• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
gweixel

chinese "white sauce"

24 posts in this topic

I'm trying to make a stirfry with a basic chinese white sauce and was wondering if anyone had recipies that replicates the flavor and consistency well.

thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If i'm thinking what you're thinking, it's just chicken stock with a little corn starch slurry. Usually garlic and ginger in the stir-fry for more flavor. Other spices depending on the dish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A typical white sauce for a dish like Moo Goo Gai Pan is:

6T chicken broth/stock

2T sherry

2t cornstarch

1/2t sugar

I put the quantities just for ratio reference. It's from a small asain cookbook I acquired.


My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, its just broth, corn starch, wine and sugar as was noted.

As for ratios, it's a bit of broth, a little bit less of wine, a bit of corn starch, and a little bit of sugar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't use sugar! Cantonese white sauces don't use sugar. Northern Chinese cuisine uses sugar in their sauces - alot of Chinese carryout places are run by Northern Chinese nowadays (instead of just mostly Cantonese) and so the typical Moo Goo Gai Pan of say 10 years ago has changed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What's the difference between white sauce and lobster sauce? Anyone have a recipe for lobster sauce?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am Cantonese, and my grandma always uses a little bit of sugar to balance out the soy sauce. It's a fundamental. May even be universal.


"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am Cantonese, and my grandma always uses a little bit of sugar to balance out the soy sauce. It's a fundamental. May even be universal.

Lobster sauce has egg whites (sometimes whole beaten egg) stirred into it and has ground pork and chopped up scallion.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am Cantonese, and my grandma always uses a little bit of sugar to balance out the soy sauce. It's a fundamental. May even be universal.

It's certainly present in Shanghai cuisine. Soy sauce, wine and sugar are the basic cornerstones of "hung xaio" (red cooked) Shanghai cooking.

And if anyone disagrees with me, you can argue with my mother and my mother-in-law. They're both from Shanghai, and this is the first time they've agreed on something!

Octaveman is dead on, btw.


Be polite with dragons, for thou art crunchy and goeth down well with ketchup....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a corrolary, I grew up eating northern chinese food and have never, as far as I've recalled, put sugar in any dish.


PS: I am a guy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

does the cornstarch need to get mixed with the broth and other liquids before the solids are in the wok?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am Cantonese, and my grandma always uses a little bit of sugar to balance out the soy sauce. It's a fundamental. May even be universal.

I am Cantonese, too (Toisan) and we've never used sugar in the house when we're making a white sauce. Or in our restaurant. Then again, there are so many different ways of cooking Cantonese food.

(Not saying that you COULDN'T but I almost hit the floor when I saw that. Like the time I was assisting a cooking class and the instructor told everyone to stir the pot of rice when making jasmine rice for a stir fry. And he didn't wash the rice prior to cooking. Lord have mercy...my chopsticks got all in a tizzy that night) :biggrin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
does the cornstarch need to get mixed with the broth and other liquids before the solids are in the wok?

We usually do a slurry.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

sorry, but i'm not familiar with what a "slurry" means.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sorry, but i'm not familiar with what a "slurry" means.

Means a muddy consistency. Though this is also up for debate. I do a thin slurry, just add to the confusion, but personal taste and preference is important no?

As for the sugar, just a hint man, no more. I swear by it, like in stir fry kai lan and stuff. Takes the edge off the ginger and the soy.


"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sorry, but i'm not familiar with what a "slurry" means.

Briefly, a slurry is a mix of cornstarch (or other thickener) with water or stock and is used as a thickener. It can be thick or thin. In my opinion, it's best to make it medium so your sauce in the wok doesn't get too thick too quickly or too thin which may make you to add too much liquid to the sauce. But if the recipe calls for a specific amount of stock/cornstarch then go with that since it's actually "the sauce" rather than a general thickener.

So, yes, combine all of the sauce ingredients before putting in the wok.

