Jump to content
  • 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.

itch22

Lu Shui, Chinese Master Sauce

Recommended Posts

itch22   

I am reading a book about the food and culinary techniques of China and I came to the section about Lushui Zhi, which is described as a "master sauce". The book details that it is a meat stock of chicken and pork (or chicken and veal) flavoured with soy sauce, shao xing, rock sugar, scallions, ginger, and star anise (sometimes adding other spices of the traditional five-spice powder). Okay, simple enough. Then it goes on to say that after it is used to braise one dish, it is then kept and reused to braise other dishes day after day, replenishing the spices as needed.

My question is, how long can this procedure be maintained until the stock is no longer reusable? The book doesn't say. I'd be surprised to hear that it could be done indefinately. Does anyone here on eGullet have an ongoing Lushui Zhi? If so, how long has it been going for you?

In case you're interested, the book is called "The Food of China" by Deh-Ta Hsiung. I have another book by him which is an encyclopedia of sorts covering most Asian ingredients, outlining their culinary use, storage, and how to determine freshness and/or quality. It's kind of like a field guide to Asian markets and food for non-Asians.


-- Jason

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's just commonly called Lo Shui. Literally, Old Water. I'm pretty sure you can use it till you lie on your deathbed. I've heard that a chef in China has kept his lo shui for more than 50 years. Try eggs in lo shui. I like tea eggs better, but damn, its good.


Edited by Transparent (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
hzrt8w   
My question is, how long can this procedure be maintained until the stock is no longer reusable?  The book doesn't say.  I'd be surprised to hear that it could be done indefinately.  Does anyone here on eGullet have an ongoing Lushui Zhi?  If so, how long has it been going for you?

You can practically reuse it indefinitely. The key is to "replenish" the ingredients with more spices, more soy sauce, more everything is relative proportion.

It makes me think of the mother dough of sour dough in San Francisco. They kept using the same dough, make more doughs, and save enough mother dough for the next day.

I kept mine in the freezer and I used it about only once in 1-2 months for about 4 years. I had to pitch it when I moved. Now I have started another one and it's been over a year. I didn't make my Lo Shui from scratch like your book described. I bought a bottle of ready-to-use Lo Shui from Lee Kum Kee and started from there.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ben Hong   

I am not so sure if Lo shui is the right pronounciation. I have always heard it pronounced "loo shui". If that is the case, the it does NOT mean old water. But I have been wrong once before :biggrin: To "loo" something means to steep it in this very savoury and aromatic liquid. The ingredients posted so far is about right, but everyone has his own formula. It is so simple that when my son left home, a pot of loo shui was the first thing he made. He ate well.

Loo shui can be kept indefinitely without refrigeration if it is being used every day, but in reality it should be frozen if the interval between uses is more than a couple of days. My own container of the stuff is over 7 years old right now. I never loo liver as liver clouds up the liquid too much. Of course fish and sefood like squid or octopus needs a separate batch.

There is one old story about how in the spirit of cooperation and welcome, a restauranteur would send a pot of his own loo shui to a new restaurant that's just opening up. Apocryphal?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dim Sim   

I have my master stock for about 4 months now,I have used it to cook a couple of chickens, I store it in the freezer,my question is if I have to cook a piece of beef or pork in simular fashion, do I need to start a seperate master stock ? chicken or meat cook in this manner often refers to as ' red cook' or 'red roast'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
yimay   

awesome! my mom made this all the time but i don't think she ever reused the braising liquid over and over again. maybe it's because we always ate everything. i don't think it's necessary to keep the lushui and reuse it, so if this idea bothers you, don't do it. just make a fresh batch each time.

i agree, it is "Lu" (as the original post) in mandarin. we always made eggs, tofu, beef, chicken wings and seaweed. it's also considered to be a kind of "red-cooking" method.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
hzrt8w   
I am not so sure if Lo shui is the right pronounciation. I have always heard it pronounced "loo shui". If that is the case, the it does NOT mean old water. But I have been wrong once before :biggrin:  To "loo" something means to steep it in this very savoury and aromatic liquid. The ingredients posted so far is about right, but everyone has his own formula.

I agree that the Chinese for this Master sauce is 卤水 (Meaning: /crass/halogen/salt/brine/), and not 老水 (old water) that Transparent was thinking.

These two characters 卤 and 老 sounds identical in Cantonese, though they sound different in Mandarin. Maybe in Toisanese they sound different like you described?


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
miaomee   

I've watched a short documentary film about the master sauce, lu2 shui2 (han yu). The restaurant featured in the film is selling braised goose, duck, chicken, pork, pork organs and anything else you could think of. The owner of the shop mentioned that the lu shui was passed to his generation from his father, and he prepares to pass to his son when he finally ready to take over the business. He said the master sauce can be kept indefinitely.

