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Old 06-04-2014, 11:29 AM   #1
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Corn starch vs Potato starch

Every time I make Chinese food at home, I use corn starch as the thickening agent. Recently, I was watching a few videos on Chinese cooking which used potato starch as the thickening agent. My question is, in Chinese cooking, is there a preferred starch to use ? more common or more authentic? or does it really not make much of a difference. Id be more interested in what the Chinese restaurants use commonly.

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Old 06-04-2014, 11:35 AM   #2
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In my limited exposure, I have seen lots of recipes using corn starch and none using potato starch.

Here's the low down on thickeners: Cook's Thesaurus: Thickeners
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Old 06-04-2014, 12:13 PM   #3
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I'm not sure it pays to get too picky about "authentic." For one thing, you have to decide how far back to go to discover what's authentic. For instance, starch extraction did exist before the 19th century, including corn starch. Early cooks, before starches, used various flours, including nut flours and arrowroot.

Choose your starch according to how it behave when cooked and maybe how it freezes. (Some separate.) I like potato starch for it's behavior and quick action, but don't boil it.

What most Americans call Chinese food mostly uses plentiful and inexpensive corn starch, which is appropriate, since corn was strictly an American native, and so is most American "Chinese" food. (So I think is really is okay to talk about "authentic" American Chinese food, authentic Mexican American food, etc. They've both been around long enough.)
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Old 06-04-2014, 03:47 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by larry_stewart View Post
Every time I make Chinese food at home, I use corn starch as the thickening agent. Recently, I was watching a few videos on Chinese cooking which used potato starch as the thickening agent. My question is, in Chinese cooking, is there a preferred starch to use ? more common or more authentic? or does it really not make much of a difference. Id be more interested in what the Chinese restaurants use commonly.

Thanks,

Larry
Corn and potatoes are both native to the New World, so they weren't known in Asia or Europe before the 15th century. So if you want to be "authentic," I'd suggest rice flour. But I use cornstarch because it's in most of the Chinese recipes I use.
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Old 06-05-2014, 12:01 PM   #5
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If what I am currently using is working for me, I stick with that method and don't worry about it being authentic. I don't care if it's authentic, I want it to look and taste good.
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Old 06-05-2014, 08:56 PM   #6
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Larry, 35 years ago I took a class in Chinese cooking from a Chinese-American woman named Karen Lee. She lived in both countries and wrote a wonderful book on Chinese cooking. Her go-to starch for thickening was water chestnut powder.

I just dug out her book and her notes, and she recommended cornstarch as the best alternative.
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Old 06-06-2014, 11:22 AM   #7
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Is arrowroot better than corn starch?
Frugal Gourmet (Jeff Smith) always recommended arrowroot in place of corn starch.
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Old 06-06-2014, 11:26 AM   #8
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Is arrowroot better than corn starch?
Frugal Gourmet (Jeff Smith) always recommended arrowroot in place of corn starch.
Click on the link in my earlier post. The plusses and minuses of each are explained.
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Old 06-06-2014, 01:17 PM   #9
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Thanks Andy.
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Old 06-09-2014, 12:02 PM   #10
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Click on the link in my earlier post. The plusses and minuses of each are explained.

Doesn't look like there many differences according to that site. In my opinion potato starch is stronger. But I do use mostly corn starch.
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Old 06-09-2014, 12:32 PM   #11
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Ive always used corn starch too, and just about every Chinese recipe Ive followed called for corn starch too. But when I came across this one recipe/ video, guy theoretically has a restaurant, heavy accent and he uses potato starch in all his recipes, made me curious as to whether it might add something to my Chinese cooking, that would make it taste more like the restaurant and less like someone who ' tried ' to make Chinese food, but isn't quite there yet.
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Old 06-09-2014, 12:33 PM   #12
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IM guessing the heat ( or in my case. lack of heat) is probably one of the key factors.
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Old 06-09-2014, 01:26 PM   #13
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I found that when I started using peanut oil my Chinese dishes tasted more like restaurant food.
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Old 06-09-2014, 01:43 PM   #14
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I found that when I started using peanut oil my Chinese dishes tasted more like restaurant food.

+1.

I make sure to buy the peanut oil I see in the Asian markets because they have a pronounced peanut taste and aroma.
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Old 06-09-2014, 02:21 PM   #15
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I agree peanut oil would have much bigger affect on taste than starch. I have not noticed any difference in taste when using potato starch versus corn starch.
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Old 06-09-2014, 04:35 PM   #16
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i've heard that potato starch is more nutritious

And I agree with the oil thing - i keep sesame oil and peanut oil at home now, whereas I used to just use regular cooking oil. The taste is truly different with the right oil!

And I will add - instead of just adding white vinegar to recipes, I got rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, wine vinegar & apple cider vinegar. The correct vinegar is also irreplacable!
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Old 06-09-2014, 06:18 PM   #17
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If you are going to buy potato starch, make sure it is potato starch and not potato flour. They are not the same thing. I didn't realize that and the guy at the health food store said it was the same. The potato flour didn't work in my rødgrød recipe. It never set, so I did some internet research. Potato starch is white, potato flour is usually pale yellow. There may be a way to substitute potato flour for potato starch, but I don't know the magic formula.
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Old 06-10-2014, 10:10 AM   #18
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If anyone has a problem find potato starch, Bob's Red Mill packages it, and I get it through Amazon.

As to nutrition, I don't think there's much to be offered in any extracted starch. Potato starch is 100 carbohydrate, zero fiber, fat and sugar, and zero's for all common vitamins. Same for arrowroot and corn starch, except for a little fiber and more calories in arrowroot.
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