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Lye water

Chinese

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45 replies to this topic

#31 Apicio

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Posted 02 October 2005 - 03:23 PM

Thanks again to Danjou and also to Sheetz and Tepee. And Muichoi you let us know how your giant squid adventure turned out. I find this to be so informative because this subject hardly ever gets discussed anywhere.

Edited by Apicio, 02 October 2005 - 03:27 PM.



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#32 Dejah

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Posted 02 October 2005 - 05:44 PM

" Waht" can be achieved thru' velveting without baking soda.

"Chueh" in beef balls is from soda and waterchestnut flour. With the recipe I use from Wei-Chuan series, I use only 1 tsp. of soda in 2 2/3 lbs of meat.

We used tenderizer powder (made from papaya extract) on sirloin beef before slicing for stir-fries.

Wouldn't soda render tenderloin "mushy" and fall apart as you stir-fry? What is your reasoning behind that?
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#33 Dim Sim

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Posted 02 October 2005 - 06:27 PM

hi all, interesting forum here, now I know why I never be able to get my prawn taste like the one in my local chinese take away, in Australia we are able to buy prawn already shelled ( which we refered to as prawn cutlet) I remember I bought some once and it has a weired firm and slightly slippery feel to it, and when I cooked them ( in a clay pan , with lots ofolive oil , garlic and parsley ) it has an amazing firm and springy texture that I never encountered with any of the prawns that I ever cooked :hmmm: , taste a little different to the prawn that I shelled myself, I wondered if the prawns that I bought might already been treated with either borax or baking soda. If so, is there any chance that if it is at all possible to give soda or borax treatment to prawns still in their shell ?

#34 Ben Hong

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Posted 02 October 2005 - 08:52 PM

Wouldn't soda render tenderloin "mushy" and fall apart as you stir-fry?

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Sue-On, in a word, no. It has almost the opposite effect in that besides making tough meat chewable and it also affects it by giving it a "springy" texture.

Easy does it though as too much will give the meat a bitter taste. My usual dose is 1/3 tsp. to a half pound of sliced raw meat. Mix it in with the regular marinade and the longer you let it sit, the more tender the meat becomes.

#35 muichoi

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Posted 03 October 2005 - 12:27 AM


Wouldn't soda render tenderloin "mushy" and fall apart as you stir-fry?

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Sue-On, in a word, no. It has almost the opposite effect in that besides making tough meat chewable and it also affects it by giving it a "springy" texture.

Easy does it though as too much will give the meat a bitter taste. My usual dose is 1/3 tsp. to a half pound of sliced raw meat. Mix it in with the regular marinade and the longer you let it sit, the more tender the meat becomes.

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I find if you cut the meat finely enough then less than half this amount works, and then you can't taste it. I used to scorn the idea of freezing the meat before cutting-but actually it gives wonderful results.

#36 ermintrude

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 05:12 PM

Bounce - From a modernist cuisine they use sodium bicarbonate to make certain dishes alkaline to increase the Maliard reaction, lye water also does this can they've substituted. You can't kill or cause major damage (via cooking anything that someone would eat) with bicarb but you could with lye water. Can they be exchanged?

Reason I''m asking, have baking powder but no sodium bicarb, but have lye water I bought by mistake as in a rush and was next to rice vinegar (just that is a worry) and not reading Chinese how was I to know. Good job I read the ingredients of everything I buy and cook with.
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#37 Carolyn Phillips

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 10:59 PM

So much of the problem with these English recipes is the translation. Gad, "lye water" for jianshui is one of the deadliest renderings I've ever seen! No, NEVER USE LYE IN FOOD except under very rare and controlled circumstances, as this can cause severe burns! (FWIW, caustic soda or lye in Chinese has names like shaojian 燒鹼 or yejian 液鹼.)

Even Wikipedia has it wrong (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lye): recipes for moon cakes, amber Chinese tamales (zongzi), etc., use baking soda in their preparation, not lye. Period.

