Monday, January 24, 2011

Thai Sauces and Condiments

Hoisin Sauce is part of the bean sauce family. It is a rich, thick dark, brownish-red sauce that is made from soybean paste, garlic, vinegar, sugar spices, and other flavorings. It is at once sweet and spicy. The texture range from creamy thick to thin. It is used as a condiment and as a glaze for roasted meats. Sometimes, it is used as a sauce (mixed with sesame oil) for Peking Duck instead of the traditional bean sauce.

nam_pla.gif (1118 bytes)Fish Sauce is a pale amber liquid derived from a brew of fish or shrimp mixed with salt. This is the most important ingredient in Thai cooking. Fish sauce is thin, flavorful and vitamin-rich, its aroma may seem strong though. It gives various flavors to the dishes and is placed on the table as a condiment at nearly every meal, either as is or mixed with sliced chilies and perhaps lime juice.

Oyster Sauce is a thick, brown, richly flavored concoction. Fresh oysters are boiled in large vats, the whole being seasoned with soy sauce, salt, spices, and seasonings and made into viscous substance. The salty taste of oyster sauce largely dissipates during the cooking process; it doesn’t even taste "fishy" after it has been cooked. But it retains its rich and distinctive savory flavor, one that goes nicely with the preferred subtleties of Thai-Chinese cuisine. It is also used as a condiment, diluted with a little of water or oil, for vegetables, poultry, and meat. Oyster can also used directly from the bottle over blanched vegetables.

Sweet soy sauce. See Eiw Wan is a blend of dark soy sauce and molasses. It provides both sweetness and a wood-toned color. This sauce is the essential ingredient in Pad See Eiw Noodle.

Whole fermented yellow or black soya beans may be labeled "Dow See" in oriental stores. They are sold in bottles and the English label probably says "Yellow Bean Sauce". Fermented soya beans are nutritious, strongly flavored and salty. They replace salt completely in some Thai dishes.

Thin soy sauce. See Eiw Khao is light in color, neither thick nor sweet. Substitute any good light soy sauce, but not so-called lite or low-sodium soy sauce.

Shrimp paste. A very salty, shrimpy paste of sun-dried, salted shrimp, used in curry pastes, sauces, soups or stir-fry. Thai shrimp paste comes in small plastic jars and is the consistency and color of thick mud or soft clay. Thai shrimp paste has a very strong, fishy flavor and smell, so keep that lid on tight!

Sri Racha Sauce. A terrific chili sauce made in the seaside town of Sri Racha. This sauce is one of the most popular dipping sauces in Thailand. Thais love it as an accompaniment to deep-fried dishes, seafood and all stir-fried dishes. It is similar to the Tabasco except with much less of the vinegar tang. Because of the added ingredient, garlic, the sauce is sometime known as "Chili Garlic" sauce.

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