In Chinese cooking, a sauce is liquid, creaming or semi-solid food used in preparing other foods, they add flavor, moisture and visual appeal to another dish or be prepared and served cold/hot as dipping sauces with dessert and savory dishes.
Chinese seasonings include herbs and spics which are solid or machining to powder. In Chinese cooking, seasoning is the process of imparting flavor to, or improving the flavor of other food.
Chinese soy sauce can be roughly split into two main types:
Light or fresh soy sauce, it is brewed from fermentation process using wheat, soybeans, slat and water without additional additives. In Chinese cooking it is the main sauce used in stir fry, marinades and dipping sauces, as it is salt, has less noticeable color and adds a distinct flavor.
Dark and old soy sauce, made from light soy sauce, it is produced through prolonged aging and added caramel, and may contain added molasses to give it its distinctive appearance with a darker, richer, sweeter and less salty flavor, it is used to enhance the color and added a flavor of a dish. (Recommended brand: Lee Kum Kee or Hai Tian)
Tips: store soy sauce in dry place without strong light.
Recipes using Chinese soy sauce:
- Soy Sauce Chow Mein
- Chicken with Soy Sauce
- Chinese Broccoli in Soy Sauce
Chinese rice wine is a wine used in cooking to impart flavor to food and reduce the smell of fish, meat and seafood. It is made from the fermentation of rice starch converted to sugars, unlike true wine, which is made by grapes.
If you can’t find rice wine at local supermarkets, a common substitute for it is dry pale sherry (suggest brand: Shaoxing brand)
Tips: store rice wine in dry place without strong light.
Rice vinegar is made from fermented rice or rice wine, mainly consisting of acetic acid and water; it was used in the kitchen to lend a sour taste in dishes. There are three basic types of Chinese rice vinegar.
White rice vinegar, it is a colorless liquid, higher in acetic acid than other Chinese vinegars, it often used in stir fries, such as sweet and sour dishes.
Black rice vinegar, it is dark in color, and has a deep, almost smoky flavor, normally it is made with black glutinous rice, millet or sorghum may be used instead, and it generally makes great condiment in braised meat dishes and as a dipping sauce.
Red rice vinegar, it is darker than white rice vinegar, and paler than black rice vinegar, with a distinctive red color from Red yeast rice. It has light sweet taste, and makes a good dipping sauce, normally used in noodles, seafood dishes and soups.
Tips: store rice vinegar in dry place without strong light.
Oyster sauce is a viscous dark brown salty condiment made by cooking oysters; it is used in stir fry meat and vegetables, tossed noodles, steamed fish and as a marinade to add a savory, fresh flavor and is a very important ingredient in Cantonese cooking. (Recommended brand: Lee Kum Kee)
Tips: be sure to refrigerate oyster sauces after opening.
Hoisin sauce is a Chinese barbecue recipe sauce, and as a dipping sauce, it has a strong fish and seafood flavor but it does not contain fish but include starches, sweet potato, wheat, soy beans, and garlic, salt, red chili pepper and etc. (Recommended brand: Lee Kum Kee)
Tips: be sure to refrigerate hoisin sauces after opening, the same as oyster sauce.
Chinese fish sauce is a classification of soy sauce, derived from fish and shrimp that have been fermented. It is salty and fresh flavor, used similar as soy sauce in stir fry vegetable, meat dishes and as a dipping sauce. Normally the Tai and Vietnamese brand were considered superior.
Tips: store fish sauce in dry place without strong light.
Seasoned Soy Sauce for Seafood
It is a soy sauce for fish or any steamed meat dishes, made from soybean, water, and salt and then fermented. Differ from the common soy sauce, without additional processing and sauce added while cooking, very suitable for a new cooker. (Recommended brand: Lee Kum Kee or Hai Tian)
Tips: store fish sauce in dry place without strong light.
In Chinese cooking, sesame oil is an ordinary condiment. It is made from pressed and toasted sesame seeds and has the amber color, aromatic oil. Sesame oil is often used as a flavor enhancer in Chinese food, such as cold dishes and tossed noodles, not for use as cooking oil, as it burns quite easily.
Tips: Store the oil in a cool, dark, and dry place.
Non-roasted sesame oil is not good to be used in Oriental cooking
Broad Bean Paste – Doubanjiang
Chinese broad bean paste also called Doubanjiang, it is a spicy, salty paste mainly made from fermented broad beans, and flour. According to local taste, it exists in plain, sweet and spicy versions.
The hot/spicy bean paste is used particularly in Sichuan cuisine, eaten with rice or noodles as a quick meal and is also commonly used as a primary flavoring for fried tofu and pork dishes.
Fermented Black Beans/Soybeans
A fermented black bean is called Douchi in Mandarin; it is a type of fermented and salted soybean, which has a black color, soft and dry texture.
Fermented black bean is a popular flavoring in Chinese cuisine. It smells pungent, spicy and with a salty, somewhat bitter and sweet taste.
Black Soybean Sauce
Black bean sauce is made from fermented black bean, garlic, red chili and various spices for different taste, it is often used in stir fry, steamed meat dishes to add a distinct flavor to the recipe.
Sweet and Sour Sauce
Traditionally this sauce made from mixing sugar or honey, chili sauce and tomato sauce with a sour liquid such as rice vinegar, lemon juice, and spices such as cloves. Many places in China use a sweet and sour sauce as a dipping sauce for fish and meat.
The main ingredient in chili sauce is red chili pepper; the additional ingredients are often used to add extra heat, such as garlic or ginger. It used particularly in Sichuan cuisine, and also called hot/spicy chili sauce. There are two main kinds; one made with oil and the other with water.
The first type consist sesame oil and chili, bright red color, and the above floating a layer of sesame oil, easy to be reserved for a long time. The latter is made of pepper and water, red color but can’t be reserved for a very long time.
Sweet Bean Sauce – Tian Mian Jiang
Transliteration of Tian mian jiang is mandarin of sweet bean sauce. It is thick, black colored; sweet and lightly salt taste. It mainly made from wheat flour, sugar, salt and fermented yellow soybeans.
In Chinese food cooking, it was used with quick-frying dish, often meat. And uses as a dipping sauce to serve with cucumber and Peking roasted duck.