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Favorite Soy Sauce Brand to go with my xiao long bao sauce?

So I've tried searching this board with the tags: Soy Sauce, soy soauce brands, Best soy sauce etc. and almost nothing comes up with the exception of threads that feature soy sauce in their ingredients. Frustrating. I haven't had much success with searches here in awhile :(

Anyhow, I have about a dozen different soy sauces in my pantry as I live in Flushing and there are a plethora of Asian markets near me. However, I can never get the *perfect* taste with my dipping sauce for my xiao long bao.

Of course, I add rice vinegar, sugar, ginger etc, but the soy sauce itself is not quite right.

Any reccs?

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  1. How about none? ;-)

    Here in my city, XLB are served with only (usually) Black Vinegar and Ginger slivers - no soya.

    4 Replies
      1. re: fmed

        >> However, I can never get the *perfect* taste with my dipping sauce for my xiao long bao.

        Of course, I add rice vinegar, sugar, ginger etc, but the soy sauce itself is not quite right. <<

        Do you have a particular restaurant that you are comparing against? (Because, and not to harp, XLB dipping sauce doesn't usually contain soya...nor sugar. Only black vinegar and ginger slivers).

        1. re: fmed

          I think I'll just be doing that in the future. I was following a complete recipe from steamykitchen.com and it was my first time making them. They certainly don't need anything else, do they?

        2. re: fmed

          Exactly.

          Black vinegar (sometimes red) and julienned ginger are all you need.

        3. It is really hard to get artisanal Chinese soy sauce in the US. The brands they sell in Chinese supermarkets are mediocre at best. I understand your frustration because high end Chinese foodstuffs are such a severly under served market.

          Nama Shoyu is my favorite soy sauce that is conveniently available in the US. Give it a try, it is less salty, more flavorful and classically Chinese style instead of wheat based derivatives.

          1. I don't have a brand to recommend but I made this recently:

            The Dipping Sauce (Combine and refrigerate)
            2 tablespoons of sambal (hot chili & garlic sauce)
            1/2 cup black vinegar
            1/2 cup soy sauce
            1 teaspoon sesame oil
            1 tablespoon of shaved ginger

            I didn't have black vinegar at the time (remedied that) so I used red. I don't think I'd use rice vinegar.

            1. Pearl River dark soy is my favorite. I really prefer the darker soy sauce, it has a great flavor that I can only describe as slightly smokey.

              7 Replies
              1. re: chef chicklet

                I prefer the dark also but you can't have too heavy a hand with it. Or I can't.

                1. re: c oliver

                  I feel my ankles swell just talking about it!

                2. re: chef chicklet

                  Pearl River brand is also my fave, but I don't like using the dark soy on some things that are overpowered by its assertive taste. They make a regular soy sauce which is my favorite.

                  I discovered black vinegar during the Fuchsia Dunlop COTM. Amazing what it adds to dishes!

                  1. re: oakjoan

                    oh black vinegar, that's so wonderful. I remember all the cooking that was going on with that book. You all did a magnificent job really researching and trying her recipes and condiments. I must make those hot salted peppers soon!

                    1. re: oakjoan

                      Your reminder of Fucshia Dunlop yesterday promped me to check her book out - Land of the Plenty, and I'm so looking forward to cooking from it.

                    2. re: chef chicklet

                      Dark soy sauce is too pungent for xiao long bao and not an appropriate condiment.

                      1. re: Pookipichu

                        All the more reason to eat it. It's the pungent taste I love, the other soys taste too watered down, no body. Just a matter of personal taste.

                    3. If you search for "shoyu", you'll find a lot more hits (although it will be heavily slanted towards Japanese and Hawaiian brands).

                      Here's an interesting article about shoyu: http://www.soyinfocenter.com/HSS/soy_...

                      I didn't have as much luck searching with the Chinese pinyin for soy sauce, but maybe the info on the sites you can find about shoyu will still help you decide what type and brand you want.

                      Here's a different chowhound thread about shoyu with some recommendations (for general use, not specifically XLB): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/547185

                      1. What is your background? You should buy soy sauce from that area. Cantonese soy sauces are different than soy sauces from Tawian which are different from those of China.

