The taste of Oriental dishes depends upon the sauces you use. The right combination of spices and sauces makes the dishes exotic.
Thai Sauces: Ingredients used in Thai cooking: Coconut milk: In south-east Asia and other parts of the tropics where cow’s milk and other dairy products are practically non-existence, coconut-milk (which is, uuoc dua in Vietnamese or nam gati in Thai) is the obvious substitute. This is made from grated coconut meat and water. It enriches soups, stews, roasts, beverages and desserts. In Thailand, coconut milk is especially important in curries, imparting a richness and sweetness that complement the spiciness. In Vietnam, its use in savory dishes is less frequent, although its role is significant in desserts and puddings. In Asia, we buy freshly grated coconut meat at the market and then squeeze the milk from it at home. In Thai recipes unsweetened coconut milk is used and sweetened one is used in pina-coladas. If, coconut milk is not available, you can substitute cow’s milk. Five spice powder: This brown powder is made from a blend of star anise, fennel, cinnamon, ginger and orange peel. This spice combination is great in marinades, especially for roast ducts, stews and vegetable dishes. Galangal called Kha, also known as Thai ginger- galangal is a cousin of ginger. Its unique, earthy, gingery flavor is used in soups, curries and stir-fries. This is available fresh, frozen or dried (don’t bother with the latter) galangal is easy to use. Without peeling, just cut off thin slices and add to the pan. The flavor of galangal is best captured when added at the last minute to cooking. Since galangal is available only at Asian grocery stores, buy it fresh or frozen and store it in your freezer. Ginger: At Thai restaurant, gung or ginger is used almost as extensively as garlic. Sharp And pungent, ginger adds extraordinary flavor and zing to food, from savory dishes to desserts. Normally peel the ginger, then finely grate it, and add as we wound minced garlic. When you throw garlic, ginger and chilies into a very hot pan, wonderful aroma will appear. Green curry paste: (gaeng keow wan) Make green curry paste from freshly roasted spices and herbs, gaeng keow wan or green curry paste is excellent. This is made with green chili, lemon grass, garlic, galangal, shallots, green curry paste greatly enhances meat, fish or vegetables. Though they are the mildest pastes, green curries are generally embellished with green (fresh) chilies. Use curry paste sparingly. Buy small 8 oz tubs since you rarely need more than 2 tbsp at a time. For better flavor, refrigerate the paste after opening. Recipe: Ingredients: 5 thin, hot green chilies, chopped ½ onion, chopped 1 tbsp chopped garlic ½ piece ginger, preferably galangal, chopped 1 stick, lemon grass (use only the lower portion), cut into pieces, discard the leaves ½ tsp salt ½ tsp turmeric 1 tbsp lemon juice 1 tbsp coriander seeds 1 tsp cumin seeds, roasted 2-3 leaves or 1 tsp lemon rind 1 C fresh basil leaves or ¾ C chopped coriander leaves ¼C basil (tulsi) Method: Make a paste out of the above ingredients. Kaffir lime leaves: These jade green citrus leaves impart a lemony aroma. Used extensively to flavor and liven up curries, soups and stir-fries. Bai makut, or Kaffir lime leaves are picked off wild lime trees. The leaf resembles a figure 8. In Thailand, they are chopped and put into soups and curries or cut into thin silvers and added to stir fries or fish cakes. Lemon grass: is a common herb used for 2 main purposes-to infuse a sauce, soup or curry and to marinate meals and fish. It’s lemony and gingery aroma enhances and complements the flavor of almost every ingredient it touches. Peanuts: many recipes are garnished with chopped peanuts. (dua phong). Peanut Sauce: 1/3 C roasted salted peanuts ½ medium onion, chopped 1 tsp salt ½ /1 tsp red chili powder 1 tbsp oil ½ tsp sugar 1 tsp coriander powder 1 tsp cumin powder 4-6 (1 tsp) flakes of garlic, crushed 3 tsp lemon juice 1 tsp soy sauce 4 oz coconut milk ½C water Tempering: 1 tbsp oil warmed with a pinch of red chili powder Method: 1. Grind peanuts to a rough powder. 2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a heavy bottomed small pan or kadhai 3. Add crushed garlic, sauté until it starts to change color. 4. Add onion and cook till soft. Reduce heat add ½ tsp red chili powder, coriander powder, and cumin powder. 5. Add only ½ the coconut milk. Boil, stirring continuously, cook on low heat for 3 minutes. 6. Add crushed peanuts, ½ tsp sugar, 1 tsp soy sauce and the remaining coconut milk. Boil, reduce heat and let simmer gently for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it sticking to the pan. Add 1 ½ tsp lemon juice and soy sauce. Check taste for salt, sugar and lemon juice. 7. Heat 1 tbsp oil and add red chili powder to it. Remove from heat and pour over the peanut sauce. Mix gently. You can make it more spicy and hot, can add more lemon juice and red chili powder as desired. Chinese Cooking Sauces: Ground chili paste: Is made from red chilies, garlic and vinegar. This chili paste will go a long way when you need to cook up something spicy in a pinch. Chili paste in a small plastic jars, can be kept almost indefinitely. Hoisin Sauce is made from soy bean puree, sugar and caramel sauce. Hoisin sauce is used primarily in dipping sauces, marinades, and stir fries. When mixed with onions, garlic, chilies, vinegar and crushed peanuts, this sauce is incredibly delicious. It is a thick red brown sauce made from soy beans, vinegar, and sugar. It tastes sweet, and slightly spicy. Hoisin Sauce is available in the market. Dim Sum: means ‘little hearts’ or ‘small delights from the heart’. They are small delectable snacks (dumplings) that can be steamed, boiled, pan fried, or baked. Dim sums are savory and sweet. Black Beans: These are small black soybeans, called salted black soybeans or fermented black beans, are made by fermenting soybeans with salt and spices. Having a very particular, slightly salty flavor and a rich aroma, they are a popular seasoning in Chinese Cooking, often used along with garlic or fresh ginger. Yellow Bean Sauce: This is made from yellow beans, flour, and salt fermented together and is a common addition to Chinese cooking. The beans may be whole in a thick sauce or sold mashed or pureed as crushed bean sauce. You may prefer to use the whole bean variety which is less salty and have more taste. Spicy Soy, Salt and Pepper: A dry mix makes a great dip for fried or toasted appetizers. Ingredients; 125ml Light soy sauce 2tbsp Chinese black vinegar 2 thinly sliced red chilies Method: Combine Soy Sauce, vinegar and chili in a small bowl. Pour into individual dipping bowls. This dipping sauce goes well with Dim sum. Onion Black Pepper Chili sauce: Ingredients: ½tbsp sunflower oil 1tbsp vinegar ¼tsp salt For onion Paste: 1 green onion, finely chopped 1tbsp white onion, finely chopped 1tbsp peppercorns Method: 1. Grind all the onion ingredients with peppercorns to a paste. 2. Heat oil add the onion pepper paste. Stir fry on high heat for 1mt. 3. Take from heat and mix vinegar and salt. Sesame Paste: Is made from toasted and grinded sesame seeds. It is a thick, rich, creamy brown paste, unlike tahini which is made from raw seeds. Chinese sesame paste is used in both hot and cold preparations. A substitute is smooth peanut sauce.