Jian means "alkaline," and, as some have already pointed out here, this means baking soda. So, jianshui would (as Chinese dictionaries explain) just be baking soda dissolved in water, allowing better distribution in the batter. It's used as a leavening in moon cake wrappers, but from what I can find, this only applies to Cantonese style moon cakes.

And so the initial question is quite interesting; why add it to the wrappers? An old Chinese cookbook called "Zhongguo dianxin xiaochi pu" mentions no leavening for the Beijing and Suzhou style moon cakes, as these rely on using two types of dough (one of flour with more water than fan and the other with more fat than water) to form flaky layers. Only Cantonese moon cakes call for leavening, at least according to this cookbook.

The recipe says to mix the dough out of good quality flour with sugar syrup, lard, and the alkaline water, so I would imagine that the density caused by the syrup would make this leavening quite necessary.

Hope this helps.
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#38 Will

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 01:34 AM

So much of the problem with these English recipes is the translation. Gad, "lye water" for jianshui is one of the deadliest renderings I've ever seen! No, NEVER USE LYE IN FOOD except under very rare and controlled circumstances, as this can cause severe burns! (FWIW, caustic soda or lye in Chinese has names like shaojian 燒鹼 or yejian 液鹼.)

Even Wikipedia has it wrong (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lye): recipes for moon cakes, amber Chinese tamales (zongzi), etc., use baking soda in their preparation, not lye. Period.

Jian means "alkaline," and, as some have already pointed out here, this means baking soda. So, jianshui would (as Chinese dictionaries explain) just be baking soda dissolved in water, allowing better distribution in the batter.

It's not baking soda. Most commercially available jianshui I've seen is a solution of sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide (which are both "lye") or potassium carbonate, and I think these are what are most commonly used for making zongzi, moon cakes, noodles, etc. Sodium bicarbonate is sometimes also present, but it's there as a buffer, not as the primary alkaline agent. For example, the "Koon Chun" brand, which is one of the more commonly available ones in the US, is potassium carbonate, buffered with sodium bicarbonate. Historically, mugwort potash (penghui) was also used as an alkaline substance for noodle making.

The reason recipes specify "lye water" is because that's the most common English language label on bottled jianshui, and a simple sodium bicarbonate solution made at home won't be strong enough.

Edited by Will, 26 February 2012 - 01:35 AM.


#39 Mjx

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 02:17 AM


So much of the problem with these English recipes is the translation. Gad, "lye water" for jianshui is one of the deadliest renderings I've ever seen! No, NEVER USE LYE IN FOOD except under very rare and controlled circumstances, as this can cause severe burns! (FWIW, caustic soda or lye in Chinese has names like shaojian 燒鹼 or yejian 液鹼.). . . .



The reason recipes specify "lye water" is because that's the most common English language label on bottled jianshui, and a simple sodium bicarbonate solution made at home won't be strong enough.


Could jianshui be a solution of sodium carbonate, that is, heat-treated sodium bicarbonate (AKA baking soda)?

According to Cook's Illustrated (January & February 2012, p. 31), spreading sodium bicarbonate in a layer on a baking tray, and baking it for two hours at 250 F° (121.1 C°) will increase its pH 'from about 8 to about 11' (lye has a pH between 13 and 14).

A solution of sodium carbonate gave a result very similar to that of lye, when preparing soft pretzels, without the risks associated with the use of a lye solution.

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#40 sheetz

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 12:53 PM

Reason I''m asking, have baking powder but no sodium bicarb, but have lye water I bought by mistake as in a rush and was next to rice vinegar (just that is a worry) and not reading Chinese how was I to know. Good job I read the ingredients of everything I buy and cook with.


I guess it would depend on the recipe but you can go ahead and try. The stuff you bought is food grade so it is safe to consume (in small quantities).

Re: Sodium carbonate, apparently it can be used in place of lye water for some applications. As for lye water's use in Cantonese moon cakes, I think the higher pH may cause the gluten in flour to become more elastic and make it easier to stretch the dough into a thin layer around the filling. For this reason lye water is also used in making hand pulled noodles.

Edited by sheetz, 26 February 2012 - 12:54 PM.


