中國醬料 -- 究竟能走多遠?

Maria Chong  莊美賢

maria thumbnailThere are many perspectives from which to look at Chinese sauces.  We sincerely hope that the above offers certain degree of interesting angle for easy appreciation and, if at all possible, inspires culinary development without boundary.

看中國醬料,可以用許多不同視角。我們摯誠地希望,以上簡單的分享,可以在某程度上觸發一些聯想,為跨逾邊界的飲食文化與烹調帶來新的發展啟示。

 

 

English

 

Chinese sauces, with its long history in Chinese cooking, must have loads of books and data from industry associations, giving an account of who they are and for what they are used.  This article does not aim to give a professional account again but instead provide a more concise and modern perspective that we are familiar with, and also drawing upon some market observations.  We hope it can give an interesting angle for friends of the UK to understand Chinese sauces from a snapshot which in turn may inspire for cross-cultural culinary fare.


How sauces are like in China thousands of years ago ?

I remember reading books that talk about how sauces were first made.  It is out of our imagination as it was mentioned that the first generation of sauces were made by putting meat into big china earthenware, where they were “aged” or fermented into a sauce. 

Sauces prepared from meat could not be consumed by Buddhist monks for obvious reason.  Hence, there came the development of soy sauce in monasteries by the Chinese monks thousands of years ago, using soy beans instead of meat. This sauce observed the strict vegetarians requirements.  But its consumption has extended to even outside of monasteries, and has since then been widely adopted by people in general.

As far back as 403-221 BC, during the warlord periods in ancient China, there was already a clear system of cooking concept that talks about “a balance of the five taste elements” which at that time includes :  sour, hot (spicy), savoury, bitter, sweet.  Over the years, it has further developed to include also the “umami”, “aromatic”, and “complex” flavours.  These 8 flavour elements have been the core to China taste evolved in the last thousands of years of Chinese culinary development.

The 8 flavour elements are contributed by sauces, condiments, and spices being used in Chinese cooking.


A breakthrough in the last century…

About 123 years ago, a new form of Chinese sauce making, reduction, appeared. However, it did not happen in a scientific manner.  Instead, it came about by accident !  

A restauranteur in southern China was boiling a pot of oyster soup and forgot about this totally until the soup was simmered down to a thick gravy.  He tasted it and discovered an irresistible, delicious new flavour.  Since then, he converted this into a lucrative commercial idea, and started selling this as “oyster sauce”.  So, oyster sauce was born in this lucky year of 1888.  The restauranteur was Mr. Lee Kum Sheung, the founder of Lee Kum Kee.


Sauces appear in new form of concoctions

With culinary development over the years, today, Chinese sauces have evolved into many different forms, with varieties of new concoctions.  There are blends of different ingredients into new sauces that offer choices of complex, new flavours.

However, it is now more than just fermentation, reduction, or blending in the preparation of sauces.  Instead, in many cases, a mix of the above are being used but in different proportions depending on sauce types and ingredients available.

The complex taste and accumulated experience brought down through generations in the long history of Chinese food culture has driven the development of not just Chinese sauces but also the much treasured Chinese cuisines and culinary skills development.


Regional difference & Cantonese sauces

There are many regional cuisine types in the vast country of China.  Each regional cuisine has their own tradition in seasoning food ingredients in cooking or serving.  Attributed to the geographical spread and local climatic and soil condition, hence, availability of agricultural and native ingredients, the degree of adoption of spices, sauces, and condiments differ.

Out of the many regional Chinese cuisine types, Cantonese is best known for its elaborated skills and varieties in delivering a universally adored flavour, in particular in the use of sauces. It has the widest varieties of sauces developed for use in preparing, cooking and serving food.  Sauces used in Cantonese kitchens has made a strong footprint in many regional Chinese cuisines as well since the expansion of Cantonese food outside of Guangdong province.  Of course, the constant culinary exchange and effort in search of new ingredients has also encouraged the development in other regional Chinese cuisines and their adoption of Cantonese sauces.

Among all sauces, soy sauce is probably the best known Chinese sauce outside of China and Chinese communities.  Soy sauce has also spread to Japan and Korea, and was adopted into Japanese and Korean diet, affecting culinary development of many Asian countries.


Soy Sauce

In the southern part of China, in Guangdong province, soy sauce can be generally classified into light soy sauce and dark soy sauce with different purposes.  Light soy is more for seasoning and dark soy sauce is more for the colour although the flavour profile of it do have impart on taste in the final dish.  Usage consumption of light soy sauce still predominates for its general seasoning ability to lift up the taste in food ingredients whether as a marinade, a seasoning, or as a dipping sauce.  Of course, in elaboration, there are many types of light soy sauce using different fermentation methods, ingredients, and time frame in the manufacturing process.  An example is light soy sauce that uses double fermentation that brings the best of umami and natural taste.

