Some of us have been discussing how when cooking American or European food, we demand freshest ingredients, yet when cooking Chinese, we submit to our cookbook recipes and use the jarred chile bean paste, chile paste, bean sauce, the cheap rice wine from the Asian market, and so on. Why not subject our Chinese cooking to the same standards of fresh, non-processed (or at least not overly-processed) foods as the other things we cook.
We seem to agree that we are interested in this, and some of have started experimenting. None of feel like we're "there" yet. So here's the thread to share our trials and errors. Post up on how you are making your favorite Chinese dishes your own, and upping the quality in the process.