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Chinese stir fry glaze

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

What is the proper technique with cornstarch to get that nice glaze on stir fried veggies? I can never get it right. Mine either comes out too watery or too thick and lumpy. 

post #2 of 21

Use the slurry as you are, but add it in small amounts and stir until it thickens. If you want it thicker, add a litte more. Repeat until you've got what you want. There is no absolute rule. Depends on the dish, how you want it sauced, the ratio in your slurry and so on.

 

With experience, you'll be able to judge better how much to add to get the thickness you want.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #3 of 21

Pull the food up on the sides of the wok so all you have in the center is the liquid you want to thicken. Then stir constantly as mentioned as you drizzle in the slurry. Add until you get the texture you want.

post #4 of 21

You are putting it in to much at a time. Make sure you dissolve it first in cold water. After adding let mixture simer or light boil till transparant, Then pull off stove or turn off burner.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 

Interesting feedback. I think everyone gave me some useful tips. Thanks!

 

Authentic Chinese is my favorite food, but the most difficult for me to learn on my own. I think I need personal training. ;)

post #6 of 21

As for the lumps....merely whisking the cornstarch into water does not dissolve  it all. Use your fingers to mix the slurry and feel the mixture so no lumps of undissolved cornstarch remain.

post #7 of 21

I seem to get a better texture with arrowroot powder than with cornstarch, FWIW.

 

I am looking for other types of Chinese sauce than my "tried and true" one which is soysauce (or liq. aminos around here), water, splash vinegar, little sugar, smashed garlic, ginger, then thickened.   We like it, but I'm truly tired of it.  I would like to make one of those red sauces that is a little spicy, or general Tsao's sauce.   But I am at a loss as to how to do it.  

 

Last night I took some apricot jam, mixed with a little vinegar and a touch of mustard.   It tasted good, but didn't go very far.

DD

post #8 of 21

It's pretty variable but I usually begin with a level tablespoon of corn starch, 1/2 to 1 cup of liquids,  that may include sherry, water, bullion, sesame oil, soy sauce, spices, blended together and cooked with the meat and vegetables to thicken and coat.  Largely depends on whats in the wok!   I came by this via a Chinese lady who taught a cooking class one summer when I was in high school.  

 

Bill  

post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by IndyGal View Post

I seem to get a better texture with arrowroot powder than with cornstarch, FWIW.

 

I am looking for other types of Chinese sauce than my "tried and true" one which is soysauce (or liq. aminos around here), water, splash vinegar, little sugar, smashed garlic, ginger, then thickened.   We like it, but I'm truly tired of it.  I would like to make one of those red sauces that is a little spicy, or general Tsao's sauce.   But I am at a loss as to how to do it.  

 

Last night I took some apricot jam, mixed with a little vinegar and a touch of mustard.   It tasted good, but didn't go very far.

DD



You need to get your hands on some of the Chinese style bean pastes. Douban jiang, huangdou jiang, and maybe hoisin. There are some others, but those are the main ones. Lotta variety among brands too.

post #10 of 21

Yes, bean sauces, Oyster sauce, bring punch and other flavors to your dishes. Also look for fermented black beans. You can buy these as just the beans or in a "finished" sauce with garlic and some other things. the jars of sauce are easier to learn with but less versatile in the long run.

 

There's a sort of clear/whilte wine based sauce the restaurants use on more mild dishes that's worth having in your repertoire as well. basically the clear rice spirits/wine with some salt, white pepper, and cornstarch slurry. Sometimes it's tilted other directions with fish stock, chicken stock, sugar, rice vinegar.

 

 

This page has some useful basic concepts for US style chinese restaurant sauces.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #11 of 21

Temperature is also important to get a proper glaze. Also you can try using potatoe starch. Here's a good web site for Asian food with lots of recipes:

 

http://sunflower-recipes.blogspot.com.ar/search/label/1.%20CHINESE

 

But, as thetincook says, pastes and condiments are basic for Chinese cooking. I will add Tian Mien Jiang, rice vinegar, sesame oil, peanut oil, pure chillie paste, Szechuan pepper, etc. You can also make your own spicy oils. It's not difficult.

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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post #12 of 21
When I've done " Chinese style" stir fry, I would first mix the sauce. Soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, fermented bean paste, hot peppers, vinegar, beef or chicken broth, hot peppers, sesame seed, citrus juices, herbs & spices, the list can go on and on... make it taste however you want, it'll taste pretty much the same after it's been thickened.

Regardless of the flavorings, the technique is the same. Mix the sauce ingredients and whisk in 1 TBS corn starch per cup of liquid. Prep the meat, veggies, aromatics and such. Get your wok screaming hot, start cooking. When the food is ready, push up to the sides of the wok, give your sauce a good whisk and dump into the bottom and bring to a boil. Push the food back into the sauce and toss a few times. You should be done at this point, but sometimes you may need cook a it down a bit more to reduce the sauce. A pitfall to avoid it pouring too much sauce into the wok. This is something you'll have to work out by feel. Start with less then add more as necessary.