Outside of Guangdong province, soy sauce is not as elaborated nor further classified into dark soy sauce and light soy sauce.

When talking about light soy sauce, much emphasis to define quality in flavour is put in the genuine soy bean taste and umami.  Its taste can be very subtitle and delicate but given enough exposure to quality Chinese cuisines, it is not difficult to detect a good one from the bad.

The genuine soy bean taste and umami can only be achieved from a natural fermentation process using quality ingredients. Without thorough knowledge on the traditional techniques, enough sunshine over months, and a monitored and controlled environment, it is not possible to produce a quality soy sauce. 


Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce is considered the most influential in Cantonese cuisine development in the last century.  Although with a shorter history of only 123 years, oyster sauce, since its inception has become an indispensible sauce and seasoning in Chinese cooking.  And, its impact and adoption is still escalating not only within Chinese cuisines but also into western cooking.

Made from oyster extracts, the very core of the seafood protein is the source of rich meaty umami taste that allow oyster sauce to offer a more all-rounded, rich, but natural flavours to all kinds of dishes.  Its ability to make a difference has turned oyster sauce into an indispensible sauce among chefs and Chinese consumers.

A good quality oyster sauce should be rich in smoky oyster taste and aroma, concentrated (but not fishy) seafood umami from the natural reduction process.

For ease of association, broccoli beef, fried rice, noodles, vegetable stir-fry, Chinese mushrooms, abalones, sharks fins soup, braised dishes, …etc, must have oyster sauce.  And, in Chinese banquets, the fresh scallop stir-fry will come with a small plate of oyster sauce for dipping.

With its umami and rich meaty taste, oyster sauce has expanded its applications into western applications such as creamy soup, lamb chops, as a steak sauce, blended into dressing for salads, added into pasta sauce, as a marinade for meat and meat patties, added into gravies to heighten the umami and rich tastes, blended into dips, …etc.   Its ability to inspire is never ending.


Other Chinese / Cantonese sauces

Aside from soy sauce and oyster sauce, there are a few key sauces widely used in Chinese restaurants.  These include: chilli bean sauce (which is also known as toban djan or doubanjiang), hoisin sauce, ground bean sauce (also known as crushed yellow bean sauce), plum sauce, fine shrimp sauce, sesame oil, vinegar of different varieties, satay sauce, chu hou sauce, Chiu Chow chilli oil, clear chilli oil, …etc.

Hoisin sauce and ground bean sauce (crushed yellow bean sauce) are those being used in aromatic crispy duck.  They are blended together in the dressing of the wrap, and are also used in pre-marinating the ducks or other Chinese barbecue meat.  They are also widely used in some savoury-sweet clay pot dishes.  They go very well with meat.  Hoisin sauce is also the one used as dressing for a popular Chinese dish called lettuce wrap, and is also the sauce being used by Vietnamese restaurant to mix with Sriracha chili sauce as a dip for the beef in Vietnamese beef noodle soup.

Chilli Bean Sauce is probably the most extensively used chilli sauce in overseas Chinese restaurants, in particular in the UK, Japan and Korea.  It is the kind of chilli sauce required for Sichuan (Xichuan) cooking.  The ingredient that makes a difference is the broad beans being used among other chilli peppers and spices.  By the same token, different chilli sauces with variations in the ingredients give a different “feng wei” and “la du” which mean style of spiciness and different levels of kick, respectively, for a spicy dish.  Chilli sauce itself is a big category as geographical difference and local ingredients have given rise to a wealth of regional flavours.  It will be very difficult to cover all here.

The world and pace of life are moving faster, and the demand for convenience has led to the development of a variety of convenient, prepared sauces in the 1970s.  The best known among all are probably the sweet & sour sauce, lemon sauce, black pepper sauce, black bean garlic sauce, mapo sauce, seasoned soy sauce for seafood (steamed fish sauce), and char siu sauce (Cantonese barbecue sauce).  They are probably the best illustration of “sauce combo”.


A new era for Chinese sauces

In the early 1990s, the come about of a sauce has revolutionized Chinese sauces as a category.  The main reason is that it has uplifted Chinese sauces to a premium position.  It is the XO sauce.  Chinese sauces used to be selling at a few Hong Kong dollars but with the arrival of XO sauce, made widely available in supermarkets in the early nineties, has finally find a mass distributed Chinese sauce reaching the price level of 40 over Hong Kong dollars with just a 3 oz (80 g) content, and it was 20 years ago !  Of course, the value is there because it is made with dried scallops among other ingredients.