However, he braises different meat in different pot because certain type of leftover braise sauce would not be kept for reuse (i forgotten which type). He also add different amount of soy sauce and spices for braising different type of meat. He mentioned that there was once they moved from old shop to the current one and he accidentally dropped the pot of master sauce, and managed to save half of the sauce only, and he always felt upset about that incident and be very careful when handling with master sauce.

Here a little I watched about master sauce.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
itch22   

Thank you everyone for your detailed responses; and you're right hzrt8w, sour dough starter also goes indefinately. So from now on, I shall keep mine and reuse it.

One other question, since particles of what is being braised such as the meat, can come off, would it be a good idea to strain the braising liquid through muslin after each use? Or would that work against the effect you are trying to achieve by reusing the liquid?

(EDITED for grammer.)


Edited by itch22 (log)

-- Jason

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hm, my family is from Toisan. That could explain the differences. I've been taught that it was old water though, which is pretty interesting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm Toisanese, too. Funny, the old water thing came to top of mind when I first read this. I don't know if Toisan cooking has this or my family just doesn't do it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
miaomee   
awesome! my mom made this all the time but i don't think she ever reused the braising liquid over and over again. maybe it's because we always ate everything. i don't think it's necessary to keep the lushui and reuse it, so if this idea bothers you, don't do it. just make a fresh batch each time.

i agree, it is "Lu" (as the original post) in mandarin. we always made eggs, tofu, beef, chicken wings and seaweed. it's also considered to be a kind of "red-cooking" method.

my mom too make her sauce each time from scratch, reasons giving she thinks to keep master sauce is inhygenic, and we also love to mix the braise sauce with steamed rice... hmmm.... yum :rolleyes: and we always finished off all the sauce. I believe it will be no harm to make from scratch each time you want to braise, just using master sauce will provide a more flavourful braised dish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dejah   
This Toisanese's family always had it at home  , although it was always thought of more as a restaurant kind of dish.

This Toisanese family also! :smile: I love chicken wings done this way.

I usually strain my sauce before I put it away. The bits and pieces tend to get "rubbery and mushy" sitting in the liquid.

I had asked about a recipe( in another thread) for the yellow coloured octopus found hanging beside Cantonese ducks at my Chinese BBQ shop. I just realized that it was cooked in Lo shui...pronounced in Cantonese with the long vowel O in LO.


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
hzrt8w   

I also drain my lo shui before putting it away. (Removing the star anise, cinnamon, cumin, etc. from the sauce). In addition, I also let the sauce to cool in the refrigerator to let the chicken/pork fat float to the top. Skim off the fat with a spoon. Only retain the true liquid before putting in to the freezer.

What Ben Hong said earlier is very true: if you don't want the master sauce to be mirky, don't put any liver in when you cook.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dejah   

hzrt:"Skim off the fat with a spoon. Only retain the true liquid before putting in to the freezer."

It's actually a good idea to leave the layer of fat on top of the sauce, especially if you keep it in the fridge. This hardens and acts as a sealant, keeping the flavours in and molds, etc , out. Lift it off when you want to use the sauce. I do this as well when I make chicken stock.


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This Toisanese's family always had it at home  , although it was always thought of more as a restaurant kind of dish.

This Toisanese family also! :smile: I love chicken wings done this way.

I usually strain my sauce before I put it away. The bits and pieces tend to get "rubbery and mushy" sitting in the liquid.

I had asked about a recipe( in another thread) for the yellow coloured octopus found hanging beside Cantonese ducks at my Chinese BBQ shop. I just realized that it was cooked in Lo shui...pronounced in Cantonese with the long vowel O in LO.

AI YA! NOW I know what you're talking about. :biggrin:

Man, I so loose Chinese points for not connecting the dots. My mom does chicken wings in a sauce like that. As soon as you mentioned chicken wings, Dejah, it clicked. Yeah, Ben - it's more of a restaurant dish than a home dish.

Sidebar - can I say how cool it is to find some fellow Toisanese in here? Woo hoo!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
hzrt8w   
It's actually a good idea to leave the layer of fat on top of the sauce, especially if you keep it  in the fridge. This hardens and acts as a sealant, keeping the flavours in and molds, etc , out. Lift it off when you want to use the sauce. I do this as well when I make chicken stock.

That makes sense. Thanks. (My wife and I feel eerie seeing fat. Couldn't help but to get rid of it...)


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dejah   

I watched an episode of Simply Ming this afternoon. Ming Tsai and his parents made a Master Braising Liquid with pretty much the same ingredients as hzrt mentioned in his first post. They added a whole orange and orange peel.

