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~ A Chinese Staple: Real-Deal Basic Brown Sauce ~

IMG_4625Before I get caught up to my neck in posting Turkey Day recipes here on Kitchen Encounters, I've decided to dedicate this entire next week to Chinese food.  I don't know exactly why, except that every year at this time, I feel the need for a classic Chinese feast prior to my traditional Thanksgiving feast.  In some odd foodie way, one feast seems to make me enjoy the other feast more, and, vice versa.  Just yesterday, Joe said, "Isn't it time for some Chinese food?!?" 

Welcome to:  Chinese Feast Week on Kitchen Encounters!

6a0120a8551282970b017c31935db1970b-800wiBecause we love it, Joe and I eat our fair share of Chinese food, and, we've eaten it all over the world, including in China.  I am, in fact, a Chinese food snob.  Don't mention a Chinese buffet to me -- I won't go. 

Here in Happy Valley, PA, because we are a college town, we always have several acceptable Chinese-American eateries to choose from (most of which pander to the fast-food palates and budgets of college students). Over the years, these establishments open, close and fly-by-night faster than you can say "General Tso".  Joe and I have one well-established, favorite, "real-deal" Chinese restaurant that has stood the test of time, and, we frequent The Golden Wok regularly.  I plan on doing a blog post featuring them in the very near future!

An ode to Chinese brown sauce:

6a0120a8551282970b01774381887b970d-800wiBecause I have my menu in-hand for the upcoming week, I know I must start by making a batch of brown sauce.  Brown sauce is a regularly-used condiment in the Chinese-American kitchen. It is used in many of the most common restaurant dishes, and, almost any type of "feed-me-fast stir-fry" you can think up can be quickly sauced and ready to eat in minutes, in your own home kitchen, if: you keep a stash of brown sauce on-hand in your refrigerator.  

If you're looking for an authentic, classic "who invented Chinese brown sauce" recipe, you are not going to find one.  There are as many recipes for Chinese brown sauce as there are people who cook Chinese food.  Some use beef stock (which to me limits the versatility of this sauce), some include garlic and ginger (which is overkill since most Chinese dishes already include them), most include sugar and white pepper, and, all are thickened to a desired consistency using cornstarch.  The key is to find one that speaks to you.  Here is my very own recipe:
















2  tablespoons cold water

1 1/2  teaspoons firmly-packed cornstarch

6  tablespons Lee Kum Kee premium dark soy sauce

8  tablespoons Lee Kum Kee hoisin sauce

1-2  tablespoons oyster sauce

2  tablespoons Chinese black vinegar (also known and labeled as Chinkiang vinegar)

2  tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar

2  tablespoons Chinese rice wine

2  tablespoons sesame oil

3  tablespoons sugar, more or less, to taste (Note:  I use 3.)

2  teaspoons white pepper, more or less to taste (Note:  I use 2.)

6a0120a8551282970b0148c7a5f446970c-320wi~ Step 1.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cold water and cornstarch until smooth.

~ Step 2.  In a 2-quart saucepan, combine all remaining ingredients. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat.  Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the sauce and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is "drizzly" and slightly thickened, about 30-60-seconds. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside to come to room temperature, about 1-2 hours.

IMG_4975~ Step 3.  Use as directed in specific recipe, or:  

Transfer to a food storage container with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate almost indefinitely or:

Make a double or triple batch and freeze it in 1-2 cup containers to have whenever you need it!

A Chinese Staple:  Real-Deal Basic Brown Sauce:  Recipe yields 1 1/2 cups Chinese brown sauce.

Special Equipment List:  whisk; 2-quart saucepan; 2-cup food storage container w/tight-fitting lid

IMG_4728Cook's Note:   Coming next on KE? Check out my recipe for a classic ~ Chinatown's Famous Moo Shu (Shredded) Pork ~ in Categories 2, 3, 13 or 19!

Extra Cook's Note:  As pictured above, you can find my recipes for ~ Chinese Chicken Chow Mein a la Melanie ~ in Categories 3, 13 or 19, and, ~ Leftover Rice?  Use it to Make Chinese Fried Rice! ~ in Categories 3, 4, 13 or 14.  Both are a great reason to keep some of my brown sauce on hand!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)


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