This is one of the versatile, no-work dishes that can be done with master sauce—a pretty pile of oblong carrot coins, stained a deep color and rich flavor by several hours’ steeping in the master brew. You may serve the carrots warm, at room temperature, or chilled as an edible garnish or a rich-tasting “Little Dish” to accompany most any kind of food. I like them best chilled, when they are at their flavor peak after a day’s refrigeration and feel slippery on the tongue.
Cut the carrots on a sharp diagonal into oblong coins, 2 inches long and a bit over ¼ inch thick. Be sure to cut the coins so they are evenly thick at both ends. Don’t throw away the odd-looking end slices. Steep them with the rest to enrich the sauce, then eat them yourself if you do not wish to serve them.
Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer in a small, heavy pot that will hold the carrots snugly. (I use a small Chinese sand pot, illustrated, though any small, heavy pot will do.) Taste the sauce and adjust if required with a bit more water, soy, wine, or crushed golden rock sugar to achieve a rich and balanced blend. Go easy on the sugar. The carrots will imbue the sauce with their own natural sweetness.
Add the carrots, poke them under the sauce, then adjust the heat to maintain a slow simmer. Cover the pot and simmer 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, then let the carrots steep in the hot liquid for 2 hours. Remove the cover after 30 minutes, so the coins do not overcook in the concentrated heat.
Strain the sauce through several layers of wet cheesecloth, then cool, bottle, and refrigerate or freeze for future use. Gently nudge the carrots into a shallow bowl, taking care not to break them. Eat when tender and warm, or, for a richer flavor and a more interesting, firm texture, seal airtight and chill overnight.
Serve chilled carrots cold or at room temperature. Just before serving, invert the carrots into a shallow serving bowl so that the sauce that was on the bottom now glosses the top. For Western-style service, you may arrange the chilled coins in pretty fans on individual plates to highlight a main course. Or, use as a decorative garnish to rim a serving platter.
Leftover carrot coins keep 3–4 days, refrigerated and sealed airtight.
© 1982 Barbara Tropp estate. All rights reserved.