They braised butter fish and suey choy, duck legs with sweet potato and daikon, grilled rib eye steak with red roast-carrot syrup, and a red roast beef shank sandwich.

They didn't talk about keeping the master sauce tho'.

If interested, the URL is:

http://www.ming.com/simplyming/showrecipes...isingLiquid.htm


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jo-mel   

Mine is several years old, too, but I've only used it for chicken. I have a couple of freezers, and it is way in the back of the big one, where I forget it, ------but this thread and cold weather will get me going for a nice winter meal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NancyH   

There is also a recipe for Master Sauce in Barabara Tropp's China Moon cookbood; I made it once and kept it a number of months (in the freezer between uses) before pitching it.

I would assume that so long as you follow the general food safety rules (no more than 4 hours total time in "danger zone" tempuratures between 40* and 140*), it should keep forever; I regret pitching mine and need to start another!


"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" (coined while playing with my food at Lolita).

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JasonZ   

In addition to the recipe that Barbara Tropp has -- she has different master sauces in the "China Moon Cookbook" (more California fusion in style) and in her "Modern Art of Chinese Cooking" (more traditional) -- Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, in her "Chinese Kitchen", has an interesting section on lo soi (which she translates as "old water"). She also has a single recipe using the same technique in "Chinese Chicken Cookbook".

Tropp's recipes include master sauce chicken, black mushrooms and eggs. I've done all and they are superb.

Ken Hom also had a recipe in one of his books on vegetarian cooking. I kept that one going for 4 years, until I moved overseas and couldn't take it with me. My current version, the Lo "original" recipe, has been going for about 6 months.

Both Tropp and Lo indicate that you should use a different batch for fish vs. other things, to avoid an undesirable "melding" of flavors. I would imagine liver falls into the same category.

Lo describes putting the herbs and whole spices in cheesecloth so they can be easily removed after the first or second use. She also strains the lo once it has cooled and stores it in the refrigerator or freezer, depending on how frequently you intend to use it. Yes, she suggests not defatting it, for ease of storage, like the French technique for confit. She recommends bringing it out on a regular basis if it hasn't been used for a while, bringing it to a boil, then letting it cool and back into the freezer. From time to time, it will need to be replenished ...

Since we've used sourdough as an analogy, remember that if you're not using your starter on an everyday basis (most home cooks don't), you have to feed the starter on a regular basis to keep it fresh and going ...

In Chiu Chow restaurants (Lo describes this as belonging to that subculture's cooking repertoire), this isn't necessary, because there is always something simmering in the pot ... and restaurants have been known to keep their sauces going for > 75 years -- the recipe she includes is said to be from a chef who started it when young and had maintained it for > 50 years.

Perhaps if you have family recipes, we should share those?

Regards,

WGW / JasonZ


Edited by JasonZ (log)

JasonZ

Philadelphia, PA, USA and Sandwich, Kent, UK

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
chefzadi   

What is the reasoning behind keeping the master sauce for 75 years or even a week? Up to a week I can see. But years? How does it benefit from this? Does it just get better and better? Are restaurants that have older master sauces recognized for it? Do culinarians say things like, "that restaurant's master sauce is thought to be 50 years old, so I know this X dish is probably better than the other place with a fresh master sauce."


I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ben Hong   

Chefzadi: I suppose there are no real valid, measurable or empirical reasons to keep a sauce for 75 years. I personally feel that this is apocryphal. Keeping a sauce for 20-25 usages though has definite merits as with each successive use, the "meatiness" of flavour or "umami" increases and what you get then is a depth of flavour that is astounding. Fresh master sauces, on the other hand, has a new "edge" that is also discernible to those with golden palates. Boeuf bourgignon or coq au vin almost always taste better the second day, non? Same principle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
chefzadi   

Yes, same principle. That's why I could understand a week. Thanks for the explanation.


I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      We are all used to unami now. Maybe it's time to consider gan. Particularly found in teas, but also in other foods. An interesting article from a great magazine.
       
      Going, going gan
    • By liuzhou
      I’m an idiot. It’s official.
       
      A couple of weeks back, on another thread, the subject of celtuce and its leafing tops came up (somewhat off-topic). Someone said that the tops are difficult to find in Asian markets and I replied that I also find the tops difficult to find here in China. Nonsense. They are very easy to find. They just go under a completely different name from the stems – something which had slipped my very slippery mind.
       
      So, here on-topic is some celtuce space.
       
      First, for those who don’t know what celtuce is, let me say it is a variety of lettuce which looks nothing like a lettuce. It is very popular in southern mainland China and Taiwan. It is also known in English as stem lettuce, celery lettuce, asparagus lettuce, or Chinese lettuce. In Chinese it is 莴笋 wō sǔn or 莴苣 wō jù, although the latter can simply mean lettuce of any variety.

