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Old 02-07-2005, 01:57 PM   #1
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Why is my Chinese brown sauce so disappointing?

I took a Chinese cooking class last year that was about 8 weeks long. I can get the chicken to be extremely tender and the vegetables to taste fine but my brown sauce tastes NOTHING like the brown sauce in Chinese restaurants.

I use the following recipe to make my sauce. Any ideas what I'm doing wrong:

3 T. light soy (Pearl ? brand - Mushroom flavored)
3 T. dark soy (forgot the brand but it seems to have molasses in it)
1 T. sesame oil
garlic
ginger
1 cup chicken stock

Sometimes I add sugar thinking that it might be the missing piece but it still can't even match fast-food style Chinese. Help!

Jemo

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Old 02-07-2005, 03:14 PM   #2
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Most of my family uses basic oyster sauce and/or black bean sauce for their stir fry. Add a slurry cornstarch mixture to thicken. This pretty much always tastes like the restaurant. I've never seen anyone in my family stir fry w/ soy sauce only.

Though if you want to make your green beans taste like the restaurant style, you gotta do a quick deep fry of them, then stir fry in black bean sauce and garlic.

Hope this helps.
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Old 02-07-2005, 03:41 PM   #3
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While your sauce looks good I personally (for whatever that is worth :roll: ) don't think it has enough layers of flavor - just for grins and giggles see how this one compares in flavor next time you need to make one. Hope you let us know if you like it or don't. We'll go from there. There are MANY different ways to make a brown sauce so between all of us we'll find one that works for you.


2 tsp. cooking oil
2 tbsp. Hoisin sauce
1 tbsp. vinegar
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. white pepper
5 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. ketchup
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. ginger
1 1/2 tbsp. cooking wine
3 tbsp. water

Put oil in saucepan and heat, then add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer 3 minutes. Stir fry chicken and vegetables of your choice. Add brown sauce and heat through.
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Old 02-07-2005, 04:23 PM   #4
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Thanks for the great insight. Gosh, am I ever happy that I found this forum!

You are both right, my sauce just doesn't have the complex layers of flavor but I think that the ones you have suggested will be much better. I'm a little leery of using ketchup or vinegar but I'll try it out.

If I were to use oyster sauce, could a tablespoon or two be added to my original recipe and leave the rest alone?

I'll try both versions.

Jemo
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Old 02-07-2005, 04:27 PM   #5
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jemo - it doesn't hurt to try it!! But also, don't be afraid to use ketchup and vinegar - you will be most pleasantly surprised!!!
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Old 02-07-2005, 06:08 PM   #6
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Hoi Sin, Char Siu (Chinese Barbeque Sauce), Oyster or XO sauce used either straight or mixed with a little water and corn starch is all you should need. Add your soy later or use with marinades.
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Old 02-08-2005, 05:35 AM   #7
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brown sauce eh. wut's it supposed to taste like. cause i know a lot of differnt "chinese brown sauce".
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Old 02-08-2005, 11:05 AM   #8
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I always added either hoisin, oyster, or both sauces to some of my stir-fries.

Something else to add some complexity of flavors, is to add a few drops of Fish Sauce (Nam Pla) to your stir-fry. I know it really smells (reminds me stink-bait for catfish), but it does add a nice quality to the taste of the stir-fry.
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Old 02-08-2005, 12:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masteraznchefjr
brown sauce eh. wut's it supposed to taste like. cause i know a lot of differnt "chinese brown sauce".
Im assuming the classic chinese all purpose "gravy" you get with many dishes seeing the originally posted ingredients. Htc is right about the cornstarch... it makes a minor difference in flavor but completely changes the texture giving you the appropriate thickness. You can also try using an "msg" mix like I do. Im allergic to the real stuff but I have a mix of powdered beef bullion, a touch of sugar, garlic powder, salt and onion powder which ends up giving a very similar effect when used on meats.

About the lot's of different chinese sauces well in the cheap chinese fast food restaurants all their sauces are a mix of 3 or 4 basic sauces. I've been "studying" this since it really fascinates me how with 4 sauces and 6 meats they can put over 100 things on their menu.

Basically we've got the gravy you just saw there.
A black bean sauce based gravy.
A tangy sauce based off ketchup, vinager and sometimes small ammounts of fruit juice.
Usually a sauce made with that "chilli and garlic paste" which is mixed in with other sauces to give a strong and spicy flavor.

Mix these sauces with each other as needed and add any of the following: corn starch, fresh ground garlic, orange peel paste, lime, dried red chillies, aditional stock, etc.
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Old 02-08-2005, 05:43 PM   #10
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Well here's one thing. The suaces vary. Main ingredient: Soy Sauce. The flavor varies with w/e it is sauteed with, which makes it a "brown sauce". Like sea bass. You fry it up with oil and garlic. Add a little water cover and let it simmer. Then you add soy sauce on high heat, then you add green onnion. Sliced into like 2 inch stalks. and add ginger. Remove fish. There will be a lot of "brown sauce" at the bottom for the fish. Now the flavor will differ if you cooked beef stripes with onions. - add corn startch water 1/4 part corn starch 1 part water. Let it simmer until water gone add soy sauce and black pepper pepper and more corn starch water mix around with onions and mushrooms and red and green peppers. After you finsih There will be a thick "brown sauce".

We love to use Oyster sauce for some dishes too mostly vegetables.
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