#41 sheetz

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 02:54 PM

Having read a little more about lye water's uses in Chinese cooking, I found out that lye water will initially cause gluten strands to become stretchier, but then after about 30 min they completely stiffen up.

In recipes for hand pulled noodles using lye water you have to work very quickly so you can be finished pulling the noodles before the dough stiffens up. In contrast, recipes for mooncakes using lye water say to let the dough rest for an hour before shaping them. Based on what I've read and my own experience, I believe this helps the skin become more plastic so that the patterns molded onto the dough will hold their shape during baking.

Edited by sheetz, 26 February 2012 - 02:55 PM.


#42 GlorifiedRice

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 05:47 PM

Remember that they cure olives in Lye too
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#43 GlorifiedRice

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 04:16 PM

Are these lye water treated noodles referred to as "CHEWING NOODLES"?
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#44 Mountfort

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 01:07 PM

Terribly interesting reading, explains so much of what I tasted/chewed over 18 years in Hong Kong and Japan. Picked up a bottle of Koon Chun lye water at the local Asian grocery witht he intent of making Tsukemen (ramen variation) noodles. Seems it contains Potassium Carbonate and baking soda. Love to know the concentration. Also gives instructions for rehydrating squid....

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#45 danjou

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 11:39 PM

Hello, Danjou, alias Ed Chung here,

greetings to all :-)

I can't believe it has been years since I have posted here....but life has been hectic indeed.

I just want to add some brief thoughts to what I have already written in this post way back in 2005 here, that traditional Northern Chinese "hand pulled " noodles, or "lah mien " is made with high protein ( high gluten ) flour and water only. The artisanal way is to use good high protein ( gluten) flour, and water....no chemicals......The trick here is the kneading time, as well as the intensity of the kneading as well as the kneading technique. This is very similar to making wrappers for Northern Chinese dumplings ( think of Kuo tieh, Sueh jiao, jin jiao etc.....which have no lye water....wrappers for these Northern style dumplings are instead simply made from dough formed with cold or hot water combined with good quality high protein flour..... ).

The longer you knead the dough made from this high gluten flour in Northern style lah mien, the more you "develop" the gluten, and the resulting noodles are firmer, more elastic and chewier......no need for chemicals.

Ramen, tsukemen, Cantonese wonton mien....are all sub classes of Lye water, or kansui (Japanese , or gansueh ( Cantonese ) noodles. These noodles tend to be far firmer and chewier than Northern style noodles, and these qualities are achieved with using BOTH, chemical and mechanical means.....chemical means, being an alkaline solution to chemically change the protein, and mechanical.....being long kneading.....

Dumpling skins used in Southern, or Cantonese sueh gao ( sueh jiao in the North ), and wonton are usually lye water treated to give elasticity and to give a bit of an "al dente " quality.....


cheers :-D

Ed

Edited by danjou, 25 January 2013 - 11:57 PM.


#46 takadi

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 11:07 AM

Terribly interesting reading, explains so much of what I tasted/chewed over 18 years in Hong Kong and Japan. Picked up a bottle of Koon Chun lye water at the local Asian grocery witht he intent of making Tsukemen (ramen variation) noodles. Seems it contains Potassium Carbonate and baking soda. Love to know the concentration. Also gives instructions for rehydrating squid....

 

I don't personally have this information but I did try doing some google searches and came up with this blog that did some experimentation on using koon chun lye water and adjusting measurements to make ramen noodles.

 

http://norecipes.com...-noodle-recipe/

 

If you go to the preview pictures for modernist cuisine on amazon and look at the picture for pasta, you can see for ramen that 0.1% potassium carbonate and 0.9% sodium carbonate are "suggested" measurements (percentage of total weight of flour used).  You could make a leap of faith and extrapolate from this that whatever the "correct" amount of lye water for ramen contains .9 % and .1% of total weight of flour of sodium and potassium carbonate respectively

 

I was unable to find the concentrations of potassium carbonate or sodium carbonate on Koon Chun's site, which is a little disconcerting. 







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