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Chinese Food :"base"

Battling the MSG Myth » Recipes or Snack Ideas » Chinese Food :"base" « Previous Next »

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Jennifer
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Posted on Sunday, July 15, 2012 - 12:52 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have worked out a marinade/sauce base that makes home-cooked Chinese food taste pretty close to the real thing. Depending on the recipe, you can add an ingredient or two to give it the distinctive flavor it requires.

The only ingredient that may be questionable to some is the Black Vinegar. I happen to do OK with it, but I suspect if ingested daily for a week it could add up to trouble -
Koon Chun was my brand of choice, but the local markets don't have it in stock. I'm not sure what brand I have now since I can't read Chinese, but I did OK with a large batch I ate last night. The English name on the bottle terrifies me, though: Excellence Food Biochemical Co., Ltd. Ingredients are Rice Vinegar (glutinous rice, tangerine, water), sugar, salt, malt, water, celery, anise, chili, cinnamon.

For those that can tolerate sulfites, Balsamic vinegar is said to make a decent substitute.

So here's the recipe - measurements are just approximations. I rarely measure anything -

3/4 cup sake (get the real thing where wine is sold, it's $4.99 a bottle at Safeway) NOT cooking, plum or any other flavor.
2-3 T grated fresh ginger (powdered can have sulfites, and it probably won't be the same)
3-5 minced garlic cloves (or pressed)
1/4 C black vinegar
1-2 T sesame oil (can use hot if you like)
1-3 T salt (probably closer to 1 T - salting the veggies a little helps draw out moisture so they'll cook in their steam)
3-5 T rice flour or other thickener. I used some gluten-free flour substitute by Bob's Red Mill based on potato, garbanzo, etc. and it was fine.

Add all of this to make a marinade, dice your meat, and while it's soaking prep the rest of your veggies. SAVE the marinade and pour it over the last batch of stir-fry, let it thicken, add the rest of your cooked ingredients, and you have Chinese food!

White pepper + peanuts/cashews = Kung Pao chicken
Plum sauce, bok choy (jam or pureed cooked plums with the Chinese "base" added) = mu shu pork

Of course a lot more veggies go into the examples above, but what I listed is essential to get the authentic taste.

Jennifer
ali
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Posted on Monday, July 16, 2012 - 6:22 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I do fine with black vinegar too. Its quite a staple in my chinese cooking. But as you say maybe not every day!!!
Plum sauce....i have tried and tried to find a safe one but to no avail. I was just recently looking into making my own as plums are in season here right now and very cheap. I will be sure to try your suggestion of adding pureed plums to the base....Crispy duck pancakes just arent the same without plumsauce ..
The one thing i really miss is Chinese food. Im always looking at ways of making my own msg free versions as close to authentic as i can get it.
Deb As recipes in her book are pretty good too...Beef "oyster"sauce is a favourite noodle dish here :-)
LisaS
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Posted on Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 3:32 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

What about this plum sauce -- would the vinegar be an issue?
http://importfood.com/sakc1509.html

I'm about to order a few foods from http://importfood.com because they actually give the complete label. They are mostly Thai and Japanese though. Here's what's in my shopping cart...

Maesri, massaman curry
Maesri, panang curry
Mae Ploy brand, yellow curry paste
Aroy-D All Natural Coconut Milk
Di
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Posted on Friday, July 20, 2012 - 4:51 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

LisaS, Are you comfortable with the Japanese product - don't want to scare you but I thought I'd heard about widespread radiation from Fukishimo.
LisaS
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Posted on Friday, July 20, 2012 - 5:52 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

which is the Japanese? I thought they were all Thai.Thanks for the warning!
Di
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Posted on Friday, July 20, 2012 - 12:40 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have no idea, from your message above mine you mentioned "They are mostly Thai and Japanese though."
LisaS
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Posted on Friday, July 20, 2012 - 8:22 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Oh, sorry -- what the site carries. The original poster was looking for Chinese, so I'm not sure if it's what she is looking for. Thanks for the clarification!
LisaS
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Posted on Friday, July 20, 2012 - 8:23 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Oh, sorry -- what the site carries. someone was looking for Chinese, so I'm not sure if it's what she is looking for. Thanks for the clarification!
ali
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Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 - 6:04 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi guys, havent been online in a few days and hadnt seen the post. Thanks for the info Lisa. Ill take a look at the site. I would be so happy to be able to buy plum sauce and a few other chinese condiments that i just cant get safely here and miss sooo much. I did try the chinese supermarkets in Dublin, but given that i dont read chinese it felt a bit like Russian Roulette!
Deb A.
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Posted on Monday, July 23, 2012 - 9:40 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I find that I am doing quite well with curries in Thai restaurants...and a couple other dishes. The waiters are quite proud of the fact that do not use MSG. They have even warned me against Chinese and Korean foods as having a lot of MSG. I purchased a small tub of Thai red curry paste and have started making my own curries...the yellow tub is mildest. I add 2 T. to some veggies (cauliflower, peppers, onion, etc.) and chicken that I sautee, and cook for a minute longer, then add a can of safe coconut milk (thick and sweet), water, and sugar...season to taste. Serve over some rice. It's sweet/hot and we love it. No reaction yet!
ali
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Posted on Monday, July 23, 2012 - 10:08 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I used to do okay with a particular Thai restaurant when i lived in Holland. They did a delicious prawn skewer served on a pepper salad with lime and chilli. My husband loves Thai red curry. I must check out our Thai curry pastes here. Thanks Deb
Roy Piwovar
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Posted on Monday, July 23, 2012 - 10:19 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

One of the worst MSG reactions I ever had in my life was from Thai curry in a restaurant, although I've never reacted to curry in an Indian restaurant. A big problem with many Chinese restaurants is that they'll claim not to use MSG while drowning everything in soy sauce.

Some ingredients lists - lots to avoid here:

http://recipesforthegoodlife.blogspot.com/2010/02/whats-in-thai-cooking-where-do-i-get-it.html
Deb A.
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Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - 11:23 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Sorry about that, Roy..know that there are curry pastes with glutamate rich ingredients...and some Thai restaurants must use coconut milk that contains sulfites...I found one that does not..but the can next to it, does.
LisaS
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Posted on Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 5:31 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Unfortunately, anchovy extract, the main component of most fish sauces, seems to be high in glutamate depending on how it is processed. I did the research a while back and bought a bottle of Red Boat as they naturally ferment it and don't use extracts, but have not been brave enough to try it yet, since much of my cooking is done in batches these days. Anyway, Roy, it would be a high chance that's what you reacted to in Thai Curry.

Out here in the middle of the US I think many restaurants don't use fish sauce, because there are enough vegetarians and most of us don't know the difference anyway. In CA I had a harder time finding safe Asian food.

My favorite here is a Vietnamese restaurant that makes all their own stocks, and none of our family has ever had a reaction including to the peanut sauce, which I adore.
Roy Piwovar
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Posted on Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 1:54 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Deb A., They may also have used a Thai curry sauce that came with MSG already in it.

http://www.templeofthai.com/food/curry_paste/leang-2190031094.php
Deb A.
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Posted on Monday, July 30, 2012 - 9:30 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

yep!

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