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Home > Recipe Pit > Chinese


Szechwan Red Cooking Sauce

Recipe by: Timothy T. Hanni

Prep time:


1 gallon soy sauce
3 liters dry white table wine
1 head garlic, cut in half
1 cup ginger root, sliced and lightly mashed
1/3 cup Szechwan peppercorns
1/2 cup star anise
1 pint sherry, medium-dry Amontillado
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 pound box dark brown sugar (2-1/3 Cups)

To make the sauce, combine ingredients in a large stainless steel or enamel pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for one hour. (If the soy sauce is very salty, add 2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and quartered, and remove after 30 minutes. This will help draw out some of the excess salt.) The sauce is now ready for repeated use. You can replenish the spices and liquid every now and then as necessary.

After cooking an item, make sure to remove any bones or meat bits from the sauce. If you do a partial cooking followed by marinating, as in the leg of lamb preparation cited here, bring the sauce back to a boil after removing the meat. After every use, allow the sauce to cool. Skim off most of the fat, leaving enough to form a seal for extended storage. Store, after cooling, in a covered container in the refrigerator.

The variety of dishes that can be prepared over a medium-hot flame in this manner is impressive. Duckling. Simmer whole duck for 45 minutes, remove and allow to cool. Quarter, remove breast from rib bones, discard back and rib bones. Grill breast rare, for 4 minutes; legs and thighs for 4 minutes. Chicken. Simmer whole chicken for 45 minutes. Grill breast, legs and thighs for 4 minutes. Turkey leg and thighs. Simmer for 45 minutes; grill 8 minutes. Beef. Choose inexpensive cuts like chuck, shoulder, shin and ribs. Simmer until tender, about 10 minutes per pound. Grill for 8 minutes. Leg of lamb. I prefer my lamb on the rare side so I immerse a butterflied leg in the sauce, bring it to a simmer, remove from the heat and marinate for one hour. Remove from the sauce and grill for 30 minutes. Fresh ham, pork shoulder, loin or ribs. Fully cook by simmering in the sauce for 15 minutes per pound; then grill for 2 minutes per pound. Fish. Large firm-fleshed fish fillets and steaks with a high fat content work best (monkfish, halibut, sea bass, tuna, swordfish). Simmer 4 minutes per pound; grill 4 minutes.

Your final criteria for wine selection with grilled food will depend on your choice of sauces and garnishes. If the sauces tend in the chili/garlic direction, keep the wines light and low in alcohol and tannins. Chili is a sensitizing ingredient and will make the wine actually taste stronger. Fresh fruit such as plums, mangoes, or papaya can be cooked with onions, red wine, rice vinegar and hoisin sauce and thickened with a bit of cornstarch. Since the acidity of the vinegar neutralizes the sweetness of the fruit, this sauce can be paired easily with full-flavored red wines. Wine Suggestions: Beringer 1990 Gamay Beaujolais or Beringer 1988 Zinfandel. Fruit is the predominant component in each of these wines. Both have mild or medium tannins that won't interfere with (or be accentuated by) any astringency from the grilled duck.

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