Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous
Includes thickeners and food wrappers
rosella
rosella
This is grown in Africa.
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roux
roux
This is a thickener that's made from equal weights of flour and a fat, like butter or meat drippings. It's especially good for thickening rich, hearty stews and gravies. To make it, heat the fat in a pan, then gradually whisk in the flour. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for at least several minutes, then gradually whisk in the hot liquid you're trying to thicken. You must then cook the sauce for at least 30 minutes to prevent it from acquiring a grainy texture and a starchy, floury taste. Some cooks make large batches of roux, and store it in the refrigerator or freezer.
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Sago starch
Sago starch
This flour is made from the inner pulp of the sago palm. It's often used to make pudding, but it can also serve as an all-purpose thickener. Look for it in Asian markets.
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sahlab
sahlab
This is made from orchid tubers and has a pleasant, flowery smell. Look for it in Middle Eastern markets.
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sake lees
sake lees
This is what's left over after sake has been pressed from the fermented rice mash. The Japanese marinate fish and meats in it to improve flavor and texture. It's available either in doughy sheets, or as a thick mush.
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salmon roe
salmon roe
These eggs just explode in your mouth. They make wonderful hors d'oeuvres.
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salted herring roe
salted herring roe
This is very salty and very expensive.
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saltpeter
saltpeter
This is sometimes used in curing rubs for meats. Look for it in drug stores.
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sausage casings
sausage casings
These are traditionally made from intestines, but synthetic casings are now more common. You can order them online, or prevail upon a friendly neighborhood butcher.
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scallop roe
scallop roe
This coral-colored roe is expensive and hard to find, but it has a wonderful, delicate flavor. The roe is usually both sold and served with the scallop that produced it.
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sea urchin roe
sea urchin roe
Red roe is more expensive than yellow, but the taste is similar.
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sevruga caviar
sevruga caviar
In recent years, over-fishing in the Caspian Sea has greatly depleted sturgeon populations. Please consider using caviar and roe from more abundant species until the Caspian Sea sturgeon populations can recover. Greenish-gray sevruga has the smallest eggs and strongest flavor of all the caviars. Because of this, it's cheaper than beluga or ossetra, but still quite good. If substituting an inferior caviar, consider perking it up with a splash of fresh lemon juice. For substitutions for caviar in general, click here.
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shad roe
shad roe
You can buy lobes of this roe fresh in the springtime, or in cans during the rest of the year. Canned shad roe is good, but not quite as good as fresh.
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slaked lime
slaked lime
Don't cook with the slaked lime found in hardware stores.
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smelt roe
smelt roe
This is bright orange and moderately crunchy.
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squash blossoms
squash blossoms
These make exquisite garnishes, but they can also be stuffed with fillings and fried, or else sautéed very briefly and put into omelettes or quesadillas. The best source of the blossoms is a garden, but non-gardeners can sometimes find them in farmers' markets or specialty markets. They don't store well, so try to use the blossoms soon after you get them.
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Starch thickeners
Starch thickeners
Notes: These silky powders are used to thicken sauces, gravies, pie fillings, and puddings. They're popular because they thicken without adding fat or much flavor. To avoid lumps, mix the starch with an equal amount of cold liquid until it forms a paste, then whisk it into the liquid you're trying to thicken. Once the thickener is added, cook it briefly to remove the starchy flavor. Don't overcook--liquids thickened with some starches will thin again if cooked too long or at too high a temperature. Cornstarch, arrowroot, and tapioca are the most popular starch thickeners. They have different strengths and weaknesses, so it's a good idea to stock all three in your pantry. Starch thickeners give food a transparent, glistening sheen, which looks nice in a pie filling, but a bit artificial in a gravy or sauce. If you want high gloss, choose tapioca or arrowroot. If you want low gloss, choose cornstarch. Cornstarch is the best choice for thickening dairy-based sauces. Arrowroot becomes slimy when mixed with milk products. Choose arrowroot if you're thickening an acidic liquid. Cornstarch loses potency when mixed with acids. Sauces made with cornstarch turn spongy when they're frozen. If you plan to freeze a dish, use tapioca starch or arrowroot as a thickener. Starch thickeners don't add much flavor to a dish, although they can impart a starchy flavor if they're undercooked. If you worried that your thickener will mask delicate flavors in your dish, choose arrowroot. It's the most neutral tasting of the starch thickeners. Tapioca starch thickens quickly, and at a relatively low temperature. It's a good choice if you want to correct a sauce just before serving it.
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stevia extract
stevia extract
This has been touted has a healthful alternative to non-nutritive artificial sweeteners. It's quite sweet, but has a bitter aftertaste. Look for it in health food stores.
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suey gow wrappers
These are similar to potsticker wrappers, but they're intended to be used in soups. While assembling the dumplings, keep the stack of wrappers moist by covering them with a damp towel. Seal the dumplings with a "glue" made with cornstarch and water. Look for stacks of these wrappers in the refrigerator cases of Asian markets. Store them in the refrigerator or freezer, but let them come to room temperature before using.
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sweet potato starch
sweet potato starch
Asian cooks like to dredge pork in this before frying it.
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sweet rice flour
sweet rice flour
This thickener has the virtue of remaining stable when frozen. It's often used to make Asian desserts. Don't confuse sweet rice flour with ordinary rice flour. Look for it in Asian markets.
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tapioca
tapioca
These are small beads of tapioca that are used to make tapioca pudding. The beads don't dissolve completely, so they end up as small, squishy, gelatinous balls that are suspended in the pudding. Don't confuse this with instant tapioca, which is granulated and often used to thicken fruit pie fillings, or with pearl tapioca, which has much larger balls.