      Lactuca sativa var. asparagina is 'celtuce' for the technically minded.
       

       
      Those in the picture are about 40 cm (15.7 inches) long and have a maximum diameter of 5 cm (2 inches). The stems are usually peeled, sliced and used in various stir fries, although they can also be braised, roasted etc. The taste is somewhere between lettuce and celery, hence the name. The texture is more like the latter.
       
      The leafing tops are, as I said, sold separately and under a completely different name. They are 油麦菜 yóu mài cài.
       

       
      These taste similar to Romaine lettuce and can be eaten raw in salads. In Chinese cuisine,  they are usually briefly stir fried with garlic until they wilt and served as a green vegetable – sometimes with oyster sauce.
       
      If you can find either the stems or leaves in your Asian market, I strongly recommend giving them a try.
    • By Duvel
      “… and so it begins!”
       
      Welcome to “Tales from the Fragrant Harbour”!
      In the next couple of days I am hoping to take you to a little excursion to Hong Kong to explore the local food and food culture as well as maybe a little bit more about my personal culinary background. I hope I can give you a good impression of what life is like on this side of the globe and am looking very forward to answering questions, engaging in spirited discussions and just can share a bit of my everyday life with you. Before starting with the regular revealing shots of my fridge’s content and some more information on myself, I’d like to start this blog and a slightly different place.
      For today's night, I ‘d like to report back from Chiba city, close to Tokyo, Japan. It’s my last day of a three day business trip and it’s a special day here in Japan: “Doyou no ushi no hi”. The “midsummer day of the ox”, which is actually one of the earlier (successful) attempts of a clever marketing stunt.  As sales of the traditional winter dish “Unagi” (grilled eel with sweet soy sauce) plummeted in summer, a clever merchant took advantage of the folk tale that food items starting with the letter “U” (like ume = sour plum and uri = gourd) dispel the summer heat, so he introduced “Unagi” as a new dish best enjoyed on this day. It was successful, and even in the supermarkets the sell Unagi-Don and related foods. Of course, I could not resist to take advantage and requested tonight dinner featuring eel. Thnaks to our kind production plant colleagues, I had what I was craving …
      (of course the rest of the food was not half as bad)

      Todays suggestion: Unagi (grilled eel) and the fitting Sake !
       

      For starters: Seeweed (upper left), raw baby mackerel with ginger (upper right) and sea snails. I did not care for the algae, but the little fishes were very tasty.
       

      Sahimi: Sea bream, Tuna and clam ...
       

      Tempura: Shrimp, Okra, Cod and Mioga (young pickled ginger sprouts).
       

      Shioyaki Ayu: salt-grilled river fish. I like this one a lot. I particularly enjoy the fixed shape mimicking the swimming motion. The best was the tail fin
       

      Wagyu: "nuff said ...
       

      Gourd. With a kind of jellied Oden stock. Nice !
       

      Unagi with Sansho (mountain pepper)
       

      So, so good. Rich and fat and sweet and smoky. I could eat a looooot of that ...
       

      Chawan Mushi:steamed egg custard. A bit overcooked. My Japanese hosts very surprised when I told them that I find it to be cooked at to high temperatures (causing the custard to loose it's silkiness), but they agreed.
       

      Part of the experience was of course the Sake. I enjoyed it a lot but whether this is the one to augment the taste of the Unagi I could not tell ...
       

      More Unagi (hey it's only twice per year) ...
       

      Miso soup with clams ...
       

      Tiramisu.
       

      Outside view of the restaurant. Very casual!
      On the way home I enjoyed a local IPA. Craft beer is a big thing in Japan at the moment (as probably anywhere else in the world), so at 29 oC in front of the train station I had this. Very fruity …

       
      When I came back to the hotel, the turn down service had made my bed and placed a little Origami crane on my pillow. You just have to love this attention to detail.

    • By liuzhou
      One of my local supermarkets recently installed a sesame seed pressing facility and is now producing sesame oil and sesame paste. Their equipment toasts and extracts the oil and the residue is turned into the paste. Of course, I bought some of each.
       
      I have only used the oil so far. It tastes and smells more intensely than any I have bought before. The aroma also seems to last longer in a dish.
       

       
      These are the white seed versions. They also do black seed oil and paste which I haven't bought yet.
       
      Neither has any brand label - only a bar code on the back so that the check-out staff can deal with it.
       
      I am sorely tempted to try this recipe from Carolyn Philips for celtuce with sesame oil, paste and seeds. I'll let you know how I get on with this or any other recipe. Suggestions welcome, as always.
    • 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
       
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×