                        Everyone has different preference. What I consider as a good soy sauce, you may consider as bad. For example, someone here suggest Pearl River soy sauces from Canton China. I know many many people use it, but I hate it. I bought it when I was at college because many restaurants use it and I really hate it and could not finish using it. I were and still am really frugal. I am the kind of person who won't want to throw away milk which starts to go bad or decide to cook the fish extra long because I am not sure if it has gone bad.

                        The same person who has no problem drinking partially spoiled milk and fish has problem using Pearl River soy sauce. Get my point?

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Thanks for all the responses. My background is Sicilian/Austrian- American. Soy Sauce is not huge in my native "areas". :)

                          When I make my XLB dipping sauce, I blend a bit of Chinkiang black vinegar with a splash of soy, some grated garlic, slivered ginger, and some cilantro leaves. Occasionally I will add some sugar. Usually if I am making my XLB with pork AND crab, I like the extra sweetness. Straight pork XLB, and I omit the sugar.

                          The XLB I eat out are served at either Nanxiang on Prince Street in Flushing or Joe's Shanghai. I detect a bit of soy in both of their sauces. Perhaps not?

                          1. re: ZenFoodist

                            So do you use rice or black vinegar? I think that makes quite a difference in the end result. I also can't imagine using garlic in any form. That makes dark soy sauce seem like a walk in the park.

                              1. re: ZenFoodist

                                Ah, so rice vinegar in the OP was wrong. Just checking cause I'd turned a thumb down on that.

                            1. re: ZenFoodist

                              :) You sure? I have never been to Sicily maybe it has a lot of soy sauce. I don't know :P

                              Seriously, soy sauce can be different from region to region. Most soy sauces made from Taiwan tends to have sugar in it and quiet a bit. Soy sauces from Hong Kong, in comparison, are not and have more salt. Some soy sauces have rice wine it them. I think you just have to ask those restaurants what soy sauce they use. Actually, most restaurants do not use very generic and inexpensive soy sauces, so you will have no problem buying them. Just like cookware, most restaurants actually use cheaper cookware than people at home. Rarely a restaurants use fancy cookware like All-Clad, for example.

                              1. re: ZenFoodist

                                It has been many years since I have eaten there, but IIRC Joe's Shanghai uses the traditional vinegar/ginger sauce - no soya in it. I haven't been to Nanxiang on Prince.

                            2. America's Test Kitchen on Ohsawa Nama Shoyu Organic Unpasteurized Soy Sauce:
                              "This Japanese brand won the plain tasting, with its flavor described as "clean," "caramel," and "rich and nuanced." A few tasters called it "sweet and dimensional," even "floral," with one adding that it was "lighter in style and flavor than others." Contains less sodium than other brands tested. (sodium: 720 mg) $6.49 for 10 ounces

                              I use Trader Joe's Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce and it suits me fine.

                              1. While we will have to agree with the posters “Fmed” and “DallasDude” about the standard dipping sauce for XLB’s, which would be black vinegar and ginger, we would like to also say that for the longest time, we used straight soy sauce rather than the vinegar and ginger that other members of my family who are from the northern region of China used for their XLB’s. Being of Cantonese Toisan background, we did not initially enjoy the traditional black vinegar dipping sauce used for XLB’s and boiled dumplings, although with time, we have begun dipping our XLB’s in the black vinegar, but not our boiled dumplings, which we still dip into straight soy sauce.

                                Sometimes like political correctness, there are times when one has to buck the fashion tide when the truth is at stake (like the “Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Andersen), since for personal tastes in food, which is always the truth since you are the one who will consume the food, hence one can take liberties with standard practices.

                                However, with that said, there is something to age-old traditions and authenticity. Not always of course, but the assumption is that for very old cultures, especially China’s which has been around many millenniums now, in their traditional ways of eating certain foods, all the various versions and different ways to eat and cook that particular food item has been tried and that the “authentic” way are the recipes that have passed the long test of time to be the best way to cook or eat that particular food.

                                Although most of the classical world would consider Mozart a better composer than the Court Composer Salieri, this does not prevent anyone from enjoying Salieri’s music or even liking Salieri music more than Mozart’s. And in the same manner, one can enjoy their own dipping sauces for XLB’s, especially behind closed doors.