Regarding the sugar debate. I can't get into a regional debate as I'm not Asain nor did I grow up with Asian cooking other than the periodic outing to the local Chinese restaurant. But as I've been increasingly making Asain (basically Thai, regional Chinese) these days, adding sugar or not will depend on the dish I'm cooking. If it involves sweet soy, thick soy, oyster or hoisan sauce or any other thick sweet tasting sauce I leave it out. I do like to add a little sugar to spicy dishes just because I like the result. When I do add sugar though, it's always Palm sugar. I like the flavor a whole lot better than white cane sugar...more subtle, I think.

Cheers,

Bob


My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sorry, but i'm not familiar with what a "slurry" means.

Means a muddy consistency. Though this is also up for debate. I do a thin slurry, just add to the confusion, but personal taste and preference is important no?

As for the sugar, just a hint man, no more. I swear by it, like in stir fry kai lan and stuff. Takes the edge off the ginger and the soy.

Yup, totally personal preference. This could be another thread!

Sugar in gai lan? No...really?!?! I think it's a Toisan thing. I've noticed we usually do our foods more on the savory side(ie no sugar in the stir fry unless it's like a beef and tomatoes type of dish). From what I understand "back in the village", the food's on the salty side. But this was a report from my goober cousin who's an uber health nut. Boo. :blink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm resurrecting this thread because I made Moo Goo Gai Pan tonight and used my standard "white sauce" recipe posted above but the taste was off for some reason and I was hoping someone might have some opinions.

If you look at what I posted above I assumed that the ratio of ingredients can be used in multiples...meaning I can make a 3x batch and all ingredients will be proportionally added. The problem tonight was that I tripled the ratio for a huge stir-fry but the sauce was very Shao xing intensive. What I'm unsure about is...

1. My rice wine was too strong (pretty dark in color)?

2. If the ratio of wine should be reduced as you increase (double, triple, etc.) the volume?

3. The wok wasn't hot enough to burn off the alcohol when added?

Thanks,

Bob


My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I use a wok over a high flame, I would squirt the wine on the perimeter of the wok, where there was no veggies/meat. Maybe try adding the wine first.

Are you making a mixture with the sauce ingredients first before adding it to the stir fry? or adding the components individually?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I mixed them together and poured it all in at once when the food was ready for it.

On a side note, I velveted the chicken and cooked it in boiling water instead of oil. First time doing it this way and the meat came out exactly as I had expected to see in a restaurant. I've done veleveting in oil with beef before but never with water for any meat. I'm thrilled.


My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My only experience with anything approaching "white sauce" is in a local buffet-type place. The chicken is just like the crispy-batter-fried pieces in General's chicken, but it's sitting in a sauce that's almost like a pastry glaze---it's that sweet. And it has a definite hint of mayo in it.

It's so very rich, one bite is enough, I think; I'd just like to know how they keep it that crisp in that hothot pan of sauce.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bob:

In my experience, scaling up seasoning ratios linearly does not work well at all. In general, I find you need less seasoning for greater quantities, particularly with respect to salty seasonings. Personally, I have never seen or used Shaoxing wine in a sauce that is a last minute starch thickened based sauce. This seems logical, as these types of sauces are cooked briefly, and there won't be enough time to evaporate off some of the alcohol, and mellow the taste of the wine.

I have two suggestsions. First, I would prepare the sauce as you do normally, but without scaling up the ratios. Taste and get a feel for the balance of seasonings, and then prepare the scale up version without the wine. Add the wine in small increments until you feel you have replicated the taste of the original ratio sauce. Secondly, you could try including the wine in the marinade, or at another step in the cooking process like splashing it in as the meat is frying.

Interesting note about the velveting with water, i'll have to try it. I've made recipes where there is a similar velveting technique using water instead of oil, but never as a substitute in a stirfry. Remember though that you aren't getting any infusion of the meat flavor into the oil, or any flavor you might get from deglazing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      I think you’ll see in a moment why I didn’t just post this on the Lunch! topic. It was exceptional. An epic and it has been an epic sorting through the 634 photographs I took in about three hours. If I counted correctly, there are only 111 here.
       
