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DavyJonesLocker

Does 老抽 go off

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DavyJonesLocker

Ok, i have been trying my hand (or paw) at a lot of chinese cooking.

 

Many receipies seem to require 老抽,I made 三杯鸡 yesterday and it was decent actually however the receipe called for 2 parts (30ml total approx) of 老抽. I went with half of that but again came out somewhat thick and gloopy. I haven't had a recipe yet that i think the 老抽 actually added to the flavour of the dish, so i was thinking of omitting it altogether

 

Now i bought a new bottle today and it was much runnier than what I was using before. The previous one was very thick like a pouring cream and jet black. Could this be the reason why i am not keen on it? It has been in the cupboard half used for more than a year, has it gone off?

 

 

Unrelated note but not work making a seperate thread at this stage 

I really recommend folks have a crack at Chinese cooking. If a talentless individual  like me can do it, it will be easy for you!  Once you get going it becomes pretty straight forward for 家常菜. They taste good and the biggest benefit for me is two fold, that is (a) you can easily alter the dish, e.g. more meat and sauce less rich, and, (b) make it a lot healthier e.g. less sugar and oil).

As a starting novice my top tips thus far are

1) The time is in the preparation but the actually cooking time is much less that western food. so get all your things ready on a plate or bowl.

2) ensure you read the recipe fully, and know what you need to do. Don't read  not step by step. This is mainly because you need to add in bits and bobs one minute after the previous step. If it takes you a few minutes to read a step and understand the chinese you probably have over cooked it or dried it out. 

 

Its worth read @abcdefg posts, there are some real gems in there that can save you a lot of headache 

 

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abcdefg

Thanks for your kind words @DavyJonesLocker -- If I can reduce the headache factor on a few good Chinese dishes for my forum friends, I'll be content. 

 

57 minutes ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Now i bought a new bottle today and it was much runnier than what I was using before. The previous one was very thick like a pouring cream and jet black. Could this be the reason why i am not keen on it? It has been in the cupboard half used for more than a year, has it gone off?

 

I'm not sure if it actually spoils, but with time it gets more concentrated. All 老抽 dark soy sauce has caramel added to allow it to deepen the color of braised meats and contribute a little extra luster. It doesn't do much of anything to benefit vegetables and it doesn't add a lot of flavor. All 老抽 contains additives: mainly salt and sugar. Some brands are saltier, others are sweeter. The makers don't disclose their formula.  

 

Also, there are different varieties and grades of 老抽。You did the right thing by buying a new bottle. I always spring for some that is prominently marked 特级 (top grade) and I check the label to find a brand that does not contain MSG 味精。It should be thick enough to coat the back of a soup spoon and not just run right off like light soy sauce 生抽 or dark vinegar 老陈醋。

 

Recently I've been buying a brand which is fermented with the aid of straw mushrooms 草菇。It seems to have more flavor. (I'll come back and post a picture tomorrow.) 

 

Unfortunately, it's usually hard to ask for help or advice in a supermarket because lots of the workers get commission from moving one or another brand. Naturally, this brand is the very best and is the one you are advised to buy. 

 

When a recipe calls for some light soy sauce and some dark soy sauce, I typically combine them in a ratio of six or eight to one. In practice what this means is a couple tablespoons of light soy sauce and a tiny splash of dark soy sauce, maybe a quarter of a teaspoon. Don't completely abandon it in your cooking, just use it sparingly. 

 

Baidu has a long and comprehensive article about it. I only skimmed it. Maybe later I can read it in more detail. https://baike.baidu.com/item/老抽/1740521?fr=aladdin 

 

Glad you are doing more cooking. I completely agree with your comments about the benefits. That's basically why I cook at home too. And I can look for fresh, top notch ingredients instead of just using the cheapest ones like some not so great restaurants do. 

 

57 minutes ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

They taste good and the biggest benefit for me is two fold, that is (a) you can easily alter the dish, e.g. more meat and sauce less rich, and, (b) make it a lot healthier e.g. less sugar and oil).

 

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DavyJonesLocker
1 hour ago, abcdefg said:

 

When a recipe calls for some light soy sauce and some dark soy sauce, I typically combine them in a ratio of six or eight to one. In practice what this means is a couple tablespoons of light soy sauce and a tiny splash of dark soy sauce, maybe a quarter of a teaspoon. Don't completely abandon it in your cooking, just use it sparingly. 

