Basic Chinese Pantry. Sugar and Vinegars

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sugar_2cBy the article "Basic Chinese Pantry. Bean Curd" we began a series of articles about Chinese Pantry. Here is the next text on this topic. It's about such products as Sugar (it has been used sparingly in the cooking of savoury dishes in China for 1000 years) and Vinegars (are widely used in China as dipping sauces as well as for cooking).


Sugar

sugar_cSugar has, appropriately, been used sparingly in the cooking of savoury dishes in China for 1000 years. Properly employed, it helps balance the various flavours of sauces and other dishes. Chinese sugar comes in several forms: as rock or yellow lump sugar, as brown sugar slabs, and as maltose or malt sugar. I particularly like to use rock sugar which is rich and has a more subtle flavour than that of refined granulated sugar. It also gives a good lustre or glaze to braised dishes and sauces. You can buy it in Chinese food shops, where it is usually sold in packets. You may need to break the lumps into smaller pieces with a wooden mallet or rolling pin. If you cannot find it, use white sugar or coffee sugar crystals (the amber, chunky kind) instead. For fast cooking, use white granulated sugar.

Vinegars

vinegars_cVinegars are widely used in China as dipping sauces as well as for cooking. Unlike Western vinegars, they are usually made from rice. There are many varieties, ranging in flavour from the spicy and slightly tart to the sweet and pungent. Experiment with them. They keep indefinitely.

White rice vinegar White rice vinegar is clear and mild in flavour. It has a faint taste of glutinous rice and is used for sweet and sour dishes.



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