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chinese "white sauce"


gweixel
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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.

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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.

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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!"

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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

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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....

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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:

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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!"

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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
 

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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:

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  • 3 years later...

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
 

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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?

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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
 

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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.

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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.

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