Today, XO sauce has been adopted in menus of many middle-up to top ends Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong, China, Japan, the UK, continental Europe, and America.


How important are sauces in Chinese cooking ?

If taste is the “soul” of every dish, sauces give a dish its real soul.  In fact, sauces offer more than just the great taste.  They also add moisture, mouth feel, and visual appeal to dishes.  Additionally, food ingredients in an imperfect condition, can also be treated (re-conditioned) by a good sauce.

Sauces in Chinese cooking are used in preparation (as a marinade for meat), during cooking (as a seasoning in stir-fry, as a braising sauce for stews and casseroles; as a finishing sauce mix), and when served (as a dipping sauce or dressing).

One of the points of difference between Chinese and some western cooking (maybe with the exception of French cooking) related to the “handling of flavours” is that Chinese in most occasions will pre-marinate the meats before cooking.  And, for certain situation, there will be two or even more levels of flavours for a dish.  Below is just one simple example to illustrate.

Pre-marinating to infuse the umami (or other) taste into meat is quite common.  Then, for certain dish, the second level comes to the coating with embedded flavours, and lastly the dressing or dipping sauce will add a third layer to “switch on” the soul and taste buds.  Of course, it all depends on the dish and the recipe.  But whatever it is, all have to match well for harmony, whether in between flavours or just between the food ingredient and the taste profiles of the sauce being used.

And, the sequence, timing, and intervals of putting in the sauces also vary.

It sounds complicated but the fact is, it offers dimensions of creativity and mastering techniques, and this is exactly where the fun of cooking & culinary development lies.


Last but not least …

There are many perspectives from which to look at Chinese sauces.  We sincerely hope that the above offers certain degree of interesting angle for easy appreciation and, if at all possible, inspires culinary development without boundary.

The world has advanced from just nations to a more global horizon, including food and culinary experience.  To make it a better world, at least to please our palates, it is good to discover, to share and to understand.  I remember about 10 years ago, I was talking to a brilliant, creative Chinese chef in Hong Kong.  He was running a new age Chinese restaurant in Central, offering innovative menus.  He did not feel right when it was named fusion menu.  I think he is right.  To interpret, fusion probably just stays on the surface and therefore may not be the most appropriate, fair word to describe such innovative Chinese cuisine that uplifts one’s senses. Whether it is fusion, infusion, cross-over, global, innovation,…the passionate always finds and offers surprises.  That’s what we all need.

 

A short sharing by Maria Chong, on behalf of Lee Kum Kee (Europe) Ltd.
October 2011

繁體

 

中國調味品,存在於歷史悠久的中國烹飪發展過程中,年日久遠,有關中國調味料的背境資料、故事及它們的使用方法,已經有許多行業的資料庫及書籍記載。因此,這篇短文不在於提供對醬料的詳細介紹,而是旨在採用一個更簡潔及現代的眼光,並借鑒了一些對市場的觀察及理解,跟英國的朋友分享一些關於我們所熟悉的主題片段,給英國的朋友一個有趣而不太複雜的視角了解中國醬料,亦希望可以藉此為跨國界烹飪文化的發展,起一點點的啟發作用。


數千年前的中國醬料

記得曾經看過一些文獻,當中提到幾千年前在中國最早期的醬料製造,當年的醬料原來是把剩下的肉放在一個很大的中國陶製盛器中進行發酵調製出來。

由於僧侶們不能食用用肉製作的醬,因此,在幾千年前的中國寺院出現了醬油製作工藝,就是僧侶們用黃豆代替肉類,進行發酵而調製出醬油,這種調料非常符合素食者的飲食要求。而它的應用也跳出了寺廟,普及於平民百姓,自那時起,醬油被廣泛地應用於民間,成為中國飲食文化調味的組成部份。

早在公元前 403 年到公元前 221 年,在中國的戰國時期,已有清晰關於酸、辛、鹹、苦、甘等「五味調和」的烹飪理念。多年來,再進一步發展,包括了鮮味、香味、複合味,這八味元素已在數千年的中國烹飪及飲食文化發展中成為中國味道的核心。

中國烹飪使用的醬料、調味品及香料提供了這八味元素。


上一個世紀的突破

大約在 123 年前,在中國出現了用海產濃縮而成醬汁的製作方式。然而,它並不是在一個很科學化的研製過程中產生出來的。相反,它完全是一個意外的發現!

