Jan 24, 2011
Master of All
You are my First, my Last, my Everything, sung by Barry White
Ok, this song has nothing to do with my post. But I really like this song! Especially when its performed in the drama serial :Ally McBeal in the unisex toilet in the law firm.
I have always had a jug of Master Sauce in my freezer. Its been in there for almost 12 years now. I have stayed here at Hougang Avenue 7 since 1995, and had this sauce in my old place. When we shifted homes, I was too worried about my sauce that all my other possessions which was packed and ready to go. So I left the whole jug of sauce to my Uncle Andrew. When we finally settled down in our current home, uncle Andrew didn't know he was to return the sauce, he use it for his cooking and food.
So I had to start cooking it again. There are many stories about the Master Sauce. And possibly a 1001 recipes too. Each Chef or cook will probably have his or her own version. I would like to think of it as the authentic Indian Garam Masala which Prashant used to tell me..of every household has their own blend of spices to make up the Garam Masala. So in every Chinese home, we should have our own blend of Master Sauce.
A Master sauce is created over a period of time. Just like good vintage wine, it can take years to reach the full flavour. Its often made of the simpliest of ingredients found in every Chinese kitchen :
Dark Soy Sauce
Light Soy Sauce
Cinnamon bark or sticks
As to variations, like how much of each ingredients, greatly depends on what's on the menu for the day. What are you using it to cook with.
I started making my Master Sauce sometime late 1997, around the time I was pregnant with Melody, my youngest daughter. And marked the date of its 'creation'. Mainly just so that I remembered how long it would take me to make the sauce.
The Master sauce was cooked or boiled over the stove and each time I would add a whole duck or a whole chicken to cook. once the meat is cook, I will remove the sauce, scoop out a bowl or two for dipping or to add to the meat dish. The rest will be kept in a jug and straight into the freezer.
Each time I needed to cook a braised meat dish, I would take out this Master Sauce, thawed it. And add water, the spice herbs to boil and cook the meats again.
And then repeat the process each time. After 12 to 15 rounds of cooking it with duck or chicken or pork, you will get a good base...and thus the birth of the Master Sauce.
My mom used to tell me that the hawker who sells the Teochew Braised Duck guards this Master Sauce like gold. Its not a recipe that is to be sold to the highest bidder and should the old man passed away or retires, he would pass the sauce to the next generation. Even if the family decides not to sell this dish anymore, the sauce was to be kept in the family household kitchen and kept 'alive' by re heating it, using a portion each time for braised food cooking at home.
I hope the day will come for me to pass my Master Sauce, divided into 2 portions for both of my daughters. This is what I use for Master Sauce for :
You can find all the recipes at my KC Forum.