                                It is vive la différence, is it not?

                                We see that you are well familiar with the “Chinkiang Gold Plum” brand of black vinegar, which is mentioned as a very good black vinegar in the “Flavor And Fortune” magazine article on Chinese vinegars ( http://www.flavorandfortune.com/dataa...

                                )

                                As for soy sauces, we have always liked the soy sauce that we grew up with, “Koon Chun Thin Soy,” which is much saltier than dark soy and without a hint of sweetness. My parents would typically buy the “Koon Chun Thin Soy” in the 5 lb tins (cheaper of course) and then pour the soy sauce into smaller bottles. We use the “Koon Chun Thin Soy” for the dipping sauce for boiled dumplings. The Flavor and Fortune article on soy sauces ( http://www.flavorandfortune.com/dataa... ) also mentions it favorably.

                                16 Replies
                                1. re: lwong

                                  Iwong,

                                  Many Chinese food that we know are really new invention, so I won't hold on to this "Age old tradition" as tight as it is. For example, stir frying in a wok is only invented about 1400 years ago in the beginning of the Tang dynasty. Corns, tomatoes, potatoes are all crops from the New World, yet they play a very important role in today Chinese diet. The infamous Oyster sauce with Chinese Broccoli is only invented no earlier than 1888.

                                  Back to the main topic, Koon Chun is a very good brand of Cantonese soy sauce, much better than Pearl River in my opinion, but then everything is.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    Speaking of Koon Chun -- they make a decent naturally fermented red vinegar that is a very capable substitute for black vinegar for XLB dipping. They also make my favourite dim sum Chili sauce. This brownish-terracotta sauce is ubiquitous in my city's dim sum restaurants.

                                    1. re: fmed

                                      Fmed,

                                      I like Koon Chun. It is a Hong Kong style soy sauce and what I also like is that it has very simple ingredients and no preservative. Many other bands like Lee Kum Kee and Pearl River add a bunch of needless preservatives like sodium benzoate

                                      http://www.hiwhy.com/wp-content/uploa...

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        I'm a big fan of the Koon Chun brand. I'm sure I have a bottle of their soya in my collection too.

                                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      We see that the posters here on the “Home Cooking” Forum are a very tough bunch. Especially when 1400 years for the technique of “stir fry cooking in a wok” is not considered a sufficient time to have passed the “long test of time” in terms being considered a classic cooking technique, nor the introduction of the New World foods, which would only be in the neighborhood of a mere 700 years. (LOL)

                                      Our ostensive purpose in our posting was to briefly discuss both sides of the authentic/inauthentic issue and conclude with the “vive the difference” phrase, which clearly puts us on the side of the “rebel” rather than the “age-old traditionalists.” Hence by taking us to task for our less than complete discussion on “age-old traditions” and authenticity discussion, you were validating and in support of our conclusion.

                                      However, we do take complete responsibility and blame, if our poor writing skills lead you to believe that we felt China’s cuisine, or any cuisine for that matter, was static for many a millennium. We agree wholeheartedly with you that all cuisines are dynamic and in an evolving status, where internal/external influences are always changing the nature of the cuisine. We certainly did not believe the first Chinese Neanderthal cave-men were stir-frying “Beef Chow Fun” in a steel wok on a 225K BTU gas burner apparatus.

                                      But we still stand by our primary premise and statement that “authentic” foods have generally passed the long test of time and that there is generally some consensus as to the proper way to cook or eat that particular food. And everyone has the right to buck the authentic way of doing things with new ways, but than these new ways will also have to pass the “long test of time” to prove that they have the right to supplant the “age-old traditions.” In those areas of life where subjectivity holds much sway in the decision making, such as food, the arts, and literature, the only true criteria for greatness and goodness is does it pass the test of time. Will future generations also consider it great and good.

