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Sauces, Seasonings, and Spices
Fall Volume: 2005 Issue: 12(3) page(s): 25 and 26
Does our kitchen beat your supermarket? Often it does for most, but not always. The good sauces we make frequently do, and a fine home-made sauce makes ordinary dishes great. Think of how many sauces flavor rice, noodle, meat, fish, even the fruit dishes you enjoy.
Dozens of folk, known and unknown, query this magazine for sauce recipes and/or information about them. They want them for their brother, their neighbor, their table, even for the Food and Drug Administration, trying to gain approval for a product they are manufacturing. They want sauces that are new, sources that are old, and any sauce or source you can think of.
If you check our 1994-2003 and the more recent index listings on our website www.flavorandfortune.com you know that many have been discussed, some recipes provided. We do not intend to repeat them here. If you want to know about plum sauce, for example, send for a copy of that issue ($10.00) or for just the article that includes it ($3.00). Be sure to advise the volume and number, and the page numbers if asking for just one article. Incidentally, those prices include postage and handling. Here, we want to tell some interesting tales about sauces and sources, and then share a few we have never printed.
For example, one person wanted a sauce that was hot, salty, and sweet. We told them about a classic red sauce that could satisfy these three tastes, and suggested a dish called Chicken with Horse Ear. Another queried about a sauce with a touch of the sea but hardly an ocean breeze. We mentioned one with a touch of premium oyster sauce and a taste of hoisin sauce made with chicken, chestnuts, and greens. This past February, a chap faxed an inquiry wondering if we had a recipe mixing oyster sauce with ketchup. We did and faxed back a recommendation for Seared Chicken and Scallops. Looking at the calendar, we called it: Cupidís Current Concoction.
Recently, at a local Chinese restaurant, we had a delicious yellow dish deep with color and loaded with chicken and mango. That succulent surprise sent us scurrying to the kitchen when a tablemate wondered what made the color so intense. She and all of us had used the mango-flavored sauce to season our rice. I bet I know what it is, I chirped; bet it is mango pudding powder. Of course, bit I did need to prove the conjecture correct. It was.
A not-too-new reader e-mailed the question: Did you ever fix your own XO sauce? Told her we knew she was a new subscriber because we had run an XO sauce recipe in volume 11(2) on page 37. Also said we like to make our own hoisin sauce on occasion, and like it better than store bought brands with chicken, carrots, peppers, and peas.
A chap who has overheard many of these replies, said, why are you always recommending dishes with chicken? Because that meat is most versatile, few folk foul up using it, and we use it often. Should you want to compare sauces, we suggest side-by-side taste testings; and recommend making sauce dishes with chicken. Feel free to also try them with fish, or beef, seafood, or simply vegetarian-style. And, do keep all ingredients the same when taste-testing sauces.
One creative follow-up to a query about sauces was: What is the source of your sauce? We replied: Our thousands of Chinese cookbooks, most of them now residing in the Special Collections area of the State University in Stony Brook, New York. Other sources include shelves, drawers, and boxes we have filled with thousand upon thousands of recipes, articles, translations, even treatises amassed over the years.
One lady asked if we made our own black bean sauce and, what was our source of the black beans we used. Most purchased black bean sauces use brown or yellow beans and fewer fermented black beans than we like, so when time allows, we do opt to make our own. We like the salted sun-dried fermented small black beans that usually come in a caramel-colored cardboard container. We rinse then soak them, gently mince or mash them, and mix them with smashed garlic before use. That is a good place to begin sharing sauce recipes. We venture to say you can find sources of recipes, from your head, heart, or home resource to use them.
|Black Bean Sauce|
1/2 cup fermented black beans
1 Tablespoon corn oil
3 slices fresh ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon tangerine peel soaked, drained, then finely minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon red rice wine
1 Tablespoon white rice wine
2 Tablespoons black rice wine vinegar
1. Rinse the black beans for one minute, in a strainer, and under running warn water.
2. Soak the rinsed beans in two cups of warm water for ten minutes, then drain them, and very gently partially crush them.
3. Heat a wok, add the oil, and fry the ginger and the garlic for one minute, then add the crushed beans and stir-fry for one minute before adding the sugar, minced tangerine peel, rice wines, and vinegar.
4. Next simmer this for five minutes. All the liquid should evaporate.
5. Cool in the wok, then transfer to a clean glass jar and refrigerate them.
Note: When making a dish with black beans or a black bean sauce, take two to four tablespoons of the above and add this after adding any garlic and ginger; then continue as the recipe advises.
2 ripe mangos
1 cup cold chicken broth
2 Tablespoons mango pudding mix powder
1. Peel both mangos, and cut into one inch pieces. Set half aside to use in the stir-fried dish.
2. Using a fork, scrape any mango clinging to the seed, mix it with the other batch of diced mango, and a half cup of chicken broth, and put this into a blender and blend for one minute before adding the mang pudding mix and reblending it for half minute more.
3. Add rest of the chicken broth.
Note: One way to use this sauce is to stir-fry raw chicken breast and thigh meat, water chestnuts halved, and green pepper diced, if desired. for two minutes, add the mango sauce mixture and the mango, and heat until boiling, then serve. There are many others.
|Black Pepper Sauce|
3 Tablespoons corn oil
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 cup dry-fried shallots
3 Tablespoons brown bean or grinding bean paste
3 Tablespoons coarse black pepper
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 Tablespoons cornstarch mixed with two tablespoons of cold water
1. Heat wok, add oil then when hot add garlic, shallots, bean paste, pepper, sugar, salt, and soy sauce and stir-fry for two minutes.
2. Add cornstarch mixture, and simmer until thick; then remove from heat, cool, and put in a glass jar in the refrigerator.
Note: Best when used in two to four tablespoon amounts and added to a dish when sauce ingredients are required.
1 Tablespoon corn oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
5 shallots, minced
5 slices fresh ginger, minced
4 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup brown bean paste
3 Tablespoons oyster sauce or sa cha sauce
10 slices dried haw circles
2 teaspoons black rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1. Heat wok, add oil, and stir-fry garlic, shallots, and ginger for one minute.
2. Add tomato paste, one-quarter cup cold water, brown bean paste, oyster sauce, haw circles, rice vinegar, honey, and soy sauce. Reduce the heat slightly, and stir for five minutes. Then remove from heat and cool before putting into a clean glass jar.
Note: Refrigerate until using; and use twice as much of this hoisin sauce in every recipe that calls for this sauce.