      Like so many things, it came out of the blue. I was kind of aware that there was a Chinese holiday this week, but being self-semi-employed I am often a man of leisure and the holidays make little impact on my life. This one is in celebration of the Dragon Boat Festival (端午节 duān wǔ jié) and although it features nothing boat-like, it was festive and there is a dragon link.
       
      It started with this invitation which appeared on my WeChat (Chinese social media) account.
       

       
      Longtan (龙潭 lóng tán) means Dragon’s Pool and is more of a hamlet. It is about an hour’s drive north of Liuzhou city. I’d never heard of it and certainly never been there, but a friend of a friend had decided that a “foreign friend” would add just the right note to the planned event. I’ve seen many pictures of such “Long Table“ lunches and even attended one before – but this one was different and I was delighted to be invited.
       
      So, I was picked up outside my city centre home at 9 am and the adventure began. We arrived at the village at 9:45 to be met by the friend in question. He led me to what appeared to be the head man’s home, outside which was a large courtyard with a few men sitting at a trestle table seemingly finishing a breakfast of hot, meaty rice porridge washed down with beer or rice wine. I was offered a bowl of the porridge, but declined the beer or rice wine in favour of a cup of tea. After downing that and making introductions etc, I was left to wander around on my own watching all the activity.
       
       

       

      Rice Porridge
       
      Here goes. I'm posting these mostly in the order they were taken, in order to give some sense of how the event progressed.
       

       
      These two men were the undisputed kings of this venture, organising everyone, checking every detail, instructing less  experienced volunteers etc. It was obvious these men had been working since the early hours. and their breakfast was a break in their toil. There were piles of still steaming cooked pork belly in containers all over the courtyard.
       

      Some of this had been the meat in the rice porridge, I learned.
       
       

      This young lad had been set to chopping chicken. Not one chicken! Dozens.
       

       

       

       

       

      Entrails, insides and fat were all carefully preserved.
       
      In the meantime, the two masters continued boiling their lumps of pork belly. This they refer to as 五花肉 - literally "five flower" pork", the five flowers being layers of skin, fat and meat.
       

       

       
      Another man was dealing with fish. Carp from the village pond. He scaled and cleaned them with his cleaver. Dozens of them. 
       

       

       

       

       
      And all around, various preparations are being prepared.
       

      Peeling Garlic
       

       

      Gizzards and intestines.
       

      More Pork . You can see the five layers here.
       
      to be continued
       
    • By Soul_Venom
      The best Chinese food restaurant I have ever been to is a place called the Imperial Buffet in Aberdeen SD. Their General Tso's is unlike the Tso's anywhere else. The closes comparison I could make is the Orange Chicken at the Panda Garden only 3x better. Their Lo-Mein Noodles are done with the skill of a master Italian pasta chef & perfectly seasoned. They also used to do a mean fried squid. I say used to because they had it when I lived in Aberdeen from 02-04 but didn't when I visited in 15'. One of their other discontinued specialties was a dish advertised as 'Golden Fried Cauliflower'. Note, this was NOT a breaded product. The cauliflower was cooked as though it had been boiled perfectly. It was not greasy as I recall but was a golden orange color as was the sauce it was evidently cooked in. I never could identify the flavors in that sauce. I wish I could describe it better but it has been well over a decade since I had it. Is anyone familiar with it or something similar? I can't seem to find anything like it online & all my searches just bring up links to breaded deep-fried crap.
    • By liuzhou
      An old friend from England contacted me yesterday via Facebook with a couple of questions about Five Spice Powder.

      Thought there me be some interest here, too.

      Is there anything more typically Chinese than five spice powder (五香粉 - wǔ xiāng fěn)?
       
      Well, yes. A lot.
       
      Many years ago, I worked in an office overlooking London’s China town. By around 11 am, the restaurants started getting lunch ready and the smell of FSP blanketed the area for the rest of the day. When I moved to China, I didn’t smell that. Only when I first visited Hong Kong, did I find that smell again.
       
