Sauces and Flavorings
Oriental food is peppered with sauces. Take a look!
- Coconut Milk: A rich-tasting, creamy, white liquid made from the white flesh of the coconut. Coconut milk comes canned in both sweetened and unsweetened varieties. Shake before using.
- Chili Oil: An oil, flavored with chili peppers, that is used as a seasoning. It adds hotness to dishes.
- Chili Paste: A fiery condiment made with chili peppers, vinegar, and seasonings. Chili past varies according to the country of its origin. If desired, Oriental chili sauce may be used as a substitute.
- Curry Paste: A combination of herbs and spices ground into a smooth paste. The paste comes in three colors. Red curry paste contains dried red chili peppers, green contains fresh green chilies, and yellow contains turmeric. The flavor varies; yellow paste is the mildest and green the hottest.
- Fish Sauce: A brownish liquid made from salted fish. Its bold, salty fish flavor is used to season foods during cooking and at the table. The clearer and lighter in color the liquid, the more flavorful and better quality the fish sauce will be.
- Hoisin Sauce: A thick, reddish-brown sauce made from soybeans, salt, sugar, garlic, flour, vinegar, and spices. It has a sweet and piquant flavor, and may be used in cooking or as a condiment.
- Mirin: A sweet, syrupy rice wine used mainly in glazes and dipping sauces. Some mirin contains salt and should be used only for cooking. If desired, substitute dry sherry.
- Oyster Sauce: A thick, brown sauce made from oysters, salt, soy sauce, and seasonings. It has a sweet, salty, fish flavor. Oyster sauce is lighter in color and thicker than soy sauce. Oyster-flavored sauce is interchangeable with oyster sauce in recipes.
- Plum Sauce: Also called duck sauce. Plum sauce is a thick, reddish-brown, fruity mixture that typically contains plums, apricots, vinegar, and sugar. It is used with appetizers and often is served with meat and poultry. If desired, make your own plum sauce.
- Rice Vinegar: A vinegar made from rice. Rice vinegar has a mild, slightly sweet flavor. Chinese rice vinegars are stronger than Japanese vinegars.
- Rice Wine: A wine that is made from fermented rice and used as a beverage and in cooking. When it is labeled "cooking rice wine," it contains salt and should be used only for cooking, not drinking. If desired, substitute dry white wine.
- Sesame Oil: A thick, aromatic, reddish-brown oil, made from toasted sesame seeds, that adds flavor. Because it has a strong flavor, use sesame oil sparingly. You can use it with cooking oil for stir-frying, but never use it alone for frying.
- Sesame Paste: A paste, made from ground toasted sesame seeds, that has the consistency of peanut butter, but the flavor of sesame seeds. In small amounts, peanut butter or other nut butter may be substituted.
- Soy Sauce: A salty brown liquid, made from fermented soybeans, that is used as both an ingredient and a condiment. Soy sauces range in color from light to dark, in taste from sweet and mildly salty to extremely salty, and in consistency from thin to thick. Low-sodium and sodium-reduced soy sauces also are available.