How " authentic" this is, I have no idea. I found an internet recipe a long time ago that allowed me to reproduce something that I liked a from a Chinese buffet that I frequented. Can't remember what started it all, but I've applied this technique for many different stir fry dishes with good results.
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
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A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
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post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparkie View Post

When I've done " Chinese style" stir fry, I would first mix the sauce. Soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, fermented bean paste, hot peppers, vinegar, beef or chicken broth, hot peppers, sesame seed, citrus juices, herbs & spices, the list can go on and on... make it taste however you want, it'll taste pretty much the same after it's been thickened.


I disagree with this a little. At times, some of the sauce ingredients need to be cooked with the dry heat before more liquid is added. Bean paste is a good example. Additionally, I think you get better flavors when you deglaze with the soy sauce, fish sauce, or sometimes vinegar. They get a little 'charred' and the flavor is more complex.

 

Some dishes it doesn't matter, like cantonese style greens or beef and broccoli, but in other dishes it's absolutely critical, as in Ma Po Tofu.

 

post #14 of 21

I forgot to add using Shao Tsing wine, even the 'crappy' cooking wine versions (which is what I use). Makes a big difference.

 

I've never call to use the Michu that phatch mentions. Perhaps because I don't really like that white sauce, so I don't make it at home.

post #15 of 21

BTW: i posted a recipe of Fen Zheng Zhu Rou in Recipes forum. (Fen: rice; Zheng: vapor; Zhu: pork; Rou: generic for meat). I did it yesterday with a coat of toasted and grated rice, anis and Szechuan pepper. That's Szechuan school if i'm not wrong. Everybody liked it. I used beef tenderloin, so the dish shoud be properly called Fen Zheng Niu Rou. There's some prep, but the recipe is fool proof (me) and surprising.

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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post #16 of 21

Some basic technique: 

 

  • Sauces thickened with arrowroot break if they're cooked too hot.  The rule is to thicken at the simmer rather than the boil, and get your food off the heat as soon as your sauce comes together; and of course always use it in a slurry at the end of the cooking process.   Arrowroot is nice for its shine and texture, but because it's so fragile it's best for sauces which would otherwise be too alcoholic or acidic for corn starch to thicken.  I'm not saying "don't use it," just describing some limitations; 

 

  • Cornstarch doesn't have to be treated as gently as arrowroot, but it can also break after boiling for more than a couple of minutes.  The best way to use it for thickening is to make a slurry, and add it to hot liquid.  As soon as the liquid boils, the cornstarch has achieved maximum thickening so get your food off the heat.  Further boiling won't do anything good.  There is an exception to this rule -- used a lot with Asian food -- for "velvetizing" the surface of food -- usually meat or tofu -- to be stir fried;.

 

  • To create a velvet texture, use a little cornstarch in your marinade.  If you want the texture very "velvet," use some lightly beaten egg white as well.

 

  • You want to have a very good idea going in of how much cornstarch slurry you want to add.  If you do a lot of adjustment at the boil, your sauce can get very gummy.

 

When I make Asian food and want a sauce with texture and gloss, whatever the rest of my progression, I cook the dish, add a cornstarch/water slurry last, cook just long enough for the liquid to thicken, and remove from the heat. 

 

  • As already mentioned, quite a few ingredients need heat to develop and you frequently want the basics of your sauce in the pan early in the process;

 

  • When you stir fry, don't forget that you can take things out of the pan -- the meat for instance -- after you've done some initial cooking, and return it later;

 

  • Finally, don't overload your wok.

 

BDL

post #17 of 21
Good stuff guys. You're making perfect sense. Think I'll have to break out the wok pretty soon and work this out. Asian technique has never really been a strong point for me. And I've always wondered what the purpose of adding corn starch to the marinade was... Thanx for that.
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
post #18 of 21

It's a long time i don't cook with lard oil, but as i remember it added taste and glassiness. Particularly vegetables as xiao bai cai and kong xin cai came up very nicely.

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post
  • Finally, don't overload your wok.


This x1000. Dont be afraid to take the burner grid off and get right on top of the burner. Also, I find it really helps if my ingredients aren't cold from the fridge when I cook them.

 

post #20 of 21

If you want some spcy heat, get some red curry paste and add a drop or 2.  Also cornstarch can be broken down by not only over boiling or heating but also by many food acids when hot. Example when making a sweet and sour sauce you will need to add a bit more starch in ratio to the liquids because of the Vinegar used

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #21 of 21

Thanks, Phatch!  

 

There are loads of sauces on that page I'm itching to try.  

I have ethnic stores galore around here, Asian, Indian, Mexican, even Burmese.  

(Our senator helped relocate refugees here.  Christians who were under attack in E. India and Burma)

 

Several Asian, as a matter of fact.  So I should be able to find the right ingredients.   

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