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Old 08-29-2006, 10:04 PM   #1
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Thickening sauces

My wife loves Chinese Lemon Chicken, which I cook for her often. The lemon sauce I make is great, but I cannot thicken it properly. I usually use cornstarch disoved in water and add it to the simmering sauce, but have also tried arrowroot (very expensive) which did not do any better. I've tried to make it a little ahead of time and let it cool to thicken, boiled it and tried to thicken it thru simmering and evaporation.....always too thin. Anyone have any suggestions? Thanks

Steve

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Old 08-29-2006, 10:07 PM   #2
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I make a slurry with cornstarch and a room temperature liquid and add it to the wok, bring it to a boil and it thickens.

If you do this and it's not thick enough, the solution may be as simple as using more cornstarch.
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Old 08-29-2006, 10:11 PM   #3
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Cut down on the liquid in the dish, or cook it over high heat until it's boiled down a bit before adding the cornstarch.

Use more cornstarch than you have been and be sure to cook it ever high heat for a few minutes until it thickens.
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Old 08-29-2006, 10:14 PM   #4
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Thickening suuce

Thanks, Andy...that was fast! I usuallly make about a cup of sauce in a seperate saucepan so that we can use it over the breaded chicken and rice. The base of the sauce is chicken broth. I use a "slurry" of water (cold) and cornstarch. It never gets thick enuf when hot, but if I store it in the refrig., it eventually "clots" and gets so thick it's unusable (can be thinned). Usually end up using several tbs of cornstarch which also dilutes the flavor.
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Old 08-29-2006, 10:19 PM   #5
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Some day when you have a minute, do an experiment to determine how much corn starch you need to thicken the volume of sauce you make for the recipe.

Two tablespoons of flour will thicken a cup of liquid. Cornstarch does not have the thickening power of flour so you'll need more.

Also, make your cornstarch slurry with more chicken broth instead of water, it tastes better.
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Old 08-29-2006, 10:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M.
Cornstarch does not have the thickening power of flour so you'll need more.
That's not my understanding -- which is hardly to say you're wrong! But I've always understood that cornstarch has more thickening power than flour, which is consistent with the information on the Kingsford/Argo websitwe, which states that corn starch has twice the "thickening power" of flour, so it's necessary to use only half as much.

Is your experience different from this?
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Old 08-29-2006, 10:30 PM   #7
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When we order this dish in a Chinese restaurant they serve it with a thick, shiny ssauce over it that is just wonderful. I usually use at least 3 tbs of cornstarch which dilutes the flavor ( I start with a more tangy suace for this reason) and add yellow food coloring because it becomes "pale" and less appetizing. When I make dishes such as Shrimp w/ Fermented Black Beans thickening in the wok is easy, but there is much less sauce than in the lemon. Maybe cooking it down is the answer, but it sure seems like a bit of work and time consuming.
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Old 08-29-2006, 10:33 PM   #8
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I also found this information on the Argo/Kingsford site, on their FAQ page, which may help with the runny lemon chicken problem.
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Old 08-29-2006, 10:39 PM   #9
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Fryboy, you're right. Corn starch is a more potent thickened. Thanks for straightening me out.

ibsriv:

I read that an acidic environment reduces the thickening effect of corn starch so you'd have to use more or try another thickener. This link recommends arrowroot. tapioca may also work.
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Old 08-29-2006, 10:44 PM   #10
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WOW! It seems as if I've broken almost every "rule", Doug ( by the way, I;m down the road in Carlsbad). I:

1) Use 1/4 cup sugar to approx 1 1/4 C broth for that sweet/tart taste
2) Use juice of approx 2 lemons
3) Stir loke crazy (of course with a wisk) when I add the cornstarch -- otherwise it comes out of solution & "cllots"

I've also tried flour, but don't like the taste it adds. Tapioca leaves little "fish-eyes". Potato flour didn't help either. Maybe I need to make friends with the cook at a local Chinese restaurant.
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