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Chilli sauce: This tangy, orange-red sauce is made of crushed fresh chilli peppers, vinegar, salt and plums. It is used both as a spicy hot seasoning and as a dip for crisp food. Store in a cool place. Fish sauce: Golden brown, transparent sauce made from fish, salt and water. It adds more fragrance and taste to other ingredients or sauces than a sniff of it on its own might suggest. Stored in a cool place, it keeps for a long time. Hoisin sauce: Reddish brown and thick, sweet yet slightly hot, this sauce is made from soy beans, wheat flour, salt, sugar, vinegar, garlic, chilli and sesame oil. It is used as a dip as well as in cooking and marinating. It keeps in a covered jar for a long time and, if refrigerated, will keep indefinitely.
Oyster sauce: Nut brown in colour, this sauce is made from extracts of oysters, wheat flour, cornflour and glutinous rice, salt and sugar. Not as strong as soy sauce, the sweet and "meaty" taste it lends to other ingredients, whether as part of a sauce mixture or as a dip for meat, poultry and vegetables, makes it a special favourite with the Cantonese. Bottled oyster sauce can be kept in a cool place while canned oyster sauce, once opened, should be transferred to a covered jar or bottle. Sesame sauce, sesame paste: Thick, aromatic paste of pulverised sesame seeds. The paste has to be thoroughly incorporated with the oil coering it and then thinned with oil or water before use. Tahini paste should not be used as a substitute; rather, use peanut butter which has a similar fragrance. Shrimp paste, shrimp sauce: Made from ground shrimps fermented in brine, this paste is available in two forms; a pinkish puree and a more solid, slightly saltier pate. Both kinds have to be diluted with water before being used, very often to enhance the taste of bland seafood, such as squid. Usually sold in a jar, if keeps almost indefinitely in a cool place.
Soy sauce: Made from fermented soy beans and wheat or barley, salt, sugar and yeast, this sauce is one of the most ancient seasonings in Chinese cookery. It is at once the most basic and the most versatile condiment for all Chinese cuisines, whatever the regional differences. There are two main kinds of soy sauce: the thick, also called dark soy sauce and the thin, also called light soy sauce. Both are used in general cooking, for marinating and as dips. Very often, they are used together with salt. It is the mark of a good cook to know how much of each to use, thereby achieving the delicious end result. Thick soy sauce: This is thicker in consistency than thin soy sauce, darker brown in colour and sweeter in taste. Since it gives a reddish brown hue to food, it is the predominant sauce in red-braised dishes and in flavour-potting. Because of its sweetness, it is preferred by many as a dip at the table. Thin soy sauce: This is thinner in consistency, lighter brown in colour and more salty in taste.


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