 

 

 

OK I just finished eating my 排骨糖醋 A favorite of mine. Best attempt so far, thanks for the tips on the other thread by the way. Made a difference. 

This time I added a splash of my new 老抽 during the boiling phase and it really gave it a nice rich dark brown color without any of the gloupyness (if there was such a word) . 

The 三杯鸡recipie I used called for 2 老抽 to 3 parts 生抽 。 Way too much in my view. A 6:1 or more like you suggest seems about right. It still tasted fine but visually and the texture was  off putting 

 

The bottle I used today was this one. I only selected it because I found the 生抽 version pretty good and somewhat mild. 

IMG_20180930_212233.jpg

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abcdefg
12 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

This time I added a splash of my new 老抽 during the boiling phase and it really gave it a nice rich dark brown color without any of the gloupyness (if there was such a word) .  The 三杯鸡recipie I used called for 2 老抽 to 3 parts 生抽 。 Way too much in my view. A 6:1 or more like you suggest seems about right. It still tasted fine but visually and the texture was  off putting 

 

Great! Glad the new bottle worked out better.

 

A good quality 老抽 should be less salty than 生抽。It's also usually just a little bit sweet -- 老抽 sometimes contains molasses as its caramelizing agent. Though it isn't always specified in home cooking 家常菜,professional chefs often suggest adding it near the end of the dish so it won't break down with sustained heat such as is required in slow braising (for example, the 红烧 process.) So for your pork ribs dish, might try adding the light soy sauce 生抽 earlier in the cooking process and the dark soy sauce 老抽 later instead of putting them in together. Adding it late allows a little to go a long way. 

 

This is the kind I've been using recently. The 特级 designation (large gold characters) is worthwhile. It has to do with intensity of flavor; it is usually aged longer. Suggest looking for that feature next time. The 草菇 is nothing all that special. The soybeans (and wheat) are mixed with straw mushrooms in the fermentation process. Might give it a little more flavor. (Anything that can raise 老抽 from being just a coloring agent is desirable.) 

 

image.thumb.png.f2cd5af0e59819caed8b2e020933c603.png        550271281_IMG_5963-60.thumb.jpg.76e3c69f0a6323184e847536d99ed224.jpg

 

 

As to viscosity, here I've poured some light soy sauce over the back of a spoon (left.) It is thin and runs right off. The dark soy sauce, on the right, coats the spoon a bit. 

 

393071296_IMG_5966-60.thumb.jpg.5c1fc0de464bded406a3c7e07abbe7eb.jpg    178374674_IMG_5968-60.thumb.jpg.7e99625b8878083217977ca51129d1f7.jpg

 

 

Glad you have taken the "home cooking plunge." Keep up the good work! 

 

In addition to the other reasons that you gave above, I think cooking here in China gives another dimension to Chinese learning. Learning about the culture and learning about the food are intimately intertwined. I also think it would be a shame not to avail oneself of the opportunity, with ingredients being so fresh and cheap. Back in the west, it would be a struggle to find the raw materials; here they are right outside my door.  

 

 

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DavyJonesLocker

Great thanks for the tips. I'll keep an eye out for that bottle

 

Incidentally another helpful tip I found when using online recipies such as 下厨房 is, when you find a recipe you like ,  look at the author's collection  of recipies rather than searching for an actual recipe . Many authors seem sloppy in their approach (e.g. leave an essential ingredient in the body of the text rather than at the start), include far too much unnecessary information, unclear steps. A plain and simply written recipie  is invaluable for a beginner in cooking and a learner of Chinese

 

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abcdefg
53 minutes ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Incidentally another helpful tip I found when using online recipies such as 下厨房 is, when you find a recipe you like ,  look at the author's collection  of recipies rather than searching for an actual recipe

 

You're absolutely right! Good tip! I could not agree more. 

 

I sometimes also watch video of how the dish is made by a professional chef. In Baidu, enter the name of the dish as a search term and then select 视频 in the menu under the search box. Lots of those videos are crap; just someone playing around or showing off. (Similar in that respect to casual blog-post recipes by weekend home cooks.) I particularly look for the ones done by pro's. 

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