一位在中國南方的茶寮食店老闆在忙於招待客人的時候,完全忘記了正在煮的一鍋牡蠣湯,直到湯只剩下一層非常濃稠的汁液,他嚐了一口,品味到當中無法抗拒的鮮美新口味。靈機一觸,他便將這美食新發現轉化成為一個商業槪念,並開始向顧客銷售這種名為「蠔油」的調味品。就這樣,蠔油在 1888 這一年誕生了。這位茶寮老闆便是李錦記創始人李錦裳先生。


醬料出現複合新口味

伴隨多年來的烹飪發展,今天,中國醬料已演變成許多不同的品類,當中有不同成分材料調配而成的新醬汁,提供豐富而具層次的複合新口味。

然而,現在有關醬料的製作工藝不僅僅是發酵、濃縮或調配的單一方法。有不少是因應醬料的類別、性質與材料,混合以上幾種方式進行製作,進一步豐富了中國醬料的內容,並同時配合現代烹調對更多變化及新口味的需要。

中國飲食文化的豐富的味型,與及在歷史長河中累積的經驗,經過歷代的傳承,不單帶動了中國醬料的發展,也是中菜和中國烹調藝術的核心。


地域差異與廣東醬料

在中國幅員遼闊的國家疆土中,有許多地域性的菜系。每一種菜系的對調味及烹飪技術與工藝有其自身的傳統。歸根於各自的地理環境和當地氣候與土壤條件的差異,影響其農作物以及於食材、香料、醬料和調味品的使用。

在五花八門的中國菜系中,廣東菜的烹調技術和菜式的品種,特別是口味和醬料的開發及運用方面,別樹一幟,亦最廣為各方歡迎與採納,分別應用於備用食材的醃製、烹飪中以及拌食時的調味,開發了最多的醬料品種。粵菜廚房使用的醬料的足跡遍佈各省各地,亦隨著中菜多年越洋發展而遠及於海外。當然,其它菜系在廣泛的交流中及不懈的尋找新的烹飪材料,亦成全了粵式醬料跨菜系被採用。相對而言,廣東菜亦吸收及應用外省食材與調味特色,不斷推陳出新。所以,中國烹調還在生生不息的變化中。

在多種的中式醬料中,豉油(醬油)大槪是在中國地區和華人社區以外最知名的中國調料。豉油傳到日本、韓國、東南亞,亦融入彼邦的飲食文化當中,經過其本地化的發展,廣泛應用於當地的烹調。


豉油(醬油)

在中國南部的廣東省,豉油(醬油)一般區分為生抽和老抽,並有各自不同的用途。

生抽是用作調味,而老抽用作上色,但其本身的味道亦某程度會影響到菜品。生抽的使用還是比老抽多,無論是作為醃料、調料,或作為蘸點醬,生抽均可以帶出材料本身的鮮味,並賦與菜色豉香及一點點色彩,因此仍然是佔醬油用量的主導地位。具體來說,生抽可根據其製作過程、不同的發酵工藝、原材料和發酵時間,分為不同品種。例如,以雙重發酵工藝製作出來的生抽會更細緻、更鮮美,更好地發揮食材本身的天然鮮味。

在廣東省以外,醬油並沒有生抽和老抽的區分。

關於生抽在味道方面的鑑別,以純正的黃豆豉香、鮮味為基礎,它的鮮味可以非常細膩,再配以通透金黃的色澤。經常品嚐優秀中菜的,能夠體驗辨別好與壞的豉油,並不困難。

真正經由天然晒製發酵過程,採用優質原料,才能釀造出具純正的黃豆豉味和鮮味的豉油。沒有傳統工藝和歷時數月的充足陽光,以及嚴謹監控,是不可能生產出優質豉油。


蠔油

蠔油被認為是本世紀在粵菜調味發展最具影響力的醬料。儘管蠔油只有 123 年的歷史,自創製以來,已成為中國烹飪中不可或缺的調味料。而且,其影響力的不斷提升,不僅限於中國的美食,更延伸至西菜烹調。

蠔油鮮美的味道,源自於鮮蠔汁之中的海鮮氨基酸蛋白質成份,使蠔油的味道極為鮮美及濃郁,可應用在大部份的菜式中,並能給予食材及菜色更豐富而具層次的味道和口感。因此,它已成為中國廚師和消費者廚房中的必備之調味料。