      In fact, FSP is relatively uncommon in most of Chinese cuisine. And if I ever see another internet recipe called “Chinese” whatever, which is actually any random food, but the genius behind it has added FSP, supposedly rendering it Chinese, I’ll scream.

      I get all sorts of smells wafting through the neighbourhood. Some mouth-watering; some horrifying. But I don't recall ever that they were FSP.
       
      But what is it anyway? Which five spices?
       
      Today, I bought four samples in four local supermarkets. I would have would have preferred five, but couldn’t find any more. It's not that popular.
       
      First thing to say: none of them had five spices. All had more. That is normal. Numbers in Chinese can often be vague. Every time you hear a number, silently added the word ‘about’ or ‘approximately’. 100 km means “far”, 10,000 means “many”.
       
      Second, while there are some common factors, ingredients can vary quite a bit. Here are my four.

      1.


       
      Ingredients – 7
       
      Star Anise, Fennel Seed, Orange Peel, Cassia Bark, Sand Ginger, Dried Ginger, Sichuan Peppercorns.
       
      2.
       

       
      Ingredients – 6
       
      Cassia Bark, Star Anise, Fennel Seed, Coriander, Sichuan Peppercorn, Licorice Root.

      3.
       

       
      Ingredients – 15
       
      Fennel Seeds, Sichuan Peppercorns, Coriander, Tangerine Peel, Star Anise, Chinese Haw, Cassia Bark, Lesser Galangal, Dahurian Angelica, Nutmeg, Dried Ginger, Black Pepper, Amomum Villosum, Cumin Seeds, Cloves.

      4.
       

       
      Ingredients – 6
       
      Pepper (unspecified – probably black pepper), Sichuan Peppercorns, Star Anise, Fennel Seeds, Nutmeg, Cassia.
       
      So, take your pick. They all taste and smell almost overwhelmingly of the star anise and cassia, although there are subtle differences in taste in the various mixes.
       
      But I don’t expect to find it in many dishes in local restaurants or homes. A quick, unscientific poll of about ten friends today revealed that not one has any at home, nor have they ever used the stuff!
       
       
      I'm not suggesting that FSP shouldn't be used outside of Chinese food. Please just don't call the results Chinese when you sprinkle it on your fish and chips or whatever. They haven't miraculously become Chinese!

      Like my neighbours and friends, I very rarely use it at all.

      In fact, I'd be delighted to hear how it is used in other cultures / cuisines.
    • By liuzhou
      For the last several years Cindy's* job has been to look after me. She takes care of my residence papers, my health insurance, my travel, my housing and associated repairs. She makes sure that I am supplied with sufficient cold beer at official banquets. And she does it all with terrific efficiency and great humour.
       
      This weekend she held her wedding banquet.
       
      Unlike in the west, this isn't held immediately after the marriage is formalised. In fact, she was legally married months ago. But the banquet is the symbolic, public declaration and not the soul-less civil servant stamping of papers that the legal part entails.
      So tonight, along with a few hundred other people, I rolled up to a local hotel at the appointed time. In my pocket was my 'hong bao' or red envelope in which I had deposited a suitable cash gift. That is the Chinese wedding gift protocol. You don't get 12 pop-up toasters here.
       
      I handed it over, then settled down, at a table with colleagues, to a 17 or 18 course dinner.
       
      Before we started, I spotted this red bedecked jar. Shaking, poking and sniffing revealed nothing.
       
       
      A few minutes later, a waitress turned up and opened and emptied the jar into a serving dish. Spicy pickled vegetables. Very vinegary, very hot, and very addictive. Allegedly pickled on the premises, this was just to amuse us as we waited for the real stuff to arrive.
       
       
      Then the serious stuff arrived. When I said 17 courses, I really meant 17 dishes. Chinese cuisine doesn't really do courses. Every thing is served at roughly the same time. But we had:
       
      Quail soup which I neglected to photograph.
       
