rice or white rice. Brown rice isn't milled as much as white, so it retains the bran and germ. That makes brown rice more fiber-rich, nutritious, and chewy. Unfortunately, it doesn't perform as well as white rice in many recipes. Long grains of brown rice aren't as fluffy and tender, and short grains aren't as sticky. Brown rice also takes about twice as long to cook and has a much shorter shelf life (because of the oil in the germ). Keep it in a cool, dark place for not more than three months. Refrigeration can extend shelf life. Substitutes: converted rice (less chewy, takes less time to cook) OR wild pecan rice OR white rice (Enriched white rich has less fiber, but many of the same nutrients.)

Bamboo Shoots

Crunchy in texture and with a subtle, refreshing taste, these are the edible young shoots of certain type of bamboo. Fresh bamboo shoots are hard to get and, if not already prepared, must be peeled then parboiled to remove toxic hydrocyanic acid boil whole or in chunks for 5 minutes or until they no longer taste bitter, Canned and bottled are the one most often used.

Black Fungus

This tree fungus has a little flavor of its own, but is valued for is crunchy texture. It is most commonly available in its dried form, which looks like wrinkled black paper. Before use, soak in warm water for 15-30 minutes, until the fungus swells to about five times its size. They should then be rinsed several times to remove any sand.

Bean Sprouts

The sprouts of the soya or mung bean are crunchy and tender. They can be grown at home, they are easy to find in most supermarket though. Beansprouts can be replaced by other fresh vegetables, finely sliced, if necessary.

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