高品質的蠔油,應有蠔味,並有一種含蓄的煙熏味,及蠔香氣,濃縮的海產鮮味,而沒有腥味。

在烹調的應用上,西蘭花牛肉、炒飯、麵條、炒菜、菇菌類、鮑魚、魚翅湯、紅燜、燒等菜色中,都放蠔油以達至理想的效果。在中國的宴會中,爆炒的鮮貝都會伴有一小碟蠔油,供蘸點一起食用;這些,亦只不過是幾個例子而已。

蠔油以它的鮮美和濃郁的海鮮肉汁味,已進入了西餐的烹調當中,如奶油湯、羊排;調配牛排醬,或與沙拉拌汁混合,拌調到意粉醬中,又用於醃肉或拌肉餡,加進肉汁中以提升鮮味和濃郁度,調配成蘸點醬等。蠔油還有無窮的潛在應用方法,它在中菜的啟發力也是無止境的。


其他中國/粵式醬料

除了豉油和蠔油,還有幾種在中國餐館中被廣泛地應用的關鍵醬料,包括辣豆瓣醬、海鮮醬、磨豉醬、蘇梅醬、蝦醬和芝麻油(香油),不同品種的醋、沙爹醬、柱侯醬、潮州辣椒油、辣椒油等。

製作香酥鴨時都需要用上海鮮醬和磨豉醬,將兩種醬料混合作為蘸料來拌吃,還用於醃製鴨肉和其他中式燒烤肉類。海鮮醬也被廣泛用於一些煲仔菜(砂鍋菜餚)中,調配肉類味道鮮美,又帶一點濃郁香甜味道,也可以作為蘸料與切幼的食材以生菜捲起來吃,名為生菜包(生菜卷)。越南餐館中經常使用海鮮醬配以越/泰式辣椒醬作為蘸點醬拌吃牛肉和牛肉湯麵。

辣豆瓣醬是海外的中國餐館使用最多的一種醬料,特別是在英國、日本和韓國。這是四川菜餚烹飪的必備辣醬。它的特色是,除了用辣椒和香料外,又加了蠶豆。不同的辣椒醬成分不一,所以在「風味」和「辣度」上各有不同,做出一道道風味不同的辣味菜餚。辣椒醬本身是一個很大的品類,而造出的辣椒醬,各具特色。篇幅所限,不能盡述。

新世代的生活節奏正在改變,變得更快速,因此,方便醬在 1970 年代便應運而生。甜酸醬、檸檬醬、黑胡椒醬、蒜蓉豆豉醬、蒸魚豉油、叉燒醬等,這些都是複合醬的例子。


中國醬料的一個新時代

在 1990 年代初,XO 醬徹底將中國醬料提升至極品的地位。過去要幾塊港幣(不足一英鎊)的中國醬料,進駐超級市場,而一瓶三盎司(80 克)的 XO 醬,零售價超過 40 港幣,而那是 20 年前的價值 !當然,昂貴的價值是因為干貝的成份。

今天,在香港、中國、日本、英國、歐洲大陸和美國的中高級和頂級的餐館,菜單中都有用 XO 醬做的菜式。


中國醬料在中國烹飪中的重要性

如果說,味道是每道菜的「靈魂」,那麼用作調味的醬料就是真正的靈魂所在。事實上,醬料提供的不僅僅是美味。它們還輔助補充菜餚中水分和口感,以及提升視覺享受。此外,在材料不在理想狀態的情況下,也可以用好的醬料彌補材料不足之處。

醬料在中國烹調中,用作準備食材(醃肉)、在烹飪過程中(作為炒菜、燉肉和砂鍋燜肉的調料以及調製芡汁)、進餐時拌食(作為蘸料或拌菜醬)。

中、西方烹調對「調味」有不同的處理方法(也許法國是個例外)。在大部份情況下,中國菜餚會在烹調之前,都會預先醃肉。也喜歡在不同階段進行調味,令菜餚的味覺層次更豐富。下面是一個簡單的例子。

在烹調前,先醃肉,使鮮味進入肉的內層是普遍採用的方法。然後,就是烹調的過程當中再加入調味,又或者在帶粉漿的外層配以調味。最後,在進食時拌以蘸汁。就在這個例子當中,已經歷三個不同階段,這一切都取決於個別菜餚的取材、需要和特性。但是,無論如何,醬料或者調味料相互之間、醬料與食材之間,必需要和諧配搭。

而且加入醬料的順序、時間和間隔也不盡相同。

這聽起來很複雜,但事實上,它提供的創造空間和表現掌控技術的不同層面,這正是烹飪和美食發展的樂趣所在。

 

