Here are some essential things about chinese food and cooking methods which I think is important to note. The main reason for this is because of feedback from friends of mine who are not coeliac, who have tried to make my recipes, have found some possible differences in taste and/or appearance. I have been making adjustments to recipes specifically tailored for coeliacs using gluten free ingredients, but things can vary a lot and I will keep try to make a few things more clear.
There will also be some more general background stuff which might be interesting or at least useful. So watch this space… or page!
Starting with the ingredient probably most associated with China and chinese cooking, soy sauce. You might think they’re all the same but there’s so much more to it and it can make a really difference not only to how your food tastes but how it looks too!
Soybeans have been fermented in China since at least the third century BC and it has long been indoctrinated into the chinese food hall of fame. Firstly the essentials, light and dark. Light soy sauce is usually used for taste and is thinner and rather saltier, so be careful if using a lot of this to not then over salt your dish. Dark soy sauce is richer, sweeter and mainly used to add colour to sauces or marinades, but it’s also a little salty, and I absolutely love it.
Now to the fine details. There are hundreds of brands each varies, so you really have to just try around. There are also various types outside the standard light and dark, for example a cantonese type used for cooking fish and a specialist sichuanese one for cold dishes, this is just in China! But here are some general rules which might help.
The finest soy sauces are fermented naturally, but most versions use added yeast or other chemicals. The soy sauce you generally find in supermarket brands are generally watered down and do not use the traditional fermenting method. As a results they don’t have as strong a taste. This is especially true for dark soy sauce, the colouring is much lighter. This is very similar to the result you achieve with gluten free soy sauce. Traditional chinese soy sauce you get in chinese supermarkets are much stronger, so a general rule you should only use half as much as instructed in my recipes for light and one third for dark.