I made a trip to Penzey’s today because I needed some Arrowroot.  Tina and I had just gotten done eating at The Dragon Inn by the Overland Park farmer’s market (review to follow)  where I noticed how thick the sauce for the Szechwan Broccoli and the hot and sour soup was.  Because I am a total food geek, it reminded me that I was out of Arrowroot so I headed into the spice store. 

Arrowroot is magnificent stuff.  It is potent when fresh (it keeps its potency for about 6 months) and it is flavorless from the moment it touches the sauce.  This makes it better than most flour-based thickeners because there is no time required to cook out the wheaty, earthy taste common with rouxes (although I’d still use a roux when I need the flavor that comes from cooking fat and flour) and flour-slurries.

Try some for yourself, but start slow with one tablespoon at a time

  1. Mix the tablespoon of arrowroot with 1/2 cup of cold water.  (Always add cold slurry to hot liquid or hot slurry to cold liquid.)  
  2. Mix until the arrowroot is dissolved. 
  3. Add the cold slurry to the hot sauce and stir until the arrowroot is fully incorporated.  Watch in amazement as the sauce thickens.

Prologue: At Penzey’s I bought the 3.5 oz container, which should allow me to thicken about 6 months of soups, stocks, sauces, or the Mississippi River.

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