Popular sauces from the Asian culinary world

by Sanjeev Kapoor

It is quite a known fact that Oriental delights are one of a kind. But, ever wondered how the flavours are spot on at all times?  Well, apart from the exotic condiments and ingredients, one of the top reasons is the distinctive sauces that are used across Asia. Adding the apt sauce in just the right amount is also a skill that needs to be mastered if you love the Asian flavours a little too much.

 

Here is little know-how of some of the most popular sauces from the Oriental cuisine: 

 

Chinese Soy Sauce 

This is one of Asia’s most important gifts to the global pantry. It is used universally, not merely as a condiment, but as an ingredient in a host of various store-bought and homemade foods. Commercially, it is made in a slightly tiresome and lengthy process.  The soya beans are cleaned soaked until soft, steamed before being mixed with yeast and wheat flour, then fermented for up to 2 years before being filtered and bottled.

There are 3 versions of this sauce, each differing in aroma and flavour.

  • Light soy sauce: This one comes from the initial extraction and has a delicate but  salty flavour. It is light brown with a lovely beany aroma.
  • Dark soy sauce: This type  is left to mature for a longer time and has some amounts of caramel added to it. The final result is slightly sweeter and darker with a powerful fragrance.
  • Regular soy sauce: This is simply a blend of light and dark soy sauce and has many uses. It enhances the flavour of many dishes, usually other sauces, soups and stews.

 

Japanese Soy Sauce 

There are several different types of Japanese soy sauces. All of them are completely different from Chinese soy sauces. So, it is best to use these when cooking Japanese dishes. They are popularly used for seasoning tofu, grilled dishes, cold fish salads and the classic sashimis.

  • Usukuchi soy sauce: This is light in colour and taste is a little less salty than Chinese light soy sauce.
  • Tamari: Dark with a strong flavour, this one is brewed without wheat. Used as a dip especially with sushi.
  • Shoyu: This is a full-flavoured sauce that can be stored for up to 2 years. 
  • Kikkoman: It is a very popular version, which is a brand name for the equivalent of Chinese regular sauce. It is ideal as a dipping sauce to be used at the table rather than for cooking.

 

Teriyaki Sauce 

If you want an extra zing to your Oriental dish, make sure you got a bottle of this sauce. This is a soy-based product that is made with wine, sugar and spices. Used for marinades, basting or seasoning grilled or barbecued dishes. The word teri’ means the glazy effect it adds to the dish and ‘yaki’ refers to the process of grilling. 

 

Oyster Sauce 

A Cantonese speciality, it is a highly versatile flavouring and can be used in a wide variety of dishes. The thick brown soy-based sauce is flavoured with oyster juice, salt and caramel, and then thickened with copious amounts of cornflour. The flavour is earthy and it has a natural dark colour to it. Oyster sauce can be used in a variety of cooked dishes, adding depth of flavour as well as colour. It tastes great with chicken and beancurd and with some noodle dishes that need a little perking up.

 

Hoisin Sauce 

Another Cantonese speciality, its Chinese name means “sea flavour.” It is made from fermented soybeans, sugar, vinegar, salt, chilli, and garlic and sesame oil. It is a fairly handy sauce and makes a valuable contribution to the kitchen. Mainly intended to be used to enhance flavours in marinades, it can also be used as a dipping sauce. Pair it up with some roast meat, it tastes heavenly!

 

Plum Sauce 

A type of sweet and sour sauce made from plum juice with sugar, salt, vinegar and a thickening agent. There are a variety of plum sauces, all having slightly different aromas and flavours. Plum sauce is most commonly used as a seasoning or a dip with spring rolls or dim sums.

 

Sriracha Sauce

If you like it spicy way, then this is THE sauce for you!  It is fiery and has a rich flavour, made with chilli peppers, garlic, sugar, some distilled vinegar and salt. The origin of this sauce is slightly controversial but most of it says that it is an invention by a lady in Si Racha, Thailand. It is widely used in the preparation of seafood dishes but the Vietnamese cuisine uses it as a condiment with many of their classics.

 

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.