                                      1. re: lwong

                                        lwong,

                                        Stir fry in wok started about 1400 years ago and only popularized even later than that.. It is not that old for a cooking technique. Simmering, baking, frying, grilling... all have been with us much longer. Well, open flame grilling has been with human since the very dawn of history, estimated 500 000 years ago. Stir fry is old compare to you, but it is very young compared to other cooking techniques and to Chinese history itself. Most ancient Chinese have never experienced stir-fry. The premise of your argument is false -- stir fry is not old, not old by cooking technique standard. New crops did not get introduced to China or popularized in China for 700 years. (LOL)

                                        I stand correct that most Chinese dishes that you know of are not much older than European cuisine and some younger. Considered that any Chinese dish with potatoes, tomatoes, corn came after after their European counterparts, it is difficult to argue that these dishes have pass "the test of time" compared to their European counterparts. Same thing with onion, broccoli, oyster sauce...

                                        1. re: lwong

                                          What long test of time? As per Endymion Wilkinson in "Chinese History: A Manual" (Harvard-Yenching Institute Press, 2000) Chinese food today, as eaten by more than a billion people in China, Hongkong, Taiwan and around the world today would be unrecognizable to Chinese people living just 200 years ago - save Peking Duck.

                                          1. re: scoopG

                                            ScoopG,

                                            Agree. Take modern "Dim Sum" for example. These are fairly new inventions in food history. One of the oldest Dim Sum we know is Spring Roll. Spring Roll as we know it started probably in the beginning to middle Qing dynasty. In other words, it is older than most American cuisines, but Spring Roll is suspected to be one of the oldest Dim Sum if not the oldest. The infamous Char Siu Bao started probably at the end of Qing dynasty. Rice noodle roll date back the end of Qing dynasty. Shrimp dumping (Har Gao) invented in 1930's. Wanton noodle soup started in 1920-1930.

                                            Forget all these, let's just focus on the original post about Xiao Long Bao (Chinese Soup Dumplings). Xiao Long Bao as we know started about 100-150 years ago, but that is not really old by food history standard. American hot chocolate has a history longer than that. American barbecue, American hot dog and American donuts... are not younger than Xiao Long Bao. I have never heard of people refer hot dog and donut have stood the test of long time.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              It appears that we are arguing over semantics as to the meaning of the phrase “long test of time.” We are not using this phrase in writing a complete history of cooking starting from early man before he started standing erect, where it might mean from your perspective several millenniums before something can be considered to have passed the “long test of time.” Rather this phrase is used by us in a flexible manner in terms of usefulness to ourselves and other living people.

                                              If a food item has lasted 200 years or even the mere 122 years of the creation of oyster sauce, and possibly even shorter time periods if the food item warrants it in being of unique or special qualities, we are more than satisfied that the item has passed the “long test of time,” and that the item in question should in most cases represent a positive aspect of the cuisine.

                                              In your reference to the American Hotdog, you have never heard the hotdog mentioned as an “American classic?”

                                              1. re: lwong

                                                lwong,

                                                If we are talking about foods, we probably should measure dishes against other dishes. Many Chinese dishes are not that old compared to Thanksgiving turkey. To stay on topic, Xiao Long Bao is not much older than Coca Cola and Oreos cookies. When scientists talk about "force", there is a precise definition to the term. There is also a general agreement to Iron Age and Industrial Age. Coca Cola, Oreos, American hot dogs are considered as modern foods.

                                                Yes, I have heard of hot dog being called as an American classic, but that does not change the fact that it is a modern food. One should compare items within its own category. An old dog is not the same as an old tree. 13 year is old for a dog, but young for a tree. A 3 feet rat is huge, while a 6 feet elephant is small. Xia Long Bao is a modern food.

                                                You, now, say you never meant to talk about food history or that foods do not have to have several millenniums before they can be considered old. Please understand that your original post focuses on the many millenniums of Chinese history and that their traditional way of eating has been tried and passed the long test of time. It is pretty difficult to walk away and not believe you were referring these foods have millenniums history. If Xiao Long Bao’s ~100 years history has passed the test of time in your mind, then certainly Coca Cola, Oreos, donuts, hot dogs have as well. So what does it matter that China has a longer history? It does not matter at all. So why used that as your argument?

                                                Let me make a few modifications in your original post and maybe you can understand how the confusion came about. Here:

                                                “However, with that said, there is something to age-old traditions and authenticity. Not always of course, but the assumption is that for very old cultures, especially China’s which has been around many millenniums now, in their traditional ways of *playing video games*, all the various versions and different ways to *play video games* has been tried and that the “authentic” way are the *strategy* that have passed the long test of time to be the best way to *play the games*.”