小結

看中國醬料,可以用許多不同視角。我們摯誠地希望,以上簡單的分享,可以在某程度上觸發一些聯想,為跨逾邊界的飲食文化與烹調帶來新的發展啟示。

世界的發展,包括食品、烹飪經驗與美食文化,已經從一個國家拓闊到國際的視野。為了世界更美好,我們至少要善待我們的味覺,關顧大家口腹的需要,嘗試去發現、分享和理解。記得 10 年前,與一位出色而具創造力的香港廚師交談。他在中環經營一間供應創新菜式的新派中菜餐廳,他認為「融和時尚菜」這名字不恰當。我想,他是對的。「融和時尚」可能未能恰當地形容他那種富創意而高水平,提升味覺與視覺享受的出品,但無論如何,對烹調與飲食文化的熱愛與誠意,總能讓人不斷發現和帶來驚喜,這都是我們所追求的。

 

2011 年

 

简体

 

中国调味品,存在于历史悠久的中国烹饪发展过程中,年日久远,有关中国调味料的背境资料、故事及它们的使用方法,已经有许多行业的资料库及书籍记载。因此,这篇短文不在于提供对酱料的详细介绍,而是旨在采用一个更简洁及现代的眼光,并借鉴了一些对市场的观察及理解,跟英国的朋友分享一些关于我们所熟悉的主题片段,给英国的朋友一个有趣而不太复杂的视角了解中国酱料,亦希望可以借此为跨国界烹饪文化的发展,起一点点的启发作用。


数千年前的中国酱料

记得曾经看过一些文献,当中提到几千年前在中国最早期的酱料制造,当年的酱料原来是把剩下的肉放在一个很大的中国陶制盛器中进行发酵调制出来。

由于僧侣们不能食用用肉制作的酱,因此,在几千年前的中国寺院出现了酱油制作工艺,就是僧侣们用黄豆代替肉类,进行发酵而调制出酱油,这种调料非常符合素食者的饮食要求。而它的应用也跳出了寺庙,普及于平民百姓,自那时起,酱油被广泛地应用于民间,成为中国饮食文化调味的组成部分。

早在公元前 403 年到公元前 221 年,在中国的战国时期,已有清晰关于酸、辛、咸、苦、甘等「五味调和」的烹饪理念。多年来,再进一步发展,包括了鲜味、香味、复合味,这八味元素已在数千年的中国烹饪及饮食文化发展中成为中国味道的核心。

中国烹饪使用的酱料、调味品及香料提供了这八味元素。


上一个世纪的突破

大约在 123 年前,在中国出现了用海产浓缩而成酱汁的制作方式。然而,它并不是在一个很科学化的研制过程中产生出来的。相反,它完全是一个意外的发现!

一位在中国南方的茶寮食店老板在忙于招待客人的时候,完全忘记了正在煮的一锅牡蛎汤,直到汤只剩下一层非常浓稠的汁液,他尝了一口,品味到当中无法抗拒的鲜美新口味。灵机一触,他便将这美食新发现转化成为一个商业槪念,并开始向顾客销售这种名为「蚝油」的调味品。就这样,蚝油在 1888 这一年诞生了。这位茶寮老板便是李锦记创始人李锦裳先生。


酱料出现复合新口味

伴随多年来的烹饪发展,今天,中国酱料已演变成许多不同的品类,当中有不同成分材料调配而成的新酱汁,提供丰富而具层次的复合新口味。

然而,现在有关酱料的制作工艺不仅仅是发酵、浓缩或调配的单一方法。有不少是因应酱料的类别、性质与材料,混合以上几种方式进行制作,进一步丰富了中国酱料的内容,并同时配合现代烹调对更多变化及新口味的需要。

中国饮食文化的丰富的味型,以及在历史长河累积的经验,经过历代的传承,不单带动了中国酱料的发展,也是中菜和中国烹调艺术的核心。


地域差异与广东酱料

在中国幅员辽阔的国家疆土中,有许多地域性的菜系。每一种菜系的对调味及烹饪技术与工艺有其自身的传统。归根于各自的地理环境和当地气候与土壤条件的差异,影响其农作物以及于食材、香料、酱料和调味品的使用。

在五花八门的中国菜系中,广东菜的烹调技术和菜式的品种,特别是口味和酱料的开发及运用方面,别树一帜,亦最广为各方欢迎与采纳,分别应用于备用食材的腌制、烹饪中以及拌食时的调味,开发了最多的酱料品种。粤菜厨房使用的酱料的足迹遍布各省各地,亦随着中菜多年越洋发展而远及于海外。当然,其它菜系在广泛的交流中及不懈的寻找新的烹饪材料,亦成全了粤式酱料跨菜系被采用。相对而言,广东菜亦吸收及应用外省食材与调味特色,不断推陈出新。所以,中国烹调还在生生不息的变化中。

