CINNAMON FROM CHINA
There is still a great deal of ambiguity surrounding the huge range of cinnamon types and their culinary use. This post will teach you all you need to know about cooking with Chinese cinnamon.
What Is Cinnamon in China?
Cinnamon is a spice derived from the dried and fermented bark of trees in the laurel family, which is harvested, dried, and ground into a powder.
However, a variety of trees can produce this bark, and the scent and chemical content of the finished products can vary widely.
Commercially, Cinnamomum cassia, or Chinese cinnamon, is the most common and widely available variety of cinnamon in the United States and East Asia. If you’re in China, it’s called guo pi () or, more commonly, Rù Guo ().
China is the home of the cassia tree. Other East Asian countries have it, too. In the United States, Indonesian cinnamon accounts for most of the supply.
Apple pie with cinnamon rolls may conjure up images of cinnamon. Cinnamon is mostly produced in Indonesia, China, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka, which account for 99 percent of the global supply.
Because the FDA does not closely monitor cinnamon sourcing and manufacture, it can be difficult to know which cinnamon you’re purchasing. Cinnamomum zeylanicum, or Ceylon cinnamon, is endemic to Sri Lanka and widely utilized.
Cerylon Cinnamon vs. Cassia
Cassia appears more like tree bark than Ceylon because it is thicker, coarser, and grayish-brown in color. Also, Cassia has a more intense flavor and the spicy, bittersweet scent that many people associate with cinnamon. More fragrant and delicate in flavor, Ceylon has a more pronounced aroma than its neighbor, India.
The twig-like “quills” that cassia and ceylon produce may usually be used to tell them apart.
Cassia cinnamon’s dry bark forms thick, scroll-like portions as it curls inward from both sides. Ceylon cinnamon is a lighter golden-brown and has a smooth, brittle spiral structure.
Cassia cinnamon sold in Chinese stores is also packed differently than the variety found in most Western spice cabinets.
When a tree is young, the inner bark produces cinnamon sticks with tightly coiled quills, which most people are familiar with.
Asian grocery stores, on the other hand, sell thicker and older cinnamon. Small slices of twigs (guozhu) are the most common form of this ingredient. However, thicker pieces (ru gu) with a visible outer “skin” that resembles tree bark are more widely purchased.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF CHINESE CINNAMON?
A little Chinese cinnamon goes a long way when it comes to enhancing the flavor of a dish. Cooking with it is essential for both savory and sweet Chinese meals.
In contrast to Western culinary traditions, where cinnamon is more commonly used in baking and pastries, Asian cuisine uses it more frequently in savory dishes.
It’s possible that it was the first spice used in Chinese cuisine. As a jerky spice and preserver, it was highly prized in China’s ancient past.
Many Chinese cuisines benefit from the well-balanced flavors of Five Spice Powder, which contains Chinese cinnamon as one of its primary constituents. Learn more about Five Spice Powder by reading our article.
Braises, stir-fries, and stews can benefit from a dash of Chinese cinnamon. A cinnamon stick adds a subtle sweetness to offset the savory flavors of other ingredients, resulting in a more complex flavor and scent.
To achieve a more delicate flavor, most of the savory recipes on our blog that call for cinnamon ask for cinnamon sticks or big pieces rather than ground cinnamon.
Are there any benefits to eating cinnamon? Cinnamon’s health advantages may be found on nearly every wellness website nowadays. There is evidence that it can be used to treat inflammatory and bacterial conditions, among other purposes.
Cinnamon has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years, even though we aren’t nutritionists or doctors.
It has been used to treat several diseases, from nausea to joint pain, thanks to its powerful yang, or warming properties.
BUYING AND STORING
There are wide varieties of cinnamon in the United States, but Cassia is the most common and cheap. Is it possible that you already have it in your pantry? The thick bark of Chinese cinnamon, on the other hand, is something you won’t be able to find at your local supermarket.
Cassia bark can be stored for up to four years in an airtight container, free from light and moisture. When it comes to cinnamon, ground cinnamon has a shorter shelf life than the powdered form.
If you cannot locate Chinese cinnamon bark, also known as ru gu, as we do in our recipes, you can use normal cinnamon sticks, which are more readily available.