Saturday, January 24, 2009

Schezwan Sauce – When you can make it, why buy it?

S and I love Chinese cuisine. One of our common hangouts in Chennai used to be The Cascade Restaurant, and an even more regular order used to be the Schezwan Fried Rice or Schezwan Noodles. Anyone who digs spice and Chinese in one go is likely to be a Schezwan fan.

To bring this hot-must-have into our kitchen, I referred to one of my favourite chefs, Tarla Dala. And I modified her recipe a bit to our taste to make the sauce our way. In the US, we came across the Sriracha brand which is a Thai chilli garlic sauce, and we got to taste it for the first time in our friend’s house. I am not exaggerating when I say this – the sauce I make at home is of exactly the same taste. So I checked the ingredients, and they’re the same, of course without the preservatives! S says it is ‘homemade, but restaurant style’. There are different kinds of Schezwan sauces, some use tomatoes, but I am assuming adding that would reduce its shelf life considerably. And we like the taste without the tomatoes.

This is what you’ll need:
1. 20 dry red chillis – Soak them in warm water for about 10 minutes.

2. 4 tablespoons chopped garlic

3. 6 tablespoons white vinegar

4. 2 teaspoons sugar

5. 2 tablespoons sesame oil

6. 1 teaspoon salt

Here’s how you spice it up:
1. Drain out the water from the chillis and squeeze out any excessive water.

2. Grind all the ingredients except the oil into a fine paste and keep it aside.

3. Heat the oil to a smoking point and pour it over the chilli sauce.

4. Mix this well, alow it to cool and store refrigerated.

You can use this sauce in your fried rice, noodles, stir fried vegetables, or if you’re a fan of spice, as a dipping sauce. This measure yields about 3/4th of a cup or less. One of the most important ingredients of Chinese food is Sesame – seeds and oil. So make sure you use just Sesame oil. Try this out, and you’ll never buy Sriracha again. Why buy it when you can make it? And it takes just about 10 minutes to make this popular sauce. I just used some to make Schezwan Fried Rice and have stored the rest to make noodles sometime later.

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