在多种的中式酱料中,豉油(酱油)大槪是在中国地区和华人社区以外最知名的中国调料。豉油传到日本、韩国、东南亚,亦融入彼邦的饮食文化当中,经过其本地化的发展,广泛应用于当地的烹调。


豉油(酱油)

在中国南部的广东省,豉油(酱油)一般区分为生抽和老抽,并有各自不同的用途。

生抽是用作调味,而老抽用作上色,但其本身的味道亦某程度会影响到菜品。生抽的使用还是比老抽多,无论是作为腌料、调料,或作为蘸点酱,生抽均可以带出材料本身的鲜味,并赋与菜色豉香及一点点色彩,因此仍然是占酱油用量的主导地位。具体来说,生抽可根据其制作过程、不同的发酵工艺、原材料和发酵时间,分为不同品种。例如,以双重发酵工艺制作出来的生抽会更细致、更鲜美,更好地发挥食材本身的天然鲜味。
在广东省以外,酱油并没有生抽和老抽的区分。

关于生抽在味道方面的鉴别,以纯正的黄豆豉香、鲜味为基础,它的鲜味可以非常细腻,再配以通透金黄的色泽。经常品尝优秀中菜的,能够体验辨别好与坏的豉油,并不困难。

真正经由天然晒制发酵过程,采用优质原料,才能酿造出具纯正的黄豆豉味和鲜味的豉油。没有传统工艺和历时数月的充足阳光,以及严谨监控,是不可能生产出优质豉油。


蚝油

蚝油被认为是本世纪在粤菜调味发展最具影响力的酱料。尽管蚝油只有 123 年的历史,自创制以来,已成为中国烹饪中不可或缺的调味料。而且,其影响力的不断提升,不仅限于中国的美食,更延伸至西菜烹调。

蚝油鲜美的味道,源自于鲜蚝汁之中的海鲜氨基酸蛋白质成分,使蚝油的味道极为鲜美及浓郁,可应用在大部分的菜式中,并能给予食材及菜色更丰富而具层次的味道和口感。因此,它已成为中国厨师和消费者厨房中的必备之调味料。

高品质的蚝油,应有蚝味,并有一种含蓄的烟熏味,及蚝香气,浓缩的海产鲜味,而没有腥味。

在烹调的应用上,西兰花牛肉、炒饭、面条、炒菜、菇菌类、鲍鱼、鱼翅汤、红焖、烧等菜色中,都放蚝油以达至理想的效果。在中国的宴会中,爆炒的鲜贝都会伴有一小碟蚝油,供蘸点一起食用;这些,亦只不过是几个例子而已。

蚝油以它的鲜美和浓郁的海鲜肉汁味,已进入了西餐的烹调当中,如奶油汤、羊排;调配牛排酱,或与沙拉拌汁混合,拌调到意粉酱中,又用于腌肉或拌肉馅,加进肉汁中以提升鲜味和浓郁度,调配成蘸点酱等。蚝油还有无穷的潜在应用方法,它在中菜的启发力也是无止境的。


其他中国/粤式酱料

除了豉油和蚝油,还有几种在中国餐馆中被广泛地应用的关键酱料,包括辣豆瓣酱、海鲜酱、磨豉酱、苏梅酱、虾酱和芝麻油(香油),不同品种的醋、沙爹酱、柱侯酱、潮州辣椒油、辣椒油等。

制作香酥鸭时都需要用上海鲜酱和磨豉酱,将两种酱料混合作为蘸料来拌吃,还用于腌制鸭肉和其他中式烧烤肉类。海鲜酱也被广泛用于一些煲仔菜(砂锅菜肴)中,调配肉类味道鲜美,又带一点浓郁香甜味道,也可以作为蘸料与切幼的食材以生菜卷起来吃,名为生菜包(生菜卷)。越南餐馆中经常使用海鲜酱配以越/泰式辣椒酱作为蘸点酱拌吃牛肉和牛肉汤面。

辣豆瓣酱是海外的中国餐馆使用最多的一种酱料,特别是在英国、日本和韩国。这是四川菜肴烹饪的必备辣酱。它的特色是,除了用辣椒和香料外,又加了蚕豆。不同的辣椒酱成分不一,所以在「风味」和「辣度」上各有不同,做出一道道风味不同的辣味菜肴。辣椒酱本身是一个很大的品类,而造出的辣椒酱,各具特色。篇幅所限,不能尽述。