      Roast duck
       
      Braised turtle
       
      Sticky rice with beef (the beef is lurking underneath)
       
      Steamed chicken
       
      Spicy, crispy shell-on prawns.
       
      Steamed pork belly slices with sliced taro
       
      Spicy squid
       
      Noodles
       
      Chinese Charcuterie (including ducks jaws (left) and duck hearts (right))
       
      Mixed vegetables
       
      Fish
       
      Cakes
       
      Fertility soup! This allegedly increases your fertility and ensures the first born (in China, only born) is a son. Why they are serving to me is anyone's guess. It would make more sense for the happy couple to drink the lot.
       
      Greenery
       
      Jiaozi
       
      There was a final serving of quartered oranges, but I guess you have seen pictures of oranges before.
       
      The happy couple. I wish them well.
       
      *Cindy is the English name she has adopted. Her Chinese name is more than usually difficult to pronounce. Many Chinese friends consider it a real tongue-twister.
    • By liuzhou
      A few days ago, I was given a lovely gift. A big jar of preserved lemons.
       
      I know Moroccan preserved lemons, but had never met Chinese ones. In fact, apart from in the south, in many parts of China it isn't that easy to find lemons, at all.
       
      These are apparently a speciality of the southern Zhuang minority of Wuming County near Nanning. The Zhuang people are the largest ethnic minority in China and most live in Guangxi. These preserved lemons feature in their diet and are usually eaten with congee (rice porridge). Lemon Duck is a local speciality and they are also served with fish. They can be served as a relish, too. They are related to the Vietnamese Chanh muối.
       
      I'm told that these particular lemons have been soaking in salt and lemon juice for eleven years!
       

       

       
      So, of course, you want to know what they taste like. Incredibly lemony. Concentrated lemonness. Sour, but not unpleasantly so. Also a sort of smoky flavour.
       
      The following was provided by my dear friend 马芬洲 (Ma Fen Zhou) who is herself Zhuang. It is posted with her permission.
       
      How to Make Zhuang Preserved Lemons
      By 马芬洲
       
      Zhuang preserved lemons is a kind of common food for the southern Zhuang ethnic minority who live around Nanning Prefecture of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in China. The Zhuang people like to make it as a relish for eating with congee or congee with corn powder. This relish is a mixture of chopped preserved lemons, red chilli and garlic or ginger slice in soy sauce and peanut oil or sesame oil.
       

       
      Sometimes the Zhuang people use preserved lemons as an ingredient in cooking. The most famous Zhuang food in Guangxi is Lemon Duck, which is a common home cooked dish in Wuming County, which belongs to Nanning Prefecture.
       
      The following steps show you how to make Zhuang preserved lemons.
       
      Step 1 Shopping
      Buy some green lemons.
       
      Step 2 Cleaning
      Wash green lemons.
       
      Step 3 Sunning
      Leave green lemons under the sunshine till it gets dry.
       
      Step 4 Salting
      If you salt 5kg green lemons, mix 0.25kg salt with green lemons. Keep the salted green lemons in a transparent jar. The jar must be well sealed. Leave the jar under the sunshine till the salted green lemons turn yellow. For example, leave it on the balcony. Maybe it will take months to wait for those salted green lemons to turn yellow. Later, get the jar of salted yellow lemons back. Unseal the jar. Then cover 1kg salt over the salted yellow lemons. Seal well the jar again.
       
      Step 5 Preserving
      Keep the sealed jar of salted yellow lemons at least 3 years. And the colour of salted yellow lemons will turn brown day by day. It can be dark brown later. The longer you keep preserved lemons, the better taste it is. If you eat it earlier than 2 years, it will taste bitter. After 3 years, it can be unsealed. Please use clean chopsticks to pick it. Don’t use oily chopsticks, or the oil will make preserved lemons go bad. Remember to seal the jar well after picking preserved lemons every time.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.