The sauces and pastes are also good helper in the kitchen; they bring great taste for your delicious Chinese food. The basic Chinese sauces I use to cook are soy sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, white vinegar, black vinegar, rice cooking wine, toasted sesame oil, oyster sauce, pixian chili bean paste, sweet bean sauce. In this article, I will introduce the basic usage of these sauces and pastes and where to buy them.
There are many flavored soy sauce, but the most commonly used are light soy sauce (Sheng Chou), soy sauce (Jiang You) and dark soy sauce (Lao Chou). I know many people probably already have a headache by just hearing these names. Confused? Don’t be! Let’s find out the difference now.
Color – from light to dark: light soy sauce, regular soy sauce, dark soy sauce. Comparing with dark soy sauce, the light soy sauce looks clear and thinner, while the dark soy sauce looks thicker.
Taste – Light soy sauce is a little bit salty, dark soy sauce has a slight sweet taste. The regular soy sauce goes in between.
Usage – Light soy sauce is reddish brown. Because of the light color, it is usually used for seasoning, most stir-fry or salad. Dark soy sauce is made by a special process. It’s darker brown and usually used for meat. It’s the ideal helper for adding aroma and flavor to a variety of dishes. You can add dark soy sauce when you braise or stew. Regular soy sauce is in between light soy sauce and dark soy sauce. It is suitable for braising, stewing, and frying a variety of northern dishes.
Except these 3 basic soy sauce, now we have different flavored sauce based on soy sauce, such as seasoned soy sauce for seafood, oyster flavored sauce, mushroom flavored dark soy sauce, etc.
Generally speaking from the color, I use white and black vinegar for cooking. Actually there are more than 10 different types of vinegar based on processes and ingredients. I usually use 3 of them to cook Chinese food – Shanxi Superior Mature Vinegar, White Rice Vinegar, and Zhenjiang Balsamic Vinegar.
The color of Shanxi Mature Vinegar is black and dark purple. It has thick texture with rich sour, aroma and long finish. The main features of Shanxi Mature Vinegar are robust fragrance without precipitation and nonperishable. I will use it when I cook meat to remove fishy smell, and it also can increase the fragrance of the dish. It is not only the great seasoning sauce, but also has a higher health care value.
White Rice Vinegar is a colorless to pale yellow liquid, higher in acetic acid than other Chinese vinegars, but still less acidic and milder in flavor than Western vinegars. I mainly use white rice vinegar for Chinese salad.
Zhenjiang Black Vinegar focuses on the “savory” taste. Compared with Shanxi Mature Vinegar, Zhenjiang Black Vinegar’s unique characteristic is slight sweet. Especially when you eat some minced meat appetizers with Zhenjiang black vinegar, sweet flavor could make the food taste more delicious.
To be continued..