                                                Do you see the problem? If I published that on a newspaper, I sure will get a lot of responses. The thousand years of Chinese history has very little to with current Chinese playing video gaming, nor does it has much with Xiao Long Bao. I hope you understand why your post has confused me and ScoopG. You really cannot fault people for that.

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  In our first response to you, we had made the joke that you are a very tough poster to feel that 1400 years since the invention of the “Stir Frying technique” was insufficient time to be considered a classic Chinese method that has passed the “long test of time.” But after all these post exchanges, we will have to add that not only are you tough but also dogged like a Terrier hunting dog who will not let go of the rabbit long after the rabbit has been dead. (LOL)

                                                  In our question to you whether you had heard of the hotdog being called the American classic, since you had made the comment that “I have never heard of people refer hot dog and donut have stood the test of long time,” the issue was simply whether the hotdog was considered a classic American food that has stood the “long test of time,” but this does not have anything to with whether it is a “modern” food item, but only pertaining to whether the hotdog has weathered our phrase “long test of time” to be considered an American classic food.

                                                  You selected a very good analogy to illustrate your point with the video game, but we do not feel that you made your point concerning our debating issue. The problem with all analogies is that one must choose a simpler relationship to explain a more complicated relationship, and unless one chooses wisely, one can go quite wrong in their selection of an analogy, which is what happened in your case.

                                                  It is certainly true that the video game probably does not have any relationship with the past many thousand years of Chinese history, culture, and cuisine, but we do not think you are correct in stating that the XLB is also independent of Chinese culture and specifically past Chinese cuisine. The XLB, while unique in it’s own way, is basically a variation on a theme of the simple steamed dumpling, which a quick search of the Internet shows has a very long history indeed of many thousands of years. The XLB was built on the long Chinese food culture that came before it.

                                                  You bring in science in your last post stating that there is a precise definition for “force” with the implication that there should be an equivalent preciseness in discussing foods, but food taste and eating preferences and our phrase the “long test of time” is not exact science, and like the previously mentioned fields of the arts and literature in a prior posting, there is much subjectivity involved.

                                                  May we bring in science also and quote Sir Isaac Newton who stated, "If I have been able to see farther than others, it was because I stood on the shoulders of giants." Would you agree with us that the XLB has stood on the shoulders of the simple steamed dumpling?

                                                  When we wrote the original post with the very brief paragraph about “age-old traditions and authenticity,” we wrote this based upon our intuition about cultures and how things would evolve without doing any specific research. We have no doubt that if we put more effort into researching this “Newton aspect of sitting on the shoulder of giants,” we could come up with many more instances of present Chinese food items that have evolved from past very old Chinese foods. There are a number of food items mentioned in the response to “ScoopG” that are quite old. Noodles are over 4 thousand years old. We gave the example that we certainly did not feel that the first “Chinese Neanderthal cave-men were stir-frying ‘Beef Chow Fun’ in a steel wok on a 225K BTU gas burner apparatus,” where the truthfulness of our statement should be crystal clear and not require any further evidence.

                                                  You end your post by stating that we erroneously gave the impression that Chinese culinary history was static and that “You really cannot fault people for that.” This is all well and good, except that you apparently have forgotten that in our very first post response to you, we made a “mea culpa” admitting that our poor writing skills may have given the impression that Chinese culinary history was static, but that we were “wholeheartedly” in agreement with you that Chinese cuisine was certainly not static but dynamic (posting of Feb 21, 2010, 11:08AM), but maintained our premise of “authentic” food items that have stood the “long test of time.” Plus we made the point that our conclusion showed we were on the side of the rebels rather than on the side of the age-old traditionalists. We thought this would be the end of the debate, but instead you posted two more posts making similar comments about how ancient Chinese cuisine was and how many new food items there have been since the dawn of Chinese time, just as if we had never made the “mea culpa” statement. In some quarters, people might consider this bullying behavior. You don’t enjoy kicking people when they are down or stealing candy from children also, do you? (LOL)

                                                  We enjoy intellectual fencing very much, as it sharpens one’s logical thinking and helps to keep one’s wits active, and in many cases, one can learn new knowledge or even become wiser.