新世代的生活节奏正在改变,变得更快速,因此,方便酱在 1970 年代便应运而生。甜酸酱、柠檬酱、黑胡椒酱、蒜蓉豆豉酱、蒸鱼豉油、叉烧酱等,这些都是复合酱的例子。


中国酱料的一个新时代

在 1990 年代初,XO 酱彻底将中国酱料提升至极品的地位。过去要几块港币(不足一英镑)的中国酱料,进驻超级市场,而一瓶三盎司(80 克)的 XO 酱,零售价超过 40 港币,而那是 20 年前的价值 !当然,昂贵的价值是因为干贝的成分。

今天,在香港、中国、日本、英国、欧洲大陆和美国的中高级和顶级的餐馆,菜单中都有用 XO 酱做的菜式。


中国酱料在中国烹饪中的重要性

如果说,味道是每道菜的「灵魂」,那么用作调味的酱料就是真正的灵魂所在。事实上,酱料提供的不仅仅是美味。它们还辅助补充菜肴中水分和口感,以及提升视觉享受。此外,在材料不在理想状态的情况下,也可以用好的酱料弥补材料不足之处。

酱料在中国烹调中,用作准备食材(腌肉)、在烹饪过程中(作为炒菜、炖肉和砂锅焖肉的调料以及调制芡汁)、进餐时拌食(作为蘸料或拌菜酱)。

中、西方烹调对「调味」有不同的处理方法(也许法国是个例外)。在大部分情况下,中国菜肴会在烹调之前,都会预先腌肉。也喜欢在不同阶段进行调味,令菜肴的味觉层次更丰富。下面是一个简单的例子。

在烹调前,先腌肉,使鲜味进入肉的内层是普遍采用的方法。然后,就是烹调的过程当中再加入调味,又或者在带粉浆的外层配以调味。最后,在进食时拌以蘸汁。就在这个例子当中,已经历三个不同阶段,这一切都取决于个别菜肴的取材、需要和特性。但是,无论如何,酱料或者调味料相互之间、酱料与食材之间,必需要和谐配搭。

而且加入酱料的顺序、时间和间隔也不尽相同。

这听起来很复杂,但事实上,它提供的创造空间和表现掌控技术的不同层面,这正是烹饪和美食发展的乐趣所在。

 

小结

看中国酱料,可以用许多不同视角。我们挚诚地希望,以上简单的分享,可以在某程度上触发一些联想,为跨越边界的饮食文化与烹调带来新的发展启示。

世界的发展,包括食品、烹饪经验与美食文化,已经从一个国家拓阔到国际的视野。为了世界更美好,我们至少要善待我们的味觉,关顾大家口腹的需要,尝试去发现、分享和理解。记得 10 年前,与一位出色而具创造力的香港厨师交谈。他在中环经营一间供应创新菜式的新派中菜餐厅,他认为「融和时尚菜」这名字不恰当。我想,他是对的。「融和时尚」可能未能恰当地形容他那种富创意而高水平,提升味觉与视觉享受的出品,但无论如何,对烹调与饮食文化的热爱与诚意,总能让人不断发现和带来惊喜,这都是我们所追求的。

 

2011 年

 

Author 作者

 

Ms Maria Chong has been in Chinese sauces business & Lee Kum Kee for twenty years, and taken different positions within the organization, such as managing country business, and was also based in headquarters with different corporate marketing roles.  Has managed business for Lee Kum Kee in different territories such as South East Asia (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines), Australia, New Zealand, and South Pacific Islands, Ms Chong currently holds the position of Marketing Director of Lee Kum Kee (Europe) Ltd.

 

 

莊美賢女士在中式調味品行業及李錦記工作已二十年。在李錦記,她歷任不同崗位,包括區域業務管理及發展、總部的企業市場部等等。她曾管理李錦記在不同地區的業務,例如東南亞區的馬來西亞、星加坡、印尼、菲律賓等,以及南太平洋區的澳大利亞、新西蘭、南太平洋群島等。现任李錦記歐洲市場總監。

 

 

庄美贤女士在中式调味品行业及李锦记工作已二十年。在李锦记,她历任不同岗位,包括区域业务管理及发展、总部的企业市场部等等。她曾管理李锦记在不同地区的业务,例如东南亚区的马来西亚、新加坡、印尼、菲律宾等,以及南太平洋区的澳大利亚、新西兰、南太平洋群岛等。现任李锦记欧洲市场总监。