So a year or so ago my favorite chinese place closes when the owner retires. I find myself completely unhappy with the other places. The food at these places is just blah. Doesn't seem authentic (even though chances my favorite joint wasn't either). What is odd is many of my friends agree with this assessment that the other places just aren't as good.
So, withdrawl sets in and I have gotten fired up enough to try making it myself. I have some books and wok (including a propane burner I use for homebrewing) and a pretty well stocked pantry of the ingredients listed in the book. I can now make fried rice better than other places but other dishes I am way off on. The results are very pedestrian and basically like the weak places.
To give you an idea what I am talking about let's talk about won ton soup. Average won ton soup is basically chicken base and a noodle. Good won ton soup is a voyage to China. There is mystique: dragons, smoke, and bamboo. I spent some time yesterday researching this and found that true won ton soup stock includes many things I would never consider would ever be in there like dried fish, shrimp, etc. Then it hit me, the dishes at my favorite joint had a prawn like vibe. Kinda like the “prawn chip” taste. Almost a fakeish seafood type of thing. In fact, I think some people would actually not like this seafoodish thing but I do. Anyone know what that is? I have a suspicion that if I can get a good stock flavor it would then trickle down into the sauces. Right now some candidates are dried shrimp, dried flounder, or maybe simply just shrimp boullion. Any thoughts appreciated!