                                                  Until a future Chowhound occasion then, where we might cross swords again.

                                                  1. re: lwong

                                                    Lwong,

                                                    If it seems like I am dogging you around, I am not. I am making correction. It is not you who are I am after. It is the errors you made. In case, you cannot tell from my login name, I am a scientist. When I am a reviewer and I see errors in a manuscript sent to me, I make sure they are corrected, and I am considered very easy going in my field. No one is after you on a personal level, but the errors you made. I am not talking about opinions, but rather factual errors.

                                                    I told you that tomatoes, potatoes and all are discovered in the New World and you told me that these crops were introduced to China for 700 years. Am I not suppose to correct that? Is correcting an error considered as bullying now? You kept saying putting words into other people's mouth. For example, you repeatedly said that you are not suggesting that "Chinese Neanderthal cave-men were stir-frying ‘Beef Chow Fun’ in a steel wok on a 225K BTU gas burner apparatus". Did I actually suggest you said that? No. So why bring it up? That is a straw-man argument. You wrote “You end your post by stating that we erroneously gave the impression that Chinese culinary history was static”. Again no. I fault you for implying Xiao Long Bao has millenniums of history, as if someone implying video games has millenniums of history. Remember that video game example? It wasn't about video game history being static.

                                                    The issue is that Xiao Long Bao does not have millenniums of history, and the way to eat it has no millenniums history either. Can you actually show me that the way to eat Xiao Long Bao has millenniums of history? Using Newton statement of “If I have been able to see farther than others, it was because I stood on the shoulders of giants.” does not make any sense here. Yes, Newton said that and I am very aware of what Newton did. Science makes continuous progression. One theory is usually based on an existing one or is inspired by it. Yet, no one would say Newton’s Third Law has millennium years of history because Newton based his theory/law on someone and someone based his on someone else. I am sorry, but that is nonsense. If I write something like that in my next submission, I will get fired -- literally. Newton's Third Law was published in 1687 – period. Xiao Long Bao is invented 100-150 years ago during the Qing dynasty – Q.E.D.

                                                    Yes, I am also aware that hot dog is an American classic, but it has not stand the "test of long time", not for food. I won't call a 5 years old tree has stood the test of long time, nor would I say a 10 000 years old star system has stood the test of long time.

                                                    I made the correction that Xiao Long Bao is invented in modern era, and thus far you pretty much threw everything including the kitchen sink to defend your stance. At the end, you are just digging a bigger hole underneath your feet. Instead of made a mistake and moved on, you are piling more false arguments on top of the original one, like suggesting new crops were in China for 700 years ago or that Newton said this and that. No one is bullying or insulting you and no one is dogging you. At the end of the day, Newton's Third Law was publichsed in 1687 and Xiao Long Bao is invented 150 years ago.

                                                    By the way, your argument about the rabbit is long dead is also false. I will let you think about that.

                                            2. re: scoopG

                                              Since we have not read the book, would you be kind enough to quote the pertinent passages in the book relevant to our discussion?

                                              However, a quick search of the Internet does indicate that Tofu has existed for over a thousand or more years in China and that soy sauce has existed even longer. A recent article in the National Geographic indicates that noodles have existed in China for the last 4000 years. And records show that rice and millet have been cultivated in China before the birth of Christ. Chinese cabbage dates back to at least 1400 AD with variants even older.

                                              You don’t you think a meal of rice, noodles, tofu, Chinese Cabbage, and soy sauce from a thousand years ago would be quite recognizable to Chinese in modern China or even in America, or that modern day Chinese in China or America do not partake of the above mentioned food items?

                                              But in any case, assuming that your statement is correct that all Chinese food today is no older than 200 years, you do not feel that a food item that began 199 years ago and still exists in the present world would be considered as having stood the “long test of time?”

                                              In America, the Hotdog and Hamburger are considered the quintessential American food, but these two foods were developed within the last 199 years. You do not consider these two foods as being classic Americana fare?

                                              The poster “Chemicalkinetics” states that oyster sauce was only invented in 1888, which would make oyster sauce 122 years old. Again, you would not consider oyster sauce a classic Chinese condiment?