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tapioca pearls
tapioca pearls
These round pellets are made from cassava roots. Asians use them to make puddings and a beverage called bubble tea. You can also use them to make tapioca pudding, though it's faster and easier to use instant or regular tapioca. The pearls are normally soaked for at least a few hours before they're added to a recipe.
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tapioca starch
tapioca starch
Tapioca is a good choice for thickening pie fillings, since it thickens at a lower temperature than cornstarch, remains stable when frozen, and imparts a glossy sheen. Many pie recipes call for instant tapioca instead of tapioca starch, but instant tapioca doesn't dissolve completely and leaves small gelatinous blobs suspended in the liquid. This isn't a problem in a two-crust pies, but the blobs are more noticeable in single-crust pies. Tapioca starch is finely ground so that it dissolves completely, eliminating the gelatinous blob problem. The starch is also sometimes used to thicken soups, stews, and sauces, but the glossy finish looks a bit unnatural in these kinds of dishes. It works quickly, though, so it's a good choice if you want to correct a sauce just before serving it. Some recipes for baked goods also call for tapioca flour because it imparts a chewier texture.
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tarama
tarama
Greek markets often carry jars of this pink cod roe. It's often used to make taramasalata, which is tarama mixed with a filler (like bread crumbs), oil, and seasonings.
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thickeners
thickeners
Thickeners add substance and body to sauces, stews, soups, puddings, pie fillings, and other dishes. Tips: Before you add a thickener to a sauce, skim the fat from the top. Once you've added the thickener, the fat will be harder to remove. Flour is a good thickener for gravies, gumbos, and stews, since it gives them a smooth, velvety texture. It's best to mix it with fat first, either by making a roux or beurre manié, or by flouring and frying stew meat before adding a liquid to the pot. If you wish to cut fat from your diet, you can instead mix the flour with water and add it to the sauce, but you'll need to cook it for quite awhile to get rid of the starchy, raw flour taste. Sauces thickened with flour become opaque, and they may become become thin again if they're cooked too long or if they're frozen and then thawed. Starch thickeners like cornstarch are mixed with an equal amount of cold water, then added to warm liquids to thicken them. They're a good choice if you want a low-fat, neutral-tasting thickener. They give dishes a glossy sheen, which looks wonderful if you're making a dessert sauce or pie filling, but a bit artificial in a gravy or stew. If you get lumps in your sauce from a thickener, blend the sauce in a blender or food processor until it's smooth. Cereal grains like oatmeal, couscous, soup pasta, farina, are often used to thicken soups. Reduction is a slow but low-fat way of thickening sauces and concentrating flavors. Just cook down the sauce in an uncovered pan until it's thickened to your liking. Meat and fish glaces are a time-consuming--or expensive, if you buy them ready-made--way of thickening and enriching sauces. They're made by reducing stocks until they're thick and gelatinous. A good way to thicken soups or stews is to add grated starchy vegetables, or to purée the vegetables in the sauce. Nuts make good, flavorful thickeners for stews, though they're often expensive and high in fat. Just grind them down to a flour or butter, and add them to the dish. Egg yolks add a silky, velvety texture to soups and sauces, but they'll turn into scrambled eggs if they're not introduced carefully into the hot liquid. Cream, once reduced, gives sauces a rich texture and flavor as it thickens them, but it's high in fat. To make a low-fat cream sauce, use evaporated milk mixed with a starch thickener. Yogurt is a popular soup thickener in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
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ThickenThin™
This thickener has no calories, fat, or carbohydrates. It's great for thickening gravies, sauces, and soups, but it won't set up sufficiently to make puddings or custards. A little goes a long way, so use about half as much as you would a starch thickener.
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ti leaves
ti leaves
South Pacific islanders use these to wrap food and to line the imu pits in which they roast pigs.
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trout caviar
trout caviar
These are great for making hors d'oeuvres.
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vegetable yeast extract
Includes: Marmite, Vegemite, and Promite.
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water chestnut starch
water chestnut starch
Asian cooks often dredge foods in this before frying them, because it gives fried foods a crisp, nutty coating. It can also be used as a thickener. Look for it in Asian markets and health food stores. Don't confuse this with chestnut flour.
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wax paper
wax paper
Invented by Thomas Edison, this is paper that's coated with paraffin wax to make it resistant to moisture. To use wax paper as a cake pan liner, place the pan on the paper, trace its outline, then cut it out and place it in the pan.
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whipped cream stabilizer
whipped cream stabilizer
Two brands are Whip It and Whipping Cream Aid.
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wine ball
wine ball
These are balls of brewer's yeast that are sold in Asian markets. They're used to make wine.
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wonton wrappers
wonton wrappers
Wontons are the Chinese answer to ravioli--small packets of meat encased in a thin noodle wrapper. The wrappers are made of flour, eggs, and water, and, once filled with meat, can be easily folded and pinched into shape. While assembling the wontons, keep the stack of wrappers moist by covering them with a damp towel. You can seal the dumplings with a "glue" made with cornstarch and water. The wrappers come in different thicknesses. The thin ones work best in soups, while the thicker ones are best for frying. Look for stacks of them wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator cases of Asian markets. Store them in the refrigerator or freezer, but let them come to room temperature before using.
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xanthan
xanthan
Derived from corn sugar, xanthan gum is used as a thickener, stabilizer, and emulsifier.
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