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Tue Feb 26, 2013, 07:02 PM

Chinese Cooks I need to know what was in a sauce.

I worked in a Chinese restaurant back in my college days and one food ingredient has escaped me. They used to make a simple dish with bacon, shrimp, and cauliflower flavored with a deep red yeasty wine paste they kept in the fridge.

I am thinking it was most likely wine lees of some sort but would like to know what to ask for at the local Asian market.

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Reply Chinese Cooks I need to know what was in a sauce. (Original post)
MattBaggins Feb 2013 OP
hlthe2b Feb 2013 #1
Major Nikon Feb 2013 #2
MattBaggins Feb 2013 #3
Warpy Feb 2013 #4
Major Nikon Feb 2013 #6
Warpy Feb 2013 #7
Betsy Ross Feb 2013 #5
MattBaggins Feb 2013 #8
disndat Feb 2013 #9
azurnoir Feb 2013 #10

Response to MattBaggins (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 07:05 PM

1. Yum... sounds good, but no clue...

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Response to MattBaggins (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 07:21 PM

2. It's not one of the ones I'm familiar with

However when you say Chinese restaurant in the US, this may encompass a wide range of Asian cuisine. A good Asian market will have isles full of various sauces. Many are fermented fish sauces, various vinegars, oyster sauce, chili pastes, soy sauce, hoison, char sui, and plum sauce, just to name a few. Many of those are used as condiments rather than in cooking so you might be able to narrow it down somewhat. Best to find and Asian market and see if you can locate the same brand, or ask for help (which is hit and miss in my experience with Asian markets).

Traditional Chinese food that you get in China is considerably different. There are more vegetables and soups and not so much meat. You see a lot of fish heads. It's more bland and the sauces are much more subtle.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 07:31 PM

3. This was a while back and there was no brand. It was in a simple umarked container.

This wasn't the crap made for American palates, but one of the dishes they made for themselves after closing. They always gave me the option of getting something from the menu at night or sitting down with them and eating what they made. I always chose to try what they were eating. Can't figure out how that dayglo red crap called sweet and sour became so popular or the crap Americans think is General Tso's Chicken.

It may have been a version of fermented rice made with red rice.

On Edit: I may be right about red fermented rice. That seems to be a popular ingredient in Fujian cooking and the owners were from Fuzhou, the Capital of that region.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 07:45 PM

4. I was taught by a group of visitors from Shandong province

The food was, as you said, more vegetable and less meaty. The sauces were highly flavored with garlic, ginger and often red pepper, Shandong cuisine being a little gutsier than Shanghai or Guangzho (Canton), although not quite as spicy as their southwest, Hunan and Szechuan.

Soups and tea are how most people get, or got, their fluid intake, most water being non potable. Now they've added sodas to that.

As for the question in the OP, I wonder if red bean paste might not be it. It could just as easily be rice wine lees, the color coming from something else. They do use rice wine lees in haute cuisine, good luck in finding them in most Asian groceries. I never saw them in Boston.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:29 PM

6. I spent 10 days visiting China

We visited 4 different cities in the North and South. Our tour guide told us there was a significant difference between the two cuisines. I couldn't tell much difference really. It all seemed bland to my westernized palate. I love Chinese food, both westernized and authentic, but after 10 days of living on pretty much Chinese food I was glad for something different. I did enjoy the variety of vegetables available, many of which are practically non-existent here.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #6)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:32 PM

7. I'm lucky to be 10 minutes away from an international grocery

and I don't think there is a single time I've been in there that I haven't had a "what the hell is that?" moment. They even carry durian in season, although I've never been brave enough to try one. Even Andrew Zimmern spit that one out.

My ex spent time in China and was amazed by how closely I'd managed to duplicate a lot of the things he'd been introduced to there.

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Response to MattBaggins (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:22 PM

5. Miso paste?

comes in many colors, made from different kinds of beans and grains.

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Response to MattBaggins (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 02:59 PM

9. I am pretty sure

it's Red Bean Sauce, or Bean Sauce. Also it could be Shrimp Sauce. Look in Gloria Bley Miller's book, "A Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook," Grosset & Dunlap. The sauces should be available in any Chinese food store.

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