                                              Mark Twain is acclaimed as one of America’s best writers, and America will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of Twain’s death this year in April, but Twain’s writings are certainly within the 199 year window that you appear to indicate as being too a short a time interval to be considered a “long test of time.” You don’t consider Twain one of America’s classic writers who has stood the “long test of time” as a writer well worth reading? Although we are straying from the topic of food, the principle of the “long test of time” would hold for literature also.

                                              It is not clear where this debate is going, since we have already stated that we agreed with the poster “Chemicalkinetics” in our last paragraph in an earlier posting “that all cuisines are dynamic and in an evolving status, where internal/external influences are always changing the nature of the cuisine,” but that we also feel that there are periods of time when certain food items do remain fairly static for long periods of time. Although cuisines can be stated as being dynamic and evolving, this is used figuratively to show that it is not static, but this does not mean that cuisines are so fluid that they change on a daily or even yearly basis. Oyster sauce has been around for 122 years and we would expect that it would be around for another 122 years, barring extinction of the oyster.

                                              Doesn’t it appear that we have more in agreement than disagreement?

                                              1. re: lwong

                                                Hey guys: lighten up! It's only food!

                                                1. re: Joebob

                                                  Agreed, it is only about food.

                                                  But when someone begins shooting at you, one has no choice except to defend ones self.

                                                  Isn’t this the American way and how all the classic American movie westerns end up in violence and retribution? (LOL)

                                                  We have always enjoyed the last frames of Alan Ladd in “Shane” riding into the sunset after dispatching the extremely evil character played by Jack Palance, appropriately dressed in a black vest and black pants, and with the boy crying out “Shane, come back.” The very bittersweet ending of “Shane” always brings out the emotional feelings in us that justice has been served but also sadness that life does not always turn out 100% happy, as the Shane character indeed does not come back.

                                                  Here is the last 9 minutes of the movie “Shane” that includes the gunfight and the very sad “Shane, come back” pleadings of the boy for those who might be interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFquzx...

                                        2. re: lwong

                                          I'm going to get me some Koon Chun Thin Soy later on in the week when I am in downtown Flushing. Thanks for the insight as always, Lwong.

                                        3. For me and the xlb or boiled dumplings, no soy sauce either, but if you must, the Ohsawa Nama Shoyu is quite wonderful. It's umame without the leaden blanket of saltiness. After I finished using my first bottle of that shoyu, i could not get myself to buy regular soy sauce for a long time...

                                          So, yes, if you can find yourself a good black vinegar, it would be all you need. Of course, the problem is that there are so many brands of Black vinegar out there. The 鎮江 area black vinegar being the most famous, but in the last few years there are many brands using that name that tastes of awful chemical. So, when I lack good Chinese Vinegar, I go for a good 10+ year old Balsamic vinegar instead. Full body, floral, tart and sweet and rich all in one....as the traditional black vinegar would have been. It goes with your Sicilian heritage somewhat, too :)

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: HLing

                                            HLing, that sounds amazing.

                                            I think regardless of what you use you are a lucky person for being served the dumplings.

                                            Most dumplings, including char siu bau and har gau, I like using a simple sambal oelek or the chilis in oil.

                                            1. re: DallasDude

                                              Well, this is just one Chinese (Cantonese, actually) person's opinion, but when eating dumplings we don't necessarily want or need any condiments if the filling is good and fresh, and the wrapping similarly excellent. At best, a tiny dip in soy sauce (doesn't actually matter what brand) and perhaps (in South East Asia, certainly) a good chilli sauce (but has to be freshly made, none of that processed bottled stuff).

                                              As for xiaolongbao, we are told that the only way to eat them - and again, they have to be freshly-made - is with a teensy dip in black vinegar and julienned ginger. But you'll have to ask the Shanghainese if that's true :)

                                          2. This thread is a bit old, but regarding using soy sauce with XLB: at Din Tai Fung in Taipei, they hand out a little trilingual instruction card recommending 1 part soy sauce to 3 parts black vinegar. It may well be that the salt content of the dumplings is adapted to this combination, and that the dumplings might taste underseasoned without some soy. DTF's recipe undoubtedly is adapted to Taiwanese tastes and differs from whatever might be considered the original in Shanghai. But the same might be said of XLBs in North America: whatever the chef thinks is right is what you get.