Chinese food is all about the perfect marriage of sweet, sour, and chilly. If the sauces weren’t there, Chinese food wouldn’t be as famous. Even when you try a dumpling, you dip it in sauces to get the authentic flavors.
There are plenty of Chinese sauces that together make a dish. The rich flavor of Chinese food is due to the use of these sauces made using different spices. Together they have a complete spectrum of tastes; it activates your taste buds on a different level.
One of the most needed skills while trying to understand Chinese cooking or to start making Chinese food is to have a piece of knowledge about different Chinese sauces that we use to cook the dishes.
In Chinese food, there are four primary flavors – Sweet, Sour, Spicy, and Savory. All the flavors have the power to tantalize your taste buds. Human beings crave different flavors, and the Chinese sauces are quite potent to give you a kick!
We can divide the sauces along the same lines.
- Sweet Bean sauce – This is a sweet, brown-colored, thick sauce. It is popular in Northern China; you can use it for cooking Beijing hot duck, pork dishes, etc. Fermented yellow soybeans, wheat flour, sugar, and salt are the major ingredients.
- Black Vinegar – It is a black-colored sauce with having watery consistency. You can add them to give flavor to almost all Chinese dishes. They have a taste similar to Vinegar we use in the western world. Using it, you can cook dishes such as hot and sour Chinese dishes, Vinegar soaked cabbage, etc. You can also use them as a dipping for dumplings. The Vinegar contains fermented black rice, wheat, and millet.
- Soy sauce – The quintessential sauce when it comes to Chinese food is soy sauce. It has a salty, sour flavor and is quite popular. Even those who haven’t tried Chinese food know that Chinese food contains soy sauce! It is dark brown and is watery. You can add them as a seasoning to your noodles, chicken, or any other main course. It is easy to make and contains brine, wheat, and soybeans.
- Oyster sauce – Yet another gift from the Orientals. It is a thick, brown sauce, and it gives a savory flavor to the food. Buddha’s delight, Wonton noodles, etc., are cooked using the sauce. Mix sugar, salt, cornstarch, and oyster essence, and you have your very own Oyster sauce.
- Sesame Paste – We have peanut butter, and the Chinese have sesame paste. But, nowadays, sesame paste has become so popular everywhere due to its unique savory flavor. You can have them with noodles or use them as a dipping sauce. It is made of pure sesame seeds, and you can use either black or white sesame to punch in the authentic flavors.
- Sacha Sauce – What is Chinese food without spicy flavor? Sha Cha is a spicy sauce. It is reddish-brown and has a thick consistency. You can use them as a dipping sauce for meat or use it as a topping for noodles. You can use it to marinate meat or use it as a base for soup. The main ingredients that go into the sauce are dried shrimps, brill fish, shallots, soybean oil, garlic, and chilies.
Interesting, right? Chinese food is indeed complicated yet flavorful. The sauces might seem complicated to you right now, but they give you an excellent taste.
The sauces described above are only some of the famous sauces used in Chinese cooking. Many other Chinese sauces go into the dishes. However, having a basic understanding of sauces that give necessary flavors to Chinese food comes in handy while ordering them at a restaurant.